Tuesday, October 06, 2015

My 2015 Tire Update - Tandem Edition

As I mentioned in a post after my tour last summer, the last few season have made me a big fan of the Continental GatorSkin tire. The ride is great, their endurance is epic, and the flat resistance (from penetration) is legendary. Between our tandem, and my road bikes (an Assenmacher touring bike and Trek Domane 2.3), I have been realizing over 4000 miles a pair on each bike.
I keep some spares hanging around.

The pair of 700x25s on my Domane were so dependable, I didn’t realize until washing the bike this spring that my Blackburn AirStik pump had become unusable after filling with water (must have been on TOSRV, the only ride where I am consistently in the rain) and rusting up. (And kudo’s to Blackburn who sent me a new pump.)

This spring (2015) it was time to finally replace tires on a couple bikes. First, our trusty `85 Santana Sovereign got a new pair. The rear (700x28) had worn through all the siping on left side of the tire, something I’ve found to be common in our tandem experience. (The long wheelbase of tandems results in a rear wheel that tracks a much straighter line, and has a result, the rear tire wears to the crown of the road.)

We had only a single flat, a glass chip on the front, since I put them on in mid 2010, and being used for over 4,000 miles. I could have ridden another half season (or more), but stokers do not enjoy tandem rides with downtime, so early replacement is a good way to keep your stoker happy.

However, with this set, I am going to try something I have never considered before for a bike; I am going to rotate the tires front to rear after the end of the season, so that can take the entire set over 5,000 miles.

In general, for most riders, front tires almost always wear at a slower rate than rear tires, sometime resulting in up to 25 to 30% more miles than the rear. My personal preference has been to replace both front and rear tires at the same time for a matched set. First, that keeps things simple, and I don’t loose track one tire’s age and useful life. You also need to consider the tire is aged by exposure over time, not just mileage.

On our tandem, a a bike that is averaging about a 1,250 miles a year, that is three to four seasons of riding in the sun and elements, and after that period time, I don’t mind changing fresh tires front and rear.

Today’s tires are very good value on a cost per mile basis, although I can remember buying car tires for less than some of my current bike tires. When we first stared tandem riding in the early 1980’s, the available tire quality set a much different expectation for tandem owners. 1,000 – 1,500 miles on the rear was considered very good tire life. In our early years tandem riding, we were replacing the rear tire at the start of the year and again by mid-summer. And a rule of thumb was to replace the front tire every other rear tire. Just goes to show you how things have changed.

A good (tandem) captain is ready for anything.
We also have a folding spare on tandem too, right now a Bontrager AW 700x28. A folding spare is another good item for maintaining stoker relations. I am trying a set of these on my Domane this year, and will cover those in another post.

No comments: