Flat protectio



amazinmets73

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Aug 11, 2010
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I've just about had enough. I do most of my riding on Baltimore's streets, which vary from bad to atrocious, and I've been flatting repeatedly (3 times in the last 15 miles)! What are the best forms of protection against flats? Gatorskins or a similarly constructed tire? Tubeless tires?
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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On a bike with fairly wide, low pressure tires you can set it up what MTBers refer to as "ghetto tubeless".
This gives decent protection against smallish penetration punctures. You might need to top up pressure though. And remove the foreign object that caused the flat. And the most common sealants will need topping up every 3-6 months.
There are also slime filled tubes, or you can get tubes with replaceable valve cores and add sealant yourself.

Typically, the performance of these methods tends to go down as the tire pressure goes up.

Some people are entirely happy with puncture protected tires, and/or tire liners. Others think they degrade the ride too much.

The extreme approach are the airless AKA airfree AKA solid tires. I've used them extensively and found them entirely rideable, although there is a trade-off. It was tolerable to me, but many find it too much.
There are also generic foam inserts to be used with any appropriately sized tire available, but I don't think I've read about anybody being happy with those. Either the rolling resistance or the mounting is horrible.
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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Tubeless designs require a big expense due to having to buy new rims, there is the Stans program but those don't seem to work as well as dedicated tubeless systems. Also when a tubeless tire goes flat it's sudden, like a blow out, whereas most tube flats are slower.

If the flats are coming from the road and into the tread you need to consider going with a nearly bullet proof tire like the Specialized Armadillo All Condition tire; this is a heavy tire compared to say Continental Grand Prix or the such, but at least half the weight as the Schwalbe Marathon Plus which is probably the most bullet proof tire on the market. Or you can get a lighter tire like the Hutchinson Intensive Hardskin tire and for add protection, especially for the rear, add a Panaracer Flat Away liner. The Panaracer Flat Away liner is the best liner on the market by far over anything else. I do some light touring and use a pair of Panaracer Pasela TG tires and installed a Flat Away liner in the back tire because most flats occur on the rear, and I don't want to hassle with removing the panniers etc while on a tour. Likewise in your case you don't want to hassle with flats commuting to work, so a Flat Away liner in the rear will stop most flats if not all, but a liner won't protect the sidewalls so a good tire like the Gatorskin or the Intensive Hardskin combined with a liner will make the tire virtually flat free, or like I mentioned the Armadillo All Condition tire is an extraordinary flat free tire with very long wear life that will far exceed the Gatorskin or the Intensive.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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a) Watch where you are riding.

b) Move.

c) Do both.

d) Buy heavy duty commuting tires fitted the heaviest butyl tubes. Pro Tip: Gatorskins, despite ad copy to the contrary, are not heavy duty commuting tires designed to take the daily abuses of city streets.
 

maydog

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Feb 5, 2010
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3 flats in 15 miles? You probably have some debris embedded in the tire or are changing the tube improperly.

If you are not too concerned about weight, a good option would be to consider using a Cross or Randonneur type tire if they will fit the frame. I never had much luck with the kevlar belted claimed flat resistant road tires.

I used to use thorn resistant tubes which are 4x thicker than a regular butyl tube and did get less (maybe 0?) flats. They now hang in my garage since they do increase rolling resistance noticeably. Now I get less flats by just being aware of debris and riding around it.
 

Froze

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I use to live in the Mojave Desert area of California where goathead thorns ruled the road and ruined tires. After much frustration of trying many tires and at least 5 flats a week including the heralded Conti Gatorskin WITH a Mr Tuffy liner AND a slime tube (which are junk once the psi gets over 70 and the valves were poor quality), I finally discovered the Specialized Armadillo All Condition tire. With the Armadillo and just a ultralight racing tube I never had another flat again in over 15,000 miles of riding out there. Armadillo doesn't use kevlar, which a thorn can simply separate the cords and hit the tube, not sure what Specialized used in that tire but it works. Mr Tuffy's are not that great either, goathead thorns just pushed on through, the best liner is the Panaracer FlatAway liner, I actually took a tack and was able to penetrate the Mr Tuffy fairly easily, but I could not penetrate the FlatAway at all! And even cutting the two with scissors the Mr Tuffy cut like butter but my hand was aching from trying to cut the FlatAway. However the Flataway is a one time use liner, once the tire is wore out you have to install a new liner into the new tire. I averaged about 7,000 miles on the Specialized and about 4,000 miles on others,
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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Originally Posted by amazinmets73

