Bicycle tires. So many choices.
The tires we put on our bikes are a very important piece of riding equipment which should be given a lot more thought than we tend do give them. They are our official connection to the road. They determine how well we roll, turn, brake, and how we deal with wet roads and debris. Therefore, they make the difference between a good and bad riding experience.
To date, I had been having a fling with Michelin Pro Race 3’s. I had really grown to like them, however, they just could not deliver anything remotely close to safety and reliability. Prior to the Pro Race 3’s, I used a set of Hutchinson Atom Comp’s, and while they too were impressive like the Pro 3’s, reliability and longevity were not their forte, either. The only other tires I have used were Bontrager’s excellent (sadly, now discontinued) Race-Lite’s. While not billed as the fastest, or smoothest rolling, they delivered beautifully as an affordable, all-around-tire. Bontrager really screwed up by dropping this tire from their line-up.
Now to be fair, all of the above are marketed as lightweight clinchers, so everyday street use is really not their gig (save for the Bontrager’s). I used them because I value lightweight and lots of traction in dry conditions. This is where the trade-off comes into play: Durability versus traction. In plain English, it is trade-off between thick, heavy, lower-traction tires, and the thin, light, and higher-traction tires.
There has to be a good, decent middle-ground.
My experiences, while not a major knock of any of the aforementioned tires (OK, maybe the Pro 3’s), comes down to riding styles, road surfaces, tire pressures, and outright luck. However, what I have grown “Tired” of, so to say, are flats and ripped tire carcasses. I am 185 pounds, and ride mostly city streets. The rest of my riding regimen is conducted on bike trails, and the latter tend to be a bit smoother and a bit freer of junk seeking to kill my tires and tubes. I ride for fun and exercise, so a super light-weight tire is really not necessary. Besides, the road surfaces here in Southern California suck so bad, a durable tire is a moral imperative.
So, I am currently searching for a happy medium between a durable, good traction, light tire and one which can possess theses same qualities while not weighing a ton. I have heard good things about Continental Grand Prix 4000’s, Grand Prix 4000S, Grand Prix 4-Season, and GatorSkins. I will also be looking at the Vittoria Rubino Pro’s, and the Schwalbe Durano’s to see what they are all about, too.
I am also looking very hard at tubeless wheels and tires. They may be the Holy-Grail I seek.
Meanwhile, the search continues.