Category Archives: tires
That is a good question. I wish I had the answer. Information like that would be nice to know. I suppose I could say … “your guess is as good as mine”, but I reckon that wouldn’t be very helpful. I have tried a few different times looking up information about tires and rims and pretty much concluded that I must be dumber than I thought as I couldn’t make much out of most of what I read. It just seems to get pretty technical and complicated. I find it quite challenging trying to make sense out of all of it. It was pretty simple when I was a kid, but thru the years man has managed to make it quite complicated. You can try your hand at it if you want. Perhaps you will have more success than I have had in the past. My best advice is to go ask someone who works with this and has some understanding of it. That being said, don’t be surprised if they don’t know of a certainty the answer to your question.
But this much I know … more and more it seems as though people are moving toward wider tires on their trikes … trying to remake their trikes into “mini-FAT trikes”. I can understand and appreciate that, but hey, a rim can only handle so much additional width without concern of safety and performance.
HERE is Schwalbe’s article on this.
You can read the late Sheldon Brown’s article HERE.
There are some formulas for calculation HERE.
HERE is another good article on tire width and rim size.
Here are some things I have learned. Some of it is just common sense and logic.
Tires are designed to have a certain shape when they are properly inflated on the rim. If the tire is too narrow traction and stability when cornering will suffer. If the tire bead is too wide where is fits down into the rim the tire will be deformed from the way it was designed and the tread will be effected. Impact absorption will suffer as will control during cornering. Sidewalls can be more easily damaged and cut. A proper fitting tire on a rim will ensure maximum performance in cornering and traction as well as provide the least rolling resistance. Tires are designed to have a certain shape when properly mounted and inflated. When we modify things we can effect our safety in the performance and handling of the tire.
A wider tire has less rolling resistance than a narrower one of the same “build” and air pressure. A wider tire will also help prevent pinch flats.
Yeah, I wish I could give you a quick and accurate response, but the truth is “your guess is as good as mine”. Well, hopefully we can all …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Fat tire trikes have most definitely caught on and more and more are coming on the market. Those fat tires are nice, but they sure are expensive. And then there are the special wheels required to mount them … also very expensive. Many of us may think we would like to have a fat trike, but can’t afford to buy one. Maybe we struggle with justifying the expense. And even attempting to convert our existing trike over to a fat trike may be cost prohibitive … even if the frame would accept the wider tires and wheels (and it may not).
Most of us know the terms “full”, “mini” and “micro”. Full is full size, mini is smaler than full and micro is smaller than mini. This can be applied to a lot of things including … (drum roll please) … “ta da!” … FAT tires. Yep, there is full fat, mini fat and micro fat. Full fat is said to be 26 x 4 so a full fat trike has 26 x 4 inch wheels and tires all the way around. Mini fat is 20 x 4 so a mini fat trike has 20 x 4 inch tires and wheels all the way around. Then there is micro fat which is 20 (or 26) x 3. Yep, I said 3. It definitely is not a full fat of 4 inch tires and rims, but 3 inches is definitely larger than everything else out there I know of commonly found on tadpole trikes. It looks impressive when compared to more conventional/traditional tires normally found on tadpole trikes. Here is one alongside of a Schwalbe 2 inch Big Apple, a tire many of us are familiar with. As you can see there is considerable difference in both width and height.
So … Want a FAT trike but can’t afford one? There may be hope for you. Converting your standard tadpole trike into a Micro-FAT trike may be as simple and low cost as replacing the tires and inner tubes. Yep, I am talking about using your stock rims to mount these monsters on. At least it is my understanding that this can be done safely and that they will still perform properly. I would strongly advise anyone considering this to first check with a professional mechanic or the bicycle tire manufacturer to be certain this will work and will be safe. I am talking about using these 3 inch tires on your standard stock rims. I am only able to go by what some trike owners report and that is that they are successfully using these 3 inch tires on their stock rims. Warning- Rims are designed to use tires within a certain range. Trying to mount too narrow or too wide of a tire can be a problem and even dangerous. I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting or saying it okay to mount these tires on stock rims. I am only reporting that some have done so and claim they haven’t had any problems doing so.
I want to make it very clear that it is possible that these larger width and height tires may not fit on your trike as far as having the needed clearance in the frame. So before spending money ordering these tires and tubes this needs to be known. I don’t have any way available to tell you whether or not they will work on your trike. You are on your own. Some trikes will handle them okay while others won’t.
The best advice I could give it to look at your current tires taking note how much clearance you have available on the sides of the tires as well as the front side of the rear wheel as these 3 inch wide tires are considerably taller than the tires normally installed on a tadpole trike. That means they will come forward further into the frame as well as be wider. So if you already find you don’t have a lot of room left over between your stock tire and the frame you may not be able to install these larger tires. As you can see in the picture above this trike doesn’t have hardly any additional room available for a larger diameter tire, especially on the bottom most part of the frame.
Also keep in mind that even if they do fit they will change some things from what you are used to. For instance most likely your turning radius will be effected as these tires would rub on the frame sooner not allowing the wheels to turn as sharply.
These Kenda Flame 3 inch tires are available in 20 x 3 (76-406 ISO) diameter and, if needed, 26 x 3 (68-559 ISO) for the rear tire … although you may want a different tire on the rear to provide better traction. (They are also available in 24 inch.) It is my understanding that 20 x 4 inch inner tubes should be used in the 20 inch tire and 26 x 4 inch inner tubes in the 26 inch tire. The tire is listed as 20 or 26 x 3 but it only measures about 2.75 inches according to a picture of it online as well as what I have read about it. I don’t know if using a 4 inch inner tube will cause the 3 inch tire to increase in girth when inflated more so than a smaller inner tube would.
