Road bike tires for the heavy rider, and the introduction of the FpM metric

Posted by SuperClydesdale on July 28, 2009 under Road Bike Components, Tires | 10 Comments to Read

Nothing sucks the fun out of a ride like a flat.  Or two.  Or more.   I’ve been through the ringer on tires.   I’m the flat king — not the fat king, although the titles are often confused.   Like Lance Armstrong, I’m very deliberate and scientific in my approach to cycling.   I’ve developed a new metric,  one that I chart alongside my VO2max, which is flats per mile (FpM).   While my VO2max may be a little off world class standards, I am a downright gifted with FpM.   It’s way up there.

I’ve tried a lot of different brands and models.  The main recommendation I’ve arrived at is using a larger tire on the back than the front.   Most of a rider’s weight is on the back tire and, with 700×23 tires, I was getting way too many pinch flats.   Once I switched to 700×25 on the back, the number of pinch flats went down dramatically.   I have also experimented with tire pressure, from 100psi to 120psi, which is the max for my current tires.

I am trying to balance weight and durability.   As you can probably guess, a 230 pound rider places the weight of his bike above all else.  The current tire I’m using is a Continental Grand Prix 4000 (GP4000), all red.

I saw a review in Bicycling magazine raving about the durability of these tires.   They are pretty good, but I am not experiencing near the lifespan that Bicycling reviewers were — I suspect that I weigh more than the reviewers, but I have to confirm it.    The tires have wear indicators that are still very pronounced — meaning I should still have a lot of life in the tire — when I have to replace the tire.   I have a mix of sidewall punctures — a rock or something that causes a weak spot on the side of the tire — as well as catastrophic punctures.   A catastrophic puncture is something that breaks through the inside liner of the tire, usually glass or a nasty thorn.   Once that happens, you’re toast.   Just have to replace the tire.   I’ve tried tire boots (tire patches), etc.  But that’s an emergency patch, not something you can do to extend the life of the tire.

It’s not like I’m riding down litter-strewn alleyways.   These are your average country rodes (admittedly in El Dorado County, with inept road maintenance personnel — I’ll post another article detailing the expert road patching and repair that we have out here).

But, these tires do look cool, and that’s all that really counts.  What could look cooler than a big guy on a big bike with bright red tires?  Both my road bikes are red, and I have all red GP 4000′s on both of them.    That must be why they call me the red rocket — I think that’s what they call me.

If you’re riding better tires than I am, then send me a note.   Given that I am just months away from being named to the 2010 Radio Shack team (there’s some dispute who would be the team leader, myself or Lance), I’d  prefer to stay with a performance tire (a foldable tire that’s not too heavy).   On my double centuries, I take a spare tire with me, so I like foldable tires.  I had a side wall blowout on the Davis Double, and had to use the spare tire.   People I tell that to ask, “you carry a spare tire?”  Welcome to my world.