The holy grail of ambitious cycling. Where can I save some grams or watts.
My holy grail of endurance cycling is about saving weight and adding as much comfort as possible.
Aerodynamic drag is commonly seen as the most relevant interface between the unit of rider and bike and the environment. There is a second, not less important component that exists between the tires and the road surface, rolling resistance.
Rolling resistance can vary a lot from tire to tire, as well as from weather to weather.
Beside the best comfort related to a smooth running of a tire, long distance riders may take another criterium into their consideration for choosing a tire. It is about puncture resistance. If you ever travelled in bad or cold weather and had more than just one punctures and no warm shelter for repair or replacement of your damage, you will definitely take this matter into your consideration. Having the chance of reducing the hazzle of repairing a tube with wet or frozen fingers in the rain, puncture resistance is a major factor for my choice. During last year I had one flat during riding through the hottest places of Greece. Believe me, it is not only wet and cold that make you feel uncomfortable, heat can do at least the exact same thing. I had a flat in the plains of Nestos National Park, sun was burning and temperatures had been above the mid fourties. Definitely no conditions for changing a tube as there was no shadow in sight in any direction.
I rode on many different tires for many different purposes. For endurance cycling I started loving the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. As approx. 80% of the road surfaces are in acceptable conditions, there are about 20% that can be anything. Damaged, milles or broken road surfaces, Cobble stones, sandy roads but also very sharp gravels or stones from marble or also granite. Significatly slowing down or even walking had been the procedure for a good while.
I once rode in Italy in the rain on a good road surface but I constantly lost pressure on my 23mm Tufo tubulars. The tarmac had small, almost micro additives of sharp edged pebbles from marble. I couln’t count all the leakages. I took the risk of going on tubular, I will never take it again, for a longer distance thing.
In Bosnia during the first edition of Hardcro, I tried to make my way on Conti 4 Seasons and Conti GP4000. I found myself on really strong gravel and very robuste plants. I had several flat in one section and finally I installed my spare Conti 4 Seasons, as the walls of the newly installed one were totally worn out.
From what I am writing here, my absolute focus is on puncture resistance. After that we can happily start discussing about weight savings and rolling resistance. But for me, not the other way around. There is no more need for winning, the rides may be called races, but frankly speaking it is only a race against myself. And often it is not even that, it is a great ride into freedom. I am happy to be a little slower due to not riding on the fastest rubber mix and I am also willing to carry the total weight of 595 grams for a 25mm Marathon Plus. Getting these ones pressurized up to 6 bar, makes my life really comfortable. More than 6 bar on bad road surfaces does not bring any happiness to my hands as both suffer from CTS and bicycler’s neuropathy.
There are tons of reviews and numbers of comparison between tires, combined with different parameters and preconditions. If you can reduce your factors of influence to a minimum, you have a wider range of choice, that is for sure. If you have to cover several thousands of kilometers with one and the same setup, the exclusion of criterias for making your decision may become very difficult. Get started and you will make your experiences, that is the most valueable for your repertoire.
This website (bicyclerollingresistance.com) offers you some parameters that you can add into your consideration. Good luck with your decision.
This is a picture from my currentl fronttube. It is now rolling for more than 25.000 kms during the last 1 1/2 years. Even though it sill runs amazingly, the replacement is already waiting for its installation.