15 January, 2009

Open for Discussion

As Annette will tell you, it's pretty rare that I have nothing to say. But such is the case today. So I thought I'd simply open the blog to discussion. I did, however, manage to think of two possible topics:

Will 26mm clamp size handlebars go the way of the proverbial Dodo. Tom thinks that in a few years all mainstream handlebars will have clamp sizes of either 25.4 or 31.8, mostly 31.8. Should we start changing the specs on VO stems and handlebars now?

And, what is the ideal tire size for 650b and 700c tires? I wrote the following in a comment to the previous post:

I happen to think that a tire around 36-38mm is ideal for 650b. For 700c it's 28-32mm. This is for riding on American paved back roads, which are, admittedly, not as smooth as those in Western Europe. That's just my opinion; feel free to have your own. But please don't drink the "wider is always better" Kool-Aid; try various tires and see what you like. If everyone like the same things we wouldn't need to stock 15 different fender models and my job would be much simpler.
I'll sit and ponder all this. What do you think?


C said...

Stick with 26.0. Unless you're a big burly sprinter 31.8 doesn't add anything.

As for tires, I think the quality of the tire counts more than the width. I've ridden 32mm 650b tires that rode nicer than the much wider CdV. Personally, I don't see the need for anything wider than a good 32mm tire on paved roads. If you ride on dirt that's a different story.

JPTwins said...

I'll bite:

I've got 700c and 27" wheels on my bikes, but I'm 6'5" so it works out well. I have 28mm on my road bike, which works great as I'm not a racer and 32mm on my city/touring bike. My Xtracycle will probably have 35mm on it as well, once I get it built up.

I say keep a hold on the 25.4 AND 26mm stems -- you can always add a shim into the 26mm for a smaller handlebar, right?


Anonymous said...

I'm hoarding 26 bars. I think this is largely because I like the way quill stems look . . . I realize there's no real reason to choose os over standard, but otoh no reason to choose standard over os. So I'm going to go on as long as I can, till the market forces me to change. that probably doesn't sound like progressive thinking.

Adam said...

A few years ago I would have said that 28mm was ideal. Then I got a 650B bike with 38mm tires and thought that was ideal. Then I replaced the Col del Vie tires with Grand Bois Hetre 42mm tires, and now I think *that* is ideal.

My upcoming 700c bike is going to have 30mm tires though.

What am I trying to say? Give up, I guess :-)

Kevan said...

I propose a new bar standard: 27.2

That way, when we're all on tour in the back-backcountry and our handlebars snap, we can just swap in the seatpost and ride standing to the next bike shop. ;-)

Goon said...

I like 700 x 30c, but the suppleness of the casing is more important than the size.

In my experience, European roads (Austria, Germany, France, Italy) have fewer potholes and debris, but do not have smoother surfaces.

Anonymous said...

I'd be fine with 25.4. Never do 31.8, ugly and not necessary for the customers you cater to.
For 700c tires, I like 35mm width, as supple as possible.

Anonymous said...

26.0 is good and the most popular for Nitto's top-end bars. 26.0 may be less common, but so are stems for threaded steerers.

Nitto is the sole supplier for good quill stems these days and needs to be supported as such. I would keep my standards to match those unless you can get them to produce the Dream and Noodle bars in 25.4, too. Likewise, if the day comes, I would have them produce any VO quill stems rather than compete against them. VO and Nitto are my faves!

-- Will Rodger

Anonymous said...

I'd say stick with 26.0 for now, unless you're getting lots of requests for 31.8 stems.

26.0 bars certainly haven't gone the way of the Dodo yet, and I don't see any reason they will do so any faster than threaded headsets or leather saddles or 650b wheels.

I think your tire ranges sound right for most riders. That's the best you can do.

Also, I love Kevan's idea. I suppose you'd have to use the saddle as a handlebar, yeah? Depending on the severity of the hbar break, you may even be able to use the bars as a saddle. Brilliant!

Ned C said...

No on 31.8 bars, it might be okay for sprinters and needed or carbon bars but they aren't your market. 25.4 mm bars work OK with shims in most 26.0mm stems.

I have drunk the "wider is always better Kool-Aid" though;) Maybe it's just my bad back, or the absolutely miserable roads here in Metro Detroit but 35mm is barely adequate for a 700c city bike around here, and in the winter studded tires need ice/slush clearance. I'm saving up for a bike, with fenders, that'll handle a 40mm studded tire so I can ride in January and February and not eat pavement.

dr2chase said...

I've tried various tire sizes. Except perhaps for wind resistance, wider is always better. There, I said it. "Wider" = 60mm Schwalbe Big Apples.

Two different ways that I measured, the rolling resistance was lower (than 120psi 28mm tires, Bontrager Race Lite). They hold working pressure longer between inflations. They are more durable across potholes, and press less forcefully against sharp things (e.g., broken bottles) when you ride over them. They protect your rims. They provide better handling on soft surfaces. And of course, they're very comfortable. They're also easier to remove and install; I use my bare hands (being sure that they are seated upon first inflation is a bit of an issue).

