What tires for New Zealand loaded tour on MTB?



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A

Anna Levine

Guest
Hi folks, this is my first post here, I did search the archives.

I'm heading to NZ for a couple of months of loaded touring. It's a road tour, but I understand
there are lots of unpaved roads. Looks like the surfaces will vary from chipseal to hardpack to
loose gravel.

I'm looking for some input on tires. The bike setup is a mountain bike with front and rear panniers,
the load is full self-supported touring w/camping equipment. Last summer I rode this rig on a nearly-all-
pavement tour, and was pretty unhappy on the small amounts of gravel I encountered. I was using
Specialized FatBoys. I also got a number of rear flats.

Right now I have a new Specialized Nimbus on the rear, and a worn out tire on the front. I'm
thinking of putting the nimbus in front and getting something with a bit more tread for the rear.

Anyone have any good tire recomendations? Something with low rolling resistance, good gravel
performance, good flat resistance? Maybe it could last a couple thousand miles?

I also would welcome comments on the two-different-tire setup - is there a problem with that?

Thanks in advance,

Anna
 
D

Dan Daniel

Guest
On 27 Jan 2004 15:13:39 -0800, [email protected] (Anna Levine)
wrote:

>Hi folks, this is my first post here, I did search the archives.
>
>I'm heading to NZ for a couple of months of loaded touring. It's a road tour, but I understand
>there are lots of unpaved roads. Looks like the surfaces will vary from chipseal to hardpack to
>loose gravel.
>
>I'm looking for some input on tires. The bike setup is a mountain bike with front and rear
>panniers, the load is full self-supported touring w/camping equipment. Last summer I rode this rig
>on a nearly-all-pavement tour, and was pretty unhappy on the small amounts of gravel I encountered.
>I was using Specialized FatBoys. I also got a number of rear flats.
>
>Right now I have a new Specialized Nimbus on the rear, and a worn out tire on the front. I'm
>thinking of putting the nimbus in front and getting something with a bit more tread for the rear.
>
>Anyone have any good tire recomendations? Something with low rolling resistance, good gravel
>performance, good flat resistance? Maybe it could last a couple thousand miles?
>
>I also would welcome comments on the two-different-tire setup - is there a problem with that?
>
>Thanks in advance,
>
>Anna

Look into the Continental Travel Contact tires. 26 x 1.75. Nice thick center smooth patch, side
knobs that I don't notice on the road (even serious turns- don't believe that I have tilted enough
to hit the knobs). With maybe 1000 miles on city street I am just seeing the first sign of wear on
the rear tire, and the front still has the molding ridge.

One flat in that time- a shard of metal that went straight in. It put a small hole in the tube while
3-4 mm was still sticking out and hitting the road on each revolution until I stopped from the noise
of the metal. I have a good sense that a lesser built tire would have been seriously sliced open.

On the road I can keep the pressure high- 60-80. Very smooth and nice ride. Off-road, drop the
pressure to 40 or less and I have a semi-slick that is fine on gravel.

It's a heavy tire- 700 grams. So far I consider it bombproof, so the weight is worth it, and once it
is rolling the ride is nice. I think I paid US$30 each.

http://www.conti-
online.com/generator/www/de/en/continental/bicycle/themes/tires/city/travelcontact/travelconta-
ct_en.html

As to two different tires, I have little experience. I would agree with others that the front tire
should be in excellent shape- a serious failure up front is much more dangerous than a failure in
back. Flats on the rear are annoying, but flats or failures up front can take you down.
 
