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  1. #1
    LUW
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    New question here. Solid tires: anyone tried 'em?

    Back in 2010, I only had a 26er, but after 15 years I wanted something faster, so naturally I went for a road bike. Yep, pretty fast, but I got sick of flat tires to the point I was considering giving up on cycling. At least one flat per 30 km was not what I considered fun on a bike. Long story short, I sold my road bike and bought my first 29er, and the rest is history.

    I still have my '98 Metal Matrix Stumpjumper (just a wall trophy now) and two 29ers, but recently I'm getting the crave for speed again. I don't want a track bike, I want something that can carve smooth asphalt BUT can go off-road if needed, so the natural beast for that would be a CX bike. However, it has those skinny and microscopically thin tires, that are magnets for thorns, nails, shards and everything else sharp and pointy in a radius of 10 m. I'm very pleased in only changing a tire every 1500 km or so with my 29ers, and I don't want to go back to carrying three spare tubes.

    But last year I heard about solid tires, and looking over on eBay, there are a few up for grabs. Has anyone ever used them? What are the pros and cons? I'm heavy, so the weight weeny credo is lost to me, therefor weight issue is not important. Honestly, I'm so traumatized about changing tires on a road bike that I'll only consider having one again if flats are no longer an issue.

    What do you guys say?
    Cheers!
    Luciano
    Brazil
    - 2013 Caloi Carbon Elite - 29er

  2. #2
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    Every time I had problems with flats on cyclocross size tires (32-35c) it always came down to bad technique or over/underinflation. Comparing them to high pressure road tires is not really a fair comparison. They aren't nearly as finicky as road tires have been in my experience (or as fast).

    My last 250 miles have been on panaracer pasela PT's in the 28c size - they've been great on pavement, unpaved roads with a variety of conditions and even some singletrack (including twice through a mile of glass strewn trail that I was sure I would flat from). The puncture protection seems very good, am running them at 70 front / 80 rear on 23mm rims. If you plan to ride a lot of wet trails probably want something with a bit more bite. Maybe use a mr tuffy or something if you can't find anything with the tread you need + built in protection? There are also thorn resistant tubes but they do not ride very well IMO.

    What I'm trying to say here is that I don't think solid tires have any place outside a very utilitarian commuter bike, and I don't think they would satisfy your craving for speed.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  3. #3
    LUW
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    I know I'm (totally) biased against skinny tires, but I came to the conclusion that the cycling gods did NOT want me on a road bike. I'm big (100+ kg), so I started out with 28C - really wide tires, according to the leg shaving road crowd. After the 1st puncture I crammed a Mr. Tuffy in the tires, but that didn't fix anything. I then tried Giant's sealant-filled tubes, but no go. Swapped tires, using heavier and more sturdy rubber, but I was still getting flats in an abnormal rate, and I was riding on highway shoulders, where everybody only had the "regular" flat tire issues. It became pathetic - for every ride I had to factor in the time spent fixing the damn flat, and I started carrying three spare tubes, because (more then once!) I had two flats in just 50 km.

    Honestly, I was getting sick of bikes, and was considering abandoning the sport. I spent three months off the saddle, in total disgust, and when I went to the bike shop to try to sell my bike, I found the 29ers. Lower pressure, big contact patch and lots of knobs meant that from one puncture every 25-30 km I started getting a flat every 1500 km at least. So now I'm kind of spoiled, but totally happy. But I do miss the speed. You cite pressure, but with the 28C that I used I was only going up to 70 or 90 psi, so lower pressure didn't help me much. What would be the usual pressure for a 32 or 35C? But would they fit in a CX fork? For my road bike I went 28C because it was the widest tire I could fit front and back.
    Cheers!
    Luciano
    Brazil
    - 2013 Caloi Carbon Elite - 29er

  4. #4
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    Highway shoulders are notorious for steel belt fragments from shredded truck tires. In those cases, I would strongly recommend going with a 'plus' tire, specifically something from Schwalbe's lineup. Rode across country a few years back with a set of Marathon Plus tires and would frequently pick up pieces of steel - you'd know it when the pieces would hit of the fenders. Not one flat with the Schwalbes. Continental plus tires didn't fare as well in my experience.

