Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Why are bike tires so crappy?

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Why are bike tires so crappy?

Old 01-25-11, 09:24 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
marmot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 439

Bikes: Kona Dew Drop, Specialized Expedition Sport

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Why are bike tires so crappy?

Looking through tour logs and You Tube videos, there's one all-too-familiar refrain: "Here's Joe outside Buffalo, fixing a flat." "Here's Nigel in Leeds, repairing a puncture." etc. etc. Every tour seems to be plagued with tire and tube failures, and everyone here seems to think nothing of it. But I wonder: Why can't bike tires and tubes be reliable? Car tires carry tons of metal thousands of miles at 80 miles an hour and almost never fail. I haven't changed a car tire in 30 years. Bike tires, it seems, can't carry 200 pounds down a country lane without pooping out. Are there ANY decent bike tires?
BTW, has anyone tried those foam-filled non-pneumatic tires? Are they any good at all? I must say, I find the whole thing rather ... er, deflating.
marmot is offline  
Old 01-25-11, 09:25 PM
  #2  
cowboy, steel horse, etc
 
LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: The hot spot.
Posts: 44,833

Bikes: everywhere

Mentioned: 71 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12767 Post(s)
Liked 7,679 Times in 4,075 Posts
The can be either very reliable or ride very nicely, but not both at the same time. Most shoot for somewhere in the middle
LesterOfPuppets is online now  
Old 01-25-11, 09:27 PM
  #3  
Single-serving poster
 
electrik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 5,098
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
If you want a bicycle tire built like your car tire, there are some available...
electrik is offline  
Old 01-25-11, 09:29 PM
  #4  
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 2,013
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 287 Post(s)
Liked 120 Times in 88 Posts
For several years, I've been riding on Schwalbe Marathons with Kevlar. They're fabulous tires. I can't even remember the last time I had a flat. They ride and grip well. Wear well, too. No complaints here.
axolotl is offline  
Old 01-25-11, 09:32 PM
  #5  
cowboy, steel horse, etc
 
LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: The hot spot.
Posts: 44,833

Bikes: everywhere

Mentioned: 71 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12767 Post(s)
Liked 7,679 Times in 4,075 Posts
Originally Posted by marmot
Are there ANY decent bike tires?
Lots.
Originally Posted by marmot
BTW, has anyone tried those foam-filled non-pneumatic tires? Are they any good at all?
Haven't rolled a solid tire since I was a wee tyke. I haven't tried the foamy ones either.
I've run Specialized Armadillos which rode pretty terribly for a $50 tire.
I just put Mr. Tuffys in my tires nowadays. Flats are rare.
LesterOfPuppets is online now  
Old 01-25-11, 09:36 PM
  #6  
Single-serving poster
 
electrik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 5,098
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
About those foam tires... the foam degrades, they can soak up moisture, the "psi" may be too soft or hard and they're heavier. I don't think it's a good option for touring.
electrik is offline  
Old 01-25-11, 09:45 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 7,143
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 261 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 11 Times in 10 Posts
Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets
Lots.

Haven't rolled a solid tire since I was a wee tyke. I haven't tried the foamy ones either.
I've run Specialized Armadillos which rode pretty terribly for a $50 tire.
I just put Mr. Tuffys in my tires nowadays. Flats are rare.
I put Mr. Tuffys in Marathons and flats are rare.
Dahon.Steve is offline  
Old 01-25-11, 10:04 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 555
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 10 Times in 8 Posts
BTW, has anyone tried those foam-filled non-pneumatic tires? Are they any good at all?
A friend tried one for commuting. The foam was not as good as air in isolating shock and vibration. The bike frame broke from the road vibration after a few weeks.
SBinNYC is offline  
Old 01-25-11, 10:07 PM
  #9  
Pokemon Master
 
Darth_Firebolt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 1,108

Bikes: All City Cosmic Stallion, Salsa Colossal, Surly Preamble, 1985 Schwinn High Sierra x3

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 122 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
I put Mr. Tuffys in Marathons and flats are rare.
flats would have to be an act of god at that point.
Darth_Firebolt is offline  
Old 01-25-11, 11:35 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Doug64's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Oregon
Posts: 6,489
Mentioned: 31 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1182 Post(s)
Liked 833 Times in 435 Posts
I was actually thinking about this while riding today, but in the context of a past thread on here about carring a spare tire on tour. I was on my road bike with the winter tires (25mm), and it was still light years ahead of my LHT with 32mm Marathons. Last summer is the first year we toured on anything other than 28mm Continental Ultra gatorskins. The difference between the 28mm and 32mm is really noticeable. I'm almost thinking I'd rather ride the 28s and carry a lightweight foldable spare, than have all that "bomb proof" rotating weight on my wheels. However, I have to admit that last summer's trip was the first tour in about 10 years that I did not have a flat tire.
Doug64 is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 02:31 AM
  #11  
Newbie
 
tidi_bear's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: around the world
Posts: 3