Do please note, I really did try these experiments, I was very surprised when my commute time went down after switching to fat tires, and I eventually did a gentle-hill roll test to see which tires had the best rolling resistance, and it was the huge ones. There may be a difference at racing speeds from wind resistance, but I don't ride at racing speeds, and that is true of most cyclists.

And if you don't have any measurements to back up your claims, I'm not going to believe you, because I do have measurements. I am completely willing to believe that 99% of the bicycling community has been hoodwinked into thinking that the fastest bikes for normal people look like the bikes that the fastest racers use.

Anonymous said...

I think 25.4 is the way to go for bars. You can always shim to 26.0 if need be. Other than Nitto, I have an easier time finding nice stems in 25.4 than 26.
31.8 is new to me.
I don't ride 700C, and I don't ride off-road and the tires that feel best to me for road riding in 650B are in the 35-40mm range (Col de La Vie, Trimline, Hetre, Michelin)
I only use 32 for frames that won't take something fatter, and they're nice but a little harsher than I prefer. And of course, there's not really anything fatter than 40-42 out there except MTB tires.
I'd like to see 50+ 650B slick tire for a town/beach cruiser type bike. I don't think I'd want something that fat for long road rides since it would probably require compromises in the frame design like a wide tread/q factor and toe overlap.

Anonymous said...

Fatter doesn't hurt anything, and helps with the potholes and rough stuff. Even if you ride smooth roads, there will always be some rough spots at some point.
A 23mm tire on rough stuff is painful, but a 40mm tire on a smooth road is a non-issue, so why not have the extra cush?
This is why I consider the ideal tire size to be the fattest one that will fit the frame.

Le Cagot said...

The best randonneur frame and bike builders have always used tires around 28 to 30mm, both here and in France.

Fred Zeppelin said...

If silver stems were available only in 31.8, then you'd hear a louder call for nice silver 31.8 bars in our favorite shapes. As it is, we can use our favorite bars and finding a nice matching silver stem isn't an issue, so I don't see any crunch coming down the road.(unless standard silver stems disappear, or our favorite silver bars are available only in 31.8)

As for tires, I'm with you for most casual road riding on 700c, but most of my riding is commuting, and I love 38mm or larger tires because I can pay attention to cars and shrug off any unseen pothole I happen to hit. My speed seems unaffected until I commute on 23mm tires on my go-fast biek, which may seem faster for other reasons, anyhows.

I'm very happy to see you now have a fender that will fit the 700x44 tires I plan on using for my new bike.

Brian said...

Figure that most quill stems are 26.0, so there's still a pretty good demand for 26.0 bars. I don't think they'll go away any time soon. But then, 10 years ago I said the same thing about film.

for 700c wheels, I've ridden 25mm tires that felt like pillows and 28mm tires that felt like they were made of wood. 32mm paselas are a pretty nice ride for a tire that costs $12.

So maybe there isn't a perfect size, but there are definitely good compromises- a $12 32mm pasela, I'm willing to forgive it's faults because it's cheap. It's a good compromise between ride and cost. A $50 roly-poly, not as willing to forgive it's faults. And a $60 grand bois had better be the best tire I've ever ridden.

Anonymous said...

I too am a big boy @ 6'6" and am fortunate enough to have a bunch of bikes that have had a bunch of different sizes of tires.
Over the past 2 years, everything has been to the biggest size the particular bike would take, w/o exceeding 30mm. The G.B.C. 700x30 is just a great tire (as are the 26 & 28), that rides like a tub IMHO. Every time I look down I always remark to myself, "Damn, that's a big tire", but w/ various pressures and through all conditions, they are fantastic. I don't care that I only get maybe a season out of a set-it's worth it.
For stems.... you've got a strong tide to swim against on that one my friend.

Tom said...

from a manufacturers perspective, 31.8mm is the macro trend with bar clamp diameters for performance bikes. non performance bikes, it's 25.4mm, and to a lesser extent 22.2mm for cheap ass walmart cruisers and kids BMX bikes.

For a short time there was 28.6mm as a bar diameter that the trials niche was using. Monty quickly moved to 31.8, and surprisingly the entire bike biz did too- stiffer, lighter, etc.

Note that 26.0 is not even discussed here. The few factories that do have some leftover tooling and fixtures are keeping them around because they are getting just enough orders to make it profitable.
If the factory never made a 26.0 bar or stem again, they would be happy. Most of their customers are asking for 31.8 for road and mountain and 25.4 ofr trekking. 26.0 no longer comes up in the discussion.

Bike tires? I'm not 6 foot something so I'm happy on narrower tires. that said, I've found myself appreciating slightly wider tires as I get older. from 25, now to 28's. not sure if it makes sense for me to use 32's for the riding I do. A low pressure 32 does make sense in snow and ice though.

Anonymous said...

