You can see the top pro’s racing with all the high end gear that is ultra light weight and aero – carbon wheels, ultra light tires, latex tubes (or none at all!). Every micro gram can equal that micro second advantage. But should you “do what the pro’s do” and get this gear? Not always… the pro’s are taking big risks here also. The paper thin tires have cost Sebastian Kienle AND Jan Frodeno’s first possible Kona wins – due to a flat. The next year they competed from their prior flat out year, they won overall. There are more flat proof tires, but the trade off usually is in weight and rolling resistance.
Don’t forget, every second counts for the Age Grouper too – there still are cut off times to meet. Fumbling around changing your tube/tire during a race for 30 minutes is exhausting! This can mean putting cut off times in jeopardy. So our next option is a GatorSkin or ThickSlick tire. It can cost you up to 0.5mph in a race, which maybe 10 minutes in time – much better than that 30. In personal use, the duration of one of these tires got me up to 10,000 miles. Still, a silly thorn can find its way in. So the next point of protection is a pre-slimed tube. This goo can fill a hole as soon as there is a puncture, enough to finish the race. The trade off here, is off course more weight, but barely noticeable.
At the final draw, something bigger than a puncture, you may consider the ultimate solution is a solid rubber tire. I was waiting for a while when I heard they finally perfected the solid rubber tire on kickstarter to match what a tradition air tire does. You even may have experienced a solid rubber tire already if you used some form of bike share, as that is what they use to be durable. A local supplier, tri club sponsor Ped Power Perform Lab.
It should be noted, the sizing runs smaller than traditional tires, because its based on inner rim width. So instead of a 23, it is better to go to 25. They are guaranteed to last 5000 miles. So far I am using this for my job as a bike messenger on our well known pot hole filled streets of San Diego, and all is fine. Doing the math, with the number of tubes I get damaged – it will be more to purchase replacements than the price of these tires. The only trade off here I will mention, is slippery surfaces. Marble sidewalks and fresh rain bringing up oil in the roads, will require caution as the surface of the tire is a bit glossy. It doesn’t rain much here so it will not be a major concern. I hope to see more people using these for training rides and even races – to hear more good stories of people’s finishes.