Monday, August 29, 2016

The Tire Switcheroo

You just never know what you'll find out there!
One group of tires tested, then another group comes in. Time for the ol' tire switcheroo. I seem to do this about every three months or so, I think. Maybe more often sometimes.

I just finished up on the Riddler 37mm tires. I really liked them. They are a good gravel road tire that isn't too big, but is just big enough. You can really cover a lot of different types of terrain with a 36mm-42mm tire. Well, as long as it has a good design for the tread and is made well. I think if you are looking at tires in this size range, the quality casings are a must. You are milking every bit of performance out of a tire like this, so it has to be a well made tire, or you will get short changed. The WTB Riddler 37mm tire is just such a tire. I kind of get bummed out when I have to peel off a set of tires like the Riddlers to set up anther review tire, but with the tires most companies are putting out there now, it just is a different flavor, and not a real big let down.

That said, I liked the design of the Riddlers a lot. I think the design is really a good way to tackle a gravel road tire deign. Smooth in the center to promote fast rolling and easy accelerations, and lateral knobs to allow for stability. This with a flattish profile is the winning combination, as far as I can see. I thought that this might be the case and when I rode the Challenge Gravel Grinder, I found out it really works. Peaked crown tires, or very rounded ones, are the absolute worst on gravel. They plow, have no lateral stability, and generally ride poorly on gravel.

New tires means more switching around.
Well, however that works out for me with older tires, it all gets thrown out the window when a new set shows up. Peel off. Remount. More sealant. The same ol' song and dance again. Then it is getting used to the new treads. What do they do well, what do they do poorly, and how do they ride? So much to pay attention to.

The funny thing is that tires are a really big deal, and can be one of the most controversial components that one uses on a bicycle. I have used so many different tires on the Black Mountain Cycles Cross bike, (Orange Crush), that I can tell you that tires can make or break a bike. I've used absolutely horrible tires on that bike, (Vee Rubber models of some sort), which made the bike terrifying to ride, and have used tires which made the bike a dream to ride. Same bike, different tires, way different results.

So, are a really big deal. 

That is why I like trying out different tires, why I like thinking about them, and it is one of the reasons I like riding bicycles. Tires can really affect your enjoyment of bikes. Not to mention tire pressures, which is an entirely different subject and deserves its own post. You can ruin good tires with wrong air pressures. That's all I'll say about that right now.

So, anyway, I am not complaining at all when I have to do the ol' tire switcheroo. It's just a part of what I do and I find it pretty interesting. 

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