January 8th - This is a bit of cycle geekery. I have accumulated over the years some new cyclocross tyres. They’re cross country tyres for road-style bikes. They’re ideal for winter conditions, but tend to puncture easily; being designed for competition, they have great tread but are designed for lightness. Since my beloved Schwalbe Marathon Plus are wearing thin, I thought I’d try out the spares. Instead of putting up with the pictures, I’m going to try this Panaracer ‘Flat Away’ tyre liner, and see if it makes them a bit more of an attractive option.
The tape is soft fabric on a kevlar skin, which is lightly self-adhesive. You just stick it around the inside of the tyre before fitting, and it is purported to stop thorns and other nasties cutting through to the tube.
I’ll admit, I’m sceptical, but it’s hedge flailing season, and I’ll give it a go and see - after all, this stuff is a third of the price of a new tyre and will help me use up some of the perfectly serviceable spares I’ve got hanging around.
Flat Away comes in 26, 700c and 29 versions. Because cross tyres are fatter than 700c, I’ve gone for that for maximum width of coverage.
I shall report back on the experiment. I may live to regret this…
November 25th - Ladies and gentlemen, I can make an announcement. This coming winter will be warm, without much snow or ice.
I have guaranteed this by purchasing new snow tyres for this season. Therefore, fate dictates that I won’t need them. Which will probably be a shame, as they look like they mean serious business.
This has been a public service announcement to 365daysofbiking readers.
January 14th - Winter boots. I’ve mentioned before that in the winter, I ride studded snow tyres. The ones I fit are Schwalbe Marathon Plus Winter, and are a decent choice for road/touring bikes if you have the frame clearance. They don’t roll as well as normal tyres, but by heck, they stick to the roads like a wet tee-shirt. On icy mornings and days like this they come into their own - sure footed in patches of snow, slush, mud and frozen puddles, they’re worth the investment to be that little bit safer.
December 6th - It’s time for the winter boots again. A couple of times this week I’ve felt that queasy adrenaline rush as either the front or real wheel slipped a little bit while cornering. Such incidents are rare, but a wakeup call I always heed. Nature is telling me that it’s time to swap out the 28mm Marathon Plus tyres and throw on the 38mm Marathon Winter. These are a fatter, lower pressure road tyre exhibiting a chunky tread made from a soft compound with small tungsten carbide studs inlaid that bite into ice, mud and road debris. They’re noisy, don’t roll too well, but grip, even on black ice, like demons. They’re not cheap, but for any commuter who keeps going through rough conditions, I highly recommend them.
August 2nd - Today, on the way home, I was stricken by the P*nct*r* fairy. I get relatively few (touches wood carefully) such incidents - maybe 3 in every 3,000 miles or so - because I use a very tough brand of tyre by Schwalbe - Marathon Plus. On the workhorse bike, it’s 26x1.75 Marathon Plus Tour, and on the others, it 700x28 Marathon Plus. They contain kevlar bands to prevent thorns and spikes cutting through the tire and other defensive measures. They’re quite heavy, and probably don’t roll as well as the strips of liquorice the racing boys use, but if you’re below Cavendish level, you’ll never notice the difference.
Correct inflation will prevent punctures, no matter what the brand of tyre. Always check your pressures.
This bike has hub gears and taking the back wheel out is a pain in the arse, and I swore heartily at it in the centre of town. Cursing my bad luck, I found not a puncture, but the heat had lifted an old patch, deflating the tyre. That’ll teach me to be a tightarse.