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View Full Version : Will fat tires save my butt?



KLizotte
07-18-2011, 09:30 AM
This past weekend I rode on the York Heritage Rail Trail in PA. The surface is crushed gravel and in excellent condition (but not suitable for skinny tires IMHO). Unfortunately, after 30 miles my butt was seriously hurting from the vibrations and I found the ride to be more uncomfortable than I would have liked even though I have seat and front suspension (I have a hybrid bike). When I hit pavement I sang Hallelujah! :p

My bike has Bontrager Hard-Case hybrid 700x35c tires. I presume I can install fatter tires for gravel trails (but not as fat as MTB tires) but I haven't confirmed with the LBS yet.

My question is this: if I put on the biggest tires my bike will handle, will the ride be smoother? Since so many of the trails in the area are gravel I hate to give them up but I can't bear the thought of a repeat of Saturday's ride. At present, the C&O is out of the question for any decent distances.

Also, can anyone tell me why they insist on putting gravel down on some of these trails anyway? Along the YHT there were "bald" sections and they were fabulous to ride over (and much quieter). If a trail is relatively flat and wide, what does the gravel improve upon over just having hard packed earth? I understand gravel is needed for roads because car wheels will eventually dig trenches but I don't think bikes are heavy enough for that.

If you have an MTB, I highly recomment the YHT. It has ample parking all along the trail, the scenery is beautiful, it's well shaded and cool, there is a nice cafe along the path, the users are very friendly, the path is wide, and there are few peds. There are a fair number of road crossings but they are across little used country roads so very easy to breeze through. This trail will be beautiful in the fall when the leaves change.

baiskeli
07-18-2011, 09:46 AM
I'm by no means an expert on this, but my first thoughts are:

- yes, wider tires
- lower air pressure?
- a suspension seat post. You can easily install a seat post with a suspension spring in it. That's probably going to work best.

KLizotte
07-18-2011, 09:57 AM
I'm by no means an expert on this, but my first thoughts are:

- yes, wider tires
- lower air pressure?
- a suspension seat post. You can easily install a seat post with a suspension spring in it. That's probably going to work best.

I already have a suspension seat post though nothing fancy. I didn't try lowering the air pressure since I was afraid of getting a flat (I was running at about 75-77 psi - the tires max out at 80).

Dirt
07-18-2011, 10:11 AM
Greetings!

Fat tires are wonderful. The 700c tires on your hybrid are usually measured in millimeters. Typically they are between 28 and 35mm. With the advent of 29er mountain bikes, there are 700c tires that can be as much as 2.5" wide.... much wider than your bike can handle. You should be able to get tires in the 45-50mm range that will work well with your bike. Most bike shops will not stock tires like this, but many will be able to order them for you.

I can look up more specifics later today if you like.

Thanks for the info on the trail.

Pete

KLizotte
07-18-2011, 12:24 PM
Hi Pete,

Yes, I have 700x35c. If I put thicker tires on I presume I'd have to adjust the brakes somehow? 50mm would be nice. I have to bring my bike to the LBS to check on the derailleur (it has a very hard time going from 1st to 2nd gear) so I will check to see what tires can be ordered.

Should I have let some air out of the tires on Saturday or would that have been playing with fate? I should have experimented with that for the last mile but I was hot and hungry at that point.

Cheers,

Kathy

StopMeansStop
07-18-2011, 12:31 PM
You shouldn't have to adjust the brakes. The pads close on the rim of the wheel, not the tire itself.

baiskeli
07-18-2011, 01:14 PM
I already have a suspension seat post though nothing fancy. I didn't try lowering the air pressure since I was afraid of getting a flat (I was running at about 75-77 psi - the tires max out at 80).

Oh.

Then my next thought is that you need a new suspension seat, or a new bike.

elcee
07-18-2011, 01:59 PM
Yes, I have 700x35c.



With 35 mm tires, I'll bet that you could run at 60-65 psi with not much more risk of getting a pinch flat. You might even get better traction on gravel since the tires will float over the gravel instead of digging in.

Try going down 5 psi at a time. I'm sure you'll feel a big difference.

