Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tires, bikes and rolling resistance . . .

. . . can make probably one of the single biggest differences for the recreational rider.  Let's say for argument sake that for whatever reasons, you have a fairly standard Mountain bike?  Doesn't matter how old or new it is, or what kind of condition it is in, your ride on pavement can tend to be less enjoyable, and more work, if you are running nice "normal" mountain bike tires.  "Fat" tires as they are also at times called, have much more traction, and a greater amount of surface area that connects you and your bike to the ground.  This of course means MUCH greater "rolling resistance" which in simple terms, means how fast you can go.  It all means that even rolling downhill, you are going to slow down and stop much sooner with a fat tire than a thin one.  That's just simple physics.  Most people who first learn how to ride, do so on fairly normal, pavement oriented bicycle tires, and that is to say, pretty smooth, no real tread to speak of, and they roll really well.  So we get this perception of speed and feel that kinda stays with us.  So much so that our first time on a Mountain Bike with "Fat" tires can seem all wrong.  Like it's slower and harder to ride than what we might be used to.  Honestly, that's because it is.  All that tread, and the greater surface area, increases rolling resistance on smooth, solid, paved surfaces, like streets.  So if you're not soon going to be "getting dirty" as the saying goes for mountain biking, swap those knobby fat boys out for some city slicks.

While there is a big difference in wheel sizes between road and mountain bike wheels, they DO make an assortment of tires that will give you a several mile per hour speed increase, and decrease your rolling resistance significantly on a standard mountain bike wheel.  Just swap out the tire and tubes and off you go.  Something like the Ritchy Tom Slick Mountain Bike Tire (on the left) will do the trick and make for a very different ride on pavement.  The ride will be faster with less noise, and less work for the same speed.  Plus going up and down hills you're not going to have top work as hard.  Plus they are a fairly inexpensive change you can make to a standard mountain bike that will give you a whole lot more pleasure if you're going to run on city streets or paved trails.

Now, if your know what you're doing, all you will need to make this change are new tires, tubes and a pump, no tools required.  Few minutes per wheel with no tools and off you go!  I'm not even kidding.  "No tools?  Is she insane?  It's not possible... " I can almost hear you thinking from here.

But it is, and thanks to Asa Sales at Team Estrogen, it's easy to learn how to do it yourself!  She goes into great deal about how exactly you quickly and easily change your own tires with no tools and no fuss.  So there's really no reason for me to go into how to do it here, especially given what a great job Asa does.  So a heartfelt thanks to Asa for doing a wonderful job of making the whole process simple and easy to understand!


Shauna said...

I thought I knew bikes but Sam, this really opened my eyes especially the tires. I have a great mountain bike but on asphalt roads it does have drag, so off with the mountain tread and on with some smoother tread.

Samantha said...

Glad I could help Shauna! Yeah, the tires will make a big difference, it will be like a whole new bike for you... Enjoy!

Caroline said...

Wish I had $10 for every time I have given this lecture to folk who say that riding their bike is hard work! Duh!

Great to see you are doing so well, I have been out and about some but not enough.

Caroline xxx

Samantha said...

Well it's not most peoples fault, I mean most places one goes to buy a bike are usually kinda focused on what sell, and these days that seems to be some kind of mountain bike. Not everyone does all the research into what goes into riding and just get something cheap and "easy" to get started and don't go much past that.

Considering that two of my friends were lamenting the limitations of their bikes, I thought that this would be a good topic to cover in a blog post and let them go from there. I'm pleased to say one of my friends took my advice and is doing much better... So that makes me feel good!

Glad to hear you are getting out some. No law says you have a specific amount to do, I'm confident you'll work your way up to it! As long as you're enjoying yourself, the rest is all gravy! Ride on Caroline! You're doing fine!