700x28 is great for most purposes and wider won't work nicely on many road frames.
650b is great because of the range: I'd love to see 28-48 stocked everywhere.
That said, the fatter the tire the heavier the tire. Not a big deal when we're looking at 50 grams between a 32 and a 35, but it can be over 250 grams on a full range of tire sizes.

keithwwalker said...

dr2chase is 100% correct. Larger tires at their maximum inflation provide immense benefits in rider comfort. Especially for commuters whose commute is ~5 miles one way.

I came to bicycling later in life than most, but that allowed me to experiment beyond the confines of conventional wisdom. (and if you want to see how half assed bicyling's CW is, just crack open a mainstream bike magazine like Bicycling!)

My bike has 50-622 Schwalbe Big Apples. I would consider going to 60-622's, but the current frames and accessories don't allow that.

42-50mm tires are great!

Anonymous said...

I ride fixed & single speed road bikes in Los Angeles, I ride almost everyday trying to break my bike while doing errands, my car won't move for days and I like that. The streets are terrible here and I ride 28c. I have experimented using various widths and wanted to use big comfy tires but find 28c the happy medium for road. 32c is a more comfortable ride/cruise and would work better on really rough or dirt roads but the speed of the 28c's & greater efficiency overrides the 32c's. The faster I can get around (bank, post office, market, bars...etc) by bike w/o sweating too much the more likelihood I'll use it.
The 28c's seem to be a good compromise and give enough of a supple ride with just enough volume & control to not warrant going bigger.
I would ride my 23c's on the same routes and wish I stayed home or took the car.

As mentioned above; It also depends on the type of tire for overall quality of the ride. My favorite has been 28c Vittoria Zaffiro Pro's @110psi. They hold up really well, pretty light and it's been over a year since I've had a flat (knock on wood).

Stems; Cinelli pretty much now only spec's 31.8 stems, Deda is 31.7 and others are following suit. But these are not stems for the bikes that you show or are currently building for your customers. 31mm is large and out of scale to the other joints on the bike unless you have a large carbon or Alum tubing, it sticks out. I would stick to the smaller sizes.

Stepping off soapbox.



Chris Kulczycki said...

I just want to clarify that I was talking about tires for longer rides on the road. Some folks who ride city bikes in places with rough pavement obviously have different needs. On Annapolis's streets with a fair bit of ancient, though well maintained, brick and cobble paving I have been happy with Col de Via.

Of course there is also different needs for comfort and shock absorptions. I have a friend who's biggest concern when buying a car is the comfort of the driver's seat, all else is secondary. Some others have cast iron butts.

JoelMatthews said...

I think the most important consideration with tires is the rubber and tread, not the width.

I have three bikes. One has the 700 x 50 Schwalbe Big Apples, one the 700 x 35 Schwalbe Kojaks, and one depending on where I am riding gets either 700 x 35 Schwalbe Marathon XRs or 700x 30 Schwalbe Marathon Supremes.

The Big Apples live up to their name. They are huge. Nevertheless, they roll quite well. The bike - a custom built with classic road touring proportions - is surprisingly agile and fun to ride.

I have the Kojaks on my city bike. Per the name, Kojaks are treadless (wacky German humor). I am no racer - so take this with a grain of salt - but I find these to be the smoothest and fastest tire I have ever ridden on in some 20 years of mainly road riding.

On the camper I switch from the XRs to the Supremes depending on the kind of terrain. The XRs are heavy, bullet proof tires with tread that while not mountain bike knobby is getting close. Ride them on pavement for any thing longer than quick sprints and you almost want to get off and push the darn bike.

The Supremes are a real relevation. They apparantly are every bit as tough as the XRs (only had them for a year now) but are much smoother and faster on pavement. They do not have much tread, so would probably spin in true off road conditions. They also do not have the raised side wall for bottle generators. Unfortunate oversight which so far Schwalbe has made no indication it will correct.

So long and short, even though most of my riding is on pavement or fire trail type conditions, I am very happy with tires that are all 700 x 30 or above.

On stems, I do not agree all bikes will be 31.8. My understanding is the trend started with the move to Carbon bars. Carbon needs to be thicker than aluminum or steel. With people being more cost conscious, I suspect this trend will stagnate if not reverse.

patates frites said...

What is the deal with 25.4 and 31.8? Why not nice round numbers like 25 and 32?

I am 6'4" and 230 lbs., and I don't like to ride anything skinnier than 700 X 28 (32 is better). Right now I have a 35mm tire on the rear wheel of my tourer/commuter, and as soon as the front 32 wears out I'm putting a 35 on there too. They feel great and I have never been a speed demon anyway. 700 X 35 may be the best all-around tire in my book for non-racing purposes. For 26" road riding, I think nothing beats 26 X 1.5.

Joshua said...

Frankly I'm surprised we're even talking about 25.4 bars, much less 26. I've got no dog in this race, but looking at most of the bikes coming from the major manufacturers, they're moving everything over to 31.8 (presumably to save a little money by only spec'ing one stem).

