Sunday, December 24, 2017

Tires I Like

Some tires, like these Vittoria Terreno Mix tires, are just plain weird.
Saturday I posted an article on Riding Gravel which was about the top gravel tires I like that are available currently. You can check that out here.

To be completely honest, most tires are pretty decent. It would be a lot easier to talk about tires that are weird, aren't very good, or just downright bad. There are fewer of those than there are tires that are so-so, and definitely fewer of those than good, decent tires.

But I am talking about aftermarket performance tires in that regard, mind you. Not the ubiquitous "replacement tire", or the cheapo tires used on "mart bikes", or tires meant for entry level bike shop bikes. Those are mostly terrible tires. No, I'm talking about tires that purport to be performance enhancing, but for whatever reason, weren't. Tires costing more than $35.00-$40.00 dollars, typically.

Those tires, in my opinion, are tires that fell short of promises and performance was lacking. But enough about those tires. I don't like them, and that isn't what this post is about. This is about tires I like. Some were listed in that post linked above. Others are not there because they are not gravel tires.

Surly Lou's are nice. I like them a lot.
There are a lot of mountain bike tires I like, or used to like since maybe you cannot get them anymore. Tires from Michelin, the "Wildgripper" series of tires, those were great tires. The GEAX tires were all mostly pretty decent, and Bontrager made some killer tires, but many of these are no longer available.

I guess I still like the ol' Nanoraptor, or as WTB calls it now, the "Nano". It does a lot of things well. The Bontrager brand still is rolling out some great stuff. Maxxis, Specialized, and others do some fine treads.

Fat bike tires, now there is some weird stuff going on there! I'll tell ya that for flotation and traction that I look for, the Surly Bud and Lou are hard to beat. Yeah, yeah.......they aren't tubeless. Okay, that isn't a huge deal to me. While having a Bud or Lou tubeless might be better, I just don't have the time to maintain that set up by keeping the sealant up to date. My fat bikes see such limited use that having them set up tubeless would be a liability more than a benefit. My fat bikes can sit around for months at a time unused, so when I do want to use one, I don't want to have to dink around refreshing the sealant.

On the other hand, if a gravel tire model comes out and it is not rated for tubeless, it is not going to be a tire I like. I insist on running tubeless on gravel anymore. It makes a big difference in ride quality, not to mention the elimination of pinch flats.  So, there are some gravel tire models I don't like for that reason. Tires like Challenge's Gravel Grinder, which would be a stellar tread pattern if it could be used tubeless.

So, there are a lot of tires I like, and I've been fortunate to have tried many so I know.


Phillip Cowan said...

Here's a thought and you might think I'm deranged. On tubeless set ups that don't see as much use why not give them an original shot of sealant to seal the bead then run them till they're dry. If you get a puncture then unscrew the core and put in a 2oz bottle of Stan's. Pump it up and spin it till it seals. If the hole won't seal dynaplug the sucker.

The reason I'm thinking about this is because I have a bike I keep at my shop for lunchtime "sanity" rides. I'd like to set it up tubeless but don't want the hassle of keeping up with the sealant. I was thinking of using the tubeless version of the Schwalbe Marathon Supreme as it's a fairly puncture resistant tire to start with. I don't really need a nobby tire for the pavement and tame gravel near my shop. What do you think, am I nuts?

Guitar Ted said...

@phillip Cowan- Ironically, I've unintentionally done what you are suggesting. There are a few things to consider here.....
-If the sealant is allowed to run dry, it will depend upon what sealant you used and what tire you are using in conjunction with whatever rim you are using on whether or not the system can be relied upon to not only hold air, but be safe to ride. For instance, almost always for me the air retention goes away quickly. So, for instance, I can pump up the tire and it will get me where I am going but it will lose air fast enough that I have to pump up the tire again several hours to a day later. Kind of like how it is if you were to run latex tubes. NOT ALL SEALANTS WILL ALLOW FOR THIS! That's the main thing here.
-Many times, if the tire/bead interface with the rim isn't super secure, the bead will break away then it is game over. The weight of your bike can be enough to break the bead seal in some cases.
-IF you puncture while riding, since there is zero wet sealant, the tire will go flat quickly and break the bead seal, almost assuredly, in which case you will end up with a tube anyway.

So, all that to say that "in theory" it sounds like a workable idea, but in reality it isn't a good game plan. For my fat bikes it doesn't work, by the way. The tires and rims I use require a lot of fuss to get set up and keep up tubeless and once the sealant dries up it doesn't hold air worth a hoot. (Been tubeless with a fat bike once before)

Guitar Ted said...

@Bob- I would guess that "The Tire" is one of the longest running mtb tread patterns ever.

Happy Holidays to you and yours Bob!

Phillip Cowan said...

Yeah I guess you're right it is totally dependent on the tire/rim combo. My first tubeless setup was Schwalbe G1s on Velocity A23s. That combo held full pressure dry for a week without leaking down. I even rode them around the neighborhood while waiting on a quart of sealant I had ordered. However, I suppose that can't be the norm. Thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

Tubes are only for emergencies. ;-)

Somehow I got away with a 3 continuous seasons of Bud/Lou on a pair of Clownshoes and a Gorilla tape job, and it was bombproof. I'd run it down to 1psi with no probs. Every season, I'd squirt a few more ounces of Stan's in them and keep riding. I think it helped that I never swapped these tires around, nor rode them much outside of winter. But this fall, I started thinking it would probably bo a good idea to strip them down, clean them and re-mount them. I figured there was probably 5lbs of Stanimals in each tire at this point. When I took the tires off, there were a few ounces of still liquid Stans, no real boogers to speak of at all. I couldn't believe it.

So I wiped them out, cleaned the tape, etc. off the rim, and re-mounted them with split tubes and Orange Seal this time. I expect this will last several more seasons, at a minimum.