Bike to Work Week Tips: Tires and Tubes

Commuting is much different from road racing or mountain biking when it comes to tires and tubes. Most road racers are willing to give up a bit of flat resistance in exchange for a lighter tire. And mountain bikers prize traction over flat resistance, although you’re more likely to flat due to glass and other debris on the road than while riding dirt trails. Tubeless technology for mountain bikes has also minimized flats. But a flat on the way to work or home is an inconvenience, and sometimes a messy one at that.

Options for preventing the escape of air pressure at inopportune moments generally impart a weight penalty, but that’s a fair trade-off for most cyclists. There are tire liners that fit between the rim and tire (Mr. Tuffy) that prevent smaller sharp objects from penetrating the inner tube. Slime makes tubes with self-sealing technology, so minor punctures won’t slow you down. Some companies offer tires with a much more durable casing, such as the Specialized Armadillo, or Continental Gator, made specifically for bad road surfaces. All of these solutions increase the rotating weight of your wheels, which should be take into consideration if speed is a primary concern. If you ride in the 10-15MPH range, it’s less noticeable.

Tips for avoiding flats – Keep your tires properly inflated. Under-inflation can cause pinch flats, and also slows you down. Don’t be a curb-hugger, take the middle of the bike lane. Most debris eventually works it way to the far edge of the road, so avoid riding there. By riding in the middle of the bike lane, or at least a few feet from the edge of the road, you’ve got some room to swerve and avoid hazards. Know your enemy. In a big city like NYC, expect glass and hardware to be a problem. For more rural areas, or anyplace that tribulus terristris grows, the “goats head” and similar thorns lie in wait, ready to attack unsuspecting tires. Finally, always carry a patch kit and spare tube. Murphy’s law rarely strikes those that are fully prepared.

Your local bike shop may be able to suggest tires best suited for you, and it’s hard to beat their convenience when you need a tire or tube today. But if you’re the kind of cyclists that prepares ahead, or buys in bulk, good deals can be had from these and other online retailers: Modern Bike |JensonUSA |Bikesomewhere

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