I purchased the Continental 4 seasons tires
Good luck, they weren't all that great when I tried them but that's been awhile so maybe they're better now, but for some reason I just don't have that much faith in those for your situation.
 

amazinmets73

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Aug 11, 2010
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Froze said:
Good luck, they weren't all that great when I tried them but that's been awhile so maybe they're better now, but for some reason I just don't have that much faith in those for your situation.
What was the performance on the Armadillo tires?
 

ambal

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Oct 15, 2010
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Originally Posted by amazinmets73


What was the performance on the Armadillo tires?
I think they ride well for what they cost. Keep in mind, the performance difference between most tyres is in our heads.
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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Originally Posted by amazinmets73


What was the performance on the Armadillo tires?
The newer version of the All Condition Armadillo tire has a better ride quality and is lighter than the older ones, but these are a totally different type of tire then the Conti 4 Seasons tire, the Armadillo is made for people who commute on rough and trashy streets and don't want to be bothered with flats (note, no tire is flat proof); the Conti 4 Seasons is design for riders who want a lighter tire and don't mind occasional flats since they don't ride on rough trashy streets, and few might commute on them, but the 4 Seasons lacks sidewall protection whereas the Armadillo puts their flat protection belt into the sidewall as well. The Armadillo is more closely related to a Conti Gator Hardshell which is a tougher version of the Gatorskin. Because the Armadillo uses kevlar belting across the tread and into the sidewall the sidewall will not flex quite as much as the lighter more vulnerable 4 Seasons or even the Gatorskin, thus the ride quality will be a bit more rougher which can be fixed by putting about 10 psi less air pressure then you would normally ride which won't hurt the tire or cause pinch flats because the sidewall is more rigid.

The older version of the Armadillo that I use to ride was even more robust than this new version but due to complaints about the ride quality Specialized decided to make it a bit less robust and make it more competitive against the Conti Gator Hardshell. Performance wise it's not a racing tire although I knew a RAAM team that used them on the RAAM race and won their 4 man division back in 2002 or 3. But technically they're not a racing tire so don't expect that they will spin up fast or some such nonsense, they about 395 grms in the 700x25 size (the old ones weighed 475 or 495, can't recall anymore).

Specialized also makes the same tire called the All Condition Armadillo Reflect which for $5 more provides you with a reflective sidewall.
 

amazinmets73

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Aug 11, 2010
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That goes against what I've been told about the tires. I was under the impression that they offered gatorskin-esque puncture protection, while maintaining a higher level of performance
 

Froze

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Jul 13, 2004
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Originally Posted by amazinmets73

That goes against what I've been told about the tires. I was under the impression that they offered gatorskin-esque puncture protection, while maintaining a higher level of performance
Nope, someone told you incorrect information; here's some limited proof: http://www.competitivecyclist.com/continental-ultra-gatorskin-road-tire

The Gatorskin is a more rugged tire then the 4 Seasons, but even the Gatorskin is not as great as they make it sound, I know because I tried them, I have not tried the Gatorskin Hardshell but did hear they are closely related to the new All Condition Armadillo tire. I think, note I said I think, the Armadillo should last longer than the Hardshell as far as tread life is concern, again I haven't tried the newer version of the Armadillo but the old version lasted about 8,000 miles, most tires for me last about 5,000 to 6,000 tops IF the tire doesn't get destroyed along the way first, the Armadillos never got destroyed along the way. I use to live in the Mojave Desert of Calif USA, a little bugger of a thorn called a goathead thrived out there and would penetrate any tire I tried even a Gatorskin with a Mr Tuffy liner and using a Slime tube! Speaking of Slime tubes don't bother using them on road bikes, they won't seal leaks once the PSI goes above 70 and the presta valves were the worst made ones I've ever used. Also Mr Tuffy aren't so tough, there is a better liner on the market called the Panaracer FlatAway but it's a one time use liner and at a cost of $15 per tire it can get expensive, I only use them on the rear tire on my touring bike. Those FlatAway liners though I tried to push a tack through a small section and was unsuccessful! but the tack went easily through a Mr Tuffy, and cutting a FlatAway with scissors was extremely difficult but Mr Tuffy cut like butter. Back to the Goathead problem, the only tire that prevented ALL flats from goatheads as well as other junk was the Armadillo. I never had a tire that never got a flat till I got the Armadillo, I no longer use those tires because I no longer live where the streets are trashed with junk and goatheads so I don't mind an occasional flat, however if I was commuting I would use the Armadillo because a flat on the way to work could cost you your job if it happens too many times and/or the boss isn't understanding.

