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Race on sketchy pavement: Which size tire would you use?

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Race on sketchy pavement: Which size tire would you use?

Old 10-27-16, 04:02 PM
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FlashBazbo
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Race on sketchy pavement: Which size tire would you use?

Next Spring, I'm racing a couple races in Oklahoma. I won't have a chance to pre-ride the area, but my local source (my daughter) says that I should expect 110 miles of chipseal and broken pavement with just a few miles of the smooth roads I'm accustomed to. I should expect about 5,000 feet of climbing.

In the winter, I ride my road bike (25mm road tires at 115-120 psi) and gravel bike (5 pounds heavier with 38mm gravel tires at 55-60 psi) for road training, depending on weather, road conditions, and darkness. Generally speaking, I average between .5 and 1 mph slower with the gravel bike on the same routes. I'm thinking I could drop the pressures somewhat -- especially on the 25mm tires -- and could mount 28mm tires easily, if needed, for the race (32's if I'm willing to ride my gravel bike). I've never ridden wider than 25mm for a race, but I'm willing to experiment. Unfortunately, the roads in my area are pretty much glassy smooth except on short side roads. I'm not sure I've got a good place to test this stuff over a long stretch.

I'm curious what tire size / pressure combination the forum would go with? Is 25mm the optimum width? Would a 28mm tire at 70/110 be better? Has anyone experimented with 28mm tires in a road race situation? How did it go?

Anyone can conjecture. I'm curious to hear your experiences.
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Old 10-27-16, 04:11 PM
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I ride 25mm Gatorskins all year long in Colorado and some of the roads are pretty crappy, and most have chipseal. We'll often do segments of dirt/compacted gravel without too much issue.

I don't really think you need to go wider than that, but I don't know the conditions there.

Pressure really depends on your weight. I'm heavy so I usually go to 95-100# but a friend of mine runs 28mms and runs in the 70# range (he weighs about 30 pounds less than me, though).
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Old 10-27-16, 04:18 PM
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I train and race on 25mm tires. I have a teammate who uses 27mm tubulars on races with crappy pavement/gravel sections like Snelling and Paskenta. I've never seen anyone go bigger than that.
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Old 10-27-16, 04:39 PM
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Sounds like the kinds of roads around here, which I ride on 25mm tires at 90/100 psi. They suck up a lot of the vibration from bad chipseal vs. the 23mm tires I used prior at 120 psi.
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Old 10-27-16, 06:37 PM
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I would use whatever is on my race wheels at the time.

I have raced (and will continue to do so since that's what I have on right now) on 28s. It works just fine. Turn in feels a bit slower but other than that it's all good.
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Old 10-27-16, 06:39 PM
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25s. If you know you cannot dodge and will hit ruts - then 27/28 tubulars 70PSI.

But you did say pavement - 25s.
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Old 10-27-16, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
25s. If you know you cannot dodge and will hit ruts - then 27/28 tubulars 70PSI.

But you did say pavement - 25s.


It's pretty hard to dodge when you're racing in a pack. But I'm not willing to go with tubulars.
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Old 10-27-16, 06:41 PM
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I hit chipseal on my road bike all the time. I'd probably go with the 25mm tires at a slightly lower pressure... unless you are also expecting to encounter bad potholes and pavement cracks in conditions that you don't think you'll be able to maneuver around them. In which case, you might consider some super light, super wide tires and bike upgrades.
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Old 10-27-16, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
It's pretty hard to dodge when you're racing in a pack. But I'm not willing to go with tubulars.
What category are you racing?
You are at a huge disadvantage racing anything other than a 4/5 on non-tubulars.
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Old 10-27-16, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
What category are you racing?
You are at a huge disadvantage racing anything other than a 4/5 on non-tubulars.


Tell Tony Martin that. (He won the World TT Championship this year on clinchers.)


Five years ago, you'd have been correct. Today, good clinchers are as good as good tubulars -- and a whole lot less trouble to maintain.
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Old 10-27-16, 07:04 PM
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How heavy are you (bike+rider)? What do you have clearance for? What tires are you currently using on your bikes?
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Old 10-27-16, 07:07 PM
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Come to think of it, Tony Martin's setup gives me an idea. He used 24mm front/26mm rear clinchers. It may be that a 25mm front / 28mm rear (with pressures adjusted downward) could be the best setup.
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Old 10-27-16, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
How heavy are you (bike+rider)? What do you have clearance for? What tires are you currently using on your bikes?


If I use my road bike, bike+rider is about 180 to 185 lbs. If I go with the gravel bike, I add nearly 5 pounds. As I said above, I now have 25mm on the road bike and 38mm on the gravel. I think the road bike can handle 28mm (but I haven't tried it yet) and the gravel bike can handle anything down to 28mm. Although it may sound odd to be considering racing the gravel bike, it would provide a smoother ride and, over the course of a 250+ mile racing weekend, it could take me to the end of the day with more energy left in the tank. It's really just a titanium road bike with a longer wheelbase and more tire clearance. Almost certainly, the road bike gets the call, though.

Last edited by FlashBazbo; 10-27-16 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 10-27-16, 08:26 PM
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I would go with quality 25mm and run about 90psi in them.
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Old 10-27-16, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Tell Tony Martin that. (He won the World TT Championship this year on clinchers.)


