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Tires: A "Not Exhaustive" Overview

Tires--I couldn't think of a good coaching subject to write about, so I'll talk about some of my favorite bike tires.


In no particular order:


1. WTB Velociraptor

The Velociraptor has to be one of the most iconic mountain bike tires in the history of mountain biking. It has huge, chunky tread that is front/rear specific and a fantastic ad. They certainly weren't the best rolling tires for an XC rider like me, but I raced the Iceman Cometh on them. Anybody who rode a 26" mountain bike knew about these tires, and the true mountain biker rode them.


2. A. Dugast - any model

Any aspiring roadie has yearned for a set of A. Dugast tubulars. I say roadie and not cyclocrosser because the typical lifecycle of a roadie finds them eventually dabbling in Cyclocross. A. Dugast tires have a certain air about them. They are super expensive, handmade, and boast numerous wins and championships. No other tire has the same pedigree.


In my experience, they are a nice tire. Luckily, I'm not the greatest cyclocross racer, so I never got thoroughly addicted to riding A. Dugast. I will say that one of the best-feeling wheelsets I have ever ridden was A.Dugasts on a pair of 303s.


3. Hutchinson 1st generation Atom/Fusion/Intensive Tubeless

For all intents and purposes, the original tubeless road tire. They seemingly came out before the first tubeless road rims, but Mavic was working on UST. They weren't the most supple tires in the world and may have ridden a bit harshly, but without them, we wouldn't have the fantastic tubeless road tires we have today.


4. Tufo Clincher-Tubulars - any model

Gotta give Tufo credit for trying something different. For all you youngsters, back in the day, tubulars were the way to go if you were serious about racing (especially on the track).


One problem with tubulars is that they need to be glued onto the rim. In the 90s and 00s, clincher tires and rims became the standard rim/tire for any new bike, so to use tubulars, you would have to buy a new wheelset and tires. Tufo saw this issue and decided to attach a bead to a tubular tire so it could mount on a clincher rim and eliminate the need for glue.


The clincher-tubular was (in my experience) a bizarre tire. They didn't ride poorly, but there was a very narrow window of rim widths they would work well on.


Additionally, they sat higher on the rim than a clincher. I never rolled off the rim, though I knew a few people who did. Just a strange footnote in the history of bike tires.


5. Maxxis Radiale

I loved these tires because they were made like motorcycle tires. The radius of the tread was significantly larger than the casing. This means a 700x23 would have a tread radius of 700x25 or bigger. They were amazing to corner on and had a great Crit Tire. Unfortunately, they are nearly unreasonably expensive due to the manufacturing processes.


6. Michelin Jet/Mud

The green tire. Just like with the A. Dugast tires, any roadie that has dabbled in Cyclocross has seen some green Michelin tires. I've ridden them, and they are solid cyclocross-specific tires. Bonus - they're green.



7. Tioga Psycho

Maybe it's just me, but the 90s seemed to be more extreme. The Psycho falls into the same category as the Velociraptor. It's one of those tires that is really 90s. While not as chunky as the Velociraptor, the Psycho has a very distinctive triangle tread pattern that any true 26" mountain biker would recognize. It's worth mentioning that the Psycho is a good tire; I still race it in soft over hard trail conditions.


8. Continental GP "X" 000

If you have raced on the road for any appreciatable amount of time, you have ridden a Canti GP some-thousand. They have been around since before my time, and I even remember racing on a GP3000.


Ever since the first iteration of the tire, they have been a quality all-round race tire. Disc brake, rim brake, internal routing, external routing, 7-speed, 13-speed, mechanical, electronic, carbon, aluminum, steel, the Conti GPs have seen it all and will see so much more.


9. Specialized Ground Control

There's a legend that Mike Sinyard rode around to bike shops selling tires to get Specialized started. While the tale about how Specialized began is up for debate, nobody can dispute the influence of Specialized over the decades.


I have ridden more Specialized tires than any other brand, but the ones that stick out in my head as the quintessential Specialized tire are the early Ground Control. They were one of the first true mountain bike tires and worked well for the era.


10. Tioga Comp 3

The tire everyone has ridden. The Comp 3 may be older than cycling itself. The standard for BMX racing for years and the tread that came on every children's bike in the 80s and 90s. A classic.

This is a very incomplete list. I didn't even touch on Onza, Sprinters, or even the Kenda Knarly. Tires are fun and can completely change the ride of a bike.

 

Coach Adam Sczech is an IRONMAN University Certified Coach, USAT Level I Certified Coach, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and VFS Master Bike Fitter based out of the Western Slope of Colorado. Adam has years of experience coaching beginners, juniors, elites, and clubs, as well as a year focusing specifically on special needs athletes. Adam's expertise with bike fitting is extensive, with over 15 years and 8,000 fits for athletes that include two world record holders, a national champion, several IRONMAN Pro/Age Groups winners, and an ITU winner. He has completed several full and half Ironman races, as well as numerous Olympic and Sprint races.

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