Above is a picture of the Kenda Flame 3 inch tire. You can see it doesn’t have much of a tread pattern as far as aggressive traction like a knobby tire has. And it is not available in any other tread pattern. So off road use would be limited in the realm of traction. That is why I mentioned that you may want a different tire on the rear. If you don’t ride in mud or other surfaces or areas require superior traction then this tire may be satisfactory for your rear tire. I am quite sure it would not suffice for me.
The best price I have found for the 20 x 3 tire is $17.59 with free shipping on purchases over $50 on BikeTiresDirect.com
The best price I found on a 26 x 3 inch tire is $29.57 with free shipping on excelcycle.com . There are also other brands of tires available but I don’t think you can buy them for anywhere near this price. That being said, take a look below.
I did find a Vee Rubber 26 x 3 inch tire (pictured above) on sale for $26, but it showed currently out of stock. You can, however, submit your email address to be informed when they have them back in stock. It is quite similar to the Kenda Flame tire.
Just one 4 inch FAT tire costs over $100 and the 4 inch tubes cost about $15 each. You can buy three of these 3 inch Kenda Flame tires and three of the 4 inch inner tubes for about $100. So if this will suffice for you you can see it is definitely a very inexpensive way to go. Keep in mind … you are only gonna be “sorta fat” with this set up.
I want to mention here and give credit to a fellow triker for enlightening me to this as he did this with his trike and swears by these tires for winter riding. He says he inflates them from 10 to 40 psi. Here is a picture of his trike with the 20 x 3 inch Kenda Flame tires mounted on all three stock rims. He reports that they do great riding in/on snow.
In installing these large tires there may be a concern of clearance and definitely most fenders that may currently be installed with have to be removed and remain off. HERE is an article entitled “what are the pitfalls of converting to a micro fat trike”.
One thing which just popped into my head concerning going with a wider tire like this on the rear wheel is the clearance of the chain. On my trike even with 1/4 inch wider tires than stock my chain is very close to the sidewall of the tire.
So if you have a hankerin’ for a FAT trike this may be something to consider. If we ride on these larger tires and go places our smaller stock tires can’t cope with we just may be able to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I would venture to say that probably several of you have seen this video before, but for those who have not I think you will find it interesting. Most tadpole trikes come with some model of Schwalbe tires installed from the factory. There is a reason for that. Schwalbe makes some of the very best bicycle tires in the entirety of the world. Without further ado here is the video:
I recently came across this video while looking for videos about tire liners as I have an article I have written on tire liners which will be published as the next article after this one. This video mentions tire liners, but it covers a whole lot of things. As for me I am going to continue using the best tire money can buy and not concern myself with flats.
What kind of mileage should we get out of our tires? What should we expect? What is typical? What factors affect the mileage we get out of our tires? When should we replace our tires? Is it safe to ride on a worn out tire? I will attempt to address these questions and more in this article.
The short definitive answer is … “IT ALL DEPENDS”. I just knew you were not going to like that answer, but in all truthfulness it is the only answer one can give. Let’s look at some of the different things that it depends upon. I won’t go into great detail here, but I do want to touch on the majority of factors that come to mind. Here are factors that can and do affect tire wear:
* the tire itself and how it is constructed and the material (rubber compound) used. In short, not all tires are created equal.
* inflation pressure (especially too high or too low. It is important to maintain proper pressure in tires. Too low of pressure is most likely to occur and does the most damage in premature wear and failure.)
* type of surface being ridden on (smooth vs. rough, sharp stones, etc.)
* weight being carried on the tires (rider’s weight as well as any kind of cargo)
* whether or not the rider is aggressive (hard fast cornering for instance)
* wheel alignment (most especially toe in)(really severe tire scrubbing can occur and destroy a tire very quickly)
* temperature (especially surface temperature where the tire is running on)
* debris ran over which damages tire (glass cuts can greatly shorten the life of a tire)
* hitting harsh bumps or holes
* running into damaging things (especially with the sidewall of the tire)
I am sure there are other factors I have not thought of. I myself have gotten as little as 200 or so miles out of a brand new tire and as much as over 14,000 miles out of a tire. Obviously only getting a couple of hundred miles out of a tire is a bummer. And just as obvious, getting over 14,000 miles out of a tire is fabulous. The 200 or so miles was the result of sidewall damage when I hit something. The tire was a Schwalbe Tryker tire which has very weak sidewalls which damage very easily. If I were to have done the very same thing with the tires I use now I don’t think they would have been phased as they are amazingly tough. Like I said, not all tires are created equal.
Trikes, unlike bikes, don’t lean when turning. (Not unless you have a lean steering trike … which few of us do.) Because of this rubber is “scrubbed off” of the tires, especially the front tires, when riding. And this can be rather significant if the rider is a “hotdogger” (aggressive rider in fast cornering). Front tires on a tadpole trike will wear out faster than the rear tire.
Other damage can happen to a tire which shortens its life. Hitting a hard bump or hole can destroy the tire and cause a bulge or deformity to occur. Depending upon how badly the tire is damaged you might be able to ride on it for awhile longer, but I would definitely suggest keeping a close eye on it. Sometimes a tire can be “booted” to extend its life some. However, it is always best to replace a tire which had such damage. BTW, if you hit a bad hole or bump you should also check the rim and spokes for any sign of damage or loosening.
