Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Things Are Different in Holland, A Tyre Epiphany

It will come as no surprise to people who have visited the Netherlands, or the Amsterdamize site that things are different in Holland for cyclists. (They're different in France, and lots of other continental countries too, but that's a story for another time).

In any case, I was somewhat surprised on my commute homeward yesterday, by a car with right of way giving way to me. (Cars doing this when I have right of way is rare enough, some days). I'd stopped at a junction to give way to traffic on the road (as I needed to according to the road markings) when the driver of a small hatchback slowed to allow me out. Whilst I appreciated the gesture, I waved the driver past, as I didn't want to slow traffic, or jump in front when I was making a left turn fairly shortly after negotiating the junction.

I was thinking that this was most unusual, and then noticed the country code on the back of the vehicle - "NL". Which explains it, I think. I'm not sure whether this consideration is due to an instinctive bike friendliness, or the feeling that cyclists are in some way unpredictable, but it did make for an odd enocunter, in a nice way.

Pro Race 2 Tyres, Or I'm a Believer.
At the weekend, I finally got around to fitting a pair of 25C Pro Race 2 tyres to my wet weather/commuting wheels. Ever since I began cycling, I've heard paeans of praise to Michelin's Pro Race series of tyres - "The Pro Race is proof that God is a roadie, and wants you to be happy", for example. Although I've never ridden really top flight tyres, I have Continental's GP4000 on my "good" wheels (not a cheap tyre) and should say that I like them a lot.

The Pro Race 2, however, is a different animal entirely. From the first pedal stroke the road feel is superb, and the tyres roll incredibly well. The profile of the 25C is rounder and fatter than the Continental Ultragatorskins that these tyres replaced, and they do feel somewhat less harsh at 95psi than the 'gators did. I guess I should be expecting "better" from a tyre that cost nearly £10 more than the set of 'gators (the latter including tubes) I used to run, but the improvement is akin to fitting new, better wheels to the bike - the Pro Race really is THAT good.

The durability and longevity of the tyres will be interesting to see - they are on my commuting/wet weather wheels after all, and so will be getting the worst of Manchester and Cheshire's roads.

The only problem I can foresee now is that I won't be going back to any other tyre - who said taking up cycling saves you money?

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