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Impact of Tire Quality on Ride Comfort

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Impact of Tire Quality on Ride Comfort

Old 08-30-21, 10:39 AM
  #1  
Harold74
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Impact of Tire Quality on Ride Comfort

My wife has terrible hands, truly. She's already had carpal tunnel surgery on both. I'm attempting a whole suite of interventions in order to make her comfortable on the road bike that she loves. To that end, I would like to replace her 25c tires with 28c tires, the maximum that I believe will fit her frame. I would exploit the larger tires from a comfort perspective by running them at a lower air pressure of course.

My question is this: what effect does tire quality have on ride comfort? Are there certain tires that should be avoided or sought when one wishes to optimize comfort?

Please keep in mind that comfort is the only parameter that matters with respect to my tire choice in this situation. My wife is very much a recreational rider so things like high speed handling, wet weather performance, and rolling resistance are of little importance. Even puncture resistance isn't a big deal.

The bike in question currently has the Schwalbe Lugano 25C that came stock with the bike. Presently, I could purchase a pair of Schwalbe Lugano 28C for $16 each plus shipping. That would make for a pretty cost effective "larger tire" experiment. That said, I would like to avoid a future where I find out that we didn't really give larger tires a shot in earnest because we chose cheap tires.

Thank you, all, for your assistance.

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Old 08-30-21, 11:02 AM
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The GravelKing slick is the most comfortable 28mm tire I've tried. Noticeably smoother than GP5000 28s I have on another bike.

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Old 08-30-21, 11:06 AM
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I'd go with the fattest tires that will fit. Measure the gaps around the tire at the chain stays and fork crown and guestimate how fat you can go.

Also consider raising the handlebars.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:06 AM
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Whatís your budget? Usually the more supple the tire the better the ride, but also the price goes up.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I'd go with the fattest tires that will fit. Measure the gaps around the tire at the chain stays and fork crown and guestimate how fat you can go.

Also consider raising the handlebars.
Thanks for your input. Both of those exercises have already been undertaken, along with numerous others. For the purpose of this thread, I'm interested in nothing other than the relationship between tire quality and comfort.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Flatforkcrown View Post
Whatís your budget? Usually the more supple the tire the better the ride, but also the price goes up.
My budget is, effectively, unlimited so long as I could realistically expect the cash outlay to provide a meaningful comfort improvement. If my wife wouldn't notice the difference between the $16 Luganos and a $200 tire, I'd certainly want the Lugnos.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
My question is this: what effect does tire quality have on ride comfort?
For paved road riding, suppler is generally better for ride quality. Tire quality can matter for this somewhat, but the really big factor is tire style. Tires with a performance-oriented construction ride nicer than beefy tires designed to resist cuts and punctures. Going tubeless or using latex inner tubes can also improve the ride slightly over standard butyl inner tubes.

Also, tire inflation is really the biggest factor here. Going wider doesn't make things more comfortable by itself, it allows the tires to be pumped squishier while still behaving well. Here's a calculator for establishing a reasonable starting point on inflation pressure:
https://info.silca.cc/silca-professi...ure-calculator
If she's not already running her tires problematically low, she could try reducing inflation pressure and seeing to what degree that helps with comfort. Some hand comfort issues are caused by excessive inflation pressures, but many are more an issue of fit.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
For the purpose of this thread, I'm interested in nothing other than the relationship between tire quality and comfort.
A higher quality tire will feel better than a lower quality tire.
A higher quality wider tire will feel even better than either of the above.

Tire width trumps tire quality when it comes to comfort. A cheap 2" MTB tire will provide more cushion/comfort compared to a high quality 23mm road tire.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:32 AM
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Unlimited budget?
Get her a bike that takes 32/35s, the expensive ones.

edit: Let her choose a new bike for fatter tires, easier to brake. Even e-powered.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
Thanks for your input. Both of those exercises have already been undertaken, along with numerous others. For the purpose of this thread, I'm interested in nothing other than the relationship between tire quality and comfort.
Thin wall tires (e.g. Rene Herse) tend to remove all the little bumps and vibrations more so than thicker wall tires, and bigger bump smoothing mostly comes down to tire volume. To me, the thin-wall small bump smoothing is a relatively minor increase in comfort, but it might be significant to someone with CTS.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
Unlimited budget? Get her a bike that takes 32/35s, the expensive ones.
In my initial post, I limited the scope of what I'm considering right now to 28C tires that fit the existing bicycle that my wife prefers. I would like to keep the discussion focused on that.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Thin wall tires (e.g. Rene Herse) tend to remove all the little bumps and vibrations more so than thicker wall tires, and bigger bump smoothing mostly comes down to tire volume. To me, the thin-wall small bump smoothing is a relatively minor increase in comfort, but it might be significant to someone with CTS.
That's useful information, thanks. A better tire is obviously likely to be a smoother ride but, I suppose, the question should really be "does a better tire provide an appreciably smoother ride".

