2 min read

Winter Riding

This winter in San Francisco has been rainy, and as a result, I've had to replace quite a few inner tubes on my road bike. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I was part of a 50-mile ride organized by the Golden Gate Triathlon Club, during which I got yet another flat. A fellow rider mentioned that they had switched from their usual race day tires to all season tires the previous night. They observed that I was using Turbo Cotton tires and suggested I consider changing them. Reflecting on the numerous flats I've gotten lately, I agreed. The rainy weather tends to bring more debris onto the roads, increasing the likelihood of flats. While I'm not ready to switch to tubeless tires just yet, it's an option I will certainly explore in the future. I really enjoy the feel of my Turbo Cotton tires, so I started looking into alternatives on Bicycle Rolling Resistance, including the Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR, Pirelli P Zero Velo 4S 25, and Specialized S-Works Mondo 2Bliss Ready T2/T5.

Despite being recently released and having few rider reviews, I decided to go for the Specialized Mondo tires. They appear to have elements of a race day tire, while being optimized for all season conditions. In comparison to other tires, the Mondo's offered a good balance of low rolling resistance, wet grip, and puncture protection. However, I am slightly concerned that their lower puncture ratings might be more suited for tubeless setups, which have self-healing capabilities that my tubular setup does not. With this in mind, I'm considering pairing them with TPU inner tubes, which offer better puncture protection than the butyl tubes I've been running.

I reviewed test results comparing several TPU inner tubes, and focused on the more durable ~40g TPUs which include RideNow Race, Revoloop, Eclipse Road and Schwalbe Aerothan. Given the higher cost of TPUs and my uncertainty about how I'll enjoy the ride feel, I decided to start with the most affordable RideNow TPUs which are priced at $24 for two. This should be a good way to test them out. I plan to pair my new Mondo tires with the butyl tubes I've been running to see if the tire swap alone reduces the number of flats I get. This will also help me compare the new tires with my previous Cotton's more effectively. I plan to eventually try the TPUs, but I'm not in a rush. I plan to update this post after using my new setup for a while.

Update 2/17: The past month has been quite rainy. Since fitting the new tires with butyl inner tubes, I've covered several hundred miles. I'm happy to report that I haven't experienced any flats. These tires definitely offer improved puncture resistance and traction on wet surfaces compared to my previous Turbo Cottons and appear to be only marginally less speedy. Given my current success in avoiding flats, it'll be hard to consider switching to different tires in the near future. While I'm not using TPUs at the moment, I keep two in my bike bag as spares.