On a fine saturday morning you are cycling with friends and feeling the humid Delhi air into your lungs and skin and ” Phut”, the tyre go burst. At first we thought its just a flat but somehow the sound ” phuut” suggested something meaner. Anyways me and Mohit Satyanand went through the agonising task of dismounting from our cycles ( we call them bikes by the way), removing the tyre and tube and then started even more agonising task of replacing the tube. But thank God I spotted a big cut on the tyre which saved us from further agony but launched me into another- Now I have to buy a new tyre.
For those who are uninitiated to the sports of road biking my fears will have no meaning for you. You must be wondering what is this big fuss.. go and buy a new tyre. Well my dear friend ” buying” is where the problem lies. Not only I have to now worry about the hole which this unnecessary expense is going to burn into my pocket ( a single cycle tyre can cost upwards 7000 INR). And to add insult to injury I also have to go through the mental process of which tyre to buy which as I will explain is not a easy process.
So I call sphere cycles to find out about tyre and the store manager asks me ” Sir do you want to buy a tyre to race or to train “. Now that is what call a trick question- if you say race then he is obligated to sell you the best that his store can offer. And the best can be INR 7000 a piece ( Bridgestone car tyres cost 5k) . I responded with a calm voice- well mostly to hang clothes on as that is what my bike has been doing for the better part of the year, but yes I do cycle about 50 kms a week. I guess he sensed poverty and helplessness in my voice and hinted that he has a tyre that is best suited to my (financial) condition.
Now bike tyres not only come in different shapes and sizes but also in different colours . And colour is not the only thing that you have to decide. You have to decide on TPI, width, bead type and the brand. Now when it comes to technical specs of which tyre to buy there is a broad disagreement on many things. For instance some riders would swear by a 23mm width and some would recommend going for 25 mm. There is an extensive body of literature and science around whether is 25 mm tyre will roll smoother and faster than a 23 mm one. Its all about rolling resistance baby :). However people tend to agree that 25mm is generally a more comfortable ride. Really…for whom. the tyre and the wheel I guess. I can’t imagine anything comfortable once you have mounted on a road bike seat.
The other point of contention is TPI or threads per inch. Some people look at TPI when deciding on a tyre- The higher the TPI, the thinner and lighter the tyre and hence faster than its poorer cousins. But higher TPI tyres are more prone to cuts from the side.
Now this is where things get interesting. Also on the offer are foldable tyres. So basically these tyres can be folded and kept in your day pack for a rainy day. Technically they are called folding bead tyres. They are quite hard to put on the bike for the first time but a lot of people carry them in the their back packs just in case they get a burst.
In short there is a lot of technology packed in a bike tyre no wonder why they are so expensive.
So once you have figured out which tyre you have to buy you can choose from a wide range of brands from Kenda, Btwin, Verdestein, Michellin, Continental Gator skins and Vittora to name a few. Off course there are price points for each of these brands which helps you decide. Most people would vouch for either Gator skins or Vittora or Verdestein.
Finally I decided on Verdestein Duocomp. Its half the price than its more pricey cousin- Tricomp. I have heard Tricomp is a faster tyre but last I heard my clothes were in no hurry to dry.
More when by other tyre retyres.