WELCOME! I've been cycling through the Southeast Valleys of Wales since 2010 and I can't say (or show) enough about the place. I just love it. So if you've got the interest and would like to spend some time... sit back and let me show you some of the fabulous places I've discovered.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Winter Treads

It's been raining for a week. The morning temps. hover around 7c. (45f.) Afternoon highs peak at 14c (58f.) It's windy and I ain't seen the sun for days... it's fall in Wales.

It's time for winter tyres!

I had been running a set of Continental Gatorskins. I love 'em. Best tyre I've ever used... the set that just came off have close to 4000 miles on 'em. Last week I had my first puncture. I'll put 'em back on in the spring and perhaps get another thousand miles. We'll see.

Lizzie in her winter garb...

Now I've got a small problem. I'm running 27" rims on old Trek (see post: "Lizzy Rolls Again"). Here in the UK 700c rims are the size-standard for road bikes - most always has been. They's slim pickins in the 27" x 1 1/4" tyre department. Schwalbe, Panaracer, Raleigh, and Kenda offer some very basic tyres (with little to no mention of puncture protection). While Michelin has an inexpensive "World Tour" bike tyre, the reviews are less than stellar.

That leaves me with either the Continental Super Sport or the Continental Tour Ride. When comparing the Super Sport to the Gatorskin... the tread pattern is almost identical, ie; slicks with some lateral tread pattern, but not what I want for a winter tyre... so the Continental Tour Ride it is.

Hmmm? 80 psi... that's lower than the Gatorskins...

Outa the package the tyres feel heavy and rigid. And I see that these are actually made in India as opposed the the Gatorskins, which boast proudly on the sidewalls; "Handmade in Germany". I have no idea if this matters or not at this point, but I did find it surprising. The sidewalls are matt black and though I do appreciate having reflective stripes running around the tyres, I personally don't ride that much at night.

Kinda diggin' the rough lookin' black sidewalls...

The tyre fit on the rim just as I would have expected... tight. Yes, you will need tyre levers and you will need to work the wire beading down into the center of the rim to squeeze the last bit of sidewall over the edge. Grumbling is not allowed... it's a tyre. It's supposed to fit tightly. Would you want it any other way?

Also match these up with a set of Conti Tubes... from my experience they are far superior than any other make. Yes, they are heavier... but if you want an additional layer of puncture protection; I highly recommend them. You can see and feel the difference just looking at them.

Like "Farmer Johns" compared to the Gator Skins...

Initially the tyres ride heavier than the Gatorskins and seem less responsive, but that is to be expected from the tread design and lower air pressure. However, after my first day out (45 miles) on a combination of wet roads, cycle paths covered in leaves, sticks, dog poo, and some short rough dirt tracks (woo hoo!)... I love 'em. They grip well when braking and corner smoothly. I even ran through a large section of broken glass bottles without any problem. (Not without worry though...) The additional tread is immediately noticeable and just what I'm looking for in a winter tyre. I'll post again with a further review after a couple of months and 1000 miles or so...

Just get'em...

On a closing note; I also put on some of these bad boys... Clarks' Triple-Compound brake blocks. They are the shit. If you want to stop fast in wet conditions, if you want to stop reliably down steep hills, if you want to protect protect your rims... buy 'em. More worrisome than finding 27" tyres is the gut-wrenching reality that finding decent 27" rims in the future is going to be very, very difficult. I must protect these super light Wolber's... they are the last of a breed.

Coming soon:

"What the hell is that damn bag and what all kinda shit do you haul around?"


  1. Awesome review and pics! I am running 700c on my commuter, however I have a wide selection of tires in my garage to choose from. My favorites are the "thick slicks" made by WTB for summer and then thier "Ryder" tire for the wet season.


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