New Tyres

After managing to snap my rear derailleur completely off a couple of weeks ago (there went the € I’d planned to finally buy some nice boots with), and suffering such fingertip pain early last week that I bought some hand sleeping bags, I was hoping all bike things would be pearly.

Nope. Riding home Tuesday night I collected some more glass and once more suffered the langweilige Berlin Reifenpanne. Bah!

I was hoping to get another couple of months out of the tyres, but even the person who fixed my bike in Ostrad said the back one was finished (riding on previous flat tyre in the rain to make an appointment on time …). Today then, I pulled on my stompy hiking boots and walked my bike back to the shop, an evening’s worth of internet cyclocross tyre research leading me.

A very good writeup of Continental’s Cyclocross Speed was one possibility, the other being their Cyclocross Race, both of which were compared elsewhere. My current tyres are more like the Speed, though with a coarser central tread, and the same side knob pattern, which are fine for road riding and getting around the city or forest in all seasons, but the shape of the side knobs tends to cause a lot of bite in cornering, causing anxiety-inducing oversteer.

Actually, the original tyres were fairly crap and I should have replaced them long ago.

Speed or Race? Well, Race is perfect for the current winter, and by the time it’s proper summer or non-wet spring I can possibly find the pennies for some Speeds, and there was only one of the latter in the shop … So I spent 40 minutes delicately pulling off old tyres and inner tubes, and putting on new ones, trying to avoid snow, water, grit and other mess getting where it shouldn’t – all in sunny -7 degrees.

And! I was introduced to the perfect Berlin tyre addition: anti-puncture tape, or tyre-liner as it’s properly called; which is a 1mm thick or so roll of slight-sponginess that goes between tube and tyre. I was dumbfounded I’d never heard of it before. And in Berlin, it’s really necessary. I’ve never seen so much glass on the streets as here, and in a lot of parts of the city it’s filthier than Guangzhou (where despite all else, people still swept the streets).

New tyres, new gloves, tire liners, and … putting my wheels back on I notice how thin my brake pads are …new brake pads …

So far the tyres are nice, a lot more consistent between straight line and cornering, and just enough of a bite that I don’t feel inherently distrustful of what they might do. On the downside, riding knobbies even if they are small is always slower and noisier than slicks or an internal tread centre pattern, which I know will annoy me later in spring. But the knobbies on the Races are just widely enough spread that they don’t pick up a load of snow and mud and other assorted gunk, so I think I’ll have to go riding through the forest early next week and make messiness.