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June 12, 2011 1:39 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations on flat-resistant bicycle tires?

So last week I posted a question about changing my first flat tire on a bike. Since then, I've fixed flat tires three more times. I've come to the conclusion that, in addition to finding a new route to ride through nyc, I need to replace my old, came with the bike tires with something new and a little more kevlar-y.

So do you have any suggestions? I'm looking for 700x25c tires, front and back, with beads that won't be that difficult for me to remove/mount on my own. (Though, hopefully, I won't have to remove them again for a while...)

Anything in particular I should know? Are tires the kind of things a store would install for free or do I need to be prepared to do it myself?
posted by thecaddy to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Specialized Armadillo. Used to get a flat or so a month on my Continental Gatorskins; now it's been over a year. (Except for the time a screw went through my sidewall twice, but after patching it with a "tire boot", it's been perfect ever since.)
posted by supercres at 1:44 PM on June 12, 2011


If you've fixed flats, you can change a tire. A store will probably do it for you, but it's not something to be afraid of.

Specialized Armadillos get pretty good reviews (and are supposedly guaranteed), although I have flatted one.

I've found that the basetape and technique have more to do with the difficulty in mounting/unmounting a tire than the tire itself does, though I suspect that some tire/rim combos may have bad luck in terms of each being at the wrong end of size tolerances. If you've got the "rubber band" basetape on your wheels, you might want to change it. If you've been having trouble unmounting tires, you'll be surprised what a difference it makes.

Schwalbe makes a bunch of tires and puts their ratings for various qualities (including "protection" right on the listing. They are not cheap but the Durano Plus looks like it might suit you. Also, FWIW, Schwalbe basetape is super-flat and makes unmounting tires easier.
posted by adamrice at 1:52 PM on June 12, 2011


If it will fit your frame, the Marathon Plus HS 348 is made in 25-622.
posted by scruss at 2:02 PM on June 12, 2011


I just saw the part in your question about fixing three flats in a week. While I think it would be a good idea to get more flat-resistant tires, and I stand by my recommendation, I highly doubt these flats were independent.

When you unmount one bead of the tire, make sure you clear any debris that would be lodged between the tore and the tube. If there's a piece of glass that worked its way in there, it's just going to pop your next tube as well.

Also, be super-vigilant for pinch flats, which tend to be caused by pinching part of the tube between the tire and the rim. Poor technique/impatience are at fault here. Make sure you fill slowly while you spin the wheel looking for flat spots, and get just the right amount of air in the tube so that you can get it back on the rim while keeping it from getting pinched.

I would either learn firsthand how to fix a flat from a mechanic (lots of bike co-ops and LBSes have free classes), or get the store to install your new tires for you. Or both.

Out of curiosity, how old were your stock tires?
posted by supercres at 2:05 PM on June 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


So last week I posted a question about changing my first flat tire on a bike. Since then, I've fixed flat tires three more times.

It embarrasses me to admit this, but a similar run of flats has happened to me twice.

The first time, there was a tiny sliver of glass poking out of my tire on the inside which had been obscured by an excess of tire talc, and which took about four days to puncture a new tube.

The second time, I was pinching the tube between the rim and the bead of a new kind of tire I was trying out.

Since you are new to all this, my guess is that you are making an error of the second kind.
posted by jamjam at 2:05 PM on June 12, 2011


You might just need new tires. Having said that, Schwalbe Marathons are fantastic, if you don't mind the extra weight.

Even tires with the tightest of beads will succumb to the correct technique: the trick is to squeeze the tire into the inner part of the rim all the way round so that there's enough slack to get the bead over the final edge. If you do it right you don't need any tools whatsoever: just your thumbs. With stiff tires it can help to use a bag tie or something to keep the tire in at a few strategic points, but I've never had to do that with Marathons (which are pretty stiff tires).
posted by pharm at 2:06 PM on June 12, 2011


I used to have a TON of flats -- often 2-3 a week. I discovered through trial and error that if I underinflate my tires, I get a whole lot less flats. Try using your current tires inflated to 80 PSI and see if it's still a problem.

I'd also recommend replacing the wheel tape (inside the wheel). It can get worn out and pokey, which can create hidden punctures on the inside of the tube.
posted by miyabo at 2:08 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As others have pointed out, a run of flats might mean that either 1) there's a sliver of glass embedded in your tire, or 2) the rim tape isn't covering the spokes completely and the inner is tearing on one of the spoke nuts.
posted by pharm at 2:08 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you've flatted four times in a week, something is wrong. Check that 1) your rim tape is installed correctly and is decent quality; 2) you do not have something stuck in your tire; and 3) you are riding above the minimum recommended inflation value.

For the rim tape, make certain that all of the spoke heads are covered and there is nothing sharp poking into the tube inside. If someone has used plastic packing strapping as rim tape (seen it too many times), change it for some proper tape. this shouldn't be more than a few dollars.

For the tire, remove the tube and run a cotton ball or a wadded-up tissue around the inside of the tire. If it catches on something, remove it with a pair of needle-nose pliers (or tweezers). Don`t use your fingers.

I`ll bet that either 1) or 2) is your immediate problem and that you may continue to flat if you don`t change anything.

I`ve had good like with Armadillos too.
posted by bonehead at 2:12 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


FWIW my bike shop guy, who usually can't stand tire sealants like Slime, was raving about this: Stan's Tire Sealant.
posted by flug at 2:22 PM on June 12, 2011


Hey all--

Thanks for the recommendations. While I definitely need to replace the rim tape with something new (I've got the plastic kind), I've checked all that stuff and that's not the issue. Well, it's kind of the issue in that it caused the first flat (It's done the suck-down-into-the-spoke-nipples thing, and I only learned it's not supposed to do that today). In that first case we're talking three or four year old tubes that had never flatted or been replaced and eventually gave way. In the more recent two, I pulled pieces of glass out of the wheel in both cases.

