NYC-friendly tires?

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Anonymous's picture

I'm a relative newbie to road biking, NYC and the NYCC. I bought my first real road bike, which came equipped with Hutchison Reflex tires, a couple of months ago. I've had seven or eight flats--including three on my first NYCC ride--in probably only 400 miles. As far as I can tell, they have been small punctures, and I've been pretty careful about removing any glass that I find in the tire, and have checked the rim and changed the rim tape. The rear tire has a few noticable nicks and cuts and the LBS said I should replace it. Maybe these Hutchison tires were just not cut out for NYC. So, I'm looking for a set of tires that will be durable, not too expensive, and won't slow me down horribly.

Someone recommended the Continental GP 3000s. I also heard that the Specialized Armidillos are extremely tough, but are pretty heavy and slow. Any thoughts on these or others?

Thanks in advance. I'm looking forward to a flat-free NYCC ride soon.

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
No free lunch

"The Armidillos are reportedly very effective, though I've never tried them myself.

Contrary to popular belief, an extra ounce or two isn't going to make much difference in speed. The ""rotating weight"" phenomena is mostly bunk when it comes to bicycles.

I've had good luck with IRC and Avocet tires. Check out the IRC Triathlon and Road Winner models with kevlar belts. These are often on sale at for $12.95.

Also avoid extra light tubes. For the ultimate flat protection, use thorn resistant tubes. While you might consider these ""horribly"" heavy, they won't slow you down as much as three flats on a single ride. If you want to avoid flats, you're going to have to accept a little more weight. There's no such thing as a free lunch.


Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)

"""Check out the IRC Triathlon and Road Winner models with kevlar belts. These are often on sale at for $12.95.""

Nashbar has got both on sale for $9.99! I just ordered a bunch. Also, some HG-53 chains and Profile bar tape.


Anonymous's picture
Banana Guy (not verified)
"That's rotating ""mass"".."

and it tends to impact accelleration rather than velocity.
Realize, of course, that any additional mass will affect climbing.

Of course, when you consider the weight differential between sets of tires against the weight differential of not eating that fudge sundae....seems we can save more weight by not spending money???

Anonymous's picture
"Chainwheel" (not verified)
Mass vs. Weight

"""That's rotating 'mass'..""

The expression ""rotating weight"" is commonly used by bikies. But since you raised the issue, mass is directly proportional to weight here on Earth, the constant of proportionality being the acceleration of gravity (32.2 ft/sec^2). W = mg

""and it tends to impact accelleration rather than velocity.""

Since acceleration is the time rate of change of velocity, the two are not exactly unrelated! But at constant speed on level ground, weight (or mass) is only a factor in that it increases rolling resistance slightly.

Heavier tires (and rims) have more ""rotational inertia"" and require more energy to get up to speed. But the energy required for this ""rotational acceleration"" is miniscule for bicycles compared to the energy required for translational acceleration (i.e., getting the bike AND RIDER moving down the road).

Whether we're talking about a 275g tire or a 235g tire, the effort required to overcome the ""rotational inertia"" during acceleration will be negligible compared to the overall effort of accelerating the bike/rider. Events like the Match Sprints on the track (which require explosive acceleration) might be the only place you'd worry about it. So from a practical standpoint, we can consider tire/rim weight as just plain weight. And unless you're as skinny as Tyler Hamilton, there are better places to reduce weight.


Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

I recommend the following tires:

Avocet FasGrip 28-622
Panaracer RBW Roly-Poly 28-622

The Avocets are about $24/ea, and the Panas about $40/ea.

I've never found any difference between kevlar belted and non-kevlar tires, in terms of flat resistance, and kevlar belted tires ride significantly worse, ceteris paribis. Armadillos are plain awful.

But I have noticed that 28-622 and 25-622 tires flat a lot less than 20-622 and 23-622s.

I've run the Roly Polys for about 4000 miles over the last two seasons and had one slow puncture I discovered the morning after the ride. But the Avocets are equally good, and cheaper.

- Christian (the plural of anecdote ain't data, but there's mine)

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Dunno about those new Avocets...

...the FasGrip Carbon 12 - they ride nicely but the rubber starts cracking at ~1000 miles. Not very confidence-inspiring, though they are pretty good in the flat-resistance dep't.

Better, IMO, are the Conti GP 4-season (and the more economical cousin GatorSkin mentioned below). Longer lasting, better flat resistance. YMMV.

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Evan, if you still have those Avocets, I'm interested in them. Swap/sell?

Anonymous's picture
zac fisher (not verified)

I've been riding the GP3000 since the beginning of the summer and I've been impressed. No flats yet, and a good feel for the road. These are better than any tire from the 80s/90s that I used to have. I ride Brooklyn/Manhattan/NJ and don't hesitate to go on the busy and broken up streets. But I don't commute so if you do, you should take that into consideration.

The biggest problem with the Contis is the price. They're $50 LBS just about everywhere I've looked, one of the most expensive clinchers. But almost every decent bike shop carries them it seems, so I guess they're popular.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
better Conti prices

(Note to Christian: I'm down to my last pair of Avocets. When they, too, start to crack, they're yours)

Anonymous's picture
Andy Elder (not verified)
Advice to the Newbie. Your problems are common!

