Good 26" Tires for Commuting Route Singletrack & Road Portions- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Good 26" Tires for Commuting Route Singletrack & Road Portions

    I am trying to decide on a good tire for my 26" wheelset. I did a search and none of the solutions in other threads that I found matched my scenario:

    I ride bike trails (paved and gravel), some hard pack (sometimes soft though) single track cutting through the forest and lots of road on my commute. I have Panaracer knobbies now, but road eats up the tread pretty fast and the pressure is only 60 PSI. I would like something that has a smooth (er?) center tread but still has knobbies on the side to aid in corners when I hit soft dirt while in a turn or going across grass. Ideally the tires would have 80 - 90 PSI max as well. I also prefer Kevlar beaded or folding tires for their lightness over wire bead tires.

    I looked at Specialized CrossRoads Armadillo Elite tires and the Hutchinson Acrobat 26" Commuter tires, and they looked promising, but I couldn't tell if the tread pattern was what I was looking for. According to one review, the Hutchinson Acrobat had good road utility, but was poor on wet grass. The reviewer didn't mention cornering though and I would expect most slicks to do poorly on wet grass when going straight. I just want to avoid a washout while turning at a moderate speed of 10-15 mph.

    All opinions welcome.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Check out the WTB All Terrain and the Bontrager LT3, they're not too expensive and the tread design matches your description OK. They're not folding, though. I wouldn't sweat the tire pressure if it maxes out at "only" 60-65psi, that's still pretty high for a tire that size.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I am liking the Bontrager LT3 and may get that.

    I was looking around more and found the Continental Travel Contact Globtrotter tires. Does anybody have any experience with those tires?
    Last edited by wiggy1; 08-21-2011 at 11:41 AM.

  4. #4
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    Someone on my team was recommending the Schwalbe CX Pro for racing a MTB in 'cross. It might be a good fit for your application too.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  5. #5
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy1 View Post
    I am liking the Bontrager LT3 and may get that.
    OOOhh. A 26 x 1.6 knobbie. I kept hoping to see Small Block 8 in a similar size, but that looks even better. I might just have to try a set for extended fire road expeditions.

    I`ve never used the Travel contacts, but they were what came to my mind when you first posted. I bet any of the mentioned tires would be a pretty good compromise.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Someone on my team was recommending the Schwalbe CX Pro for racing a MTB in 'cross. It might be a good fit for your application too.
    Those Schwalbe tires look promising and lite as well. I will poke around the local shops and see what we have around based on these suggestions.

  7. #7
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    I've been happy with Continental Traffic tires on my commute which is similar: (wet) cobblestones, gravel/dirt and pavement. The tread pattern offers up a semi-continuous tread with low rolling resistance at 40psi but had knobs to grip in gravel/dirt corners. Mine are wire bead, dunno if they come in kevlar bead.
    Amolan

  8. #8
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    my brother and i just did about 300 miles of adventure cycling's allegheny mountains loop, I ran the continental travel contact, 26x1.75 We had a good mix of gravel road, bike path, and asphalt, for me the tires worked out great. Flying down alot of steep gravel roads with corners, never crashed

  9. #9
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    I like Nanoraptors for a double-duty tire.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus View Post
    I like Nanoraptors for a double-duty tire.
    That looks like a nice tire with a good center tread for while on the road. I am wondering though since it is a race tire, how is the tread life? I have about 12 miles on road and found that I can burn through the softer compounds pretty quickly. Granted I like them to be a bit soft for better grip in wet conditions.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy1 View Post
    I am trying to decide on a good tire for my 26" wheelset. I did a search and none of the solutions in other threads that I found matched my scenario:

    I ride bike trails (paved and gravel), some hard pack (sometimes soft though) single track cutting through the forest and lots of road on my commute. I have Panaracer knobbies now, but road eats up the tread pretty fast and the pressure is only 60 PSI. I would like something that has a smooth (er?) center tread but still has knobbies on the side to aid in corners when I hit soft dirt while in a turn or going across grass. Ideally the tires would have 80 - 90 PSI max as well. I also prefer Kevlar beaded or folding tires for their lightness over wire bead tires.

    I looked at Specialized CrossRoads Armadillo Elite tires and the Hutchinson Acrobat 26" Commuter tires, and they looked promising, but I couldn't tell if the tread pattern was what I was looking for. According to one review, the Hutchinson Acrobat had good road utility, but was poor on wet grass. The reviewer didn't mention cornering though and I would expect most slicks to do poorly on wet grass when going straight. I just want to avoid a washout while turning at a moderate speed of 10-15 mph.

    All opinions welcome.

    Thanks
    Really depends on the terrain....anyway Maxxis Crossmark is a very fast knobbie with an almost solid center section...

    After some years I went with slicks....I ride some 10 km of smooth hard pack with a bit of gravel....total ride is about 32 km....even though the slicks are a bit slower on the gravel I am still overall faster than the knobbies...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by wiggy1 View Post
    That looks like a nice tire with a good center tread for while on the road. I am wondering though since it is a race tire, how is the tread life? I have about 12 miles on road and found that I can burn through the softer compounds pretty quickly. Granted I like them to be a bit soft for better grip in wet conditions.
    I don't know. I used the Comp version. I rode them for a little over a year, commuting to work every week day and riding trails once or twice a week.

