Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Tires are Best for You

Bicycle tires come in all sizes as do wheels. Cross section of a tire plays a major part in how the bicycle will feel and perform.
Certain things need to be understood about how a bicycle wheel works and what exactly happens when you hit a bump.
First thing, looking at a wheel, first glance has one thinking the opposite of what actually happens. The forces of you on the bicycle actually have you hanging from the top of the wheel by the spokes rather than if the wheel was a solid disc. Rapid tension and detention occurs of each spoke as the wheel turns while you ride.
Second, when you hit a bump, the volume of the tire decreases, causing the air pressure to increase 360 degrees and transmit some shock down the spokes before it reaches the hub and axle and you feel it at the seat or handle bars. The taller the wheel, the better the shock absorption and the smoother the ride. Big wheels make pot holes seem smaller. A 2" wheel would get lost in a 3" hole, but a 50" wheel would hardly notice it in comparison.
After all of that and choosing the correct wheel for the job, you need to consider tire size.
Tire size is not only the diameter of the rim, but the cross section of the tire, A 26" wheel with a 1" cross section tire will need higher air pressure than the same wheel with a 2" tire. The height of the side wall will allow you to run lower air pressure simply because the distance from the road to the rim, and by doubling the side wall height of the tire you can actually adjust the feel and handling of the bike.
Not all tires fit all frames. The bicycle must have frame clearance to fit fatter tires. Imagine putting car tires on your bike, They would not spin, Going up in size could cause the tire to rub the frame while climbing even though the tire spins freely while not under load.
Bigger tires make for heavy wheels, The more rubber, the more weight. Lightening the wheel allows faster exceleration and de exceleration. Faster to start the bike and faster to stop. Imagine if your wheels were 100 pound Cement tires. How long would it take to get up to speed in relation to a pair of handmade 100 psi Clement Tires. (An actual misprint in a Univega catalog from the 70's)
Taller tires corner poorly because of the movement of the sidewall when you lean into corners. You will learn how they corner and adapt. The taller the sidewall and the lower the air pressure, the more the flex.
bigger heavier tires although the rule of thumb tells customers that the bicycle will be more comfortable, one needs to take into account that if the tire is too heavy and stiff, fast absorption of road shock will not be absorbed in to the "Machine" of the tire design because tie sidewall will not flex, Flex and the speed of return is important to keep the bicycle moving forward and not resist the bump and have it actually hold you back, The faster the tire absorbs the road shock, the faster the ride.
That being said, The perfect tire for the job may not be available. Certain wheels only have certain tires made to fit. There may be all sizes of 26" tire cross section's available, but in the case of 650c commonly found on Performance Recumbents, Only skinny tires are made.
Choosing the Bicycle for the riding you want to do and where you want to ride it is important. The Recumbent choice plays a major part in ether how fast you want to ride or how rough.
I ride my Recumbent off road and I'm using skinny tires.
A little technique and reduced speeds allow me to get off the road and away from traffic when the time is right.
Finding the bike that's best for you and the tire size to fit it is something an experienced recumbent rider can help you with. Someone who has ridden all types in all types of road conditions will be best.
Learning how to ride and where to ride will come to you over time. One can learn to deal with any style of bicycle nicely, but given the right tool for the job could make all the difference in the world.

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