B

Bruce Graham

Guest
In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
> On 27 Jan 2004 15:13:39 -0800, [email protected] (Anna Levine) wrote:
>
> >Hi folks, this is my first post here, I did search the archives.
> >
> >I'm heading to NZ for a couple of months of loaded touring. It's a road tour, but I understand
> >there are lots of unpaved roads. Looks like the surfaces will vary from chipseal to hardpack to
> >loose gravel.
> >
> >I'm looking for some input on tires. The bike setup is a mountain bike with front and rear
> >panniers, the load is full self-supported touring w/camping equipment. Last summer I rode this
> >rig on a nearly-all-pavement tour, and was pretty unhappy on the small amounts of gravel I
> >encountered. I was using Specialized FatBoys. I also got a number of rear flats.
> >
> >Right now I have a new Specialized Nimbus on the rear, and a worn out tire on the front. I'm
> >thinking of putting the nimbus in front and getting something with a bit more tread for the rear.
> >
> >Anyone have any good tire recomendations? Something with low rolling resistance, good gravel
> >performance, good flat resistance? Maybe it could last a couple thousand miles?
> >
> >I also would welcome comments on the two-different-tire setup - is there a problem with that?
> >
> >Thanks in advance,
> >
> >Anna
>
> Look into the Continental Travel Contact tires. 26 x 1.75. Nice thick center smooth patch, side
> knobs that I don't notice on the road (even serious turns- don't believe that I have tilted enough
> to hit the knobs). With maybe 1000 miles on city street I am just seeing the first sign of wear on
> the rear tire, and the front still has the molding ridge.
>
> One flat in that time- a shard of metal that went straight in. It put a small hole in the tube
> while 3-4 mm was still sticking out and hitting the road on each revolution until I stopped from
> the noise of the metal. I have a good sense that a lesser built tire would have been seriously
> sliced open.
>
> On the road I can keep the pressure high- 60-80. Very smooth and nice ride. Off-road, drop the
> pressure to 40 or less and I have a semi-slick that is fine on gravel.
>
> It's a heavy tire- 700 grams. So far I consider it bombproof, so the weight is worth it, and once
> it is rolling the ride is nice. I think I

I have about 10,000Km of touring on my old Conti Town and Country MTB tyres. I have had a couple of
flats in grass from those "tank trap" four prong thorns and pinch flats when running low pressure in
sand and rock mixtures (in Australia not NZ). No ordinary tyres can withstand those thorns and pinch
flats can't be blamed on the tyres. Some of those flats were on my wifes bike which also has about
10000 Km on her Contis. The sidewalls are now looking ugly from the sun. They are very heavy also.

We used touring bikes in NZ last year - just the south island and nearly all sealed roads. The Conti
Top Touring 32's had zero punctures for the 1500Km trip and had about 7000Km on each when we
started. (rotated front to back at least once). They are dead finally.
 
P

Pete Grey

Guest
I'll plug the Conti Top Touring's too. Cross-US trip, loaded tourer, with only a couple of flats.
Also other places, like the Alaska highway, with similar experience.

-pete

"Bruce Graham" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...
> > On 27 Jan 2004 15:13:39 -0800, [email protected] (Anna Levine) wrote:
> >
> > >Hi folks, this is my first post here, I did search the archives.
> > >
> > >I'm heading to NZ for a couple of months of loaded touring. It's a road tour, but I understand
> > >there are lots of unpaved roads. Looks like the surfaces will vary from chipseal to hardpack to
> > >loose gravel.
> > >
> > >I'm looking for some input on tires. The bike setup is a mountain bike with front and rear
> > >panniers, the load is full self-supported touring w/camping equipment. Last summer I rode this
> > >rig on a nearly-all-pavement tour, and was pretty unhappy on the small amounts of gravel I
> > >encountered. I was using Specialized FatBoys. I also got a number of rear flats.
> > >
> > >Right now I have a new Specialized Nimbus on the rear, and a worn out tire on the front. I'm
> > >thinking of putting the nimbus in front and getting something with a bit more tread for the
> > >rear.
> > >
> > >Anyone have any good tire recomendations? Something with low rolling resistance, good gravel
> > >performance, good flat resistance? Maybe it could last a couple thousand miles?
> > >
> > >I also would welcome comments on the two-different-tire setup - is there a problem with that?
> > >
> > >Thanks in advance,
> > >
> > >Anna
> >
> > Look into the Continental Travel Contact tires. 26 x 1.75. Nice thick center smooth patch, side
> > knobs that I don't notice on the road (even serious turns- don't believe that I have tilted
> > enough to hit the knobs). With maybe 1000 miles on city street I am just seeing the first sign
> > of wear on the rear tire, and the front still has the molding ridge.
> >
> > One flat in that time- a shard of metal that went straight in. It put a small hole in the tube
> > while 3-4 mm was still sticking out and hitting the road on each revolution until I stopped from
> > the noise of the metal. I have a good sense that a lesser built tire would have been seriously
> > sliced open.
> >
> > On the road I can keep the pressure high- 60-80. Very smooth and nice ride. Off-road, drop the
> > pressure to 40 or less and I have a semi-slick that is fine on gravel.
> >
> > It's a heavy tire- 700 grams. So far I consider it bombproof, so the weight is worth it, and
> > once it is rolling the ride is nice. I think I
>
> I have about 10,000Km of touring on my old Conti Town and Country MTB tyres. I have had a couple
> of flats in grass from those "tank trap" four prong thorns and pinch flats when running low
> pressure in sand and rock mixtures (in Australia not NZ). No ordinary tyres can withstand those
> thorns and pinch flats can't be blamed on the tyres. Some of those flats were on my wifes bike
> which also has about 10000 Km on her Contis. The sidewalls are now looking ugly from the sun. They
> are very heavy also.
>
> We used touring bikes in NZ last year - just the south island and nearly all sealed roads. The
> Conti Top Touring 32's had zero punctures for the 1500Km trip and had about 7000Km on each when we
> started. (rotated front to back at least once). They are dead finally.
 