Bikes: Vivente Wolrd Randonneur, Specialized Sirrus Comp, Giant Boulder Alu "Street", Valco "Fixie", Peugeot Competition 70's

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
you cannot compare bicycles to cars

it's like saying "yesterday i had to push my car, it was so heavy! why cars aren't as light as bicycles!"

car tires are thicker, made of different materials (tpi is not the same), pressure is different, cars and bikes ride on different part of the road (the side of the road is full of gravels and other crap and in fact most of the flats i had happened outside of the road) etc...

sometimes you can have a flat on a bicycle but nothing went trough the tire.
for example if you ride on a sharp stone or if you hit the edge of a sidewalk, it pinches the inner tube.

car tires don't have inner tubes, and mtb equipped with tubeless tires have less flats than those mounted with inner tubes.

pressure is important too: for a long time now i inflate my tires 5 or 10 psi above the recommended max pressure and even with standard (non kevlar) tires i have really less flats.
it is known that flats occurs more often if your tires have low pressure.


concerning kevlar tires, i had bad experiences with them:
i've been touring from geneva to bangkok and i had to change tires in tehran.
i was so happy to change for 'punchproof kevlar tires' (i can't remember the brand i got then)
but the second day, after less than 200km i had my first flat with those tires...
it was the dry thorn of a desert plant that can pierce almost anything i guess (i had a few other flats with this particular plant actually)
then i discovered two things:
  • plants in tropical dry climate have thorns really tougher than elsewhere.
  • kevlar is over-rated due to its use in bulletproof jackets: these jackets stops bullets because bullets rotate and stop by entangling in the kevlar mesh. But thorns pointy enough just go through the mesh!
also tiny sharp objects (like glass chips) get caught in the little scratches of the tire and finally go through because of vibrations.

quality of the tires and the weight carried are certainly also very important.

but...
in australia i bough a new bike equipped with schwalbe marathon kevlar and i had some thorns that made flats also (but riding in the bush in a straight line is not the best idea maybe... )

in carnarvon i bought some punchproof bands to put inside the tire.
that was a very good idea... the pointed corners at the ends of the band can also pierce the tube!
then i rounded theses corners... and the overlapping of the ends of the band pinched the tube and made another flat!
then i put duct tape to stick the ends together... and the melted glue of the duct tape corroded the tube and made another flat...

hopefully, in bali, after 7.000 km my back tire exploded because it was too worn.
then i could change for the schwalbe marathon XR i was carrying from perth.
(in fact i put this one on the front and put the former front marathon kevlar at the back)

i've heard some cyclotourers saying they had flats with marathon kevlar, but none with marathon XR.

everything has his own problems, i already hear people moaning about XR because they think they are too sticky to the road

flats are part of the trip, my flats made me met people i would never have encountered with perfect tires!

well this post is becoming to be too long, see you later!
(now, i have two of my bikes to repair: 2 flats, including one on Hudchinson kevlar)
tidi_bear is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 03:23 AM
  #12  
Banned
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 43,598

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 197 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7607 Post(s)
Liked 1,355 Times in 862 Posts
pocket flask of single malt is an important part of the patch kit.
to take time and just cope with the puncture.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 04:05 AM
  #13  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 5,200
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 137 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 81 Times in 64 Posts
The op focus is skewed, he should complain about riders dificulty in embracing tires that weigh only 1000 grams.
LeeG is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 06:08 AM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 11,867
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1251 Post(s)
Liked 754 Times in 560 Posts
There are a range of options ranging from extremely light tires with flexible sidewall low rolling resistance and a lively feel to heavier tires with stiff sidewalls, higher rolling resistance, and a dead feel. So you can choose tires that rarely to almost never flat if that is what you want. It comes at a cost in weight and ride characteristics, but you get to choose one that strikes the right compromise for you.

If you want to avoid flats at all cost buy some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. If you are really serious you can even add Mr Tuffy liners and slime filled thorn proof tubes. I think they ride like anchors, but some say they don't even notice the difference.