One of the interventions currently in play is a Redshift Shockstopper stem. I suspect that dampening will overshadow some of the other possible interventions but it's difficult to know with certainty how that will play out. I definitely want to exploit anything that one might consider low hanging fruit which is why I'm exploring larger tires and lower air pressure. If the "bang for buck" on thin wall tires in this combination would be minimal, than I may leave that option on the table for now. The Luganos are not high end tires but, at the same time, they are slicks with only nominal puncture guard. It's not like they are Schwalbe Marathon's or anything.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:46 AM
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In some reviews of the Redshift Shockstopper stems, folks expressed their opinions that the system worked but expectations should be modest, on par with the switch from a 25c tire to a 28c tire. If it makes sense to do so, I seek stack the benefits of the stem combined with a larger tire.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
In my initial post, I limited the scope of what I'm considering right now to 28C tires that fit the existing bicycle that my wife prefers. I would like to keep the discussion focused on that.
My smoothest riding tires at @ 28mm are VeloFlex and Vittoria tubulars. Conti 5000s at 25mm ride like Gatorskins compared to the 320tpi casings from other manufacturers.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:49 AM
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https://www.probikekit.com/bicycle-t.../12344796.html

Get her these. I have the tubular version and they are the best riding tires Iíve had.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:56 AM
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I haven't tried the Rene Herse in 28 but I recently had some extra light 35s and the ride was astonishingly smooth. They were too flat prone for me but definitely the nicest ride I've experienced. If budget is truly irrelevant (about $90 each) and you don't mind a flat every few hundred miles, might be an option.
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Old 08-30-21, 11:58 AM
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Tires and saddle have the largest effect on ride comfort
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Old 08-30-21, 12:12 PM
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If she doesn’t have tiny hands, you also might want to consider double wrapping her bar tape too.
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Old 08-30-21, 12:36 PM
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Recently purchased Michelin Pro4 Service Course tires, don't have a lot of miles on them yet, but so far I'm very happy with them. Seem to isolate me from bumps in the pavement. Note though, if considering, my old tires were 700 x 25, so ordered the same size. The Michelins are a little larger than spec'd. The 25s measure 27, but I had clearance and like that they are a little larger.
Ordered them here, don't know if other sites might have them for less $$: Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tire at BikeTiresDirect
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Old 08-30-21, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
Recently purchased Michelin Pro4 Service Course tires, don't have a lot of miles on them yet, but so far I'm very happy with them. Seem to isolate me from bumps in the pavement. Note though, if considering, my old tires were 700 x 25, so ordered the same size. The Michelins are a little larger than spec'd. The 25s measure 27, but I had clearance and like that they are a little larger.
Ordered them here, don't know if other sites might have them for less $$: Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tire at BikeTiresDirect
What PSI are you using?
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Old 08-30-21, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
What PSI are you using?
Around 80 rear and 70 front--feels fine, doesn't feel like too little. I only weigh 155, give or take, so don't need lots of pressure in a tire.
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Old 08-30-21, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
Around 80 rear and 70 front--feels fine, doesn't feel like too little. I only weigh 155, give or take, so don't need lots of pressure in a tire.
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Old 08-30-21, 01:51 PM
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IME, the effect you are asking about is real and perceptable, but still fairly subtle. I tend to doubt it will make an important difference for someone with CTS.
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Old 08-30-21, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Harold74 View Post
Thanks for your input. Both of those exercises have already been undertaken, along with numerous others. For the purpose of this thread, I'm interested in nothing other than the relationship between tire quality and comfort.
A fool's errand, this. Post #3 captured it all, the widest tire that can fit. Quality and comfort are [generally] unrelated, or at least correlate very weakly. Tire volume and comfort do correlate strongly.

Higher quality tires give handling characteristics, like liveliness, that don't really translate into comfort at all. And usually only more seasoned riders can experience the difference.
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Old 08-30-21, 05:42 PM
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If your wife is hurting as bad as you indicate, and she loves to ride, I think you are just chasing the wind with a 25mm to 28mm tire change as your solution.

Both Fox and Rockshox have come out with low travel suspension forks for gravel bikes. I don’t know much about them, but that is where I would put my effort.

John
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