Cracking in the sidewalls of tires can occur either from riding with underinflation or aging or both. Cracking can also be caused by overinflation. With Schwalbe tires cracking of the sidewalls doesn’t seem to be nearly as common as tires of yesteryear most of us grew up with. I can’t speak for other brands as I don’t use any other brands and therefore have no experience or first hand knowledge concerning them.
As to answering the questions about when a tire should be replaced and if it is safe to ride on a worn out tire to some degree I would have to respond once again by saying “it all depends”. I do not advocate riding on a worn out tire. If you use tires that don’t have a protective liner built in I definitely would advise against riding on such a tire when it is worn out and the “insides” are starting to show thru. It could even be the inner tube starting to show thru and even if it is not yet it could quickly do so if a person continues to ride on such a tire. It is very dangerous as the tire could suddenly and catastrophically fail. That could result in a very serious accident at worse. At the least it could leave you stranded unless you happen to carry a spare tire and inner tube with you. Most of us don’t carry spare tires along when we ride (although many of us do carry one around our middle of our bodies).
In the picture at the start of this article you can see a worn out tire with the blue protective liner showing thru. Some tires have green liners. Some have reddish liners. Some have no protective liners at all.
If you use tires which have protective liners built into them then you are not in nearly as much danger when the tire shows wear and the liner is showing thru. Truthfully you could probably ride quite a few more miles on such a tire and be perfectly safe. Most definitely my advice is to replace the tire as soon as possible and by all means keep your eye on it if you continue to ride on it in such a condition. I myself have ridden a couple of hundred more miles or so on a tire which has started showing the protective liner … more than once. There was no problem at all in doing so, but I don’t advise doing so. If, however, the black rubber of the outside of the tire continues to quickly disappear and more and more of the protective liner shows thru it can eventually reach the point that it would be more and more of a concern to continue riding on it. The protective liner is not intended to be what contacts the riding surface.
Tires are constructed in various layers and are integrated together giving them their strength. With high psi air pressure inside of them trying to force its way out once a tire is worn like this it could conceivably fail. So don’t take advantage of the fact that the tires are well constructed. Replace them in a timely manner when you spot this sort of wear. There isn’t much left which is holding the tire together when it gets like this. It is dangerous to continue to ride on a tire that is worn this badly like pictured below.
Depending upon the tire the mileage obtainable out of it even in the best of circumstances will vary some as tires are made different from one another. Some have a soft rubber compound that just doesn’t wear as good as a tire with a harder compound. Of course, a softer compound will provide a smoother softer ride. There are trade offs in all of this. I could be wrong about this, but I think that a low pressure tire is not likely to provide as many miles as a high pressure tire all things being equal otherwise.
Schwalbe Tire Co. has a webpage with information of tire wear. In general Schwalbe states that their non Marathon tires should get 1242 to 3106 miles (2000 to 5000 km) while their Marathon family tires should get 3728 to 7456 (6000 to 12000 km). They state that the Marathon Plus tire should get “much more” than 6213 miles (10000 km).
The lowest I have ever got with Marathon Plus tires is around 7500 miles and as I have already been saying the best is 14,144 miles. That was on the rear. On the front the best I have got is 12,278 miles. I think I would have to attribute the phenomenal mileage to the fact that I have slowed up considerably the last 2 or 3 years due to my knee joints getting worse. In slowing up I am not experiencing as much tire scrubbing in hard fast cornering.
I have written several other articles about tires previously. Click HERE to read them.
I want to insert here that the prices for tires seem to be constantly changing. It pays to research and check prices as you can save a bundle of money. I always buy from the same source as I have never found any other source which offers anywhere near as good of prices. I recently bought 4 new Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires from my German source and paid only $29.45 each which included the shipping charge. I think that is the best price I have bought them for yet. Of course, I buy 3 or 4 at a time in order for the price to be that good as I am paying the same shipping charge whether I buy one tire or 4 tires. So the more I can buy without going over the weight limit the lower the per tire cost is. (They list for about $53 each without shipping.) Again, I only use the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires so I have never ordered any other tires for this German source. I can’t say anything about what else they sell and how much they cost. I have always received excellent service from this German company. They usually have the order here in the U.S. within 2 to 3 days. Once it arrives here it is another story as it can get held up in customs and then once released the US Post office takes over the remainder of the delivery. That is far longer than it took the German company to get the shipment to the U.S. (They use DHL to get it here to the U.S.)
When one stops to think about it tires have come a long ways from those many of us grew up with. They are better engineered and made nowadays. Going from 2000 miles of maximum mileage to over 14,000 is quite a testimony. All those miles and flat free riding … can’t beat that. Thanks Schwalbe for manufacturing the very best tire money can buy and helping me to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
As much as I love Schwalbe tires and most especially the Schwalbe Marathon Plus there are other tires available for our tadpole trikes. Among them are Vee tires. Vee Tire Company makes several different tires including FAT tires. They have over 30 years of experience in the tire manufacturing industry. They make tires for automobiles, motorcycles and bicycles. In addition to their website they have a Facebook page. Their email address is: email@example.com I see that they are headquartered in Atlanta, Ga.
Among their offerings are:
MK3 … Available in an incredible number of different sizes ranging from very narrow to balloon tires. Here is what they say about this tire:
This tire boasts incredible sidewall strength using our honeycomb sidewall
technology. The MK3 is a timeless BMX classic whose performance does not disappoint.
