Bicycle tires..."premium" vs. hardware store?

Discussion in 'Sports & Outdoor Adventure' started by whoaru99, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Part-time Iconoclast Subscriber

    I'm thinking seriously I need to pull my bike off the hooks in the garage and do a bit of biking come spring time.

    It's an early or mid-90s Schwinn Impact mountain bike so it's OK but nothing real high end. Currently it has pretty knobby tires on it and I'm thinking 97% of any future use will be paved roads and or hard bike trails so looking at a city / hybrid type of tire.

    So, looking for opinions from a cyclist if there is real benefit (lower rolling resistance, etc.) to a "premium" bicycle tire maybe like a Michelin City or just grab something local that has more of a street tread? I'm not to worried about cost difference, but no sense doing it if there isn't really any benefit.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  2. jeffe

    jeffe AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Spring in MN... won't you a least still need studded tires? :D

    Check out Nasbar of Peformance online. They have both their house brands and offerings from the big boys too.

    If you are going to be sticking to paved roads/trails, knobbys will likely lead to a little road rash should a quick change of direction be required! Some "city" tires are the ticket.
  3. dumptruck

    dumptruck AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Rolling resistance has little to do with the quality of the tire, much more to do with the size, psi, and tread. In my opinion, the difference between "hardware store" tires and a solid notch up is huge, but mainly in longevity. Same for inner tubes. Unnessarily fancy tires, I'm thinking you may not have actually seen yet? is good and has reviews that can sometimes save you from a bad decision. Your local bike shops will appreciate your business though.

    P.S. Beware of thinking you need a bunch of tread. Slicks are actually best in the city with the rather huge exception of sand/dust/gravel patches. I like ones that are close to slick in the center with a little tread off-center.
  4. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    +1. As with anything, you get what you pay for up to a point. That point is around $20 to $25 per general use tire IMO.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  5. mac mini

    mac mini Active Member

    Biketiresdirect is also another place to look. They have very good pictures, search slick/semi slick. Mountain tires on the road buzz so your idea to ditch them is a good one. An entry level tire will go hundreds of miles easily if not a thousand or more. If you end up going that many miles this season you'll become quite fit and will probably be thinking of upgrading more than the tires. (Think road bike)
  6. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Part-time Iconoclast Subscriber

    The bike came with 26 x 1.75 tires, would going narrower or wider be of any benefit or just stick to the same general width?
  7. dumptruck

    dumptruck AK Subscriber Subscriber

    you pretty much choose your own tradeoff. Thinnest & highest PSI for fast and furious, thickest and lowest PSI for smooth cruising, somewhere in between for... something in between.
  8. Scuzzer

    Scuzzer Fixed Bias

    The Michelin City tire you mentioned in your first post should be a good choice for use on hard surfaces. Tire width generally gets larger as the intended surface gets softer. I use 1" tires for my road bike, 1.75" for mixed bike trail riding, 2.25" for off road, and 3" for snow trails.
  9. Ausjoe

    Ausjoe Super Member

    Depends on how much you weigh If you are 200+ lbs. you'll get more flats with narrower tires. I just took a quick look at dumptruck's website and if you choose the slick/semi-slick option the two best are the Schwalbe Marathon and Continental Sport Contact. If you really hate flats the Schwalbe Big Apple looks promising though I've never used one. The Kenda's are cheap, the Vittorias get flats pretty quick. The best is that aforementioned Conti. I believe it has a one year no flat guarantee. Actually that may be the Conti Top Contact only with the guarantee. I don't see it in your size. If you can find it in your size get it. The tire Scuzzer mentioned is good too.

    It's really about the legs. You're going to ride your bike for exercise, not to see how high an average speed you can keep. You might average a mile per hour faster or so on skinny tires but you aren't getting any more exercise that way. It becomes about ego.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011
  10. MikeCh

    MikeCh Super Member

  11. gatorvrx

    gatorvrx Klipsch-aholic

    Try Price Point. They are or were having a decent sale. I've been mountain biking and racing for ten plus years. Try to stick with a 2.1 or 2.3 tire if they will fit without rubbing. Kenda, Panaracer, Continental, IRC makes some decent tires as does others. Currently I'm running Kenda 2.6 "Stick E's" on my Marin B17 Bomber. Great tire, takes a beating, wears well, but somewhat on the heavy side.
  12. dumptruck

    dumptruck AK Subscriber Subscriber

    The sport contact is actually what I'm trying this spring, because I want to go to a slightly softer ride without feeling too sluggish. Btw that website has specials all the time, if you're patient.
    Totally true, if you know that about the OP. I ride my bike as my method of getting places faster than the bus, so it's not about ego at all; it's about not getting tired as fast (ahem). Tires make a big difference in coasting too.
  13. Andyman

    Andyman Scroungus Stereophilus Subscriber

    For the riding you describe, i think you're right on the money about losing the knobbies and getting regular street tires. That being said, you'll probably be fine with most big box tires and really don't need to jump into premiums as you riding will be moderate and probably limited.

