Thursday, 4 December 2008

GamJams Reviews: Winter Training Tires - Continental Gatorskin

There are certain things about my bike that I’m really particular about and others which I’m not. I HATE noise. Hate it, hate it, hate it. A slight whirring of the gears, fine. The sexy purr that my DT hub makes, great (especially since it means I’m not pedaling). Creaks, cracks, clicks, groans or grinds of any sort drive me absofreakinglutely bonkers. On my bike, on your bike, wherever. I hate noise. I have a creak that’s killing me right now, and I’m chasing it around, but I can barely even ride my bike when it’s making any kind of noise. Working on my bike to create the precious silence is acceptable. Not enjoyable, but okay. Certainly less onerous than dealing with noise. Did I mention that I enjoy a quiet ride?

Dealing with tires is torture for me. Touch wood I don’t get a lot of flats but I have seemed to wear out my fair share of tires. Could be the neato skidouts I still haven’t outgrown, but it could also be my trainer what does it. Like a lot of people, I don’t get to ride outside during the week at all around this time of year, and then get out as much as possible every weekend. Under normal circumstances (i.e. Powertap not headed for a terminal dirt nap), I am no way going to change tires on my Powertap wheel to switch from riding inside to out. Meaning that my rear tire has to deal with the punishment of the trainer, avoid getting flats and ride acceptably. No mean feat. As much as I dig on riding soft and supple Pro Race 3s, Thurston Howell the 3rd I am not - although I did sport a pretty mean ascot on occasion – so they get packed away for the winter. Slight aside, I think my brother might be TH3, as he showed up last weekend sporting a set of Continental Attack/Force and said “hey, are these pretty good tires or no?” “No dude, they’re dangerous, you better give them to me before you get hurt on them.” What’s cooked the best sauce for me the last couple of years in the way of do it all and keep on smiling tire is the Continental Gatorskin. I don’t know what they make these bastards out of but I fully expect a Gatorskin to outlast the trainer I ride it on, the wheel it’s on and the road I live on. After a staggering amount of miles, the thing is in perfect shape. It doesn’t ride awesomely well, but unlike a lot of tires in the durable category, neither does it handle like the idiot wheel on a supermarket cart. You know, that one wheel that’s always flipping around, making noise and deciding to try and head wherever you don’t want it to?

My totally uninformed and unscientific opinion on the matter is that the key to this freakish longevity is the sidewall. There’s some sort of like metallic mesh deal encased in the sidewalls, and the sidewall is mother stiff and impenetrable by any known object. It ain’t light, it don’t fold, I won’t throw it sideways into a corner at Reston and expect to be anything but hamburger meat, but for the purposes of being durable, dependable and keeping my new Lance Lacy signature model white gloves shiny and spotless, it’s dead on. Bravo, you beautiful Krauts.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I'm totally down with the Gatorskin. Trainer to road to trainer to training race. I get 1500 - 2000 hardassed winter miles out of 'em. The ne plus ultra of the Gatorskins for winter duty is the 700x25 *folding.* The folding part is key - the folders ride a bit better, and they are also really light, maybe 50-75 grams lighter than the wire bead models. A little slippery in the wet, but sticky enough to race crits on in dry weather. I run 'em with regular old tubes, nothing fancy, and had the same tube in my rear wheel since *January.* I burned through two sets of Gatorskins in that time with no rear flat. Yay.

Another alternative is the Armadillo, but that thing is slick and it rides like it was made out of adobe or something. Okay on a carbon or steel bike, not on a lower end aluminum bike. Could be very tiring on the long base rides.