Speedster … Here is what they say about this tire:
The Speedster was designed for rolling speed and minimal drag on hard
pack or paved terrain. The honeycomb center tread provides virtually zero
rolling resistance and unbelievable tread life. The honeycomb feature also
gives you excellent traction in dry or wet conditions. Large diamond shaped
side knobs provide the grip you need in corners, while the tread knobs get
smaller towards the center for the ultimate speed and traction.
Obviously these tires are designed for bicycles (which lean when turning) and not for trikes. That is not to say they can’t be used on a trike as nearly all tires used on trikes were designed for bicycles. The only exception to this I know of is the Schwalbe Tryker tire which was designed specifically for trikes.
Zilent … Here is what they say about this tire:
With innovation adopted from our automotive and motorcycle technology,
Zilent features special compounds for a low rolling resistance while its state of-the-art construction provides high load capacity and added strength for flat resistance. Its innovative tread makes this a quiet tire and offers angled super grip for revolutionary cornering capabilities.
Baldy … Here is what they say about this tire:
The Vee Tire Co. Baldy is designed with a smooth surface for minimal rolling
resistance and water release grooves on the sides. This tire is optimal for all
weather conditions as the water grooves also double as traction for loose terrain.
Capsule … available in 20 X 2.25 Here is what they say about this tire:
Smooth enough to kill the street and just enough bite to ride the dirt. The Capsule was designed for all three surfaces — street, dirt & ramp. 100 psi has never felt so good.
That being said I find confusion … their webpage shows 2.25 while elsewhere I found 2.35 instead of 2.25. One place on their website shows 100 psi while another shows 65 psi.
I guess I should not be surprised at this as the .pdf webpage I refer to further below does not list the Baldy tire at all. It most definitely is one of their tires that is available in several 406 sizes. Speaking of 406 sizes …
A word of caution … when ordering 20 inch tires make sure they are 406 and not 451. Recumbent wheels are 406 while BMX bicycle wheels are 451. A 451 tire is much larger in diameter and won’t fit on a recumbent wheel which is 406. The picture below shows a 451 inner tube in a 406 tire. As you can see there is too much inner tube to fit inside the tire. My understanding of the sizes is as follows: a fractional size such as 20 X 1 3/8 is a 451 while a decimal size such as 20 X 1.5 is a 406. So as long as the size is shown in decimals it should be a 406.
I have not studied in great detail all the different tires Vee Tire Company offers and therefore I don’t know all the different tires they have which will fit on a tadpole trike. If you are interested in their tires you will have to research it yourself to be certain the tire you have in mind will fit and perform satisfactory. Some of their tires only come in larger diameters and not in 20 inch. As far as I know the ones I have featured above all are available in 20 inch sizes.
VEE tires has a .pdf webpage which lists all their tires and has the size shown (406) for those tires which will work on a recumbent wheel. It is on page 37. Just look under the column ETRTO to locate 406.
By the way, even if the tire is a 406 there could possibly be a problem width-wise if you go too narrow or too wide. If you are not certain check with someone knowledgeable of such things.
BTW, as I stated early on … they also make FAT tires which I believe some are only available in 26 inch and others are available in both 26 and 24 inch. They are available in “snowshoe”, “speedster”, “bulldozer”, “hillbilly” and “Vees” (two different patterns). With the exception of the Speedster all the others are knobby tires with varying tread patterns.
The H-Billy (shown on right below) is the most aggressive knobby among them.
Vees FAT tires
So if you have a hankerin’ to try some other tires on your tadpole trike you might want to look into VEE Tires. As for me, I am sticking with the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires as I still think they are the best tire money can buy. With them I just …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
The well known and respected German tire manufacturer, Schwalbe, has put together a considerable amount of information about tires on their website. Being the number one tire manufacturer in all of Europe and gaining rapid ground in the U.S. I think it is safe to say that they know a thing or two about tires. Here are their various webpages concerning tires:
****************** and as an added bonus 🙂 …
SCHWABE MARATHON PLUS REVIEW
Schwalbe has become the best selling bicycle tire in Europe and for good reason. Like Tony the Tiger says … “They’re Great!!”. Most trike manufacturers install them on their trikes in the factory. Recumbent wheels are not as commonplace as conventional diamond frame bike wheels so we don’t have as many tires available to choose from as they do. However, we do have quite a few and as people are individuals we don’t all like or want the same thing. Some people want a tire they consider “fast” and agile while others want a tire they consider comfortable riding. Others like myself want the best tire I can buy … one that offers great performance, wears incredibly long, rides comfortably, handles great, and is practically flatless. Of course, those with FAT trikes only use FAT tires. I have not yet seen a set of Kojaks installed on a FAT trike. Although this video below is produced by ICE trikes it is about the choices of Schwalbe tires.
HERE are the Schwalbe recumbent tires available to choose from. They include their best seller Marathon Plus as well as Marathon, Marathon Supreme, Marathon Racer, 3 different Big Apple tires (Raceguard, K-guard and Big Apple Plus), Kojak, Durano, Durano Plus, Tryker, and two studded winter tires one of which is known as Marathon Winter and the other is a lower cost tire they simply call Winter. If there are any other recumbent tires Schwalbe offers I am unaware of them.
I thought that since I am writing about Schwable tires I would once again mention and provide a LINK to to German source where I get my tires at incredible savings over those prices found elsewhere. Make sure you use the selections near the top of the webpage to select your language, shipping destination and currency. I have always received great service from this company. This link is to their 1.75 x 20 inch 406 Marathon Plus tire.
