You’ve been riding consistently now for a few years, maybe dabbled your toe into some racing or some epic Grandfondo’s. Thinking how cool it would be to someday get the chance to ride the beautiful roads of Europe.
Your mates are planning a trip with Euro Cycle Tours and you’ve nagged the better half for over six months now and finally they have given into you. Hastily you book your tour with your mates. You can feel the rush, the excitement, visualizing the roads of Europe, thinking what it would be like, the food, the people, the mountains, the Valley’s, and the super fast descents.
Your excited and gradually the weekly kilometres start to ramp up preparing for the tour ahead. As time ticks closer things start to ponder, what tyres should i ride on over in Europe?
What do the pro’s ride? What condition are the roads in? What cranks should I use? What gear ratio should i be using? Especially if we are climbing all those mountains. Then if we are climbing all those mountains what is the best clothing to use? Will it be cold or hot? What will the weather be like?
Clothing, Gear ratios and cranks are for another day but let me talk about tyre selection.
Tyre selection is just one part that can either hinder or give you the best experience while you’re on your travels.
With the massive selection and brand variety on the market today it’s sometimes hard to know what to ride on. The different prices for different tyre types keeps you wondering why the prices vary so much between tyre brands and types. Things like tyre width, the different puncture resistance, sidewall protection and so on. What does all this mean?
Today I am going to break it down to a few tyres that are pretty well known, get solid reviews and hopefully won’t have you on the side of the road fixing punctures. Although there are many many more brands on the market and i may not touch base with your brand of choice for this article.
Brands such as Continental, Hutchinson and Vredestein have all been around for a long time now and all three brands prove their quality.
I think there are four things that we all need to consider when heading off for a cycling adventure to ensure you get the benefits of the tyre you have decided to roll with. Price, puncture resistance, rolling resistance and tyre widths. All four are important factors to your choice of tyre to ensure you have the most memorable time on your big adventure.
One topic that all these three brands offer is the different tyre widths. From what I see in today’s market 25c and 28c seem to be the most favourable tyre widths around. Starting with the 25c it seems to be the most popular tyre width as it’s easy to purchase from your local bike shop and the 25c tyre width still offers a fast rolling resistance all with a fairly comfortable ride. The 25c tyre is more common on the rim brake type wheel.
As for the 28c width we see this tyre size more on the disc brake model wheels or the rider who is after a much more compliant ride. The experts say the 28c tyre is also a fast rolling tyre as the tyre has less surface area on the road given it’s wider diameter shape all in the comfort of the width. Then the more nitty gritty things to think about is dialling in the tyre pressure to make sure your tyre isn’t prone to punctures but at the same time offering a smooth, compliant ride you will enjoy. take the extra time to read the manufacturers requirements to make sure you enjoy the comforts and the longevity of the tyres you select.
Like many of us know, if anything is getting made in Germany the quality is always top notch.
Well know in the car industry they also manufacture some of the most popular tyres for the world of cycling. Professional cycling teams such as Team Sky, Mitchelton-Scott, Movistar, just to name a few. The back then named Orica Scott team only had one flat tyre during the 2017 Tour de France which would have kept the team mechanics very happy.
Some of Continental’s technology includes the “Dura Skin” protection, the Black Chilli,
Vectran™ Breaker and the Hardshell. If you regularly use the Gatorskin, or the
Grand Prix 4000 S II or Grand Prix 4-Season these names won’t be new to you. But for anyone new to riding, Continental have come up with different puncture resistant methods while still having a tyre that rolls nice and fast with plenty of grip for those many switchback’s you may encounter. If you’re after a little faster rolling tyre the GP4000S II would have to be the go to tyre, but for the average rider my choice would be the Four Seasons. Providing a little more tread pattern and traction on the tyre and that extra puncture resistance might be what you are looking for.
Long time tyre manufacturers Hutchinson have been around for the long haul. 160 years in fact and employing a little over 31,000 employees on a global scale. In this day and age that in itself is a credit to this company.
Manufacturing other tyre brands for many years Hutchinson have the quality, the expertise and the technology to provide other tyre companies what they need for their tyre market and customers requirements. With a huge haul of history to their name Hutchinson are proud to be associated with French riders such as the famous and theatrical retired French rider Thomas Voeckler and the Direct Energie Professional Cycling Team.