WillStewart
07-18-2011, 03:03 PM
I went from high pressure skinny tires to Schwalbe "Big Apples". I couldn't be happier! The rolling resistance seems about the same but what a difference in reduced jarring.

http://schwalbe.com/gbl/en/produkte/tour_city/produkt/?ID_Produktgruppe=37&ID_Produkt=140

However, Big Apples don't come in 700, so you'd need to see if any other tire manufacturer has addressed this size with an efficient balloon tire.

Here are some opinions about using balloon tires;

http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-628466.html

CCrew
07-18-2011, 03:11 PM
However, Big Apples don't come in 700,



What they show as 28" is ETRTO 622 which means they're what we US folks refer to as 700c. Looks like the smallest is 2.00, that may be a questionable fit

KLizotte
07-19-2011, 09:16 AM
I went from high pressure skinny tires to Schwalbe "Big Apples". I couldn't be happier! The rolling resistance seems about the same but what a difference in reduced jarring.

http://schwalbe.com/gbl/en/produkte/tour_city/produkt/?ID_Produktgruppe=37&ID_Produkt=140

However, Big Apples don't come in 700, so you'd need to see if any other tire manufacturer has addressed this size with an efficient balloon tire.

Here are some opinions about using balloon tires;

http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/index.php/t-628466.html

I never realized there was so much variation in tires. The Big Apples look like a lot of fun to ride but as you said they would not fit my bike. I also realized that because I have a back rack I will need to keep clearance in mind.

WillStewart
07-19-2011, 11:24 AM
I never realized there was so much variation in tires. The Big Apples look like a lot of fun to ride but as you said they would not fit my bike. I also realized that because I have a back rack I will need to keep clearance in mind.

As pointed out by another, the 622s are actually 700c, so it appears you are in luck. I have a rack on the back of my bike, and the tires still fit, so you might measure the clearance and see if it will fit.

brendan
07-20-2011, 09:37 AM
You shouldn't have to adjust the brakes. The pads close on the rim of the wheel, not the tire itself.

While this is true, depending on the brakes, larger tires might not easily pass through the calipers even when uninflated and/or the brakes completely released (though larger tiresmay pass through with the brake pads temporarily removed). Just a heads up.

Brendan

PS - the Big Apples are a dream to ride on my cargo bike.

CCrew
07-20-2011, 09:57 AM
While this is true, depending on the brakes, larger tires might not easily pass through the calipers even when uninflated and/or the brakes completely released (though larger tiresmay pass through with the brake pads temporarily removed). Just a heads up.

Brendan

PS - the Big Apples are a dream to ride on my cargo bike.


It's a hybrid with a suspension fork. I'd say that the chances are high that it's a V-brake bike.

Biggest issue that I can see is that the tires that Will linked to only come in 2.0 as the smallest size in 700c. That's effectively a 50mm tire. That may be a close call if at all to get between the chainstays. I'd hate to see her order them only to find they won't fit.

I rode the same trail a couple weeks ago, and did it on a cross bike with a rigid fork and 32mm cross tires. Did both the MD and PA sides up and back. I found the trail to be well groomed and far from bad condition as far as rail trails go and the cross bike worked fine for me, as did a Salsa Vaya running 38's for my riding partner. I have to wonder if it's a bike/saddle fit or even a seat time issue. Amazing how the sit bones harden up when you do that kind of mileage on a frequent basis. It is also a different experience running crushed limestone versus pavement.

I think I'd try the aired down method someone suggested first before dumping $ in new tires.

FFX_Hinterlands
07-20-2011, 10:09 AM
Tire pressure and width make a hugh difference on gravel, but the easiest change might be the saddle. You could get a suspension seat post or a sprung saddle and try that out. Velo Orange makes very nice leather sprung saddles at various widths if that interests you. In general the higher your handlebars with respect to your seat height, the wider the saddle. This is because your pelvis rotates forward when you "lean over" to reach handlebars, so you can take a narrower saddle than if the handlebars are up higher. Unfortunately most sprung saddles you find in LBS are wide (for cruiser bikes) and may not be appropriate for your bike.

brendan
07-20-2011, 10:18 AM
Padded bike shorts?