J

John Henderson

Guest
"Dan Daniel" wrote:

> Look into the Continental Travel Contact tires. 26 x 1.75. Nice thick center smooth patch, side
> knobs that I don't notice on the road (even serious turns- don't believe that I have tilted enough
> to hit the knobs).

I'm currently running a Conti Top Touring 2000 (TT) on the front and a Conti Travel Contact (TC) on
the rear (both 26 x 1.75). I regularly lean enough to make the TC's side knobs sing - but the grip
remains excellent.

The TC is rated at 85 psi, and the TT at only 56 psi. I realise that these tend to be conservative
ratings, but that's what I run them at.

I've read stories about sidewall failures on the TTs. One bloke said that they should be inflated to
90 psi (recommended 56 psi, remember), then told us about his sidewall blow-out, and then went on to
reinforce his recommendation for 90 psi. I was astounded.

The TCs have Kevlar reinforcing for the tread and sidewall, making them much superior for touring in
my opinion.

> With maybe 1000 miles on city street I am just seeing the first sign of wear on the rear tire, and
> the front still has the molding ridge.

My TT has done 7,100 km and the TC 3,000 km. There's no appreciable wear on either, and the only
problem has been a single puncture on the TC from a fine wire (a "Michelin wire").

John
 
A

Anna Levine

Guest
Thanks everyone. Sounds like Conti is the tire of choice. Anyone ride those TravelContacts
on gravel?
 
N

Ningi

Guest
Anna Levine wrote:

> Hi folks, this is my first post here, I did search the archives.
>
> I'm heading to NZ for a couple of months of loaded touring. It's a road tour, but I understand
> there are lots of unpaved roads. Looks like the surfaces will vary from chipseal to hardpack to
> loose gravel.

Unless you actively seek it out, there doesn't seem to be much loose gravel left. You are most
likely to encounter it where the road is being repaired. or if you start taking VERY minor roads.
The surface can be quite rough at times though.

>
> I'm looking for some input on tires. The bike setup is a mountain bike with front and rear
> panniers, the load is full self-supported touring w/camping equipment. Last summer I rode this rig
> on a nearly-all-pavement tour, and was pretty unhappy on the small amounts of gravel I
> encountered. I was using Specialized FatBoys. I also got a number of rear flats.

These are what I used during 2 months of cycling in New Zealand a year ago.

http://www.schwalbe.com/index.pl?bereich=produkte&einsatzbereich=3&produktgruppe=20&produkt=127&d-
etails=133

Schwalbe Hurricane GX

I found then fine on road, and equally happy when we did encounter gravel. No punctures while
cycling in NZ, one since I returned (glass on the road in London, unsurprisingly)

around 2000 miles on them in total now, and they still have plenty of life in them.

