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  1. #1
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    Question to the Bike Commuter Veterans Regarding Tire Durability

    I've started commuting 22 miles RT on my 29er Mt. bike for the last four months. It's been great, however I have a question regarding tire durability. I had my second tire that was cut by a "razor blade like" metal debris that has gone through my Mr Tuffy/Stop Flat tire liner and left a 2 cm slash across the tire. I'm OK with fixing the flat on the road and replacing the tube at home, but replacing the $35 - 50 tire is becoming expensive every other month. The two tires I've slashed so far are Specialized Fast Trak and The Captain.

    Can you repair a 2 cm slashed tire across the tread between the knobs or are these tires destine for the garbage dump with less than ~1000 miles on them?

    Are these two incidents just bad luck, or should I predict more of the same in the future?

    Do certain tires designs do better with road debris (cuts across the tread)?

    I've been riding with the tires close to the max pressure as stated on the side wall, is this a factor?

    For the record, I do try my best to avoid all road debris and in these two cases I was completely surprised when a heard the air leaking from the tire.

    Thank you for any advice you can share!

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  2. #2
    Frt Range, CO
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    Quote Originally Posted by ophale
    ...cut by a "razor blade like" metal debris ...Are these two incidents just bad luck, or should I predict more of the same in the future?...!
    A razor sharp piece of metal wins everytime. I'd call it bad luck and if it has happened twice already, I would expect it'll happen again.

    I go for a cheaper, heavier tire. I've been riding the Michelin City Tire, it handles glass and road debris just fine, I'm sure I could cut one open with a box cutter

  3. #3
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    This is the biggest...

    argument for using a set of cheaper tires for your commuting. Yes changing tires from a more road oriented tire to an off road tire is a pain in the but. However, there is a reason the most of us do it. It's because we LIKE our nice and often expensive off road tires and want them to last! As pursuiter stated, bicycle tire vs. sharp object, sharp object wins nearly every time. The only tires that will do better against road debris are dual ply down hill tires, but they are very heavy. I would recommend that you seek out a 700c commuter tire in the 35 to 45c width range. There are a bunch of them out there and most are available for $25 or less. They'll roll smoother and faster than an off road design and be quite a bit cheaper to replace should you cut one.

    So chaulk it up to bad luck and find a cheaper set of tires for your commute. Commuting, if you live in an area with plentiful road trash, is one area of cycling where expensive tires aren't always better.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  4. #4
    I Ride for Donuts
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    ^^ I'd agree with that. I have a slice on my finger from yesterday, when I found out by running my fingers around the inside of the tire before I threw the spare in that it was a big hunk of glass that had penetrated my $30 schwalbe kojack.

    I would add though that I have repaired a 2cm slash in a mtn bike tire with a park tools tire boot - http://www.parktool.com/products/det...t=17&item=TB-2

    I rode the same tire for months with the boot in it, and never had a problem.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice!

    Thanks for all the advice! So it seems I'm just having bad luck and the cumulative advice is to buy cheaper commuter tires.

    I was thinking about the prices of tires... Why is it that a bike tire is about as expensive as a car tire? The kicker for me is my truck tire which is the same outside diameter as my bike tire, has much more rubber and internal belts, last 60,000 miles and I've never had a flat, cost about $60. Almost as expensive as my Captain tire that was the only available 29'er tire at the LBS the last time I needed to replace a sliced tire. I don't have many options living in paradise. The LBS only carry a very limited selection of tires and to by online becomes expensive when you factor in shipping to Hawaii. But hey, the weather is always the same!

    So I'm on the look out for a fat balloon type indestructible 29'er tire with low rolling resistance for the pavement and can handle riding on lava rock and beach sand. I'm also having difficulties figuring out tire sizes from online stores and catalogs. I ordered some 622 x 47 tires (700c) and they were very skinny compared to my 622 x 50 tire (29'er) fast trak tire. So I'm hesitant to buy something without seeing them. However I've seen pictures of Serfas Drifter 29'er, and Big Apple's on bikes and I think they will meet my criteria. In regards to the Michelin City Tire, would the 47 mm tire be a fat tire (close to 2") or will it be a skinny tire with tread that goes from one side of the rim to the other.