    You could also be going to low (pressure) and pinch flatting...

    Did you ever inspect the tubes to check what kind of flats you were getting? Sealant filled tubes should fix any issues with picking up thorns, etc most of the time, but they won't do squat if you are pinch flatting.
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  5. #5
    LUW
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    Steel belt fragments... In theological discussions I always use them as proof that the devil does exist. In theory, those liquid filled tubes should countermand them, but for me those tubes were only great in keeping the liquid inside, because the air got out. And no, no pinch flats. I always kept my tires inflated close to max pressure, so never got snake bites on the road bike. Never tried Schwalbes on the road bike, though I think they're THE best tires I ever used on the 29ers, so maybe I could have better luck with them.

    But why would a solid tire be bad for riding at speed? From what I read I understood that they offered the same rolling resistance then pneumatic tires. Or the problem would be the extra weight?

    And what about tire profile - what can I fit in a CX bike? I only have experience with road bikes and their anorectic paper thin tires. If I can fit something wider the demanded tire pressure will be lower, so I think I'll have a less flat-prone tire. And of course, if I can get a meatier rubber profile even better, with the benefits of better traction in loose gravel. Sorry about the basic questions, but I really have zero knowledge with CX bikes, and down here you'll find either a full-blown mtb or a regular road bike , but no CX.
    Cheers!
    Luciano
    Brazil
    - 2013 Caloi Carbon Elite - 29er

  6. #6
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    I'm 240lbs/109kg and run 700x25 on my road bike and 700x40 up front and 70x35 rear on my cross bike.

    I've never had a pinch flat, ever. I run 30psi front/40psi rear on my cross bike (tubeless) and 100psi on my road bike (tubes).

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUW View Post
    But why would a solid tire be bad for riding at speed? From what I read I understood that they offered the same rolling resistance then pneumatic tires. Or the problem would be the extra weight?

    And what about tire profile - what can I fit in a CX bike? I only have experience with road bikes and their anorectic paper thin tires. If I can fit something wider the demanded tire pressure will be lower, so I think I'll have a less flat-prone tire. And of course, if I can get a meatier rubber profile even better, with the benefits of better traction in loose gravel. Sorry about the basic questions, but I really have zero knowledge with CX bikes, and down here you'll find either a full-blown mtb or a regular road bike , but no CX.

    I think mounting/unmounting a solid tire would probably suck, not to mention that you couldn't tune pressure for different surfaces. IE, my vaya sees not only pavement, but also singletrack, gravel, abandoned rail way, ATV trails, you name it. For work commutes and road rides, I'll run ~70 psi in the tires....but when doing mixed-road rides, I'll drop to ~55-60. Gravel and singletrack, probably around 45. Of course, this may not apply for you, but that rules out a solid tire for me.

    Also, better than slime tubes is actually going tubeless....I've had very good luck with Orange Seal sealing up all types of punctures on mountain and CX bikes alike. I've never tried slime tubes or any of that, so can't really offer a comparison. That might let you avoid having to go with a "plus" tire, as they do come with a weight penalty...though they do also offer a pretty nice ride, too. I can definitely attest to the marathon plus surviving multiple pieces of shredded steel belts...have pulled out many pieces, always expecting to start going flat, but never happening.

    As for tire size, the frame/fork clearance is going to vary between models, but you can guarantee that you'll be able to fit a 32mm tire in any cross bike with room for mud clearance. That follows the UCI max tire size...chances are in most frames you'll be able to fit a bigger tire, with most cross bikes fitting a 35 with decent clearance, and 38/40 is even a possibility on some....especially if you don't need the mud clearance. The Surly Crosscheck/Straggler will fit 45's with ease, so it definitely varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

    Do you have some specific bikes/frames in mind? If so, checking in with the various manufacture forums may yield some definitive answers.
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  8. #8
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    Solid tyres have been around for a long time. Actually, the original bikes from the 1800's were solid. There is a reason why air was introduced.

    Frankly, if you can handle the brutally harsh ride, try them.