I personally think that a classy silver 31.8 bar and stem would be a very welcome offering. Right now, the only company I can think of who doesn't just shot-peen their bars and stems black is Deda, and everything they make costs a ton. Ok, there are a few painted stems out there, and FSA just introduce white wing bars, but I still think that a polished silver 31.8 Nitto Noodle style bar, coupled to a silver VO stem, would be a hit.

Anonymous said...

Have you guys seen a 31.8 bar in the flesh? It has a big, fat ugly bulge in the middle. Did I mention it's ugly? And it's not at all necessary on anything with the *possible* exception of a true downhill bike, which obviously few to none of VO's customers ride.
"looking at most of the bikes coming from the major manufacturers, they're moving everything over to 31.8"
This is precisely why most of us source stuff from businesses like VO and not from major manufacturers. Using and/or trusting major manufacturers as a barometer for anything is usually a mistake.

jimmythefly said...

Joshua, check out the PRO PLT bars and stems. Some models are a sort of a shiny dark silver/gray.

Patates Frites,

Not sure if you're serious, but 25.4mm = 1" and 31.8mm = 1-1/4". Not sure if this has anything to do with it or not.

Anonymous said...

We are talking about tire size and bar clam diameter here, folks. We all know that if Singer produced a 31.8 bar/stem combo, in all of his french constructeur wierdness, we would be clamouring for its resurgence, and touting its increased stiffness and lightness, and why won't the dummies at Trek do anything about it. Sure these things mean something; but they don't mean everything. The reason the 31.8 size looks chunky is because it has yet to be done elegantly. ANd we are not used to it. People said the same thing about Mountain Bikes, and I bet none of you, spying a late 80s Mountain Goat or Ibis or Potts would not stop and look, and whisper something about mountain bikes today have nothing on those classy rides of the golden age. If the industry--meaning enough customers--goes over to 31.8, Chris or someone like him will put out a really elegant 31.8 stem in a range of sixes, and we will all forget the fuss. I see two lessons at work here: One, perhaps more than any time in recent history, the bike biz has been directed by customers, thanks to the presence of niche producers and designers like VO, Surly, Riv, &c. We don't have to go 31.8 if we don't want to.
Lesson two: we will get used to everything.
M Burdge

Anonymous said...

that was 'clamp' diameter. 'clam' diameter is a fisheries matter.

alex said...

Maybe you should expand on your previous comment. Why do you think these tire sizes are ideal? I've yet to notice a downside to 700x35c tires on my go-fast bike.

Anonymous said...

For 700C, I prefer a 32mm or 35mm. The 35 seems a little sluggish, but the 32 can be more harsh than I'd like. However, I like either well enough. I have yet to try 650B because I haven't found a puncture resistant skinwall 650B tire. Riding without puncture resistant tires around here is like jumping out of an airplane with only an umbrella.

Supreme Commander said...

I've been using 30mm tires for 700c wheels for a couple years and they seems to be ideal for long rides on paved roads. I inflate my tires per the chart available on the Bicycle Quarterly web site. Most cyclists blindly pump their tires up to the max inflation on the tire sidewall and almost always have too much pressure, leading to higher vibration levels.

C said...

I notice people keep mentioning potholes when discussing tire size. I've ridden in plenty of places with crappy roads (SF, Boston, etc) and very rarely have I been forced to actually ride through a pothole. Just a wild thought here but why not simply go around or over the pothole?? Even in busy urban areas like SF and NYC I've been able to do this. Not only is it more comfortable but it also greatly reduces the chances of breaking a spoke or crashing.

Anonymous said...

I think it all depends on your terrain and how much you weigh. If you are riding 100% chipseal than 34-40mm 650b is great. If you are 100% on good pavement than 28mm may be as fat as you need. For dirt roads 50mm is better than 35mm. When you mix it up you have to compromise by either underbiking the rough stuff or going a bit slower on the smooth stuff. I've ridden all sizes on all terrain and I've really grown fond of the 2" slicks if there is going to be any dirt involved. If I'm going on a club ride I ride 28mm in the hopes of keeping the pack in site, those guys avoid rough roads like the plague.

-Dave Johnston

Garth said...

Yes, don't go with the 31.8 thing. I too thought that was a purely downhill thing. I guess not. Looks like a trend similar to the 1-1/8 Aheadset deal. What a nightmare! What a great way to get you to buy a bunch of extra stems and extenders... You should just keep making the 26.0 stems and if forced to, go to the 25.4...

I ride 700x37 vittorias. In Chicago. I've only gotten one flat from a piece of glass working it's way in. Never a pinch flat, no matter how many pot holes or sharp edges I hit. I run about 60 pounds of air.

Honestly, I think a good 28-32 would be fine. But then, I'll often go several weeks w/o adding air, enjoying the softer and softer ride. I wouldn't do this with a skinny tire.

But I can't have a second bicycle, so for my one and only I chose the Heron Wayfarer, for it will fulfill my dream of riding it around the world; it's a touring bike. So, I really like this tire size, though I might look into like a 35.

