How do I gauge grip?


May 11, 2014
I'm used to department store bikes, and now that I have found a couple bike shops, how can I tell before I acquire a tire and put it on, what my ride will be like? I "street and trail" ride mostly (mostly pavement and push roads) and am thinking hard about an easy rolling racing slick or semi-slick. I don't think my roads are quite tight enough to warrant peak grip, nor can I go fast enough to need it on most days. Btw: I like bikes with 26"x2" wheels right now.
You're going to have to read reviews online. It's not easy to look at a tire and determine how it will ride. In general, higher TPI numbers will ride smoother and roll better. Other than that, there's not much you can go by just looking at a package.
With that in mind, what's a good one to start with? I haven't gotten flats that often. Partly because I stay out of the briar patches. :D
FYI. By going to 26" MTB slicks, you will automatically increase your traction over using MTB tires which have off-road 'knobs' ...
  • There won't be that many choices ... Just buy the least expensive pair you can find ... If you are unsatisfied with them, then buy a more expensive pair the next time.
BTW. The inner tubes can have an effect the rolling resistance ... So, if you were to use the most expensive tires WITH heavy-duty tubes, then you would probably negate the benefits of a tire with a high thread count sidewall. In other words, you may not be able to make-a-silk-purse-out-of-a-sow's-ear by using latex tubes with the cheapest tires you can find, but you probably don't want to negate the benefits of an expensive tire with a thorn-proof tube.
I have been using "regular" Specialized tubes, whatever they are. What's the difference between "cheap" slicks and "expensive" slicks? thread count of the binder and the compound?
That's pretty much it. There's isn't really anything else to a tire.