How to choose your urban bike tires?
For many years there has been a wide selection of tires with different characteristics, which can end up losing the cyclist in his choice. In this article we will provide you with the keys to understanding these different characteristics and choosing the right tire for your use.
Let's start by describing the structure of a bicycle tire.
The tire consists of a carcass made up of braided cotton threads or nylon threads, which can be flexible or stiff, influencing the capacity for deformation and shock absorption. We find above the carcass the tread , made of rubber, then again above, the tread which will be in contact with the road. We find on the sides of the tire the rigid rods allowing to flatten the tire to the rim.
In addition, one is also often interested in the flexibility index , indicated by the TPIs ; corresponding to the number of threads per inch. The higher the latter, the more flexible and technically designed the tire.
Finally, there are different tire widths , affecting comfort and performance; a wider tire offering increased comfort due to a larger contact surface with the road, but therefore more friction and therefore energy losses.
Tires are differentiated using different criteria:
- The performance of the tire : Its ability to restore the energy provided by the cyclist (therefore limiting the energy losses induced by tire friction)
- Grip : The ability of the tire to adhere to the road, i.e. to maintain the trajectory imposed by the cyclist
- Lightness : The weight of the tire
- Longevity : Resistance to wear due to time
- Puncture resistance : The ability of a tire to resist puncture, it depends on the thickness and density of the tire
- Comfort : The ability of the tire to absorb the irregularities of the road, this depends in particular on the width of the tire
The season of the year in which you want to use your tires also influences, performance on dry roads and on wet roads not being the same, especially for grip. However, there are tires intended for use in all weathers.
Finally, we can then sort the important criteria according to the different uses of a bicycle:
- Maximize performance → lightweight tyre, high performance and grip
Continental Grand Prix 4-season tyre:
110 tpi, high grip on both dry and wet roads for a weight of 220 grams. A classic, used by many riders on difficult races like Paris-Roubaix
Michelin Power Competition tyre:
60 tpi, dedicated to straight races, it has a 25% reduction in rolling resistance for effective grip in all weathers
- Puncture resistance and skid → favor longevity and puncture resistance
Dutch Perfect tyre:
anti-puncture, having an additional layer of 5mm at the level of the tread, in order to prevent punctures as well as wear. It also has an anti-ozone OPS protection to prevent aging and cracking by ozone . After many tests, they ended up acquiring the reputation of being indestructible. Weight: 650 grams
Freedom Thickslick Race tyre:
twice as resistant as a standard rubber tire thanks to their double Kevlar protection, they offer increased puncture resistance and better resistance to skids. Weight: 220 grams.