All I know about 650 is from my old Sears Austrian three-speed. I remember trying to get better alloy rims for it, but the guy in the neon bike store had no idea what I was talking about. And this was before I knew they existed myself.

Speaking of fat tires, I inherited this old Chicago Schwinn with a drum brake and super fat moped tires. It's like pedaling a motorcycle! Super plush, but jeez, what a heavyweight!

Gunnar Berg said...

I'm generally a wide tire guy...up to a point. They are limited by tire weight, clearances, and appearance. I can just imagine all the pure function riders saying, "appearance, WTF?" Bicycles tend to look ungainly and unbalanced when things get outta proportion. So 32s are about it.

But I really want you to keep playing with your fenders, just so I can pick up the cheap obsoletes. Damn the SKUs, full speed ahead!

Oh, and I don't give a rat's ass about handlebar diameters either - unless you have a bunch of cool obsolete 26s you're blowin' out.

Anonymous said...

I just finished a nice long offroad ride on my 700x28c tires on my touring bike, and it was more fun than I've had in a long time. Then again, I am young and spry, and my girlfriend, on her 38's did smoke me on some of the descents.

Anonymous said...

I personally think the 25.4/26.0 debate is really a hindrance. I say abolish the 25.4 bars and stems altogether! Why? Because a 26.0 will still accommodate the (then vintage) 25.4 bars with a shim... but 25.4 stems only fit one of the three redundancies. ALSO, that oversized 31.8 stem you have looks positively ridiculous shimmed to a 25.4. But somehow a 26.0 looks okay---if only a little awkward.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with the LA city rider, 28 is the sweet spot in town unless you live somewhere with truly craptacular roads like Chicago or Detroit. Big tires at low pressure are great if your riding pace is always casual, but when you need to hustle a little to keep up with traffic, get across lanes to turn left, etc..., the splashy lateral handling of a big, low pressure tire is no fun, and the slow acceleration of a heavy tire is quite literally a drag. If you're running a 28 at 90 lbs in the city and you still feel like you're getting abused, you're blaming your tires for a body position that puts too much weight on your hands and/or a lead-butted riding style.

Regarding the fate of 26.0, the question amounts to what Nitto wants to make. They will always make quill stems in 25.4 because that's the NJS standard. If tomorrow they decided that all their bars were going to be 25.4 from here on out, nobody could really complain. Stems outlast bars and there are already 10 26.0 quill stems out there for every one pair of stockpiled 26.0 bars that anyone is actually going to ever use. Anything new would come in 25.4, and the other manufacturers making anything besides race bars with a 26.0 option would probably just follow suit. Or Nitto could decide that they don't really care and they're going to continue to support 25.4 and 26.0, in which case we can all just keep shimming or buying stems as needed and not really worrying about it all that much.

Ned C said...

To C: a clarification on a preference for wider tires. It's less about the potholes, which you can generally see and steer around, though rolling over them with a set of Big Apples is a blast;) than it is about the poorly designed sewer grates (wide gaps parallel to the road) , the freakishly wide cracks between concrete slabs which have a way of grabbing narrow tires and catapulting hapless riders over the handlebars (I'm speaking from painful experience here) and the generally poorly maintained grossly uneven patchwork of brick, concrete, and asphalt, that pass for roads around here. There are some stretches that you'd swear had been bombed and I won't even begin to talk about the railway crossings I sometimes have to deal with;)
I only wish the roads in Detroit were as craptacular as Chicago's, but at least I don't have as many log steep, and rather tight bridges to deal with. Of course finding a place to lock up your bike is no easy matter here.

Anonymous said...

I have tried all the 650b tire choices available, and I can personally say my favorite all around tire is the grand bois hetre 42mm. I had a preconceived notion that smaller diameter tires would be much faster do to less rolling resistance, I don't know if is because of the tread pattern, or larger diameter of the bigger tire but it rolls much faster. The best thing is the comfort of the larger diameter tire, you can run through potholes, cracks, whatever, no problem. When it comes to 700c I think that anything between 30mm and 35mm is perfect.

Anonymous said...

31.8 handlebar/stems are fugly - don't go there! And, in case you didn't catch it the first 30 times, you can always shim a 25.4 bar to fit a 26mm stem. :)

Still playing with tire sizes, so no input from me on that one. But I did find everyone else's opinions interesting.


Anonymous said...

big clams are fugly! I'm for mama bear clams.

doc said...

I've got 2500 miles of mixed pavement and crushed limestone with a pair of 37mm/700 Pasela Tourguard TGs on the back roads of PA. No flats yet and love the ride. Mostly ride an hour or three with the occasional day tour, averaging 12-13mph.

I'm building up an Adventure Tourer for rougher trails that will have 42mm/700.

nordic_68 said...

Interesting comments. Based on Chris' clarification, I'll put my 2-cents on the 700c-28mm tire for long rides, centuries and such. Just plump enough without affecting handling.

