View Full Version : Long time lurker, first post - Blew a road tire question (pic)

12-10-2011, 06:32 PM
Seems a strange place for a welcome post. :D

My name is Chris, I moved to DC last October from Ohio. We sold both of our cars and I commute every day on my Bianchi Cortina hybrid (measly 2.5 mi from Capitol Hill to Metro Center). I love biking, and in September I took the plunge into a full road bike - a Cervelo S1- on advice from a friend in pro cycling and after riding about 10 different models/brands. I bought it with the goal of fitness and something to do to get outside other than running and I *lust* it. Not love, pure unbridled teenage angsty lust.

Since September I've been out on most of the poplar regional trails W&OD, Mt. Vernon, etc. Which brings me to my problem and seeking advice on tire choice.

Today, while riding the Mt. Vernon, I called left while passing a pedestrian and they apparently were so startled (don't people call to pass around here?) that they jumped to the left and I had to veer off trail to avoid squishing them. Coming back on trail required me to scrape up about a 3" blacktop surafce (the edge of the trail). This damaged my tire so severely that a few miles down the road the tube blew and the tire sidewall was shredded.

The bike came equipped with Vittoria Rubino Pro Slicks, which while having no real frame of reference, I think I like because of course being a slick they are FAST. I'm not a racer, but I like to beat on myself and go HARD which is why I bought the bike. When safe to do so it's not uncommon for me to be over 25-28mph flat out and always improving. But because I also like to ride technically on trails that are not perfect like the Mt. Vernon and Rock Creek, I need a tire that can handle a sidewall scrape better than a stick of butter. I would prefer not to sacrifice the speed of a slick, but would make some concession in trade for a tire more appropriate for poorer trails ... small gravel capability would be a plus if I can get it.

I've done a lot of forum searching and it seems there are a few favorites (gatorskins, armadillos ) but they seem to be referenced more toward commuting. I would very much appreciate a few kind words of recommendation from local folks who know our trails for a tire that will fit well into my needs.

Thank you for reading my book that basically says "Hi, I'm a speed newb looking for a tire that's good on paved trails and not made of toilet paper."

Gratuitous damage shot:

12-10-2011, 09:00 PM
Welcome! I'm not the expert on road tires, but I can attest that the Armadillos seem really rugged, and when I did have a problem with one, the folks at Specialized were very good about replacing it with no hassle. -Jeff

12-10-2011, 09:21 PM
Welcome to the forum! In answer to your first question, most experienced riders on the trails here do (or should) call their passes, and that small effort is greatly appreciated by other cyclists as well as pedestrians. Many of us have found that a bell is better than a voice, because, as you found out the hard way, some pedestrians are confused by a called pass. Although I usually use a bell (once from a distance that can be heard and occasionally again when closer), when I do call a pass, I try to say "passing on your left" rather than just "left" and try to do it before I'm so close that I startle someone. Overall, I've found the bell works better. I especially like the Mirrycle "Original" Incredibell. It can be rung very loudly or softly and has a hammer that can be rotated, making for flexible mounting and use. I haven't found that particular bell in the shops here, but it's easily available on Amazon.
I know you love riding fast, but in all honesty, speed demons aren't always appreciated on the trails, particularly during commuting times and in areas where there are a lot of other cyclists and/or pedestrians. I've seen people try to race across the 14th Street bridge (and other places) passing other cyclists and nearly causing a massive pile up when someone came from the other direction. Hains Point, as you probably have already discovered, is a great place for fast riding. And now that we're into the winter season, you'll want to watch out for ice (and black ice) on the trails as well. Enjoy your new bike, but please ride safely and with the safety of others in mind as well. Sorry to hear about your tire, but am glad you avoided any collisions. Hopefully someone here will be able to help you with your tire question.

12-11-2011, 08:37 AM
Hey Chris. Welcome to the funny farm.
Most sidewalls aren't going to take kindly to abrasion, especially when you are looking for a lighter, skinnier tire that is meant for speed. If you are mostly riding on decently paved surfaces, I would skew the tire choice to that. Vittoria Zaffiros are very inexpensive training tires that generally hold up well and allow for high pressure (which is a big part of going fast). You'll get enough tread to feel comfortable in the wet, too. They'll hold up on less than fabulous surfaces (I've tested that often enough). And, no, the tread won't slow you down.
If I remember right, the 23s can be inflated to about 145 psi. At about $15 a pop, you can change tires several times before you've bought a set of gatorskins.

