Friday, August 13, 2010

Rain, and Tyres

Chatting to people about riding in poor weather, I often grin and say "I've been out in worse."

And it's true, at least, it was until yesterday evening.


Manchester's weather was proper, wrath of god biblical as I rode home.

I took shelter in the car wash place on Oxford Road to avoid one heavy downpour, and broke the journey periodically when the rain got too heavy (it never stopped). At one such stop, under the canopy at John Lewis', at Cheadle Royal, the rain came down heavily enough to set off car alarms in the car park. The drains couldn't cope with the downpour, so the bottoms of most hills were, essentially, fords. I rode one (before the motorway bridge just outside Cheadle) but didn't like the idea of the water being over my bottom bracket, so walked the next with the bike held up - even at the furthest point away from the road centre on the footpath, my ankles were under water.

Riding up towards my usual route (right turn up Schools' Hill) the road was deep enough that a Range Rover coming through on the other side was in bumper high water. I ended up turning off with some other cyclists towards Kingsway along NCN 558, which had less standing water on it.

Capping it all off was a road closure in Wilmslow, which meant queueing traffic back to my turning - I got fed up of it (it's not really safe to filter there) and walked most of the way, easily outpacing the traffic. I arrived at Wilmslow station just as the train I was aiming for left, and as bright sunshine appeared. When I got off at Crewe, I managed to ride two dry minutes and then it rained again (not as heavy though).

And then I spent the evening desperately trying to get my stuff dry for today's ride, with only partial succes.

Whilst there was a point at which I was so wet that evidently I wasn't getting wetter (which was sort of liberating, in an odd way) the chill that set in when ever I stopped for traffic lights or to turn was bone deep.

People often ask for opinions on tyres - I've put together my experiences so far below.

On the Tourer/Commuter (Surly LHT) - Continental City Contact 700x42c - like these a lot, so far, and they're less slippy than the Vredestein Perfect Max they replaced. No p* on them since I put them on last November (riding 28 miles per day in and out of Manchester), tread seems to wear well.

On the "quick" (ha!) bike, I've tried;

1) Kenda Kontender (700x 26c Wire on)
Awful. very grippy, but punctured so frequently that I was carrying two or three tubes with me on each ride.

2) Schwalbe Stelvio (700x25c Wire on)
These I really liked - they lasted about 1,500 miles, I think, before the back got a bad cut from some glass.

3) Continental Gatorskins (700x25c, Wire on)
Roll nicely at the recommended pressure, and pretty hardwearing. Downside for the set I had was the performance in the wet, which was awful - I had no confidence in them at all to keep me upright, and to this day, these are the only tyre I've managed to wheelspin.

4) Michelin Pro Race2 (700x25c, folding)
These are absolutely superb - road feel is fantastic, they roll beautifully, and they're hardwearing *enough*, given their other qualities. The 25c is nicely plush too.

5) Continental GP4000 (700x23c, folding)
My favourite tyre before I'd tried Pro Race. These are really nice, but riding pro race makes them feel, well, not quite "meh" but they're not in the same league (imo, ymmv, &c)

On the Brompton, Brompton Greens. Only had one puncture on the B, and that was due to a faulty inner tube. (and in the front wheel, thank god!)

1 comment:

Claire said...
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