Dirt
07-20-2011, 11:01 AM
I've found the Continental Gatorskin tires very resistant to flats. They ride nicely too. I think they also make them in wider widths that will fit on a hybrid-type bike.

Tim Kelley
07-20-2011, 12:01 PM
I like Bontrager Hard Case (http://bontrager.com/model/07796) tires. I run 700 x 38s on the commuter mountain bike which has fat tires on a 700c rim.

CCrew
07-20-2011, 12:03 PM
I like Bontrager Hard Case (http://bontrager.com/model/07796) tires. I run 700 x 38s on the commuter mountain bike which has fat tires on a 700c rim.

I think that's what the OP is running except in a 35mm, based on the first post. I agree, decent tires. That's what leads me to believe it's not 100% a tire issue.

Tim Kelley
07-20-2011, 12:13 PM
I think that's what the OP is running except in a 35mm, based on the first post. I agree, decent tires. That's what leads me to believe it's not 100% a tire issue.

Agreed--these are the knobbies (http://bontrager.com/model/08316) it came with and using them I can at least keep up with Mark Blacknell when he is on his full suspension mtb.

FYI--I can fit 2.25 mountain bike tires on the front no problem, but on the back I have issues with the way the rear derailleur is mounted, so I could only but in 10-20psi before it starts rubbing.

KLizotte
07-20-2011, 03:18 PM
Brendan is right. I have caliper style brakes and I'll run into a clearance issue if I go too big.

You definitely have fitter butt muscles than me then. I was very surprised since I can easily do 30 miles on asphalt without breaking a sweat. I had put in a lot of mileage the previous two days so maybe it was cumulative tiredness. It was also my first time on crushed limestone. I should have let some of the air out of the tires. Live and learn.

I don't think my suspension seat is all that great; it came stock with the bike and appears to only have about 3/4 inch "wiggle." The front suspension seems to be much more robust. It's a comfort hybrid so it's not heavy duty by any means. Am already planning on buying either a touring or road bike if I can figure out where to store it safely. Came very close to moving into a bigger apartment for the sole purpose of securing more bike space when my lease came up for renewal this month. I am steadily sliding down that slippery path....

I plan on buying studded tires for winter riding so appreciate any and all tire advice. It's hard to believe I put on 10K+ miles on my old 18 speed and didn't even know how to change a tire or lube a chain.

KLizotte
07-20-2011, 03:36 PM
I should have posted a pic of my bike originally. Yes, I know what you are thinking. The handlebars are really high which doesn't bother me if I'm going less than 30 miles though windy days are challenging. It does not appear that I can lower them via the stem so I plan on trying to lower them via the angle of the handlebar so I'm more aerodynamic. I can't raise the seat any higher since I won't be able to touch the ground (I'm only 5'2").

As you can see, I already have a cushy, gel filled seat so don't bother with padded shorts. On this bike, that would just look ridiculous!

In the city it's a great bike to ride given its visibility and ease of control and I do load it up with commuting gear/shopping. I don't plan on doing any centurys on it though. Need to find a more long-distance oriented bike.

This is the bike I rode on the York Heritage Trail last wknd for 30 miles and found the ride to be bumpier than I would have liked. Overall though, I do like the all-purpose tires that came with the bike for bopping around Arlington/DC.

CCrew
07-20-2011, 04:59 PM
Brendan is right. I have caliper style brakes.

The bike in the picture? They sure look like V-Brakes to me...

KLizotte
07-20-2011, 09:34 PM
The bike in the picture? They sure look like V-Brakes to me...

Really? Out of pure ignorance I based my conclusion simply by looking at them and assuming V brakes would look like, well, like a V.

CCrew
07-21-2011, 08:06 AM
Really? Out of pure ignorance I based my conclusion simply by looking at them and assuming V brakes would look like, well, like a V.

No prob. V's look generally like this: http://www.jensonusa.com/store/product/BR306A00-Avid+Single+Digit+7+Brake+2011.aspx

While calipers look like this: http://www.jensonusa.com/store/product/BR293E00-Shimano+Sora+Br-3400+Caliper.aspx

Brendan's absolutely right, you don't have much wiggle room with calipers, but I really think yours has v's.