Ride faster, farther, and happier
New tires are the most impactful and cost-effective upgrade you can make to your bike. The advent of road tubeless systems and a trend toward wider tires have opened new avenues of dependability and speed for road riders. Now is the best time to fit some new tires on your bike. Performance stocks a dizzying array of tires for club rides, criterium racing, commuting, and everything in between. How do you choose? Read on to find out!
Because tires are the only part of your bike in contact with the road, it's important to choose the right tire for your riding conditions and surfaces. Your tire's width, casing, tread, and weight interact with those conditions to determine the comfort, safety, speed, and longevity of your ride. For example, if you plan to ride long distances, then wide tires with slick treads will prevent pinch flats and provide a comfortable, smooth ride as the miles add up. Durable casing will protect your sidewalls far from home, and tubeless compatibility will provide an additional layer of dependability. But, if you want to race a short hill climb where every gram matters, you may want to avoid the extra weight from width, thicker casings, and sealant. For more on why your tires' width, casing, tread, and weight matter, read on!
Road cycling has changed. Gone are the days of road bikes equipped with 19mm-wide tires inflated to 130psi. Now, even the professional peloton is riding wider and wider tires. Why? Because wide tires are more voluminous, and more volume means you can run your tires at a lower pressure without fear of pinch flats. Lower pressure translates to a larger contact patch for enhanced traction and a plush ride. Combine lower pressure with supple casing, and wider tires will even roll faster than their narrow counterparts because they don't transfer suspension losses to your body, or lose as much energy when flexing under your weight.
Wide tires come with certain tradeoffs. Wider tires are typically heavier, and they have a minor aerodynamic penalty compared to narrow tires. If you decide to go wide, be sure to check your current tire clearance against the frame and brake calipers - if you’re running 19mm tires and only have a hair of clearance, you won’t be able to fit a wider tire.
Your tire's casing plays a crucial role in its durability and ride quality. An easy way to learn more about your tire's casing characteristics is to check its threads-per-inch count (TPI). TPI affects a tire's durability, suppleness, and weight; higher thread counts are lighter and more supple, and lower thread counts are heavier and more durable. Tires with less material in the sidewall trade durability for flexibility. Performance recommends a supple casing to smooth out the imperfections of a smooth-riding surface, or a durable casing if you're hazarding potholes and broken pavement.
Tread is the part of your tire made to contact the ground. It's made of a tough rubber compound, and is either smooth or shaped with ridges and grooves. Smooth road tires are sometimes called "slicks," and they are ideal for paved surfaces. They roll fast, and their larger contact patch offers maximum traction on smooth surfaces. However, on some surfaces, you may want to bring a "treaded" tire. Their treads are contoured with knobs or grooves, can provide better traction on wet or loose surfaces, and are typically more puncture-resistant due to their thickness.
Your tire's weight plays an important part in its performance. A heavy tire can feel sluggish under acceleration because it requires more force to rotate than a lighter tire. You will notice this effect during the repeated hard accelerations of race rides or criteriums, or in the hills where weight determines how much energy you must expend to climb. For this reason you will often see privateer road racers esteem lightweight "race" tires for events, and heavier "training" tires for off-season rides where durability and longevity matter most. However, weight does not always translate to durability; inexpensive tires are typically heavier because they are constructed from rudimentary compounds that both wear out fast and puncture easily.
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CONTINENTAL GRAND PRIX 5000
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Using a mixed tread design, optimized for all-around use, the Zaffiro works well in a range of training conditions.SHOP VITTORIA ZAFFIRO PRO V TIRE