I know that, many years ago, when I began seriously riding, I used to get quite a few flats at first. Turns out, I was underinflating the tires. Get a decent floorpump (they last years and years for about $50 or even less--I've used Nashbar's $20 version for the past three years and it's excellent) and really monitor the pressure before each ride. Top 'em off every ride or two; it'll take just a second and is insurance against flats.

Could be that you had pinch flats from improperly installed tubes (also a bane of new cyclists) that got pinched gradually between tire bead and rim. These can happen again and again unless one puts the tubes in correctly. I recommend putting some talcum powder (as many do) on the tube before inserting it into the tire; this helps prevent the dreaded and confounding pinch flats.

As for those tires, I've used Hutchinson's precursors to the Reflex (the Carbon Pro or something like that--their top-line clincher tire) for the past few years on my bike. Because they're soft rubber (for gripping roads better in corners), they pick up a bit more glass. This glass rarely (knock wood) makes it through if one's diligent and brushes their tires when riding through suspected glass. I've gotten one or two flats a YEAR with these tires when pumped up to 110 psi; the key is really pumping the tires up to close to the max stated on the sidewalls of the tires themselves. Don't hit the max, but close won't hurt them. You'll ride faster with less effort, too, due to decreased rolling resistance.

Remember: 1) pump 'em up high and 2) install the tubes correctly. Your troubles are very common to new riders. Don't worry, and keep those nice Hutchinsons. I love 'em and have had no troubles with 'em at all. Easy to install, good and grippy, look great, and they're more reasonably priced than many.

I do hope this helps. Enjoy!

Anonymous's picture
Banana Guy (not verified)
Tire life tips

1. Keep your tires inflated to the recommended maximum pressure. This avoids pinch-flats.
2. Try not to ride where the glass is. Car tires pick up a lot of road debris. If you ride where the cars do, you will find the roads a lot cleaner. Most glass and stuff accumulates on the shoulder or near the curbing.
3. Learn to brush off your tires while you ride with your (gloved) hand. It takes 1 or 2 revolutions of the tire for the offending bit to become set in the tread.
4. Be especially diligent in the rain. Wet tires tend to pick up more stuff than dry tires.


5. Flat tires are a badge of honor. Remember, the more miles you ride, the more flats you will have.
Keep riding!

Anonymous's picture
Robert Gray (not verified)
Tires for City Riding

I had the same experience when I started riding a road bike. Flats every time out almost. The weight of the ties is really not that important in relation to the inconvenience of getting flats. Generally stay away from inexpensive tires and slick racing tires. Get tires with a kevlar strip and/or get tires that have a dense tread. If you ask at a good bike shop for flat resistance tires they should be able to suggest ones that are also comfortable to ride on.
If you are heavy, the city flat problem is worse.

Anonymous's picture
Alan Resnick (not verified)

as I have noticed over the last 2-4 years tires flat LESS than in the past. Any GOOD tire seems to be much better than the old days-they may cut, but most do NOT flat easily. I only average 2-3 flats per year now-down from my customary 10 for the previous 25 or so years!!! So, any brand is usually okay-depending on your weight- also 23mm is now the way to go( in the early 90s the trend was towards 18-20mm)the wider tire absorbs road shock better and is a little safer in many conditions. Good bet is a sale tire-with a foldable bead(easier to get on and off) Good luck

Anonymous's picture
Nick (not verified)
Turbo Armadillos

If you want the ultimate flat protection you may want to go with Specialized Turbo Armadillos for your road bike. They are relatively heavy tires and have a hard tread which means they won't 'hug the road' as well as other tires. Because of the hard tread these tires won't corner as well as most tires but I have been using them for several years on my road bike and the MTB version on my mountain bike. It took me 3 years to get a flat on one of my bikes with these tires after about 4000 miles on that particular bike mostly NYC street riding.

However, if you are looking for a supple fast tire that corners well then the Armadillo is not for you. You can also try the Continental GatorSkins for flat protection; they are almost as good as the Armadillos in preventing flats.

Anonymous's picture
Chris T. (not verified)
Continental 4 season tires rule!

Late last year I installed a pair of 4-season Continentals. After 2500 miles, I have had 2 flats, the 1st in July in CP running flush over a tack.
The second happend decending the hardpack from Skiff Mountain (pinch flat) this past saturday.

I normally don't weigh in on technical bike stuff, and sat out the last tire discussion, but I am ready to order another pair. It's interesting that Evan and I have similar opinions on these tires

Anonymous's picture
Doug Kalb (not verified)
other suggestions

"I also find the Hutchinson's terrible with glass & NYC roads - besides, they feel slow. The Continental GP 3000's have thin side walls so as long as they don't get gashes in that area, they're OK. Given their high price, I've stopped using them because a new tire can be destroyed along the sidewall - I've heard the same complaint from many others who have found other alternatives.

I started to use Vredestein Fortezza's which were great until labor issues at the factory supposedly caused some employees to produce poor quality tires.

In the spring, I got a set of Gran Fondo tires at Chelsea Cycles on west 26th & love them; they have held up very well & feel great. The supple feel of the tire is a lot like Veloflex tires, another ""open tubular,"" but far more durable & less expensive - they actually feel similar to tubulars."

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