12-11-2011, 12:03 PM
For a mix of durability and performance I like my Michelin Krylion Carbons, plus they should be on closeout since the new model is coming out (called Pro 4 Endurance). I've found them for around 30 bucks per tire. I've put enough miles on them to square off the tread and I've been very happy with the ride and adhesion. Gatorskins are the standard recommendation here but I can't speak to them from personal experience. I think it's worth the extra money for a durable tire since changing it on a ride is a pain in the arse.

12-11-2011, 01:13 PM
Thank you for the welcome and advice! I'll start checking out the recommendations -- want to get into something this week so I can get a few more rides in before it gets too nasty for the nice bike. :) Considering a second set of wheels that I'd put a full racing slick on, but I have to decide how far I'm going into this before doing that. I'm seriously considering joining DC Tri and training, which will sway the components I choose. That decision won't be until spring though.

@Arlingtonrider totally hear you. I usually only ride fast where it's safe to do so, Hains Point late evenings after a couple laps to see how crowded it is, far out on the W&OD (past Reston) and always slow it down when I see folks. I don't have any interest in riding unsafe. Heck, on my daily commute I'm one of those rare bikers who stops and waits until green at stoplights. I believe in being respectful to all users of our resources, peds to cars. Though I get a lot less respect from cars... but I choose to try and set an example.

I just put an Incredibell on my latest Amazon order, three actually - one for each of my bikes and one for my wife. :cool:

(edit: Hains Point does not have an "e" :noob: )

12-11-2011, 02:29 PM
Ive had crap luck with the Krylions, the've tended to dry and crack on me.

Road tire tire of choice for me is the GP4000S Continental in a clincher or Continental sprinter's on my tubular carbons.

Continental Ultra Race's are nice and fast, but no durability for flats.

One question though.. Where are you going to attach the Incredibell to on the wife? :)

12-11-2011, 02:44 PM
I was just looking at the GP4000S... which led me to start researching what a "clincher" is. Ha.

As far as the wife... the wrist is an obvious choice, that way she can warn me when she's coming at me with a honey-do list. I can startled-jump in her path and give her the flat... instant procrastination.

12-11-2011, 04:08 PM
Ah ha... so that's what the "c" stands for in 700x23c...

12-12-2011, 07:45 AM
I was just looking at the GP4000S

I run the GP4000 with the reflective strip in a 25c. Gives a little more cushion for the commute, but is still relatively fast. Reflective strip makes the wife happy. used to run the Specialized All Condition Armadillo. According to the websites, the GP4000 is about 200g lighter per tire. The GP4000S is an extra 15-20g lighter.

12-12-2011, 07:55 AM

Lots of good recommendations here. I'll add a bit of vague advice. With no exceptions that I know of, any tire that is durable and has a more robust sidewall will get that durability at the expense of weight and road feel. My favorite clinchers are the Conti 4000. I like the Schwalbe Marathon series tires for durable tires. They make many different tread patterns and sizes depending on what kind of riding you do. Both of those recommendations tend to be really expensive, but they do what they're designed to very, very well.

I got close to 15,000 miles out of a set of Specialized Armadillos and never got a single flat. That is pretty hard to argue with in a bicycle tire.

Happy Monday.


12-12-2011, 11:12 AM
Today, while riding the Mt. Vernon, I called left while passing a pedestrian and they apparently were so startled (don't people call to pass around here?) that they jumped to the left

LOL. I see that so many times.

The answer is that cyclists don't call their passes half as often as they used to around here. This is what we get for that.

(Welcome btw).

12-12-2011, 01:13 PM
Add in my vote for Armadillos. I'm nearing 10,000 miles of EVERY day commuting on them with zero flats!!! *knock on rubber*

12-12-2011, 08:05 PM
Welcome aboard! Glad others answered your tire question.

In my experience calling passes, about 999 out of 1000 pedestrians understand "passing on your left" to mean, well, I'm passing you on your left. One out of 1000 understands it to mean "MOVE OVER TO YOUR LEFT!" Look at it as an opportunity to practice your advanced bike handling skills. Sorry about the tire, though.