Author Topic: Which tires for touring?  (Read 8868 times)

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Offline dennybb

Which tires for touring?
« on: April 20, 2006, 04:06:24 pm »
I have a new Trek 520 that came with 700x32 tires, and am planning a fully supported cross country tour this summer, so I will carry very little on the bike. The guy at the bike shop suggests I change to 700x25 tires, to decrease rolling resistance.  I am inclined to try 700X28 instead.  Does anyone have some wisdom to share on this?  Also, if I change tires, which material is best?

Offline wanderingwheel

Which tires for touring?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2006, 05:56:27 pm »
Since you are not carrying any load, switching tires is a good idea.  I've never had much problems with flats, so I would use standard road tires, probably Michelin ProRace.  If the shop has 25's I might go for those, but 23's would be fine also.  If you still want to try wider tires due to unusually poor roads or because you are carrying extra weight, I recommend the Rivendell Roly-Polys.  

I like nice, fast tires, so I avoid heavy city/commuting tires and anything with a thick tread or thorn-proof claims.  For me, the improved ride and handling of race tires more than make up for their shorter life and lack of flat protection.



  • Guest
Which tires for touring?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2006, 08:46:53 pm »
Make sure that your rims can accommodate a much narrower tire.  See Sheldon Brown (who else?)

If you're not carrying anything (and you are of normal weight (BMI<25)) and you're going to always be on pavement, then you should go with a durable 23mm tire such as the Schwalbe Stelvio Plus.  I have 4000 miles on mine and they still are OK.  The also are foldable, so a spare tire can be packed away with your gear in the van.  The best source for these tires is:

If you're going to be carrying some weight or you are a little chunky, you might want to go with the 25mm Armadillo from Specialized.

I don't think you'll notice much difference between a 28 mm and 32 mm tire.  The Stelvio is a little heavy, but it rides very smoothly.

Oh, if youre going to be on any gravel, stay with your 32mm tires.  If I recall, the tires on your bike are Bontrager Hard Cases.  These are not such great tires.  A much higher quality 32mm tire is the Schwalbe Marathon XR:

This message was edited by cyclesafe on 4-20-06 @ 4:50 PM

Offline biker_james

Which tires for touring?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2006, 08:33:52 am »
On a long tour like that, you have no idea what road conditions you will be riding on. 23,s may be fine for 90% of the trip, but not up to the other ten percent. I've heard one tour operator recommend that even unladen you go with at least 28's. I doubt that putting 23's on a trek 520 will make it feel like a race bike anyway-it is a touring bike after all,and not one known for its sporty feel when not loaded up.


  • Guest
Which tires for touring?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2006, 11:41:24 am »
Biker James makes a good point.  I think everything depends on how heavy you are (issue: pinch flats), whether you will be running into any gravel - or if you do run into gravel whether it is practical for you to walk your bike (for example going into campgrounds).  A wider tire will be more comfortable with the cost of weight and slightly higher rolling resistance (depending on inflation pressure).

One idea would be to put on 23 or 25's and then carry a wider foldable spare tire such as a 32 or 35 that you can use on your front wheel if you find yourself in gravel.  You will recover from a slip of the rear wheel, but you will be a goner if you slip with your front (most likely on gravel).  Anyway, with Hard Cases you'll need to replace your rear tire after about 1500 miles.

With my touring bike and BOB I use 28 or 32 mm on pavement, 35 and 37 mm on packed gravel roads, and 1.85 to 2.1 inch 29er knobby tires on loose gravel and dirt.

This message was edited by cyclesafe on 4-21-06 @ 7:52 AM

Offline DaveB

Which tires for touring?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2006, 07:08:51 pm »
As long as you are doing "fully supported" touring you are riding the same way you do at home or on your weekend rides.  You don't need a special bike or special equipment.

I've ridden a bunch of organized fully supported "tours" on my Litespeed Catalyst with 700x23 tires with no problems.  It's just like a training ride or a club ride except further from home.    

I've ridden several "credit card" tours on a Co-Motion Co-Pilot solo bike with 700x23 tires and had no problems with occasional gravel roads even carrying 20 pounds of gear.  

A fully loaded tour with 40 or more pounds of gear on front and rear panniers would be a different story but supported tours need little in the way of specific tour equipment.  

Offline Beep!Beep!

Which tires for touring?
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2006, 11:04:05 am »
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Offline smh_bike

Which tires for touring?
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2006, 02:16:13 am »
I have Continental Travel-Contacts on my Cannondale T-2000 touring bike.
I can recommend them highly.

This message was edited by smh_bike on 5-17-06 @ 10:18 PM

Offline driftlessregion

Which tires for touring?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2006, 12:14:46 am »
700/25 is a great compromise. A little more secure than 23's and not sluggish like 32's. When I pull the BOB I put on the 32's, otherwise it is 25 on the same rim. Check with your bike shop regarding compatibility of tires on your rims.  Despite being a touring bike the tire makes a big difference in how it feels.