Author Topic: Tire Choice ??  (Read 6508 times)

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Offline BioDiesel_Bob

Tire Choice ??
« on: March 17, 2008, 03:36:43 pm »
I'm planning on doing the Nortehrn Tier starting May 1

I have a Trek 590 Hybrid (20 yrs old my favorite bike) Planning on a self supported trip, I weigh 185 on a good day :-)  probably have 35 -40 lbs of gear.

What would be a good tire choice? Are beefier tires better for hauling weight? Do I want better rolling resistance? Do I need lots of tread for riding the shoulder when cars come?  Dont want the bike getting squirley when I hit the soft shoulder with all that weight?

I currently have 700x32c (32/30)cross wolf 85 psi max, kinda knobbie looking tread, I chose these since I just moved from Upstate NY to Santa Fe and wanted an on/off road tire.  I dont plan on doing too much off road on my x-country trip.  These are kinda slow?

BioDiesel Bob

Offline RussellSeaton

Tire Choice ??
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2008, 11:04:22 am »
For paved road touring tires I favor as smooth of a tread as possible and thick tread.  Heavier, wider, thicker, etc. the better for not getting punctures and cuts.  Never worried much about rolling resistance when touring loaded.  With the 40-50 pounds of stuff on the bike rolling resistance loses any importance.

As for riding on the shoulder, OK if its a paved shoulder and wide enough to safely ride.  And not littered with glass and trash and rocks.  But don't weave back and forth on and off the shoulder if its paved.  Pick either the road or shoulder and ride a straight line.  Be predictable and act like you know how to ride a bike.  Don't swerve and weave all over the place.  As to your idea of swerving onto the soft shoulder if a car comes up behind you, that is a guaranteed way of crashing almost immediately.  Unless the conditions are very peculiar, don't ride on unpaved shoulders.  Peculiar conditions would include a required short stretch on a very, very busy road where its safer to ride on the soft shoulder than the paved road and it is just a short section of road that has no alternative.

Offline raybo

Tire Choice ??
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2008, 11:38:52 am »
I tour on a touring bike and use 700x28 road tires.  Many bike tourists prefer Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, which is what I use.  I believe it is a belted tire which helps prevent punctures.

I also use tire liners, thin strips that fit between the tube and the inside of the tire, that greatly reduce punctures.  I've gone on long tours (over 800 miles) without getting a single flat.

This page from provides
7 links to information about bike touring tires.


Visit the on-line bike touring archive at
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at

Offline whittierider

Tire Choice ??
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2008, 03:03:07 pm »
Never worried much about rolling resistance when touring loaded.  With the 40-50 pounds of stuff on the bike rolling resistance loses any importance.
Rolling resistance is a coefficient, not a constant, and the more weight you have on the tires, the harder is is to push them forward.  IOW, weight has a direct effect on that effort needed to roll them.  If you were on flat ground, the best racing tires' rolling resistance make it like you're climbing a 0.4% grade.  Not caring what you get is likely to double or triple that, making you do the equivalent of having to haul all that weight uphill more than you planned, by a grade of almost 1%.  That's not steep, but it will have an effect on the number of miles you can do in a day.

That said however, what most people don't realize is that if all other factors were equal, the wider tire will actually have less rolling resistance than the narrower one of the same model, even though the narrower one can handle more pressure.  The reason is that the wider tire does not have to bend as sharply at the edge of the contact patch.  There are several good web pages about this, one being .
Are beefier tires better for hauling weight?
I have not done touring heavily loaded, but if tandem use is any indication, a lot of road tandem teams use 23mm (skinny!) tires and it works out just fine for them, even though the gross rolling weight is at least 300 pounds.  I never go that narrow on ours, but it shows it can be done.
Dont want the bike getting squirley when I hit the soft shoulder with all that weight?
For soft shoulders, yes, you'll need a tire wide enough to support you adequately in the soil (gravel, sand, etc.)

This message was edited by whittierider on 3-18-08 @ 11:14 AM

Offline John Nettles

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Tire Choice ??
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2008, 09:51:36 pm »
Last summer I did a partial NT from Minn to NY.  I tried the Schwalbe Supremes and was very pleased with them, i.e. fast, durable, held grip, etc.  I weigh the same as you and enjoy a 37mm tire.

I am old school (but trying to get into newer school ;) )and prefer a bit more rubber to cushion against pot holes.  To me, safety/reliability, comfort, speed in that order are my priorities so while a smaller tire might be faster, I prefer the bigger tire.

Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!


Offline biker_james

Tire Choice ??
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2008, 07:41:28 am »
I will weigh in in favour of Continentals. I used to use the Top Touring 2000, but since they have gone, I have switched over to the Travel Contact, and it seems just as good. I think they take about 80lbs pressure.
 I like big tires too-700x37. Lots of rough pavement here in Canada at least, and they seem to handle it just fine. I would worry about hitting potholes or broken pavement with a loaded bike and something like a 700x23 or 25, as there isn't nearly as much protecting your rim. Never mind that you would also need to run much higher pressure in a low volume tire, reducing the comfort factor.
Lots orf people seem to like the Schwalbes-I don't. I bought one set and gave them away after a few hundred km's because I didn't think the bike handled well at all with them. The friend I gave them too seemed happy with them though. Can't believe I gave away about $90- worth of tires when I think about it.

Offline BC

Tire Choice ??
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2008, 11:08:13 am »
I'd second the good opinion of Continental Travel Contacts. They came standard on my Cannondale T2000 and I rode the Northern Tier on them. They have an almost slick center tread, with small knobs on the outer edges. Recommended pressure is 80 - 85 pounds, I think. Might be hard to find in the 700 sizes - one source I found is Mine lasted me the whole trip, and I switched to Schwalbes when I got back. Like biker_james, I prefer the Travel Contacts, but I'm not quite ready to give away the Schwalbes yet. When I launch off on another long tour, I'll probably go back to the Conti's.

PS - Are you heading east or west? May 1 might be a bit early for a start in Washington. Safe travels!

Offline MrBent

Tire Choice ??
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2008, 11:31:45 am »
I'll vote for Schwalbe Marathons.  I've put many thousands of miles on them with great success.  I ride with 1.5" and found I could do dirt roads and such with confidence.  I wanted something pretty wide for the dirt sections I knew I would encounter on my TransAm last year, and I wasn't disappointed.  On the pavement, my speeds were typical for loaded touring, usually in the 10 to 15 mph range.