Bicycle Tires: Why They’re Important
There’s a lot of hubbub made about the price of tires and rightly so. Rubber has taken a turn for the expensive through the past few years. Good tires ain’t always cheap, but man oh man, they sure do make a difference. Let’s step back for a second and examine what a tire really does for you: it is the only interface between your bike and the surface you’re riding on. That’s a big responsibility. So here’s my question: why cut corners on the one piece of material that translates all your physical effort and monetary investment into actual movement? I often think over to motor sports, especially Formula 1, where tire selection is so critical to overall success that strict rules govern their rubber compound as tightly as the race car engine or chassis. Stepping back into the real world of leisure rides to Jamestown, we can translate this emphasis into cornering control and puncture resistance, both of which improve dramatically with tire quality, giving you more control through those fun sweeping turns and peace of mind over questionable roads. There’s really only a few reasons to mount uber fancy, handmade tubulars to your bike–unless of course you want to, which is awesome and wholeheartedly endorsed by your humble narrator! But the reality is good tires do make a difference; whether keeping your bike heading in the intended direction or not suffering the agony of a burst sidewall or hourly punctures. When just riding along sounds more fun, that choice deserves as much attention as frame selection. So when your tires start looking worn (flattened center surface, fraying or cracking sidewalls, cuts and nicks) remember that those millimeters of rubber are the only things connecting you to the ground. When they fail or misbehave, frowning faces usually follow.
Sam Weinburg is a creative writer, cyclocross racer and top notch mechanic at Boulder Cycle Sport. His favorite band is Minor Threat