    If your bike can handle fitting Schwalbe Marathon Plus, there is nothing better out there.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  9. #9
    LUW
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    In reality I'm jumping the gun here. I'm so traumatized by flats that avoiding them became a priority, so I was thinking tires first bike second. Alias530 testimony makes me regain my faith, so that I can properly choose a bike: frame first, then components. I'll have to look around to see what I have locally, but being able to fit a 35C would be a great plus. But as I said, CX bikes are very uncommon here, to the point that I might have a problem finding a factory-ready model.

    And that makes me think. To prove I'm really ignorant about CX bikes, other then tire clearance and obviously frame geometry, what else makes a CX bike different from a road bike? Frame strength probably? And about geometry, a CX bike is more "relaxed"?
    Cheers!
    Luciano
    Brazil
    - 2013 Caloi Carbon Elite - 29er

  10. #10
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    I don't think you want solid tires... think of how a tire with air flexes and conforms to the terrain. Cross tires already grip like crap compared to MTB tires. I ride my cross bike on really groomed trails, not actual cyclocross.

    I think you need a reliable tubeless system. I have been using a WTB Nano up front and WTB Cross Boss out back. The Cross Boss only lasts ~600 miles before braking grip bugs me enough to replace it, but again I'm 240lbs and riding trails so I could wear them out quicker than most.

    I ran them on the stock CX rims and then built a carbon wheelset based on XC 29er rims and it's even better for grip/volume.

  11. #11
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    Where are you from? Cross bikes are pretty common in a lot of parts of the world...
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  12. #12
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    or, another question... What brands do your local shops carry? Most major brands have a cx bike or 2...
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  13. #13
    LUW
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    Cross tires already grip like crap compared to MTB tires.
    Well, that pretty much sinks the idea of solid tires. I wouldn't be carving up trails with the bike (that's what my 29er is for), but I need decent grip for packed dirt roads and of course, rough/bad asphalt. So if solid tires would make me bounce around to the point of loosing traction, they won't do. Thanks for clearing that up!

    And I've been looking for factory CX bikes around here (South of Brazil) but it looks bad so far, or at least not very promising .
    Cheers!
    Luciano
    Brazil
    - 2013 Caloi Carbon Elite - 29er

  14. #14
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    You may have to look at on-line purchasing from Chain Reaction Cycles or Wiggle or others, either purchasing a whole bike, or a frame and building a bike up. Whole bikes are packed in boxes so that they are more compact in shipping size, but if you are confident with tools, you can assemble easily. Usually fit seat parts, handlebars, pedals and the front wheel and you're away. If not, your local bike shop should help out for the cost of the full assembly labour cost. Or find a Cycle spanner man to do it amongst friends. Don't give up just because it's unavailable locally. I live in New Zealand, and though well equipped access wise to most cycle needs, there are just some things that are not catered for, so I do what I need to do. I don't let isolation limit me.

    Eric
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  15. #15
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    Others made great points about why you want air pressure - the variability of pressure for passive suspension is the big one for me. For road riding on a big tire I usually run 60-70 psi tops, usually a lot lower (but with 38-43c tires). A big tire is probably the best thing you can do to avoid flats. But it does take some time to figure out just how low you can go without pinching.

    If you have trouble finding a cross frame, a lot of the old touring frames have clearance for big tires. If you want more clearance you may be able to fit long reach brake calipers and 700c wheels on a frame that is designed for 27" wheels.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  16. #16
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    I'm joining this thread a little late...

    Granted I'm closer to 50 kg than 100. But I've had periods when I've put in a lot of time on the road, often in fairly dirty places, and I also do a certain amount of mixed surface riding, and have done some cyclocross racing, on my 'cross bike.

    I agree that flats can be really frustrating. But I think you're overreacting, and not being very rational about what is a fairly controllable problem.

    So you're talking a lot about debris. I'll talk about that too, but let me ask you something first - do you know what a pinch flat is? Would you recognize one if you saw it? And, do you figure out why you got a flat when you get one?

    Moving on, tire liners have a pretty bad reputation for wearing holes in tubes and not really stopping debris anyway, either because they get pierced or because they shift out of their correct position. However, I feel like I've done well with tires with built in flat protection. Here in the US, that's most road tires, although the cheapest and the most expensive sometimes don't have it. My favorite is the Continental Grand Prix 4000.

