|Tires: they are a "big" deal for cyclists...|
It's a huge subject, and I could go on for a while about it, but I want to focus on a few things that are misconceptions, misunderstandings, and myths. Number one amongst these has to do with tire width and pressures you run tires at. Most folks think "higher pressures are always better" and that narrower tires are always faster." Both things are myths, and most folks have a lot of misunderstandings when it comes to these ideas.
I have been a wheel/tire freak for a long time. Anytime the subject of wheels and tires came up in the old bike shop days, I listened up. From customers, to racers, company reps, magazine articles, and later on, the internet. I took in as much as I could. It was one of the reasons in late '99/early 2000 I discovered this thing called a "29"er". (But that's a whole nuther story...) Anyway, I began to understand that a lot of folks "in the know" were running lower pressures and wider tires and going faster. Some companies were doing research, like Continental, Schwalbe, and others and were publishing reports that confirmed wider tires at lower pressures were better, faster, and more comfortable.
|The bigger, the better?|
Doing the gig that I do, I get to ride a lot of tires. Mostly off road tires, but the principles remain similar for road tires. I often still am amazed at how well some tires improve in performance at significantly lower air pressures than marked on the sidewalls. I was floored, for example, when this past summer it was suggested to me by a company rep that I dump 10psi from where I was at, (27-28psi), and see what I thought about a tire I was testing. The difference was night and day. Yes- I ran 17-18psi in these 29"er tires and they came alive, were faster, and way more comfortable. I had an unsuspecting rider try out the bike, and he came back with nothing but praises for the tires at these pressures.
|Wider- Lower psi: Works here too...|
It is readily apparent that if said folks would be able to let go of their notions that high pressures and narrower tires were "better", their bikes wouldn't be getting out of shape, they wouldn't be getting rattled nearly as much, and they would be saving a lot of effort/energy in the process. But for whatever reasons, they hold on to those old notions.
And this extends to pavement riders I talk with at the bike shop all the time. I guess each person is free to do what they want, but it is hard to understand why one would not check out the ever mounting evidence that your tires should be absorbing shock, wide enough to keep your bike really stable on rougher terrain, and not rock hard and narrow.
That's my take, and I know there will be a lot of folks that poo-poo the ideas put forth here, but I'm convinced that lower pressures and wider tires- to a degree- are better. I've some other thoughts on tires I may get to at some point, but that's for another day......