Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This is why you should get better tyres.

Tyres? Tires? Anyway.

Stock tyres - the ones that come with your bike - are rubbish.

They don't get a lot of attention when you're choosing a bike, so manufacturers, dealers, bike shops etc spend the cash on shiny components instead (which attract your attention - chainset, brakes, and rear derailleur, usually). Then they make a saving by using lower spec components where you're less likely to pay attention. Like the tyres.

Yet they're super important, as they make a huge difference to how your bike handles and feels. Good tyres make your bike fast, reliable, and inspire confidence in the corners or in the wet. Poor tyres can drag the whole experience down.

Like these ones.

They're a Kenda 700x23c model, but this isn't to say the whole Kenda range is a dud. Just that these ones weren't very good.

(N.b. you'd usually struggle to buy the same low-end tyres that come with a bike; pretty much all aftermarket tyres are more upmarket. I have had good Kenda tyres in the past).

Several punctures in the first 500km means they're not worth your time or money. This is a common experience with cheap, low-end tyres.

What isn't so common, but was alarming to see with these, was the bulges.

A first look at that photo and you'd think the wheel is out of true. That's what I thought - it's my front wheel, and it's obvious even when riding.

In fact, the tyre has a couple of worrying bulges. Looking closely, there's a zig-zag appearance as it deviates first to one side, then the other.

On inspection both tyres had suffered this, but the front one was worst. Looking inside, the threads were starting to separate from the rubber, and spread - allowing the tube to bulge.

Braking on a descent or taking a corner at speed, this could have meant a nasty blowout, and loss of control. AKA, a crash.

These tyres did no more than 500km, probably less. Commuting and leisure riding, sub-65kg rider. Panniers, occasional shopping, rider and bike never weighing more than 90kg maximum. I've never seen a tyre wear out in so little time.


The solution?

- Check your tyres regularly.
- Bin them before they let you down.
- Consider replacing stock tyres early (you'll enjoy the bike more as a result).

Ironically I have replaced mine with a set of Hutchinson Flash tyres - described here as wearing out and developing an "S Curve". Sounds familiar! Although he did take two Winters on a turbo and one Spring on the open road to achieve that. I'll report back later.


PJ McNally said...

Update - Hutchinson Flash tyres seem pretty good!

These have now done at least 800km, (500 miles), more likely 1000km, with exactly 1 puncture. (1 rear, 0 front). Not bad. Puncture was due to a sharp glass shard which would have got through most road or commuting tyres. Easily fixed and the tyre as a whole looks fine.

Ramesh Oberoi said...

This is really informative. I want to know the prices to buy kenda tyres online for all four tyres of my Hyunda Santro car.