Most folks know, I love cycling and am probably one of a relatively few number of folks that commutes any real distance that actually puts more miles on their bike than they do in their car. I was figuring it out last year: ~15,000 miles for the bike, ~10,000 miles for the car. 🙂
So when I buy equipment for my bike, I rarely skim on the essentials. However, for a lot of components, much of the cost difference comes from weight and some extra durability of materials — something most normal folks wouldn’t notice or probably even care about (exactly how many hundreds of dollars is shedding a few grams worth to you :)). But the bike tires…that’s completely different. Few things can make a commute miserable as a flat tire. Since I bike year round, that means that 1/2 of year I’m riding in the dark, and the rain. Stopping and trying to change a tire in that slop is not only time consuming but often times fruitless. More than once have I pulled off a tire, changed it, only to have it flat 5 minutes later because some grime found its way into the inside of the tire (and how can it not in weather like this).
So, the solution — Kyle had turned me on to the tires he rides in the winter, Schawalbe’s Marathon Plus. These things are beasts of a tire (though I found a 700 x 25 to fit my bike) that I never really consider riding until I changed 3 flats in one day on relatively clean road. Suddenly, adding a little extra weight to the bike didn’t seem so bad.
Well, its been almost 3 months and I finally got my first flat (which is coming close to unheard of. I tend to throw out most tires after 4 months) and I’m impressed. It was a slow leak that I actually managed to limp home on. When I got home, I pulled a construction staple, ~1/2 long, from my tire. It had just pricked the inner tube. I love these things. They’re a little spendy (as far as bike tires go) and I’ll only ride them in the winter (when flats are most plentiful) but am I ever glad that Kyle convinced me to get myself a set. For any of you winter road warriors out there — they come highly recommended.