Tires; Cool and Dry

February 9th, 2012

There are many kinds of tires; they vary in width, tread, puncture resistance, tubeless or tubed, and accessories. Road racers tend to ride very narrow tires (23 or 25 mm width) and with little to no tread; commuters and bike tourers ride wider tires (28 to 35 mm, sometimes higher) with some tread; mountain bikers ride wide tires (2 inches and up) with moderate to gigantic tread. Almost without exception, in snowy winter road riding, you can get away with a treaded tire, although studs give you the maximum level of safety. I have some 35mm aggressive tread tires which worked wonders last year in the snow, however, they’re useless on trails. I’d love to report on studs, but there’s yet to be any ice or snow worth its salt (har har) this year.

As a transportation biker, the most important thing to me is reliability, which means not having to stop for a flat. I always buy the more expensive tires (around $40 each), which have a Kevlar strip to resist punctures; once the tire tread starts showing little tears and becomes soft (the tire seems to absorb any sand or salt on the road), the its life is almost over. When I’ve gotten a few flats in a short period, then it’s time to replace it. However, the benefit of using these tires is that I get a flat once every six months or so; on my fixed gear bike, I realized recently I haven’t touched the wheels in over a year (granted, it gets less use now that it’s not my commuter).

Despite their reliability, I still carry (and know how to use) a flat fix kit. Most of the time it just takes up space at the bottom of my bag.


It was a very easy day of riding. I was wearing a suit today (and the weather isn’t crummy!) so I took the commuter, which was an unwelcome change, although I fixed the shifting and cleaned the chain, so it was a very smooth ride.

Temperature: 33 degrees

Road condition: Dry

Clothing: Heavy winter coat, rain pants (gotta keep those suit pants clean), Timberland shoes. I had the suit jacket in my panniers, if you’re wondering.

Comfort: It was noticeably warmer on the ride, and I had to go slow up the Longfellow Bridge to stay cool.