My touring bike uses 27" tires, Armadillo doesn't come in that size so I use a Panaracer Pasela TG which is another superb tire, relatively light and very puncture resistant (no flats yet) as well as it wears like iron. It's on that bike I use the Flataway liner on the rear tire because a flat while touring is a hassle with the panniers, rack, and fender to deal with along with the usual mechanicals on the side of the road.
 

amazinmets73

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Aug 11, 2010
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I have a cyclocross bike which I plan to use for commuting this winter. I was originally intending to use cyclocross tires for the commute, but I was advised against it because cyclocross tires wear quickly and knobbies aren't great for road riding. So, looks like I'll be needing some 28-32c road tires. Froze, I looked for the Armadillo tires, but I could only find them in 23 and 25c. Does Specialized manufacture the tires in larger sizes? I found the Schwalbe Marathon's on sale at Chain Reaction for 37 plus an additional 10% off, pretty good deal.
 

Volnix

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Feb 19, 2011
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Originally Posted by amazinmets73

I have a cyclocross bike which I plan to use for commuting this winter. I was originally intending to use cyclocross tires for the commute, but I was advised against it because cyclocross tires wear quickly and knobbies aren't great for road riding. So, looks like I'll be needing some 28-32c road tires.

Froze, I looked for the Armadillo tires, but I could only find them in 23 and 25c. Does Specialized manufacture the tires in larger sizes? I found the Schwalbe Marathon's on sale at Chain Reaction for 37 plus an additional 10% off, pretty good deal.

There are a few "Armadillo" tires. There is the "All condition Armadillo", the "Roubaix Armadillo" etc.

The "23-25" Roubaix is a 25mm tire with a 23mm tread.

The "25-28" Roubaix is a 28mm tire.

I'm also thinking between these, a pair of Gator Hardshell (which the internet says that they have sidewall and bead issues) and a crate of Kenda.
big-smile.png
 

Froze

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Specialized makes a Infinity Armadillo in size 28, 32, 35, 38, 42, and 47; and a Nimbus Armadillo in a 28, 32, 35, 38, and 45; so yes there are wider versions of the Armadillo.
 

RandomTroll

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Nov 22, 2014
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During a bumper season for goatheads I had a flat every 90 miles, on average, as opposed to the usual 400. Panasonic RiBMo PT tires have held up well (no flat in last 800 miles), which may be a coincidence; maybe the goatheads thinned out instead. They're about 60% the price of the Continental Gatorskins and Specialized Armadillos, which I haven't tried. All of these tires are heavy and stiff, hard to mount and unmount, and a harder ride.

I haven't had a great experience with any plastic liner: Mr Tuffy, StopFlats2, Slimes, RhinoDillo - others whose names I have forgotten, all have not-stopped goathead thorns from penetrating my tubes; sometimes they harbor a tiny bit of thorn that eventually tears a hole in the tube.

I've tried a few brands of sealants and they hurt me as much as help. One can't patch a sealanted-tube: the sealant fouls the glue.

A fellow at http://www.chain-l.com sells 'tire savers': bits of metal wire and plastic tubing that mount on the brake bolt (which I don't have because I use cantilever brakes, but I still have a hole.) and scrape bits of crud off the tire. They don't scrape off something that becomes strongly embedded the first insertion, but the stuff that takes a few rotations to embed it may remove. I like getting the crud scraped off my tires anyway; I spend less time inspecting false alarms. Mention my name and don't get a discount.
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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'Tire Savers' aka 'Nail Pullers' are a classic solution to goatheads, glass, bits or wire, tacks, nails, sharp rocks and objects that like to penetrate tire & tube.

There used to be two styles of Tire Savers. One was made from round wire for the mount section and round wire for the scraper section that were coupled together with clear plastic tubing. The fancier type had a convex piece of sheet metal formed to the radius of the tire tread that was mounted on a hinge to the piece that attached to the brake caliper mounting bolt.

They worked in 1972 and I'm sure they will work well today. Faster than a gloved hand, for sure. Somewhere...in one of my boxes of pieces parts is a pair of the plastic tube style that protected the sew-ups on my old Peugeot PY-10.
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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amazinmets73 said:
Are 28c tires adequate for winter riding, or should I go with 32c?
Depends on what winter means for you. For me, it's snow and ice. Or possibly bare ground that's been sanded and salted. 28 vs 32 doesn't mean a thing for snow and ice. 32 might be a little nicer on sand/grit on blacktop. If winter for you simply mean cold and wet, just get a tire of your preferred width, but with as soft rubber you can find.