    Mahalo for all your great advice!

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  6. #6
    Frt Range, CO
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    Quote Originally Posted by ophale
    ...In regards to the Michelin City Tire, would the 47 mm tire be a fat tire (close to 2") or will it be a skinny tire with tread that goes from one side of the rim to the other....
    It's close, about 1.9" on a Mavic 24mm rim. And I bought 'em mail order for $18 each.

  7. #7
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    My girl rides a 26" wheeled Townie with an Armadillo rear tire, Gatorskin front tire. The only time she has gotten a flat, with tire pressure always closer to the top of the recommended range, is from walking her bike through her workplace and running over a huge tack. Out on the street the Gatorskins are a good option for puncture resistance and you can find them at competitive prices.

  8. #8
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    I just had my 1st flat in 6k miles on my front big apple the other day. I picked up, of all things, a frayed end of a bicycle brake cable (complete w/ crimped on endcap). Pulled it out on the trail (the noise of it whacking my fender was really annoying). Made it to work fine but a slow leak was introduced and it was flat by lunch time.

    Another time, another tire, I noticed halfway to work that I had picked up a thumbtack and just rode it to the office. That tire (a michelin transworld city I think) went flat as soon as I pulled the tack out. Well, the tack made a bigger hole in the inner tube than the brake cable did.

  9. #9
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    Remember, that most normal people don't ride that many miles on a regular basis.
    Any machine used that often will need more servicing and be subjected to more opportunities for punctures just the law of averages.

    I've had $60 tires last a week and had $25 last a year.

  10. #10
    Devo
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    maybe something like this
    http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...8&category=590

    i ride a Big Dummy
    using 26" DH wheelset
    and Serfas Drifters.
    exactly for the reasons of durability and handling road debris

    i haven't had a car for over 5yrs now...

    i know what you mean about tyres...

    then of course there is...
    Airless....
    http://www.airfreetires.com/shopping/c-16-700c.aspx
    www.AsanaCycles.com
    "Bicycle Lifestyle, realized." D.G.

  11. #11
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    I got a lot of miles on a set of $11 42mm IRC Mythos slicks. I replaced them with 35mm Kenda cyclocross tires for $6 a tire, and they are still going strong after a couple thousand miles of pavement and washboard.

    The burliest mountainbike tires I ever ran were WTB velociraptors. Does anyone know of something comparible in a 29er size?

  12. #12
    Devo
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    I've been on Vulpines for a year.
    I'm surprised how well they've worn
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    "Bicycle Lifestyle, realized." D.G.

  13. #13
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    Update from Original November Post:

    I decided to purchase two Specialized Fast Trak Control back in November and since then life has been good... I put over 1642 miles on the rear tire and replaced it due to wear (~1mm of knobs left) today. Which leads to another question, when do you replace a mountain bike tires used mainly for commuting? Do you run the tires until they are bald or ultimately fails on the road? Rotate the worn tire to the front tire position? Or do you replace it when the center tread gets within a 1mm to the base tire (don't see wear bars like automotive tires)? I may have prematurely replaced the rear tire, but I prefer not to fix flats on the side of the road if I can avoid it. In addition, I increase my 22 mile RT commute to 32.5 miles with a 1,500 ft elevation change over the first 5 miles and I am afraid of a blow out while cruising down hill... As I get older, I have become less of a risk taker.

    Anyway, I need to purchase new set of tires and I'm strongly considering Big Apples, Vulpine, Nano Raptor or Fast Trak. I really like the "big volume" tires. I might be quicker on smaller air volume tires such as the 700C 28-47's but I have been building leg/lung strength and I can now keep up with most of the road/TT bikes on the "Queen K" Hwy (for those who don't know the "Queen K" is the Ironman Hawaii route and therefore I cycle to and from work with lots of people training for triathlons). I think the highest priority is still durability. I know I can get 1600+ rear tire miles out of the Fast Trak Control but wondering if I would due better with Big Apples, Vulpine, or Nano Raptors?

