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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Somerset County, South-western, Pa
    Posts
    99

    23 mm vs. 25 mm Continental Gator Hardshell tires

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    I am participating in a Coast to Coast bike tour next year using my 2007 Specialized Ruby Pro 50/34. I had a bike mechanic change my gearing from a 11-27 to a 10-32 to help me climb hills a bit better. He replaced my 23 mm tires with 23 mm Continental Gator Hardshell tires. My friends have 25 mm. When I surf new bikes, most have 25 mm as well. Will my 23 mm be alright or should I switch them out to 25 mm? What is the advantage and disadvantage of both sizes? Any advice and input is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,823
    I used to have 23mm Gatorskins, then switched to 25mm. I never really noticed much of a difference. In general wider tires are supposed to be faster and more comfortable, I think, because they have a larger contact patch and absorb vertical movement better so you don't lose forward energy when you hit bumps or uneven pavement. But I don't think 2mm makes that much of a difference. And the air pressure in the tires also has an effect. Many people put more air in than is necessary.

    I recently replaced 25mm Mavic tires with 25mm Conti Grand Prix 4000, and I notice more road buzz from the new tires than the old ones. I dropped the psi a bit and that has made a difference.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    630
    Agree. For that use, the quality of the tire is more important than 2mm of size difference and Continentals are about as good as it gets. If you were packing a heavy load, as in a full blown touring setup, I'd opt for wider tires for the sake of stability, but then we're talking bigger tires than even 25s and that really calls for a different bike, anyway. Good move on the gearing, though. You'll use it. Sounds like a fun trip.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,099
    I moved to 25s, Gatorskins a couple of years ago. I don't see any difference. My bike has the same gearing, too.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    If your bike can take a 28 mm, go 28. Even the pro racers are seeing the light and riding wider tires. Agree the higher the TPI the nicer the roll and wider tires can roll quite well. Plus your wouldn't ride a bucking bronco in a cattle drive. Riding a narrower tire means picking up quite a bit more of road vibration into your body and being bucked around. The wider tire will help with that and your arms and shoulders will thank you. (This of course from someone who rides a 26 X 40) Also research a better quality tire than the Continental Gator Hardshell. Do some research on Jan Heine's blog https://janheine.wordpress.com/
    Sky King
    ____________________
    Gilles Berthoud "Bernard"
    Surly ECR "Eazi"
    Empowering the Bicycle Traveler
    biketouringnews.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,823
    Just curious, Sky King, what do you mean by better quality?

    FWIW, I've tried to read the research from Bicycling Quarterly (edited by Jan Heine) but it just makes my eyes glaze over. Also from what I've seen they don't seem to really be targeting folks with racing style road bikes. I know someone who buys tires based on their recommendations -- much wider than would fit on my bike -- and he loves them because they give a super smooth ride. But they're also so thin that they puncture if you just look at them funny. Personally I'd rather have road buzz with a tire that is more puncture resistant. But that's me, obviously my friend has a different preference.

    On my bike (Trek Madone), 25mm tires are the widest that can be used. I would look into 28s if they would work but until I get a different bike they're not an option. I think the main thing with 23s vs 25s is that the 23s don't offer any advantage for racing, not that they are a significantly worse choice. Though I'm no expert on tires so I could be wrong.

    One thing I've noticed with the Conti Grand Prix 25s is that they are a bit wider than the Mavic tires were, and possibly also a bit wider than the Gatorskins I used to use. When I take the front wheel off, the Grand Prix tires don't clear the brake pads freely, I have to push the tire through them. I've never had this issue before putting these tires on my bike. I had read that different brands of tire can vary in their actual dimensions even when they are labeled the same size, and apparently I now have real world evidence of this. It's not a real problem, though, at least not for my bike.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,200
    nice blog sky

    If you can switch the tires for just any difference in cost then I’d get the 25’s especially for a cross country ride. According to an online spec sheet the 2007 ruby pro came with roubaix pro’s 23 on the front and 25 on the rear. If you liked the roubaix’s then the conti’s should feel close.
    I use 23/25 on my road bike for a little more positive feedback and steering in front and a little more surface contact where the majority of my weight is on the back.