With good tires … no, make that GREAT TIRES we can …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Does the idea of riding your trike using any tire you want and not having to deal with flats appeal to you? I kind of thought it would. Well, there is good news. For those who are mechanically inclined enough you can go the cheap route of DIY (do it yourself). It is not hard. You can pretty much use any tire that fits your rim to convert it into tubeless and then simply use a sealant inside of the tire to seal off any punctures that take place. Here is a video showing how to do it …
This method is commonly referred to as “ghetto tubeless”.
And here is yet another way to go tubeless …
As to how well this works check out this video …
There are gobs of videos online about this subject. Those who have a hankerin’ to go tubeless have plenty of information available to help them accomplish this. If I understand correctly it is recommended that you use an inner tube smaller in diameter than what the rim calls for. This is so it is a snug fit on the rim.
There are various sealant products on the market. Probably the best known one is Slime. I personally have never been impressed with Slime and can’t recommend it. The Stan’s NoTubes Tire Sealant is probably the one most recommended.
I wonder if going tubeless would prevent air leakage like occurs using tubes. It would be nice if the tires held air pressure and would not need to be pumped up every few weeks or whatever.
I have not gotten into this, but I am guessing that depending upon the frequency of punctures and the size of those punctures sealant inside of the tire will be lost thru the punctures. In time I am pretty sure that it would be necessary to add more sealant inside the tire. An injection device is available to add more sealant thru the valve stem.
According to what I have read Stan’s sealant lasts 3 to 6 months once inserted inside of a tire. I would think that using a sealant like this would result in the sealant setting up inside the tire to where it needs to be removed before adding more. That would be a royal pain.
I may even give this a try myself someday. However, I doubt very much if I would change to another tire as I really love these Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. The fact that they ride nice, handle good, resist damage (including cuts) and wear so incredibly long is reason enough for me to stay with them. I like having maximum value and service for my money and the Marathon Plus tires deliver.
I would guess though that in order to use them I would have to go the route of tubeless valve stem instead of the ghetto tubeless as I don’t think there is anyway I would be able to install the Marathon Plus tire using an inner tube sticking over the rim.
I came across this from Schwalbe which needs to be shared here …
Yep, the concept of riding without concern of getting flats is very appealing. With no flats we can …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
For as long as I can remember I have heard and read that the higher the air pressure in a bike tire the better it will roll … meaning faster because of less rolling resistance. Along with this it was believed that narrower tires do better than wider tires when it comes to the speed they are capable of. Well, now it has been proven that this is false. Yep, now they are saying that we can run wider tires and at lower pressures without encountering a reduction in the speed we can obtain as well as the effort needed to propel ourselves along at those speeds. HERE is an article about this subject written by Jan Heine on his blog.
Personally I have a difficult time accepting this. My own experience is that the same tire at a lower pressure rolls less easily than it does at a higher pressure. I can detect a lot of difference between the pressure as it takes more effort to pedal and I can’t go as fast when the pressure gets down too low. And I am talking about staying within the minimum and maximum pressure rating. It really is difficult to argue against scientific studies, but I am not buying into this just now.
So what about you? What do you think? Your feedback is most welcome. Leave a comment.
What determines speed capability … how fast you can go? Well, certainly there are various factors to take into consideration. The most obvious factor I would think is the rider … what they are capable of physically.
Another factor is weight … both the weight of the machine one is riding as well as the rider’s weight and any extra weight one might carry along.
Yet another factor is gearing. For higher speeds one needs taller gearing as a rider can only pedal so fast.
Of course, there are other things such as air resistance (even with zero wind), head wind, and terrain (level vs. uphill, paved vs. unpaved, etc.). These are all contributing and limiting factors. But lets say that one is riding on level ground which is smoothly paved and there is no wind whatsoever … meaning that there are no factors in that last group which effect the outcome of the speed obtained.
What else effects the speed? What has been left out? What about the tires? Do they make a difference? Of course they do! They can make a considerable difference. As is the case with many things tires are a science in and of themselves. The engineering and design of tires matters a great deal if one is out to get the most speed possible. TESTING has been done to determine which tires perform best. This testing was conducted with bicycle tires such as those which are used on a diamond frame road bike. That being said, understand that when we are talking about tadpole trikes the exact same tire isn’t likely available for our recumbent trikes. Very few tires listed in the TEST RESULTS are tires we can run on our trikes. In fact, I think there is only one although I am not certain about that. That being said, much of the test results doesn’t apply. And that being said, still we can glean some useful facts and understanding about this subject. It is about “where the rubber meets the road”. 🙂 The two main things I noted in this are: 1) air resistance (mainly the rider’s body going thru the air) is the number one factor followed by 2) the rolling resistance of the tire. And they report that “narrower is not necessarily faster”.
As to air resistance we have a definite edge over the “roadie” and the more “recumbent” (reclined) we are the more advantage we have as air flows over us much more so and easier than the roadie. So that leaves rolling resistance to deal with. This is something which has been discussed a fair amount in the past. Tires do vary in the realm of their rolling resistance.
Can recumbent tires compete with those tires listed for the road bikes when it comes to rolling resistance? I can’t answer that, but my guess is probably not … not when we are talking about the really high scoring tires. Most of us on tadpole trikes are running Schwalbe tires. In this test the only Schwalbe tire listed which is available for our trikes is the Durano and it scored dead last in the test results.
