One of the things we have always been a bit obsessed with at Fairdale is tire quality. It’s such an easy thing to cut corners on (pun!) when you are designing a bike because most consumers do not buy bikes based on tires. On the test ride around the bike shop parking lot tires do not have much to prove so you’ll find a lot of nice bikes with really crappy stock tires installed. However, when you get the bike home tires quickly become a make or break component. Cheap tires that flat easily will bum anyone out. More expensive tires with flat protection might not help us move bikes off the bike shop floor, but they will help you enjoy your bike more often with less headaches. Here’s a short little tire primer from Leif.
Tired Tires Should Retire
Everyone who rides a lot ends up wearing out parts. Tires have a varying lifespan depending on how many rad skids you do and how many burnouts you have while trying to break 400ft segment Strava records.
Cheap tires usually have no flat protection. A true case of you get what you pay for. If all you can afford is a cheap tire look for thicker treaded tires. The thicker tread will help the tire last longer and keep some sharp road debris from puncturing your tube. Not to say you couldn’t dumpster dive to find some good tires or a nice day old bagel for free. It just might take a while to find and you might not want to spend “a while” inside a dumpster (since you will surely get dirty and amused).
Your best bet is to find a tire with “Flat-Protection.” There are many options for a good tire with flat protection. Tires with wire beads are generally lower cost and slightly heavier than the folding Aramid beaded tires.
For a commuter/touring bike a wire bead tire is fine. Something like the Continental tires the Weekender, Parser, and Flyer come stock with will give you miles of flat resistant pleasure. These have thicker tread than a typical road tire combined with a dense Kevlar® barrier under the tread is a good defense against venomous thorns, chinese stars, 50`s Westside Story type musical gangs with synchronized switchblades, and assorted sharp road debris.
A bigger, wider width tire will give you a softer ride. A smaller width and narrower tire will be faster but have a harsher ride. If you have rim brakes and or fenders keep in mind your tire size may be dictated by your bikes fender and brake clearance (i.e., Too big a tire won`t fit under your fenders or in your brakes).
If you hunger for higher performance you may want to go with lighter Aramid bead tires to keep the rotating weight down. These are often called “folding-bead” tires. There are many options with quality flat protection in this category. Keep in mind when the weight of bike components goes down the price generally goes up so expect to pay a bit more.
A good tire is an investment in your safety, sanity and not getting fired because you’re late to work due to constant flats. No pneumatic tire is flat proof, but a good tire with flat protection will keep you rolling and smiling longer! Of course, keeping an eye on the road ahead for tire enemies to steer around will help too!
Also, don’t forget the importance of maintaining proper air pressure in your tires from last week: http://fairdalebikes.com/2013/08/f-air-dale-how-to-ride-like-the-wind/