I've been using Riv Jack 33mm tires on my city bike and those are great for hauling loaded panniers full of groceries. But either the weight or the pneumatic trail (or both) of the 700c-33mm tire makes for significant "wheel flop".

These comments are all based on bikes with modest-to-lowish trail geometries per current randonneuring preferences.

As for stems, I think back to what Grant said about how skinny bicycle frames look graceful like a bird. An OS stem/bar breaks with that aesthetic. As for 26 and 25.4, I gotta say it's maddening to browse VO (and Soma etc) handlebars and try to find a style that also matches the stem size. If all the non-OS choices go to 25.4 and I can use any handlebar on any bike with any non-OS stem, then that will be a great improvement!

Chris said...

Si I ride a 650b Bleriot that started out with 35mm CdV tires. I then aquired a pair of 40mm Fatty Rumpkins and now have a pair of 33mm Maxy Fastys...I really like the maxy Fastys and think that may just be the magical number..FOR ME. I ride some pretty crappy road at times here in San Diego, but have some pretty nice ones also. I think the fast rolling 33mm tire like the fasty is a great comprimise for the mix of roads I ride. I know the Fastys are SO much "live" than the CdVs.
At least that's my .02

Anonymous said...

It's 14 below here today, so I'm liking my 295/60R 14s...

lee.watkins said...

I think ISO 37 mm is the perfect size on a wheel of any bead-seat diameter. It's narrow enough to be reasonably nimble and responsive in the city, but wide enough to be quite comfortable and not get stuck between cobblestones or trolley tracks in Baltimore's historic districts. I suppose if you are only riding on smooth pavement, 32 mm would be fine, but I don't see how that relates to beat-seat diameter. The bead-diameter should be in proportion to the frame size, regardless of how the bike is being used. You do not put a 4'10" person on 700C wheels just because they are doing distance touring.

As for handlebar stem clamps, you only need 31.8 stem clamps because they can take any handlebar with the appropriate shim. Nobody's going to see the shim anyway!

Also, a general note. I'd just like to say I think it's just crazy, CRAZY that there will be no MARK train service on Saturday from DC to Baltimore or vice. versa what with the Obama "train stop" speech at War Memorial Plaza in Baltimore. They just expect everyone to drive into Baltimore what major roads (including I-83) and parking garages being closed down. And no bicycle valet in Baltimore. There will be a bicycle valet at the DC inauguration, but it's only for 1000 bikes - for 3 million people.

Steve said...

C said:

I notice people keep mentioning potholes when discussing tire size. I've ridden in plenty of places with crappy roads (SF, Boston, etc) and very rarely have I been forced to actually ride through a pothole. Just a wild thought here but why not simply go around or over the pothole?? Even in busy urban areas like SF and NYC I've been able to do this. Not only is it more comfortable but it also greatly reduces the chances of breaking a spoke or crashing.

Ride much in the dark? There are times when you don't see te obstacle until it's too late to do anything but ride through it. There are also places where there's nothing but potholes and patches between the potholes.

lee.watkins said...

Ride much in the dark? There are times when you don't see te obstacle until it's too late to do anything but ride through it. There are also places where there's nothing but potholes and patches between the potholes.

If you're often riding in the dark it's a good idea to put some dynamo lights on the bike. The headlight is supposed to be pointing towards the ground ahead so you can see potholes, etc.

However I feel that avoiding potholes results in the kind of erratic movements that can cause conflicts with drivers. Often times bike lanes are full of man-hole covers, or the safest line to follow may not be the smoothest one. That's why I'm a big fan of wider tires and spring saddles with a more upright position. Especially on a heavier bike, these elements can result in a fairly smooth ride no matter how bad the road is, and I can keep a straight and predictable line, as well as great visibility.

Anonymous said...

On my comuter bike, a late 80s' Trek mtb. I am currently running Schwalbe Kojak 26 x 2.0 tires. They are very free running and cushy. I run them at no more than 6o psi. These are great and much appreciated during my 15 mile commutes in the dark. A while back I took the bike out and rode it 110 miles and it was not to hard to keep up with the racing bikes on that ride. On my brevet bike I run 700 x 32mm Pasellas. I like those but have been really spoiled by the cushy Kojaks.

seaneee said...

25.4 make so much more sense. It allows you to use a modern stem with a shim or an older, classic stem without. My biggest pet peeve is when I buy bars with a classic shape but can't use them with a classic stem.

I think your customer base, myself included, have more of a propensity to use vintage stems than not.

As for 31.8, you know the answer to that :)

If you don't, remind yourself by taking a gander at the new Cinelli Valencia City bars. It's like putting spinners on a model T.

Anonymous said...

Looking at your tire selection, I would love for you to source out the old Vittoria cross XN (Non-Pro) clincher tires. I actually really liked them, I'm not a fan of the new replaced Pro side knobby models though. Even though I mostly now run 28c, the old 32c XN's performed very well on the road and had a great look. Right off the bat, I'll buy two sets if you can find them. Let me know.