    For speed, I'm thinking about getting a Cervelo S1 (Soloist Team) in the next few months. My way of stimulating the local/Canadian/Chinese economy... Anyone share their mountain bike commute with a road/race/TT bike?

    Sorry for the long post...

    Aloha,

    Keith

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  14. #14
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ophale
    I decided to purchase two Specialized Fast Trak Control back in November and since then life has been good... I put over 1642 miles on the rear tire and replaced it due to wear (~1mm of knobs left) today. Which leads to another question, when do you replace a mountain bike tires used mainly for commuting? Do you run the tires until they are bald or ultimately fails on the road? Rotate the worn tire to the front tire position? Or do you replace it when the center tread gets within a 1mm to the base tire (don't see wear bars like automotive tires)? I may have prematurely replaced the rear tire, but I prefer not to fix flats on the side of the road if I can avoid it. In addition, I increase my 22 mile RT commute to 32.5 miles with a 1,500 ft elevation change over the first 5 miles and I am afraid of a blow out while cruising down hill... As I get older, I have become less of a risk taker.

    Anyway, I need to purchase new set of tires and I'm strongly considering Big Apples, Vulpine, Nano Raptor or Fast Trak. I really like the "big volume" tires. I might be quicker on smaller air volume tires such as the 700C 28-47's but I have been building leg/lung strength and I can now keep up with most of the road/TT bikes on the "Queen K" Hwy (for those who don't know the "Queen K" is the Ironman Hawaii route and therefore I cycle to and from work with lots of people training for triathlons). I think the highest priority is still durability. I know I can get 1600+ rear tire miles out of the Fast Trak Control but wondering if I would due better with Big Apples, Vulpine, or Nano Raptors?

    For speed, I'm thinking about getting a Cervelo S1 (Soloist Team) in the next few months. My way of stimulating the local/Canadian/Chinese economy... Anyone share their mountain bike commute with a road/race/TT bike?

    Sorry for the long post...

    Aloha,

    Keith
    That's a good question about the wear. I've heard of people running them all the way down to the belt, though I would be inclined to replace them a lot sooner especially if you're going to be blasting down hot, Hawaiian pavement! I would say that if you have 1mm of knob left then it's definitely time to replace. If fat tires are your thing, then Big Apples are probably the way to go. I plan on picking up a set when my current tires wear out. Maxxis Hookworms look pretty cool, too.

    I envy you, getting to cycle on Queen K every day! The big island is my favorite place to visit, along with Lake Tahoe. I love cycling along Ali'i Drive.
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  15. #15
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    Thanks Gary!

    I pulled the trigger on the Big Apples today. I'll give them a try and report back on puncture protection (kinda random...), durability (how long the tires last) comfort and speed. Now that I have a good basis on how the Specialized Fast Trak performed over the last 9 months (four tires) It will be easier for me to comment on the Big Apples.

    As for tire replacement triggers... I'm an engineer, so I like standard practices, wear limits, or other measurements to determine when I need to do maintenance or to change out a part. So I think this would be interesting question for me to see what others have to say, especially the "veteran bike commuters" out there! Being new to bike commuting, I figure I can make a bunch of mistakes and learn from them or learn from veteran bike commuters who probably have gone down a path I'm considering a journey on. I like plan "B" at my age...

    The SF Bay Area is very nice place too! I lived in Pleasant Hill for 17 years but never bike commuted (worked at Chevron Research in Richmond and Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, either are not an easy bike commute...). Anyway, next time your in Hawaii, drop me a line, I'll join you on a Ali'i Drive or other fun ride!

    Aloha,

    Keith

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  16. #16
    jrm
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    Im using a 700c trekking trim

    DT 470X with a 26mm width. Im running 30c IRD tandems, soon to be replaced by 28c panaracer Tservs. But ive had good results with the tservs on the 470s.