I'd rather ride on tires with a nice lively ride even if it means fixing a flat once in a while. To me riding on a lively tire is a joy and fixing a flat once in a while just isn't a big deal. My tires of choice for touring are 28mm Ultra Gatorskins, they provide a great ride reasonable flat resistance.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 06:44 AM
  #15  
Fred-ish
 
rogerstg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 1,800
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I don't understand why some have a hyper aversion to flats- not just this thread or the fine folks here. It takes about as much time to change one as it does to apply sunscreen to oneself or to lube and wipe a chain.
rogerstg is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 09:03 AM
  #16  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
marmot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 439

Bikes: Kona Dew Drop, Specialized Expedition Sport

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Hi, I'm the OP. I know car tires are different. I just mention them because they face such extreme stress, strain, heat, weight and speed, and have a failure rate that approaches statistical insignificance. Seemingly with an infinitely easier job to do, bike tires fail all the time. I'm new to this touring biz, so I am genuinely curious about the reasons for this.
Also, I'm not sure what is meant by a "lively ride" versus a "dead feel." People covet steel bikes because of their cushy ride. Why would they then equip these cruising vessels with tires that maximize road feel? I'm not arguing or advocating anything. I just don't know.
marmot is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 09:19 AM
  #17  
Godfather of Soul
 
SBRDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,517

Bikes: 2002 Litespeed Vortex, 2010 Specialized Tricross Expert,2008 Gary Fischer Hi Fi Carbon, 2002 Specialized S-Works hard tail, 1990 Kestrel KM 40

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by marmot
Hi, I'm the OP. I know car tires are different. I just mention them because they face such extreme stress, strain, heat, weight and speed, and have a failure rate that approaches statistical insignificance. Seemingly with an infinitely easier job to do, bike tires fail all the time. I'm new to this touring biz, so I am genuinely curious about the reasons for this.
Also, I'm not sure what is meant by a "lively ride" versus a "dead feel." People covet steel bikes because of their cushy ride. Why would they then equip these cruising vessels with tires that maximize road feel? I'm not arguing or advocating anything. I just don't know.
Like everything on a bike, it comes down to weight because the rider has to move the bike with his own power. Tires could be made with different materials to make them stronger, but those materials would make the tires heavier and also less comfortable. Comfort is a hard thing to describe, but think of what shoes you find comfortable and why. A heavy pair of hiking boots are long lasting and can put up with lots of abuse, but they aren't as light and supple as a pair of lightweight running shoes. If you're running or walking on pavement, you probably want the comfort and feel of a running shoe. If you're hiking up a rocky hillside, you probably want the hiking boots.
SBRDude is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 09:23 AM
  #18  
Godfather of Soul
 
SBRDude's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 1,517

Bikes: 2002 Litespeed Vortex, 2010 Specialized Tricross Expert,2008 Gary Fischer Hi Fi Carbon, 2002 Specialized S-Works hard tail, 1990 Kestrel KM 40

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by rogerstg
I don't understand why some have a hyper aversion to flats- not just this thread or the fine folks here. It takes about as much time to change one as it does to apply sunscreen to oneself or to lube and wipe a chain.
For me it's because I don't like to stop my ride and deal with mechanicals. I do it when I have to and I reserve the right to complain about it!

Dealing with flats also means dragging along the stuff to fix them, and wouldn't it be nice not to have to have that stuff on every ride. And, for anyone who has suffered a nonfixable flat, it's more like getting a bad sunburn than just having to put on sunscreen.
SBRDude is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 09:25 AM
  #19  
cyclopath
 
vik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 5,264

Bikes: Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by marmot
Looking through tour logs and You Tube videos, there's one all-too-familiar refrain: "Here's Joe outside Buffalo, fixing a flat." "Here's Nigel in Leeds, repairing a puncture." etc. etc. Every tour seems to be plagued with tire and tube failures, and everyone here seems to think nothing of it. But I wonder: Why can't bike tires and tubes be reliable? .


I rarely have flats. I ride quality tires/tubes and don't ride in spots where I'm likely to get flats. My buddy rides the same products and get 10 times as many flats. I watch him ride 3' more to the right on a highway shoulder and think to myself here comes another flat...frequently we'll be stopping that day to fix a flat on his bike!

Right now I'm riding daily in the desert on and off road with a ton of thorns. I've fixed one flat in nearly 3 weeks and I knew when I took a short cut off the main trail that it was a bad idea.

Bottomline I don't think bike tires are crappy. I think there are crappy products for sure, but there are great tires out there. There are also riders who ride so as to get more or less flats. It's not always the tire's fault!

In a typical year or nearly daily riding I'll fix between 1 to 3 flats. Hardly worth thinking about.

BTW - I don't use flatproof tires [ie. Marathon Plus] or slime [except in my MTB in UT/AZ].