I would further guess that somewhere testing has been done and the results are available for tires used on recumbent bikes and trikes. Perhaps if one could find such results they could be compared and we could know where we stand as far as the tires we have to select from for our trikes. I think it is a no brainer when it comes to which machine is faster on a level smooth surface with no wind … the road bike will easily win over a tadpole trike. And why shouldn’t it? It has nearly everything going for it … much less weight and less rolling resistance with only two wheels. A bicycle (not the rider’s body) with two wheels in line (one behind the other) has less air resistance than a trike with three wheels … none of which are in line with the other. Each wheel has it’s own rolling resistance added to the equation so 3 wheels have more rolling resistance than two.
Those who are interested in obtaining the fastest speed they can out of their trike seriously look at tire choices, ways to reduce the weight, etc. And then there are those like myself who could care less about all this. We are just out to enjoy the ride and hopefully …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
A scrubbing we will go … or … scrub a dub dub … just thoughts which popped into my feeble mind as I pondered writing about this subject. Tire scrub is when the tires are undergoing extreme lateral (sideways) forces … the tires are trying to slide sideways … and in doing so rubber is being removed from the surface of the tire where it is making contact with the pavement. Tire scrub happens on a tadpole trike if you corner fast and hard. Unlike a two wheeled vehicle (bicycle or motorcycle) the tire and wheel do not lean when cornering. When a tire is leaning while cornering very little tire scrub is occurring. On a high speed motorcycle like one which is racing the speed element still causes tire scrub, but at lower speeds not so much. When a tire remains upright like it does on a tadpole trike “scrubbing” occurs … it has to … there is no way for it not to happen. If you do a lot of this kind of riding you can wear out a set of tires on the front pretty quick … at least on regular tires. (More about this later in this article.)
You can actually hear the scrubbing taking place when cornering hard. I kind of envision $ $ $ just coming off when I hear it. 🙂
If your toe in setting is off you can wear out a set of tires really quick. I know about that from personal experience. When I first bought my Catrike Trail the dealer had set the toe in and got it way off … an inch off. As I rode it something didn’t seem right. It didn’t handle as good as it should and it seemed harder to pedal it than it should. In just 30 miles the brand new tires were junk … with holes worn in them much like the picture above. That was a case of extreme tire scrub. You can read more about this important matter of proper toe in setting HERE.
So if you like to “hot dog” be prepared to shell out some money for tires quicker than you would if you rode your trike easy. BTW, since I switched to Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I don’t have nearly as much tire scrubbing occurring as I did with all the other Schwalbe tires I used. They are an amazing tire. I still corner hard and fast, but the tires just last and last. I can’t recommend them enough. I truly don’t understand why everyone doesn’t use them. Not only do they give excellent wear, but they handle well, ride well, and are nearly flat free. You get a lot more tire for the money and they will enable you to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Fat trikes rule! … off the road anyway. I had planned on creating another article about fat trikes, but upon looking at what Steve Greene has put together and provided on his Trike Asylum blog I figured ‘why bother?’ He has done such an excellent job and thorough presentation that I will just link to it instead. So check out his great article on FAT TRIKES. You might even want to participate in the poll he has there … as to which Fat Trike you would want.
Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. For those who are after speed … TAH DAH! Schwalbe offers their new tire … the ONE. That’s right … Schwalbe One is what they call it. They already offer the Ultremo tire which is a racing tire … fast is the name of the game. The One tire is slightly heavier, but Schwalbe says it makes up for it in lower rolling resistance. And it is more durable and has better puncture protection.They are reported to be “very fast” and as having “very good grip”. Sounds good to me.
“Schwalbe One is the fastest and at the same time the most reliable competition tire we have ever produced,” emphasized Holger Jahn, Managing Director Technology at Schwalbe.
So now Schwalbe offers the Durano, Durano Plus, Kojak, Stelvio, Ultremo and One to those who are into speed. The One tire is available in traditional, folding and tubeless … at least in some sizes. Schwalbe lists them available in 700, 26 and 20 inch. I find Schwalbe’s website quite difficult to use when it comes to trying to locate their tire offerings.
These tires are not inexpensive. The 20 inch 406 (23-406) list price is $72.19, but from the German source I use one can buy 3 tires for $109.63 (including shipping) which breaks down to $36.54 apiece. The only thing is these from this German source are folding type not traditional.
Just a side note here — I personally don’t like folding type tires. I equate them with the automotive temporary tires … just something to get the vehicle down the road to a tire store to get the regular tire repaired or replaced. It is quite inferior to the regular auto tire and only intended for temporary emergency use. Folding bicycle tires are quite inferior to most regular tires. They have to be in order to be able to fold. They are okay to carry along in case a tire goes bad and needs to be replaced while out riding … especially on a long journey. Most definitely they are a small size when folded up and easier to carry.
Here are some websites where you can find more information about the Schwalbe One tires:
I think I will stick with the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires. They do anything I am capable of and offer the ultimate in flat prevention and high mileage. Regardless of the tires chosen hopefully we can all …
ENJOY THE RIDE
Leave it up to man to really confuse things. In the early days of bicycling tire sizes was fairly simple and easy to understand. Have you taken a look at it nowadays? It will give you a headache, I tell ya. I am not going to try to explain it as I don’t understand much about it myself or do I care to try to. What I will do here is provide a link to a webpage where the late Sheldon Brown explains this complicated mess.
Along with all the different tire sizes comes the matter of which tires safely fit which rim … which is equally a mess. Forget correct math and common sense and logic. Originally a 26 inch tire measured pretty close to 26 inches on the outside. Of course, that was back when tires were balloon tires. Nowadays it is all different. Oh, there are still 26 inch balloon tires around, but there are so many other sizes as well.