  17. #17
    No-Brakes Cougar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ophale
    Thanks Gary!
    The SF Bay Area is very nice place too! I lived in Pleasant Hill for 17 years but never bike commuted (worked at Chevron Research in Richmond and Berkeley National Lab in Berkeley, either are not an easy bike commute...). Anyway, next time your in Hawaii, drop me a line, I'll join you on a Ali'i Drive or other fun ride!
    Sounds like a plan.
    R.I.P. Ronnie James Dio ~ July 10, 1942 May 16, 2010

  18. #18
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    I know you probably aren't going to go out and get another set of tires, but a friend recommended me a tried and true commuter combo - Schwalbe Marathon Plus and Slime tubes. He has been riding the same set of tires for two years on a crappy, debris strewn route ~16 miles each way without a flat. Tires are gashed to hell and he has pulled out tons of stuff that got stuck, but he still hasn't had a flat.

    This is the combo that I will be running when I start running the same route into work.

    IIRC he is running the 35's, but they have 38's and 45's, too.

  19. #19
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  20. #20
    What matter where?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryball
    I know you probably aren't going to go out and get another set of tires, but a friend recommended me a tried and true commuter combo - Schwalbe Marathon Plus and Slime tubes. He has been riding the same set of tires for two years on a crappy, debris strewn route ~16 miles each way without a flat. Tires are gashed to hell and he has pulled out tons of stuff that got stuck, but he still hasn't had a flat.

    This is the combo that I will be running when I start running the same route into work.

    IIRC he is running the 35's, but they have 38's and 45's, to.
    I second this...4K on my 28c Marathons w/o slime. Great tire if you don't mind the weight.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryball
    I know you probably aren't going to go out and get another set of tires, but a friend recommended me a tried and true commuter combo - Schwalbe Marathon Plus and Slime tubes. He has been riding the same set of tires for two years on a crappy, debris strewn route ~16 miles each way without a flat. Tires are gashed to hell and he has pulled out tons of stuff that got stuck, but he still hasn't had a flat.

    This is the combo that I will be running when I start running the same route into work.

    IIRC he is running the 35's, but they have 38's and 45's, too.
    You could be describing me except for the Slime. I do 30 mi. round trip every day. My last commuter was a MTB with 1.125" Marathons and my current is a 700c cross bike with Marathon Pluses. No flats in over 2000 miles...tires wear amazingly well too.

    Like your friend, when I did replace a tube on my MTB that failed near the stem, I checked the Marathon and found 5 pieces of glass embedded all the way to the kevlar belt. I figure that's 5 times I wasnt't sitting at the side of the road fixing a flat.

    The only downsides to the Marathon Plus...expensive, heavy and stiff. But no flats.

  22. #22
    i also unicycle
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    i've seen armadillos worn down to when the threads are showing in the tread and having the own balk at a replacement due to cost. i'm like "this tire is super worn, has lasted how many years and easily 5k miles, it's done. here's a new one." that said i've put ~4k miles on a 700x32 armadillo on the touring bike with very few flats and it wasn't quite to the threads but it was getting close.
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  23. #23
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    First Week Impressions with the Big Apples

    Thank you all for all the wonderful tire suggestion and strategies!

    I replaced my Specialized Fast Trak Control 29er 2.0 with ~1600 miles on them with Schwalbe Big Apples 700C 50. My first impression is how much quieter these tires are! They are heaver than the Fast Trak but must roll faster by ~10%. On average, I'm 14 minutes faster on what was 2 hr 15 minute RT commute over 32 mile and a 1440 ft elevation change. Although I have seen a increase in speed with the Big Apples, the Fast Trak Controls were fast (average speed of 14 miles/hr on this route) for a knobby mt bike tire.

    As mentioned before, I'm riding a Specialized Rockhopper 29er when completely outfitted weighs about 44 lbs (lights, rack& bag, water, tools...). Below is a picture of the bike with the Big Apples on it.



    I didn't realize that the Big Apples have a reflective stripe on the tire. I'm happy about that small safety feature.

    Anyway, just wanted to report back on my first impressions with the Big Apples.

    BTW, if you are in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on May 11 (bike to work week) I've set up a "Bike Commuter Safety Meeting" at the Natural Energy Lab of Hawaii Authority that is open to the public. Below is a flier with additional information.

    http://www.ophale.com/bicycle/NELHA_...ty_Meeting.pdf

    Aloha,

    Keith

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