If you could convince Vittoria to make them again, I bet you could sell a solid amount of them. I tried hunting for them and a lot of shops wished they still had them.



mr_macgee @ yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Wider is better. I bought a little folding bike to take on an airplane trip, and intended to sell it when I was done, but now it is the bike I ride most due to its lovely 16" big apples. I rode it when it got a little snowy - handled like a champ. They feel fast enough and are very comfortable for commute trips (even with 16" rims). I just wish I had a frame that fit 700c big apples (or fat franks). If weight isn't your biggest concern, go wide.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet, but the big reason for fat tires on the street is air volume. A smaller diameter wheel will need a fatter tire in order to get the same air volume as a narrower tire on a bigger rim. A 700x28 tire is pretty cushy for most people, but a 28mm tire on a 20" wheel would be harsh in comparison.

john k novack said...

tires. nothing quite like my '61 olmo with 700x32 paselas.
my riding style is relaxed, whether dirt or pavement. this bike has had the same wheelset since 1980, never needed truing. and man, is it comfortable. and efficient. the directional stability is just excellent. i have many other bikes, equally lovable for different reasons. riding style has so much to do with how wide your tires need to be.
i keep my motobecane grand record in reserve (700x25, longlivethemichelinman)for that "skinny tire buzz" IT'S ALL GOOD!

ps i am never in a hurry, and find that in a city environment (portland, oregon), my commute times, bike vs. car, are quite similar. it is possible to ride efficiently AND conserve your equipment.

thanks chris, city bikes is my main local source!

Anonymous said...

sorry...you need a few extra sizes

700c 28, 32, 35

650B 32, 38, 42

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Anonymous said...

Maybe this is the wrong place for requests, but I'd really, really like a reproduction REG bottle cage. They only come NOS or used in clamp on, and they're really beautiful. Search for "REG" on everybody's favorite auction site to see what I'm thinking.

Mark said...

Ideal tire size? For whom? For what use? There is no such thing. In a perfect world there are a range of tire sizes, so everyone can choose the size that suits their needs, their likes, and their dislikes. An ideal tire size is like and ideal frame size, or an ideal wheel size. If anything, I would like to see more diversity in tire sizes - there are currently no skinny ISO 584 tires (would allow ISO 584 to kill ISO 571), no wide tires for ISO 571, and no very wide size for ISO 630. The latter would be nice for cheap conversion of the loads of old 27" (ISO 630) bikes into comfy cruisers. For some reason, 32mm is as wide as street tires go for ISO 630. I would love to be able to put a 37-42mm wide tire on old "ten speeds" - they have the clearance for them.

As for handlebars, I wish 26.0mm would die, and take 31.8mm with it. I can't see 25.4mm going away anytime soon - there are just way too many bikes, both old and recent, that use it. I don't see why we need more than one size - save the different sizes for the parts of the handlebar that matter - width, rise, reach, drop, etc.

Unfortunately, I don't imagine 31.8 will go away, but I don't imagine too many of your customers will use it anytime soon. Probably lots of your customers will remain your customers if you continue to offer 26.0mm stems, but If I were you, I wouldn't sell 26.0mm handlebars.

Mark said...

One other thing: It would be great for you to offer a nice, traditional quill stem, but with a removable face plate. In other words, a Nitto Technomic with a removable face plate. Removable face plates are so much easier to deal with. There are very few quill stems with removable face plates, and the few that exist are ugly.

patates frites said...

I agree 100% with Mark. Faceplates are very convenient and there ought to be more quill stems out there like the Technomic with that feature. ALL the existing quill stems with faceplates are hideous AND too short vertically.

The whole threadless system is just plain stupid. You depend on the length of the steering tube for your stem height. Whereas with the quill system, you can make stems of different heights and slide them up and down easily for a perfect fit. The only reason threadless exists is ease of assembly in mass production factories.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Stems require a separate mold for each size. So the tooling cost, particularly for quill stems, is very very high if you want a full range of sizes. I would be surprised to see any company spend that much on what is perceived as a shrinking market. Maybe it could be done in China.

Actually there is one stem out there that fits the bill, but it is really ugly so we have not imported it.

Mark said...

I may anger the fit nuts, but I don't think you need stems in 10mm reach increments. You sell technomics in the 8 sizes: 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, and 120. For a removable face plate quill stem, you could get by with 4: 50, 75, 100, and 125. That would help lower the mold cost. Of course, I would really like a 150 and/or 175, but I know I am weird. A longer stem would help set VO apart - they are extremely difficult to find.

Hank said...

Your size and weight should factor in to your wheel size and tire width. For someone 5' 2" and 105 lbs. 650x32B is a very cushy setup. If you are 6' 2" and 270 lbs. you might need 700x38c to get close to an equivalent ride.

Anonymous said...

Re tire sizes, one consideration that hasn't yet been noted here is how different widths of tires work better or worse, depending on whether one mainly does tempo type rides, or whether one mainly does group rides in peletons which by nature involve a great many quick accelerations.