  13. #13
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    I've manage on Conti RaceKing 2.2 front and 2.0 rear, a bit of rolling resistance on pavement, and you won't even notice on the trails. I did buy the non "Black chili compound" and wire bead, only weighed in 40grams more than the folding!
    2008 Specialized Stumpjumper Expert Carbon
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  14. #14
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    I live in the Sacramento area and my commute consists of some trail and fire road in Folsom Lake SRA then the paved American River Bike Trail. I was running some of those cheap-ass tires from Performance that have a joining-rib-style center tread with some star-shaped knobs on the rest of the casing. Those did not work very well so I bought some WTB Pathway tires. I heard those are really good in the 700c version, so I thought the 26" would work well.

    Frustrating Tire. Lots of flats, even with Slime tubes and Slime tire liners (which are the bottom of the barrel compared to the other brands of tire liners...Mr. Tuffy being the best!) The rolling resistance was not bad, topped out at 65PSI. The grip was good in all conditions, never feeling like it was going to break traction on dirt or pavement. Wet was also good during winter. The problem with these tires (and I assume others in similar tread design) is the tread being closely spaced together and the flexibility of the "knobs". These things would pick up all sorts of little rocks and road debris, and unfortunately, the goat-head thorns that are a bane to this area. The tread would hold pieces of glass and the goat-heads, keeping them in place, until each rotation of the tire would force them further into the tire, through the liner, and into the tube.

    Looked into spending a bit more on "real" commuter/touring capable tires. Found the local REI had the Continental Travel Contact. Looked up all the information I could about real-world experiences with this tire and decided to try it based on that. It has worked great on my commute. No flats so far, the tread works very well on dirt and pavement, and if I am only riding on pavement I can get them up to the max inflation of 80psi (usually use 70psi) and scream along really fast! They have a really comfortable ride due to the high thread count in the casing, 180 threads per inch. This leads to a smooth ride and the suppleness allows the casing to bend and flow over items that would puncture a stiffer tire. I cannot speak of the wet handling, as I purchased these after the Sacramento wet season ended.

    People use these on epic tours and in really crappy urban situations and sing their praises. I agree with them.

    Another tire I have had the fortune to try recently is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour HS 404. This I put on our tandem after getting way too many flats with some other Performance tires (Dartmoor...really sucks!) that picked up road and trail debris like the WTB Pathway. The casing on these is really low TPI and it is very thin and rigid. Again, with tire liners and slime tubes the flats were happening way too often. I thought about getting the Continental Travel Contact for this bike, but I wanted something wider than the 1.75 they came in.

    I looked around at other online reviews and concluded the Schwalbe Marathon tires had the toughness and flat resistance I was looking for, and they had a wide choice of tread designs for any application. I settled on the Marathon Plus Tour 26x2.0 as it had a tread that would handle our paved adventures as well as the fire-roads my wife love riding on the coast. I found no local shop stocking these, all the online U.S. based retailers kept telling me they could not get them from their distributor (Wallingford Bike may have them, but I did not know about them until later), so I started looking globally. I found them at Chainreaction in the UK for a good price with low shipping (for a "From Europe" cost) and received them 4 days after I ordered them.

    These tires are fantastic! Really comfy (despite a 67 TPI), can run from 30 to 70psi, and grip everything like they are stuck to the road. We have had them in mostly dry conditions, little mud (didn't cake too much) but no real wet. I have had no trouble with junk being picked up by the deep tread. These things look like they might be impervious to the goat-heads as well. The only real drawback that speaks to your stated requirements for a tire is how heavy these things are. On a tandem, a heavy tire is inconsequential, as we have two "engines", but on a solo bike they might seem a bit much. I don't know, I just look at that as being something that will just make your legs stronger.

    So I suggest either the Continental Travel Contact or the Schwalbe Marathon Plus (regular - with shallower tread, or tour - with deeper tread )
    "You're messing with my zen thing, man!"

  15. #15
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    I'm really liking my Vittoria Randoneur Pro's. I was skeptical at first, but have been completely won over during the past few months. I got the 1.5's and run them at 90 PSI (IIRC the 1.75's aren't rated for that high of a PSI).

    They've performed well on gravel dike-top roads while fully loaded for touring and have been doing great in the city for my daily commute. Not as heavy as I expected them to be or feel, zero flats*, and I've had a lot of trouble with my Clyde+overweight+Seattle's streets giving me tons of flats with other tires. My mechanic recommended them to me, said he runs them in the touring season and has had the same set for 5 years with zero flats.

    * I did get two flats in the same spot when I changed wheels because I broke a spoke. I borrowed the front wheel from my girlfriends mountain bike for a couple of weeks and am pretty sure I let a piece of debris get inside when I swapped out her tire for mine as I found a small metal sliver the second time and the holes were on the inside (rim side) of the tire. I can't fault the Vittoria's for this, so don't count those two flats against them.

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