Plenty of other good advice on this thread as well though :)

HTH

Pete
 
C

Charles Ramsey

Guest
[email protected] (Anna Levine) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> Thanks everyone. Sounds like Conti is the tire of choice. Anyone ride those TravelContacts
> on gravel?

I get about five times the life with a kevlar belted tire. Also I have found that a fat tire (2
inch) on a skinny rim (22 mm) will fail early at the bead. The romp family rompfamily.com used
specialized armidillos on their quad on their US tour with a 700 pound total load but this tire has
a high rolling resistance.
 
M

Mark Boyd

Guest
> [email protected] (Anna Levine) wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
> > Thanks everyone. Sounds like Conti is the tire of choice. Anyone ride those TravelContacts on
> > gravel?

Yes, and on Romanian roads that are much worse than gravel, and on fireroads in the mountains of
Western NC where I live, and on a lot of other roads in a dozen countries. They worked very well on
all those surfaces, but one of the two Travel Contacts I bought had bad cords and developed an
increasing large sidewall/tread bulge. I replaced it with Schwalbe Marathon in Germany after riding
about 2000 miles on it. It definitely would not have survived Romanian roads! I found I like the
Travel Contact front, Marathon rear (both 700x37) better than Travel contacts on both tires. For
handling on less than ideal surfaces, the front tire is more important than the rear tire. Travel
Contacts are excellent tires, but I'm not impressed with Conti's quality control.

Mark <http://www.cs.unca.edu/~boyd/bicycling.html
 
J

John Henderson

Guest
"Mark Boyd" wrote:

> Yes, and on Romanian roads that are much worse than gravel, and on fireroads in the mountains of
> Western NC where I live, and on a lot of other roads in a dozen countries. They worked very well
> on all those surfaces, but one of the two Travel Contacts I bought had bad cords and developed an
> increasing large sidewall/tread bulge. I replaced it with Schwalbe Marathon in Germany after
> riding about 2000 miles on it. It definitely would not have survived Romanian roads!

It sounds like Schwalbe might be a better recommendation. I've heard a couple of other glowing
reports about them from touring cyclists recently (I haven't done serious bicycle touring myself for
about 20 years). I think I'll try Schwalbes for myself at the next tyre change.

John
 
M

Mark Boyd

Guest
On Sat, 31 Jan 2004, John Henderson wrote:

> "Mark Boyd" wrote:
>
> > Yes, and on Romanian roads that are much worse than gravel, and on fireroads in the mountains of
> > Western NC where I live, and on a lot of other roads in a dozen countries. They worked very well
> > on all those surfaces, but one of the two Travel Contacts I bought had bad cords and developed
> > an increasing large sidewall/tread bulge. I replaced it with Schwalbe Marathon in Germany after
> > riding about 2000 miles on it. It definitely would not have survived Romanian roads!
>
> It sounds like Schwalbe might be a better recommendation. I've heard a couple of other glowing
> reports about them from touring cyclists recently (I haven't done serious bicycle touring myself
> for about 20 years). I think I'll try Schwalbes for myself at the next tyre change.

That is my feeling, and seems to be the feeling of most of the tourists I've talked with in Europe.
Conti's are easier to get in the US and, for riding a wide variety of surfaces, Travel Contacts have
a very good tread design. Schwalbe tires seem better made and more reliable. I plan to replace my
remaining Travel Contact with a Marathon when it wears out,

Mark <http://www.cs.unca.edu/~boyd/bicycling.html
 
J

John Henderson

Guest
"Mark Boyd" wrote:

> Travel Contacts have a very good tread design. Schwalbe tires seem better made and more reliable.
> I plan to replace my remaining Travel Contact with a Marathon when it wears out,

In your earlier post, you mention a bulge in a Travel Contact tyre. I had a slight bulge in mine
too, so I investigated more closely.

I had assumed that I had not been careful enough mounting the tyre, as the bulge was very minor. On
checking, I find that it's now more pronounced. And I've now remounted it carefully a couple of
times, but the bulge persists in the same place.

I can only assume that I'm seeing a structural problem with the tyre. I've ordered a Schwalbe, and
will replace the Conti ASAP. Thanks for your alert about this problem.

John
 
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