Photo above is me waiting while my buddy fixes flat #10. I started to wonder if I should bring a Rubick's Cube along on rides. I started fixing flats for him just to avoid getting overly bored.
__________________
safe riding - Vik
VikApproved
vik is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 09:48 AM
  #20  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 3,275
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 158 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
well you could always give him a hand to fix the puncture.
antokelly is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 09:56 AM
  #21  
cyclopath
 
vik's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 5,264

Bikes: Surly Krampus, Surly Straggler, Pivot Mach 6, Bike Friday Tikit, Bike Friday Tandem, Santa Cruz Nomad

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by antokelly
well you could always give him a hand to fix the puncture.
Originally Posted by vik
I started fixing flats for him just to avoid getting overly bored.


You have to be careful - you don't want to encourage poor riding skills!
__________________
safe riding - Vik
VikApproved
vik is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 10:01 AM
  #22  
Silly Party Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: NH
Posts: 345

Bikes: Rans Stratus XP

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Our family rode from Boston to Seattle last summer/fall.
Our bicycles had Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. They had 0 flats!
Our trailers had Schwalbe Marathon tires. They had 5 flats.
EriktheFish is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 10:49 AM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 5,200
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 137 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 81 Times in 64 Posts
Originally Posted by marmot
Hi, I'm the OP. I know car tires are different. I just mention them because they face such extreme stress, strain, heat, weight and speed, and have a failure rate that approaches statistical insignificance. Seemingly with an infinitely easier job to do, bike tires fail all the time. I'm new to this touring biz, so I am genuinely curious about the reasons for this.
Also, I'm not sure what is meant by a "lively ride" versus a "dead feel." People covet steel bikes because of their cushy ride. Why would they then equip these cruising vessels with tires that maximize road feel? I'm not arguing or advocating anything. I just don't know.
Marmot, bicycle tires don't have an infinitely easier job to do nor do they fail all the time. Your assumptions are not accurate and the comparison isn't appropriate anymore than comparing a truck tire and motorcycle tire makes sense. Because something is round and made of rubber/fabric doesn't mean all round/rubber things are the same and can have the same characteristics.

The difference has to do with the size of the motor where efficiency isn't as critical as durability and contact patch for safe handling. A 100hp engine can handle wasting 5hp getting power to the wheels, a .10 engine will want the most efficient tires possible so light weight will be emphasized. That light weight and small contact patch makes for a higher psi rating on the ground than the car. In other words there's more pressure per square inch on a bicycle tire than a car tire. That bicycle tire will be lighter to ensure maximum efficiency for the tiny, tiny motor driving it. The car tire needs a larger contact patch to safely control it's weight and direction on the road. So the car uses up a lot more hp pushing that heavier tire and that heavier tire is a lot thicker to handle the weight. The bike tire is a lot thinner and lighter but the load on the rubber is greater. So when you drive over a 3/16" glass sliver in a car tire that's 3/4" thick it is being driven with less pressure than a bike tire with 1/8" tread and you don't get flats. Do you see that a bicycle tire doesn't have an infinitely easier job?
So go ahead and get a tire with 1/4" tread and protective layers. It'll weigh 700grams instead of 350grams. With your teeny tiny .10 hp motor you'll notice less rolling speed than the thinner/lighter tire. But you'll get a lot less flats. Now get a bike tire made with very hard rubber that will last a long time. Then you'll slip and slide like nobodies business on wet roads. With your teeny tiny motor you won't like the heavier tire if you like to ride hard and with a hard rubber compound you won't like sliding in turns or wet roads.
A "lively ride" means the bike is light and the vibrations/shocks from the road can be dampened by your body. A "dead feel" can be anything from a heavy bike that transmits shock to your body to a well dampened one that doesn't. People covet a lot of things, don't take marketing fashion or subjective terms as objective comparisons.
Steel bikes don't have a "cushy ride". Depending on the geometry type and weight of steel the ride can be dead, heavy, springy, noodly, responsive or whatever. So can an aluminum, carbon or titanium bike. A steel bike can have some "spring" to it that can be perceived in some configurations compared to other materials but that doesn't make it comfortable. That's going to be more a factor of geometry and tires.
So if you want mondo durable tires, you can have it. If you want mondo durable tires that will last 50,000 miles your teeny tiny motor might whine about the effort to accelerate them every one of those miles.
LeeG is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 12:57 PM
  #24  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
marmot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 439

Bikes: Kona Dew Drop, Specialized Expedition Sport

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanks for the replies and the insights, everybody. Thanks especially for the specific recommendations. I don't mind fixing a flat once in a while, I guess, but I surely would prefer not to.
marmot is offline  
Old 01-26-11, 03:12 PM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
degan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Oregon
Posts: 907
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 120 Post(s)
Liked 102 Times in 54 Posts
I think part of the reason why you see a lot of pictures with tags like "stopping to fix a flat" or something along those lines is because that is when people are able to stop and take pictures.
degan is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.