There's an 18 mile loop on the northwest side of Santa Fe that cyclists here all ride--it's rolling terrain. I do it all the time at tempo on a variety of different bicycles.

My times on this loop during tempo rides are virtually identical, regardless of whether I do the ride on my 18 lb. Litespeed Tuscany with 700x23c tires, or on my 35 lb. Surly Long Haul Trucker with 700x37c tires.

However, when I do group rides with performance oriented riders, it is dramatically more demanding when using wider (hence heavier) tires. Getting those bigger tires quickly up to speed takes a lot more effort. I would be loathe to change my Litespeed to wider tires (even if they would fit, which they would not) for this reason. Bottom line would seem to be that for tires, even among serious cyclists who don't race, one size definitely does NOT fit all.

Anonymous said...

Kalloy (poor man's Nitto) actually does make a forged quill stem with a removable face plate. It's not bad looking either - if you take the time to polish off the logo. The downside is that they only offer it in two lengths and it's rise may not appeal to aesthetic purists. I love Kalloy components, they generally look nice and are made just fine. I have several of their stems and seatposts.

patates frites said...


You are right. That is not a bad-looking stem. I would definitely polish out that huge logo, though. But it has an elegant shape that would look good on cruisers and city bikes.

Garth said...

thank you, patates frites. the other reason they exist, i think, is because of carbon steerers.

as for faceplates, it's not a bad idea. I don't find it takes that long to switch handlebars, though. I mean, unless you're doing it all the time. but if you wanted different bars, you'd probably want a different stem,, too. like, going from drops to preacher bars. For a one-time trying out of longer stem reach, I don't think it's a big deal.

Anonymous said...

single bolt clamp, please. removable face plates are not only uglier, they are structurally less sound, and probably more prone to creaks. why not build a stronger, lighter, prettier stem if you have a choice? Salsa's sup quill stem is the only two bolt quill I would use currently. It's not as ugly as most. I think the whole bar-swappability thing is way over-rated. I don't believe most people really do that; they just want to believe they do.

Anonymous said...

How about a nice, lugged, highly polished stem?

Anonymous said...

How about a nice, light, shiny adjustable reach stem. 26.0. Even if the reach was only 60 - 100mm you might have a market if it was pretty and safe.

Another project for your idle hours!


umarth said...

All of my handlebars use 25.4. Having the older and not commonly used sizes limits the handlebars I can use.

I run fatty rumpkins on my 650b and I like them- they are smooth and pretty fast and manage anything off pavement. I think they are 42mm. 700c... I have 50mm, 35mm and 23mm and they all serve a good purpose.

The Driver said...

700 x 35 with fenders for the win!

Anonymous said...

that is an interesting discussion going on here. I am a bit confused, though. There is not much talking about really narrow tyres. i've ridden 700x23c for years and was always pleased.. then again i live in europe and never actually tried bigger tyres. what is people's comment on the slicks?

slppy said...

Oy yup, quite a conversation happenin' here. I just rode my xtracycle across country on pretty big tyres. 700 x 38 specialized in front and 26 x 2.1 schwalbe in back. Going any smaller on the back of an xtracycle is bad b/c you can't lift the rear wheel up and so it slams. Upon arrival in NYC it started snowing and since I run with a steel niner fork on the front, (the surly instigator is a suspension corrected 26" fork that accepts a 29 x 2.3 mtb tyre and a fender). ANd so i put a 29 x 2.1 maxxis with a pretty solid center tread and it is sweeeet. Riding around on ice and slush with potholes and so forth, BIGGER is sweet. I'm back and forth to manhattan from brooklyn comfortably and happily all the time, rock solid.

Jim G said...

I will go out on a limb here and say that wide/heavy 700C tires on a low trail bike may increase its tendency to shimmy. My approx. 42mm trail bike shimmied with 35mm Paselas, but is a lot better with 32mm Paselas. If you look at the classic French bikes, none of the 700C models had tires wider than about 30mm -- anything wider fell into the 650B domain. I think there was a specific reason for that....

beth h said...

I have three working bikes. Two use 26" (559) wheels, the other uses 700c. I'm happy with what I've got and have no plans to get into another wheel size.

My only wish is that when I'd had my custom city bike built ten years ago I'd asked for more tire clearance. The largest tire I can run with fenders is 700 x 32, and I'm starting to think I'd like to go with something a little wider, even on paved roads. But that's a minor quibble.

art viger said...

Im dying to get my hands some of the new shallow drop "compact" bars out there. but alas, they are only available in 31.8. you know the rest of the story...no reasonable 31.8 stems in silver. im just about to break down and drop $90 on a thomson. unfortunately 31.8 is the way the rest of the industry in going. I for one think that VO can create great products that can compliment newer trends with classic style, rather than simply isolating itself from the rest the industry. we all ride. its not us versus them. There are some really sweet 31.8 bars on the market, and no doubt there will be more in the future.