Tire Talk

I’m enjoying riding on a new purchase. I finally had to give in and buy a new rear tire. And in doing so, I decided to change my tire arrangement.

For a long time, I’ve been running a Continental Gatorskin 25mm on the rear, and a Vredestein Fortezza SE 23 mm on the front. The reason for this mismatched pair is my basic cheapness. That, and the fact that the Vredestein refused to wear out. It was only after I hit some bad debris that left a noticeable gouge in the front tire that I decided it was finally time to retire it.

That Vredestein — well, I’ve talked about them before. I really liked its unexpected ability to resist flats. That wasn’t one of its selling points when I bought it, but it turned out to be the best thing the tire had going for it. Problem was, it took fairly high air pressure. I ran 120 lbs. in the front tire, and the sidewall said it could take pressure up to 160 psi. But even at 120, the tire rode harshly on the  chip seal roads we have around here. It was not pleasant.

So I decided to replace the Vredestein with another Gatorskin. I run those at 100 PSI, and the ride is better cushioned that way. As you’re already aware, I’m a comfort-seeking rider. Cushioning is important to me.

Now, in keeping with my tight-fistedness when it comes to buying most anything, I shopped around for the best price I could find on a Gatorskin. It’s a fairly pricey tire, but a place I’d bought them before at a good price came through again. Pro Bike Kit of England was carrying Gatorskins at $32, and free shipping to the United States. That’s even less than I paid for Gatorskins at Pro Bike Kit a few years ago, ,when I was pleased at the low price they offered then.

One difference I’m really liking with the 25s on both front and rear is better handling. The wider front just seems to be more stable to me, and I’m attacking curves with more verve than I have done in some time. Maybe it’s just the newness effect — similar to the feeling you get when you finally wash your car. We all know a clear car performs better, right? Hey, I’ve experienced that first hand.

I’ll be watching the Gatorskins to see how well they hold up. While I like their flat resistance, they have tended to wear out sooner than other tires. Will they be able to match the Vredesteins for long life? The front tire that I finally replaced last week was first mounted on my bike in August of 2011. When I retired it, it had 6,748 miles on it. I doubt the Gatorskins will last that long, but you never know.


  1. Brian says

    One of my Vredesteins separated where the colored rubber bonded with the black rubber. That’s when I too switched to Continentals. The Gatorskins might be a good choice if you have goatheads on the roads down there… :)

  2. says

    I run a 700×25 on the front, and a 700×23 on the rear: both Gatorskinz. The reason is better handling, especially in our infamous south Texas winds (20+ mph). Without the wider tire, I notice that my front wheel goes all over the place the second it is hit with wind gusts.

    Around these parts, there is a lot of debris on the road and while no one will come out and say that Gatorskinz are best, most of the 5,000/year riders use them, with liners 😀

      • says

        Some folks say that about Gatorskinz or about the wider tires, but I have not noticed much of a difference. I can keep up with the faster folks in our groups just fine :)

  3. Mark X says

    Have had 2 sets of Gatorskins 25s. Got approximately 5,000 out of each set. Just an awesome tire. NO FLATS. EVER. Since I switched to Gatorskins.
    However, this January I got a new Trek Domane. The Bontrager tires that come on this bike are just awful. Got my first flat after just 400 miles. Fixing flats is something that I had gotten out of practice doing with the Gatorskins o.

    I just hate the the ideal of replacing new tires on a new bike. But have decided that is what I must do.

    • says

      I use the bontragers on my spare bike. This is also the same bike that I lend out to folks who just want to try out road cycling. They get plenty of use that way, but for my primary bike is Gatorskinz all the way :)

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