Basically as I understand it tires are measured and designated by either inches or metric. The first number is the outside measurement even though it may be much less in reality. I told you it is confusing and a mess. Let’s use 26 x 1.75 as an example. As stated, 26 is the outside height of the tire. Again, it may be in inches or it may be metric. Most of us are familiar with the Catrike 700 model trike. It was named 700 because the rear wheel and tire are 700 mm. 700 mm is taller than a 26 inch tire. 700 mm is 27.5591 inches. 26 inches is 650.4 mm. Got it? A 700 tire is much narrower than a 26 inch tire. That brings me to the next part of this identification and designation process.
A second number or letter code would indicate the width of the tire. (26 x 1.75, 27 x 1 1/4…650B, 700C…). To add to the confusion we have fractions, decimals and letter designation. It is enough to make your head spin and give one a headache. And to increase the confusion even more 1.75 is not the same as 1 3/4 in tire sizes. Mathematically they are the same, but that is where it ends. These two tires are not interchangeable. So we need to be careful and know what we are doing when it comes to buying tires and installing them on a rim. The width of a tire is very important and critical when it comes to fitting a rim.
I suggest to others that if you don’t know and understand the system in place go to someone who does. Hopefully those working in a bicycle shop can safely and correctly help in this. Just don’t ask me. 🙂 I don’t begin to understand it all. I am satisfied to know what tires my trike takes so that I get the right ones that will fit correctly and are safe to use.
By the way, buying inner tubes to fit correctly can be the same challenge. You don’t want a 20 inch 451 innertube as it will be too big in diameter for a 20 inch 406 rim. Always be sure you are getting the right inner tube. I have even had sales people in a local bike shop grab the wrong one off of the shelf even after I told them it was for a 406 rim. Some of them need to be educated as well. I told you it was a real confusing mess!
Well, do your best to …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
Many of you have probably heard that saying before. Of course, it is in reference to being fat versus being thin as far as our bodies are concerned. And I would imagine an overweight person made it up. And, no, it wasn’t me. But I am not talking about human bodies. I am talking about tires on our trikes. We have a choice, ya know. Some people really go for the skinny ones and some really go for the fat ones.
As to which tire we prefer it is, of course, a personal choice and should be based on the kind of riding we do and where we ride. Somebody who rides on pavement and wants to go fast certainly should not choose a fat low pressure tire. Someone who frequently rides off road certainly should not choose a thin high pressure tire. Fat or thin, they both have their purposes and proper applications. A fat tire is superb for off road riding or riding on snow. A thin tire would be horrible for these uses. But if you take a fat tire out onto pavement … well, don’t expect to win any races. And I would rather imagine you would find you would greatly reduce the longevity of the tire doing mostly paved road/trail riding as they just are not designed for that. This is all just common sense stuff.
Fat tires are quite expensive compared to most any other tire for our trikes. Of course, they require special wheels which are large enough in width to accept them. The wheels are also quite expensive. The bottom line is … if you have the money you do have a choice. 🙂 Boys with their toys cost money … lots of it.
Steve Greene has a great article posted on his Trike Asylum blog about Fat Trikes.
I reckon I will stick with the approximate size tires that came on my trike and just …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
I personally have long been a fan of Schwalbe tires. Among the offerings of Schwalbe are several different tires to choose from. My first exposure to Schwalbe tires was when I bought my Catrike Trail. When I had my first flat tire I discovered something about Schwalbe tires that I had never experienced before with any other tire. It was extremely easy to install and uninstall on the rim. This really impressed me as over the years I have had numerous tires which were much more difficult to install and uninstall. I have never known of a tire that was so easy to work with. My Catrike Trail came with Schwalbe Marathon Racers installed. When it was time to get new tires I decided to try one of Schwalbe’s other offerings as I didn’t care all that much for the Marathon Racers. Since then I have used Marathons, Kojaks, and Trykers. I had intended to try Big Apples, but when I tried the Marathon Plus I fell in love with them and have not used anything else since. I must insert here that as I stated above all of the other Schwalbe tires were easy to get on and off of the rims … in fact, they practically fall on and off. 🙂 The Marathon Plus tires are another matter. As much as I love them they are far more challenging to install and uninstall. Even so, once you learn how to do it it becomes much easier.
I had started out to write this article about Schwalbe Big Apple tires, but as I researched tires I came across other brands out there to choose from. I want to state upfront that I have absolutely no personal experience with any other tires on my Catrike tadpole trike than those I listed above. Since this is true I cannot personally comment on any other tires. I will, however, report what I have read about them. I did have my homemade tadpole trike on which I installed Kenda Kwest 100 psi tires. They were ok, but not near the tire the Schwalbes are. They just aren’t in the same league.
For one reason or another some trike owners are wanting to go with “fat tires” on their trikes. Now when I say fat tires I am not talking about the new extremely wide tires like this:
Those are definitely fat, but I am here to say that they are an entirely different animal. No, what I am talking about is a little more tame than these. I mentioned the Schwalbe Big Apple tires so I will start off with those. They are truly reminiscent of the “balloon tires” from yesteryear which were around when I grew up. Of course, they are still available today and we see them on bicycles.