    If you've looked at that biketiresdirect link you'll see that tires are micro marketed to death. I'd just snag something from Target or the like and be done with it. Odds are it will serve you just fine.
  14. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Part-time Iconoclast Subscriber

    I stopped in the bike shop in the town up the road and checked out some tires. He did want to look at the wheels on the bike though before making any recommendation on some of the narrower, high pressure jobbies. Based on the prices he quoted me I just might load it into the back of my GF's SUV and have her drop it off this coming week as she drives to this town every day for work.

    The guy said for $60 they'll give it a "tune up" which included truing up the wheels, adjusting the shifters and brakes, lubing the cables and chain, etc. He also said they'd put on the tires at no extra charge for mounting with the tune up and even install some riser handle bars at no extra labor with the tune-up price. Seemed reasonable to me...

    Of course he invited me to consider upgrading to a nice, new Giant et al.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011
  15. Andyman

    Andyman Scroungus Stereophilus Subscriber

    I'd think long and hard before going narrower and high pressure, especially of your roads are crap like they are here in Detroit. While they are easier to pedal, they are also harder and more skittish. There's a reason you don't see them on "comfort" bikes, and it's because they ain't.

    If I were doing touring or long distance bike commuting, I'd go skinny, but for errands and social riding around town, I use my beater Trek with the fat tires as it soaks up the craters on the lousy roads here.

    Then again, this is probably a moot point as if you have knobbies already you're not fitting 1" or 1 1/4" tires to those rims anyway.
  16. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Part-time Iconoclast Subscriber

    Yeah, not 1" for sure, but perhaps 1.25-1.5, a bit narrower than the current 1.75.
  17. tincat2

    tincat2 Active Member

    out here, i go from smooth highway to gravel road frequently. what works for me is the fattest highest pressure not terribly aggressive tread tire i can fit on the rim. it's a little jumpy(skittish) on the gravel, but the width helps as well as paying attention to upcoming surface. i have several bikes w/several seat types for my moods-wide w/springs, hard and narrow, and my favorite leather which has conformed nicely to me. what really got me away from a devotion to skinny and super hard was the hazard in town presented by the grates over storm drains-don't want to have to worry about that.
  18. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Part-time Iconoclast Subscriber

    Did some more checking and the original size tires are 26 x 2.0, and the rim size is 26 x 1.5. I'd think it's probably wise, as least for rim scrapes etc. you'd want a tire at least as wide as the rim. So, that brings me back to the 1.75, give or take.

    The Michelin City that caught my eye is in 1.4 or 1.85 size, but for my use any street/city tire from a decent brand sounds like it should be quite a streetable improvement over the very knobby original Schwinn Project KOM tires on the bike.
  19. Impedance

    Impedance Well-Known Member

    You'll be fine with a 1.75 or 1.5... there is a great potential to overthink this. Not that tires aren't important, they are, but subtle differences are all but un-noticeable to most riders.

    The do make high-performance road, 26" tires, but they're mostly for tri bikes and womens road racing bikes (might be why the tech wanted to look at your wheels), no honest mechanic would put those tires on a 15 year-old schwinn mountain bike. If you rode competitively, or did high miles, I might suggest something different, but the truth is that for basic riding to get in shape and have some fun, you'll be fine with whatever semi-slick they have at the bike shop (I too would avoid hardware store tires), especially if they will install them for free with a tune up.

    If you really get into biking, you might like a road bike or a hybrid, each of which have a larger diameter wheel than your 26"-ers on the schwinn, they'll help you go faster, farther and at a higher gear ratio.
  20. whoaru99

    whoaru99 Part-time Iconoclast Subscriber

    Mr. pegged it, that's me. :yes: :D

    Yeah, I used to have a "10 speed" that I rode all over the place, but I'll probably just refit what I have for now and see about upgrades depending on how much I end up biking.

    I have two on-road motorcycles, a crotch rocket and a big cruiser, that seem to distract me very easily from things that should be done, like getting real exercise. One of which, BTW, needs a rear tire and I'm waffling on that too...another $200 (plus install) motorcycle tire that will wear out in 5,000 miles, or try a $100 car tire that'll probably go 30,000 mi. :scratch2:
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011

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