Hutchinson are proudly French made and just like the German’s at Conti the French know a thing or two about tyre quality.
Hutchinson tyres have some technologies such as the Hardskin technology. Hardskin fabric placed bead to bead and under the tread on the tire. Reinforces the casing to minimise cuts and holes in the casing that might puncture the tube. Hardskin (HSK) technology adds an additional layer of puncture resistant fabric to the casing of the tire.
Kevlar Pro Tech is another of the Hutchinson technologies which improve the resistance to punctures. 100% Kevlar (Aramid) puncture reinforcement under the tread.
Road tyre reinforced under the tread by a nylon tissue (to be used with an inner tube). Kevlar Pro Tech technology reinforces the casing with a flexible, very dense 100% kevlar (aramid) textile grid. Placed under the tread, this reinforcement increases by over 50% the tyre’s resistance to holes and punctures.
Compounds such as the ElevenSTORM have been identified for 3 years as a strategic axis of development for Hutchinson.
Developing countless versions and tests to achieve this new compound ElevenSTORM®
Other compounds such as the HDF 5 range offer different tyre thicknesses for the different type of riding you do varying from the race driven HDF 5.1 compound to the thicker, heavier HDF 5.3 compound
The HDF 5.1 compound is sort after for the more race driven tyre. It's the most accomplished pure performance composition. A thin thickness of compound (0.8 mm) associated with a light reinforcement which confers efficiency and outstanding grip.
The HDF 5.2 developed with the aim of offering a perfect compromise between compound thickness (1.2 mm) and Kevlar® reinforcement. The HDF > 5.2® compound benefits from all advantages of 5.1, and proposes a better puncture resistance. The tyres manufaxtured with the HDF 5.2 compound is in good use for the rider who is after a good quality faster training tyre which provides solid puncture protection and with the ability to race.
The HDF 5.3 is intended first for longevity and the catcher in all conditions, this thicker
compound (1.6 mm) associated with Kevlar® reinforcement guarantees grip and excellent long life abilities. I would suspect this tyre is a pure training tyre in all conditions providing a good solid puncture resistance to make sure you have that fast rolling resistance with the addition of the puncture protection.
Originating from the Netherlands about 110 years ago Vredestein Tyre Company manufactured its very first bicycle tyre back in 1910.
Having personally riding on the Vredestein tyres for the last few years i know how they roll, how they ride and how they go with puncture resistance.
Having a few different road bike models all varying from the super fast rolling resistance to the more high puncture resistant tyres.
Always riding on the Fortezza Senso Extreme weather tyres they seem to offer the best rolling resistance along with the puncture resistance to ensure I am not on the side of the road changing tubes. The suppleness of the tyres is very different compared to say the stiffer side walled Conti GP4000 tyres. The Vredestein offer a smooth but fast comfortable ride of which I personally enjoy.
From the highest rolling Fortezza Senso Superiore which offers low rolling resistance with a high degree of comfort and a thread count of 320tpi handmade cotton casing, Vredestein offer excellent puncture protection using polycotton anti-puncture layer with a superior wet and dry all weather silica (AWS) Tri comp Compound. These tyres are really something different if you are after a super smooth quality tyre to ride.
As you now know Vredestein off multiple tyre types for every rider option. We have mentioned above the fastest rolling resistant tyre and I did also make mention of my personal choice of tyre being the Vredestein Fortezza Senso Xtreme Weather tyres. These tyres are silk smooth and the Vredestein Superior grip in both wet and cold conditions offering you security through cornering and open roads in both wet and cold conditions with the Xtreme Weather Silica “XWS” Tri Compound technology. Vredestein have also designed the Dual polyamide anti-puncture system to maximise puncture resistance/protection for those longer epic days in the saddle.
Our goal here is to not sell you something but to get you thinking which tyre brand may be best to suit you and your needs. All three of these European companies are all over the 100 year mark in business and all share a passion with what we all do and enjoy.
Whatever you choose be sure to keep on riding and feel free to leave a comment on your tyre choice.
Happy riding from the team at Euro Cycle Tours.