The Big Apple is 2.35 inches in width. It is also available in 2.0 inch width. My trike came with 1.5 inch width tires. My Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires I use now are 1.75 inches wide. So you can see the 2.35 is quite a jump. Other than frame width on the rear the only limiting factor for wide tires I can think of is the use of fenders. On my trike the use of the 1.75 width tire required slight modification to my fender brackets. I bent them out for additional clearance. I don’t think I could install Big Apple tires on my trike without doing something additional to my fenders. The Big Apple is a 70 psi maximum tire. A common term found online when looking up the Big Apple tire is “built in suspension”.
Another offering I know of is the Maxxis Hookworm tire. It is reported to be pretty tough tire. It is also a very heavy tire. Most of what I have read about this tire is good, however one thing several people mentioned is that the rolling resistance and ride comfort is far better with the Schwalbe Big Apple tires. That stands to reason about the ride comfort since these Maxxis Hookworm tires are so tough and firm.
The Maxxis Hookworm is a high pressure tire capable of holding 100 psi. It is a 1.95 width.
There are other tires also in the “normal” width range like what came on my trike. One of them is the Greenspeed Scorcher. This tire is 1.5 inches in width.
It comes in 3 choices: standard, HD which stands for heavy duty and has a motorcycle tire casing, and TR (thorn resistant) which has a Kevlar belt. They are all also high pressure tires … 100 psi maximum. Greenspeed says that these tires are lightweight and designed for good rolling resistance. They have built in wear indicators. These tires seem to have mixed reviews. I just read one that these tires do not hold up well at all and the users went back to Schwalbe tires. HERE is the review I read. And here is the particular part I am referring to:
“My wife and her parents are on tour right now, and so far my in-laws have had 4 Scorchers disintegrate in the first 200 miles of riding, some of the tires with less than 50 miles on them. Not a good record. They had to have a batch of Schwalbe Marathons Fed-Ex’d to them so they could continue.”
To be fair it might be a quality control issue as even Schwalbe has had some issues with certain tires. Some users had problems/failures/disappointments and others did not.
Primo makes the Comet tire with Kevlar. It is 1.5 inch width and has a maximum pressure of 100 psi.
Just a note here about Kevlar belt protection … Here is a picture showing a typical Kevlar belt in a tire and the same tire without the belt:
As you can see the Kevlar belt is quite thin. Now compare this protection with what is found in the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire:
Quite a difference for sure! The fact that they rarely have a flat and they still ride and handle great is sufficient in itself to sell me on them, but they also wear great … I have been getting 2.5 to 3 times as many miles out of them as I did any other tires I have used. HERE is an article I wrote on the Marathon Plus tires. They not only offer excellent flat protection with this thicker belt but the rubber is a different compound than their other tires. It is just plain tougher. I used to get a lot of cuts in all the other Schwalbe tires I used. These Marathon Plus tires rarely get any cuts and they just hold up so much better. In over 13,000 miles of riding on Marathon Plus tires I have had one flat which was just recently and it was a matter of failure of the inner tube and no fault of the tire.
Now if you still aren’t sold on the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires HERE is Hostel Shoppe’s webpage listing the tires they carry for the 20 inch 406 rims. As you can see there are quite a few to select from. Yes, there are other tires available which will fit the 20 inch 406 rims of recumbents, however, some of them I would not recommend as they just are not the same quality as these premium tires I have covered here. They won’t ride or handle as good nor wear as good. Some are much lower pressure tires so they won’t be able to provide the speed some riders want and it takes more physical effort to pedal the trike along due to the higher rolling resistance of a lower pressure tire. Some tires are quite cheap in comparison to these premium tires. Just remember … “you usually get what you pay for” … and as Benjamin Franklin said “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. Going with a good quality tire on your trike will help you …
KEEP ON TRIKIN’
As far as I am concerned the very best bicycle tire money can buy is the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. I have been using them now for several years and since I switched to them I have never had a flat tire caused from anything external. I have had one inner tube failure caused by the a Mr. Tuffy tire liner which I have since removed as they are not needed and do cause flats internally such as I experienced. Before I use to deal with a lot of flats. I joke about these tires being nearly bullet proof and I think they come close. They are indeed quite amazing!
I personally ride a Catrike Trail recumbent tadpole trike. Here is a picture of me on it.
It is a blast to ride and extremely comfortable. Many compare riding a tadpole trike to driving a go cart or sports car as they handle so well. I have ridden this trike over 33,000 miles. Before I bought this trike I made one similar to it although it was made out of mild steel. My Catrike is made out of aluminum.
Over the years I have tried various other Schwalbe tires on my trikes. All of the various types of Schwalbe tires are quite good … among the very best made in the world, but the Marathon Plus out does them all … flatless and long wear. I highly recommend these tires. I run the 20 X 1.75 406 size. They also come in 20 X 1.35 406 as well as larger sizes for those who have a larger size rear wheel. By far the best price I have found is ordering them online from a company in Germany. bike-discount.de They offer excellent service. Even with the shipping charges coming from Germany they are far cheaper than any other source I have found. I think a maximum of 4 tires can be ordered at one time for the flat rate shipping charge they have. And, of course, the best price per tire is had by ordering 4 at a time. Otherwise it probably would be as cheap or cheaper to order them elsewhere … if you can find a good price on them … something rather infrequent. I have found that the price per tire varies from time to time so sometimes I pay more or less than other times. Early on I paid $37 something apiece. Recently I paid $29.45 apiece.
I will readily admit that these tires are probably the most difficult tires to mount that I have ever encountered. However, there is a way which once known and followed make it much simpler. Once you learn how to do this it is fairly easy. Here is a video showing how to do it: