It is not a thought which you want going through your head when flying down a descent at full speed, that the contact area, between your tyre and the road, which keeps you upright and riding your bike is rather miniscule. With wheels that are 700C in diameter and tyres which can be 20-25mm wide, the actually contact area with the road is very small, so we need to make sure that this areas has the best grip possible. To make sure that you keep yourself upright and riding PBK stock a vast selection of rubber for your bike; tyres and tubulars, that allows you to have the best grip in all conditions which you will ride in.
As with pretty much everything related to cycling it is necessary to strike a balance, a compromise to achieve the best performance. With tyres being our only area of grip whilst riding, it also means that they are one of the main areas of drag for a cyclist. Drag comes in the form of friction with the Tarmac and it is this friction which keeps us upright whilst riding a bike around a corner or slows us down when riding in a straight line. With this is mind one of the first things that has to be considered when purchasing some tyres is what their tread pattern looks like. If you are riding on the road, then a slick tread will offer you the lowest rolling resistance, but it also means that grip is reduced. Many tyres come with a split tread, slick in the centre for when you bike is upright and some sort of tread on the sides for grip when cornering.
The next major consideration for tyre choice has to then be weight. Because tyres rotate their weight is even more important, heavy tyres will mean that more effort is needed to accelerate your bike; though as mentioned above the compromise mind-set has to be used. Buy a tyre which is ultra light and it will feel fast, but it will also wear quicker and be more prone to getting punctures as the amount of rubber used in the tyre is reduced to save weight. This means that you have to consider the use of the tyre you are buying. If it is for racing, where weight is 100% important and you have support cars to give spare wheels at the simple raise of an arm, then go light. If the tyre is going to be used for training in the muddy winter lanes then, unless you have your own personal car to follow you or you enjoy repairing punctures with frozen hands, then extra weight and extra puncture protection is not an issue.
Every rider has different preferences and this is why there are many training and race specific tyres on the market. Here at PBK we stock a vast range of tyres but would recommend the Vittoria Corsa Evo SC road tyre as our favourite race tyre and the Continental Gatorskin as the best winter training tyre.
The Vittoria Corsa Evo SC road tyre, voted by the world’s best riders as their favourite tyre. These Italian-crafted tyres are perfect for a race-day treat. Fast, responsive, lightweight and also coming with beautiful tan sidewalls, they will make your bike look that much faster on the start line.
The staff at PBK rate the Continental Gatorskin is simply one of the best winter training tyres. Heavier than the above-mentioned race tyres, it offers great puncture protection keeping you riding during those important winter training rides. The sidewalls of the tyre are also re-enforced to reduce the chance of punctures from slashes, which is a very quick way to trash a tyre. They also use a similar compound to their race-bred more expensive brothers, the Attack and Force, so they grip well and their price won’t break the bank when they finally wear out.
There is a third type of tyre, somewhat more for the traditionalist and those who know; tubulars. Normal clincher tyres use the pressure of an inflated inner tube to press their beading into the rim holding them onto the wheels. This means that all clincher tyres are a two part system, tyre and inner tube. Tubular tyres are stuck on to tubular-specific rims and are simply-put, a tyre with an inner tube sewn into them. These are what cyclists have ridden on in the past because the materials to make clincher tyres were not available. Many argue that tubular tyres actually ride better than their clincher counter parts. The fact that they do not contain an inner tube means that you can ride them at a slightly lower pressure, giving you more grip and increased comfort, alternatively you can also run them at higher pressures for a faster rolling resistance, although slightly less comfortable. They also use different materials to clinchers which mean that, even when using these lower pressures, you do not increase the drag. Due to the more complicated fabrication and fact that they are more complicated to change when punctured, they are something which many save for race day.
PBK recommends the Vittoria Corsa Evo SC tubular. Used by many of the world’s best teams this Italian-made tubular is simply one of the best you can get, light and fast with enough puncture resistance for racing.
Like with all areas of cycling, from your bike itself right through to the clothing which you wear whilst riding it, what rubber you use for each condition you ride in has to be a considered choice. Slipping off because of a lack of grip, mending punctures in horrid weather, or coming second because of drag, are all examples of why it is important to make the correct tyre choice.