I wouldn't say that they're totally independent, though, and I strongly advise you to stay off Johnson Ave in Brooklyn right now.
posted by thecaddy at 2:29 PM on June 12, 2011


Oh, three or four years? Yeah, time for new tires anyway. All tires get to a point where they get flats much more frequently than they used to; it usually happens before something more obvious like a bald patch happens.

New rim tape, new tubes, new tires, and you should be set. And yes, keep your tires at pressure; I'd recommend the TOP end of the recommended pressure, if not above. (See Sheldon Brown's article on tire pressure.) Squishy or wet tires pick up the pebbles and glass bits that cause flats much easier. Tire treads do too: if you don't get slicks (which I greatly prefer) make sure you clean out your treads at least once a week. (On asphalt, tread doesn't greatly improve traction, in my experience.)
posted by supercres at 2:40 PM on June 12, 2011


If you are going to replace the rim tape, Velox and nothin' else.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:01 PM on June 12, 2011


I've had very good luck flat-wise with both Continental Gatorskins and Vittoria Randonneurs. Did a 1000-mile tour on the latter with zero flats. They're both kind of hard to mount unless you use the trick that pharm describes above.
posted by pmdboi at 4:18 PM on June 12, 2011


panaracer t-servs. i have them on 2 bikes now and love them. i've used them in the past as well. i never get flats.
posted by rainperimeter at 4:23 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires are tough mothers. Here is a review I wrote for another site. Those tires are still going strong four years later, though I use that bike much less frequently now.
I had two punctured tires in three weeks right before I bought these. Since I switched to the Marathon Plus tires a few months ago, I haven't had a single puncture. The Marathon tires come in two grades: normal and Plus, which is the more flat resistant of the two (Schwalbe also makes a model called the Supreme, which I haven't tried). They are truly for everyday commuting, with tread and real heft. Most importantly, they have Schwalbe's SmartGuard, a layer of "highly elastic, special india rubber" to help better protect your tubes from sharp objects.

The Marathon tires aren't cheap -- and it's hard to tell whether it's just been good luck or good engineering -- but I feel confident it's the latter. I ride a lot (28 km, two or three times a week, 10 months or so a year) and I used to get tons of flat tires, sometimes once a week. This month in particular is very bad for debris; it's the thaw here in Toronto, so all sorts of junk gets left behind as the snow banks melt.

posted by bexpert at 5:06 PM on June 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nuts. Here us the first part.
I had two punctured tires in three weeks right before I bought these. Since I switched to the Marathon Plus tires a few months ago, I haven't had a single puncture. The Marathon tires come in two grades: normal and Plus, which is the more flat resistant of the two (Schwalbe also makes a model called the Supreme, which I haven't tried). They are truly for everyday commuting, with tread and real heft. Most importantly, they have Schwalbe's SmartGuard, a layer of "highly elastic, special india rubber" to help better protect your tubes from sharp objects.


posted by bexpert at 5:09 PM on June 12, 2011


Right now, I'm really digging the Panaracer Pasela Tourguards. They come in a wide variety of sizes and as well as being flat resistant, they feel great at higher pressures. Kinda squishy in a very good way. The T-servs mentioned above feel a little stiffer. I've also had good success with Continental Contacts, but I don't know if they come as small as a 25. I've put a ton of miles on 28s.

When you are mounting a tire, it helps to have leverage. I tend to put the rim against my belt and lean the rim against something like a workbench or, if I'm out an about, a railing or park bench. If you haven't learned how to roll a tire on, have someone who knows how show you. It's rare that I use levers anymore.

Partially fill the tire and give it a good spin while you watch it for any bulges and odd spots. If you have pinched the tube or failed to seat the bead by the valve, you'll see it before it's got enough pressure to explode.
posted by advicepig at 7:16 PM on June 12, 2011


Nthing the marathon plus. I haven't had a flat since installing them a year ago.
posted by zug at 9:30 PM on June 12, 2011


I've ridden directly over large chunks of broken glass with my Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires without a problem.
posted by cmonkey at 9:46 PM on June 12, 2011


Did anyone mention Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres yet? Accept no substitutes if you're after puncture protection. They can be a nightmare to fit, but this video will show you how. Also, as computech_apolloniajames says you can't beat Velox rim tape.
posted by SyntacticSugar at 2:26 AM on June 13, 2011


If it continues to be a problem, I'd also think about going to a wider tire at a lower pressure. 700x25 isn't super narrow, but for day to day urban riding you'll get a lot more comfort out of something a bit fatter and a slightly lower pressure will probably help with with punctures. Rivendell/Panaracer's Ruffy Tuffy is supposed to be pretty great.
posted by pjaust at 6:29 AM on June 13, 2011


I've been running 700x25 Continental Gator Hardshells on my commuter for about 400 miles now. I live in San Francisco and frequently encounter glass and nails in the road during my commute through SoMa. There are several large, deep gashes where some piece of road debris penetrated the rubber of my tires and didn't go any further. These are highly recommended. I would probably go for 700x28 or even 700x32 if I were buying again right now, but that's just because of the rather rough roads around here.

On a previous bike in NYC, I ran 700x23 Specialized Armadillos. They were also great; never had a flat with them.
posted by kdar at 8:30 AM on June 13, 2011


I've done thousands of miles on 3 or perhaps 4 sets of Schwalbe Marathon tyres, and never had any punctures on any of them. This included a long ride from Land's end to John O'Groats, and a fair amount of commuting in a big city, so I'd definitely join in with everyone else's recommendations.
posted by larkery at 8:32 AM on June 13, 2011


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