Five years ago, you'd have been correct. Today, good clinchers are as good as good tubulars -- and a whole lot less trouble to maintain.
The OP asked about rough road. The TT Worlds were not that. I am correct now.
Rough road races - Paris Roubaix cobbles (which my son did) are done on tubulars.
I posted elsewhere clinchers were fine for smooth TTs. The best clinchers are still 300g heavier (tires and rims) than the same (Vittoria to Vittoria, Veloflex to Veloflex) tubulars and they pop more easily.
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Old 10-27-16, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Bmach View Post
I would go with quality 25mm and run about 90psi in them.
+1

Maybe 105/90psi.

25mm Michelin Power Endurance. Reasonably fast, and durable. I wouldn't worry about having the fastest tires, but durability matters. You'll lose a ton of time if you flat.
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Old 10-28-16, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
I ride my road bike (25mm road tires at 115-120 psi).
This is remarkable to me.

I ride 25mm road tires at about 90psi AT MOST, regularly at 80-85, for normal riding, and will go down to 70 if I plan to take some gravel roads. Iv'e never had a pinch flat.

If I get near or over 100psi, I feel much more road buzz, and don't like it.

Granted, I'm using pretty cheap tires (Vittoria Zaffiro)...perhaps better tires feel better at higher pressures?
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Old 10-28-16, 04:19 AM
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12strings is right. you are riding way too much pressure for your weight. your pressure choices aren't extracting the maximum out of your tires, particularly on imperfect roads. 25mm at 85/90, perhaps 28mm 75/80. you need to experiment more with pressure.
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Old 10-28-16, 04:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Doge View Post
The OP asked about rough road. The TT Worlds were not that. I am correct now.
Rough road races - Paris Roubaix cobbles (which my son did) are done on tubulars.
I posted elsewhere clinchers were fine for smooth TTs. The best clinchers are still 300g heavier (tires and rims) than the same (Vittoria to Vittoria, Veloflex to Veloflex) tubulars and they pop more easily.

Wow. Let's take a deep breath here. I'm the OP. I didn't say I was racing Paris-Roubaix. I said "chipseal" and broken pavement -- a world apart from cobbles. Tubulars are old school traditional but even the top-level pros are racing more clinchers in conventional road races these days. There's no disadvantage for the best modern clinchers and, for racers who do their own wrenching, there are tons of advantages. I will be going with clinchers.
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Old 10-28-16, 04:59 AM
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OP - Don't over-think this. Unless you're currently using fragile tires, what you're running now will probably do fine. Most road tires are made to take chip seal in stride. Much of my riding is done on chip seal. I have Specialized Turbos on one bike and S-Works Turbos on the other and have no problems with flats. (Probably just jinxed myself...)

I've done Rouge-Roubaix, a local race that's 106 miles and includes ~25 miles of gravel and a bunch of horrible pavement, five times and will be doing it again next March. I've used 700x25 Gatorskins, 700x28 Conti Grand Prix, and 700x25 Michelin Pro4 Endurance tires and have had one flat, and that one came 93 miles into the last one I did, after the last gravel section, using the Michelins. I weigh ~185 and run the tires at 90/100. I'm using the Michelins again next year because I have one more set of them. I'd use the Grand Prix again, but the Gatorskins are too sketchy in corners and in the wet to race on.

If you want to buy a new set of tires, just about any of those marketed as "endurance" tires would work.
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Old 10-28-16, 06:12 AM
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FYI, it Sounds like you and I are similar weights...I'm 5,9", 160lbs. A little heavy for cycling, but great shape for soccer.

...Plus 23lb. Steel bike.
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Old 10-28-16, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Wow. Let's take a deep breath here. I'm the OP. I didn't say I was racing Paris-Roubaix. I said "chipseal" and broken pavement -- a world apart from cobbles. Tubulars are old school traditional but even the top-level pros are racing more clinchers in conventional road races these days. There's no disadvantage for the best modern clinchers and, for racers who do their own wrenching, there are tons of advantages. I will be going with clinchers.
I read the Original Post (OP) and recommended 25s as did so many others. But you indicated you had a hard time dodging [pot holes?]. A 25 is not big enough for a pot-hole rough edge. If it is chip seal (which I didn't think anyone would dodge) then 25s are fine. If you are riding on chip-seal a long way (vs dodging or not) then those Conti 28s at 80-90 psi look good. Look for high TPI. As the casing will be flexing more, the thinner rubber, more flexible case will give the better performance and feel ride.
A "cheap" stiff sidewall soaks energy when it deforms and for that reason I'd run them higher PSI (than a good tire) just to reduce the deformation. Some of the manufactures use the same cases for their clinchers and tubulars - Conti, Vittoria, Veloflex are three that do.

If you ARE going to be hitting pot holes, I change my response to go 27/28mm clincher, or go 25/26 tubular which are about equal in hole hitting ability without rim damage as they both have about the same about of air outside the rim. If you have wheel support - stay with 25. You said it was a race, but did not say what kind, so I can only guess on the support side.

This is what I'm thinking Chip Seal is:

Last edited by Doge; 10-28-16 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 10-28-16, 08:49 AM
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It will be neutral service only. I'm not likely to be a protected rider so, if I flat, I'm pretty unlikely to podium, anyway. But if I don't flat, I will need to be in the breakaway.

I'm thinking of testing Specialized's Turbo Cotton 26's next Spring. They might offer the combination that I'm looking for.
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Old 10-28-16, 08:58 AM
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What race is this?
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Old 10-28-16, 01:14 PM
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Specialized Turbo SWorks 26. I've used them on everything from the smoothest of crit courses to some god awful roads and gravel (Paskenta for @Doge) road races. No problems. I weigh more than you and run them @110 PSI. On 25mm wide wheels they are more narrow than a 25mm conti gp2k. Very supple, reasonably durable, and very well priced.
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