    I looked into slime tubes last year, after getting a lot of flats. One of the things I heard, that ultimately prevented me from going that way, was that often, the thorn or wire or whatever caused the flat stays stuck in the tire and keeps reopening the hole it made in the tube, slime or no slime. That sounded pretty useless to me. You can get a similar problem if you don't pull all the debris out of your tire before changing tubes. I often partially reinflate my flat tubes in order to find out where the puncture was.

    Since you want to be able to ride trails, I think you're on the right track with a 'cross bike. Cyclocross tires don't always come with flat protection, so definitely look into that when you get it. Stock cyclocross tires are also often 34 mm wide or less in order to comply with UCI rules. If you don't care about racing, something wider might be more fun. IME, most 'cross bikes can clear more. And, get something at least mid-priced, and with flat protection.

    Next time you get a flat, and there's always a next time, take a deep breath and figure out why it happened. Beyond using puncture protection or going tubeless, there's not a ton you can do about punctures. But it would be kind of dumb to keep getting pinch flats because you're misattributing them, or more punctures because you were too angry to clear all the debris out of your tire.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
    LUW
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    Well, I'll definitively have a bear of a time to find a factory CX bike here . You can ask anyone on the street and they'll know what's a mtb or a road bike, but won't have the foggiest if a CX is a bike, a motorcycle or a new kind of skate board. With that, the big brands just don't offer their CX models here, so I would have to import. And that's a huge problem, because by Brazilian law, since I'm not buying a product that is officially sold here, I'll be on my own if I ever have an issue with warranty. I was fancying a more high end Al or maybe even a carbon frame, so going without warranty would make me mighty uncomfortable. I'll speak with my LBS to see if there's a possibility of custom-rigging something worthy using a regular road frame, but because of the tire clearance I'm not exactly optimistic. Bummer.

    But back on topic. From what you guys said and thinking things further, I guess a solid tire is out. So probably I would go with a pneumatic tire, but using a more hardcore tire (that's if I get the bike, of course). I never heard that Mr. Tuffy or the likes were bad on your tubes - the road crowd here use it a lot. And about slime tubes. As I said, the ones that I got from Giant were useless, but on my 29ers I opened a regular tube and put in 60 ml of Joe's and then patched it, and haven't got a flat in the last 1700 km on both bikes. Is it possible to do something similar on a skinny tire?
    Cheers!
    Luciano
    Brazil
    - 2013 Caloi Carbon Elite - 29er

  18. #18
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    Specialized might be an option.

    While it doesn't look like they list the AWOL on their site for the Brazilian market, they do list the Diverge, though you still don't get as many models of that line as the US does...they'll still clear 35's:

    Specialized Bicycle Components

    vs

    Specialized Bicycle Components
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  19. #19
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    I'm surprised you can't get a 'cross bike easily. They're pretty big in international racing. What about European brands?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  20. #20
    LUW
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    jcaino, pretty cool the Diverge! I wasn't aware that Spz actually brought CX bikes here, but I'm fairly certain this is something quite recent. The best part about the Diverge is that the A1 would fit in my budget. Not a carbon frame though, and I would have to swap those mechanic disk breaks for something better, but "buyable".

    AndrwSwitch, Brazil is funny. Mountain biking only started here in the late 80's, but road cycling has been around for a lot longer. When mountain bikes came a long a very distinct division was made; or you rode on the road or you did trails. With that mentality there wasn't much room for something that could do both, and nowadays the majority of cyclists ride a mountain bike. Among the serious riders I think it's divided 50/50, but if you factor everybody who regularly rides a bike it maybe something close to 30 or 40/70.

    The concept of a hybrid bike for general use only appeared here in the last five years or so, so maybe (probably?) CX bikes will get more popular, but that's going to take time.
    Cheers!
    Luciano
    Brazil
    - 2013 Caloi Carbon Elite - 29er

  21. #21
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    'Cross exploded here in the US several years ago. Before then, they weren't around as much. They tend to get listed with road bikes, not hybrid or mountain bikes. So look there.

    You can also look at touring bikes. When all the other road-going bikes were getting tighter and tighter clearances, touring bikes stayed pretty much the same. You'd have to add knobbies, but probably not that hard to acquire.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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