    Personally I like a more supple tire like my 23/25 Vittoria’s, even with there shorter lifespan, for long road rides, climbing and descending so I’m not a fan of gatorskin/marathon/armadillo types except for commutes or heavy touring. Even on my bike for light touring I use 25/25 Vittoria’s though.....i rode that on the week ride across iowa with no problems Lots of good choices for tires.

    Quote Originally Posted by ny biker View Post
    J When I take the front wheel off, the Grand Prix tires don't clear the brake pads freely, I have to push the tire through them.
    cantilever brakes ftw with really wide tires ....and yeah play with pressure on the 4000's. I'll do that on a clip seal road and that along with my sevens design to help eliminate vibrations it helps a lot. ...wondering if the 4000's might be a good tire for a coast to coast on a ruby?
    Last edited by rebeccaC; 06-06-2016 at 03:56 PM.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Boise Idaho
    Posts
    1,192
    RebeccaC yes, I too enjoy a more supple tire. Many tires for many uses For me, the rider of a touring bike and a 29+ for dirt - I look at thread count & tread pattern for starters. I also have folding tires (higher TPI) My very, very favorite tire EVER was the set I had on my 650B Rivendel - the Hetre from Compass (Jan's company) The downside was they too, were not at all puncture resistant. I had lightweight tire liners from spinskin in them but spinskin is no longer, they still rolled like no tomorrow and the flat issue went away. I suppose if I were riding through South America I'd look at the Marathon Tour or the Plus Tour and if I were a racer I'd go for something different. the DH loves his Panaracer T-Serv's for distance riding and rarely has had a flat.
    Speaking of width and cantilever brakes - I had to let air out of my tire to take the Hetre's off of my Rivendel but it was worth it.
    Cyclesome - we will all enjoy hearing about your trip. I know I live vicariously by reading about everyone's adventures.
    Sky King
    ____________________
    Gilles Berthoud "Bernard"
    Surly ECR "Eazi"
    Empowering the Bicycle Traveler
    biketouringnews.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,823
    I had Vittorias once. They were like butter. Then I had a flat tire on a brutally hot day on the shoulder of a busy road with no shade anywhere. I was practically having a panic attack I was so desperate to get out of the heat. Changed the tube, pumped it up, new tube went flat. Fibers in the tire were sticking out of the hole and they punctured the new tube. We had to patch the tube and boot the tire with a dollar bill (which stuck in the tire and tore when I tried to remove it later -- never use a high denomination bill to boot a tire). Did I mention how hot it was out in the sun doing all of this? The friend I was riding with had to pick up his wife and kids at the airport that afternoon and he was late getting there because we spend so much time dealing with the tire.

    And that was just one of the flats I had on that tire. I had another when I was riding on a trail alone at dusk. I could never get the tire back on the rim by myself so I ended up riding 2 miles on the rim to a bike shop for help, got there after they closed, stood outside looking pathetic trying to decide what my next move should be, someone in the shop saw me and opened the door and replaced the tire for me.

    So I switched to Gatorskins and never looked back. I just don't have time for that many flats. Since then I was pleasantly surprised by the stock Bontrager tires that came on my current bike as well as the Mavics that came on the wheels I got a couple of years ago. I would have replaced either in a heartbeat if they had not been as puncture-resistance as they turned out to be. I only decided to try the Grand Prix tires after reading about them here and seeing some user reviews. So far they're okay but I'm prepared to go back to Gatorskins if needed.

    Good thing there are lots of choices out there so we can all find tires that we like.

    p.s. I should add that I would have bought another set of the Mavic tires, but my LBS didn't have them in stock and they did have the Grand Prix.
    Last edited by ny biker; 06-07-2016 at 07:51 AM.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    630
    I'm another one who thinks that you need to pick your tires based on your personal situation and needs. For me, flat resistance has always been a primary concern. I'll gladly trade off a little smoothness and put up with a little more buzz and tire weight to get it.

    For one, 99 plus percent of my riding has been solo, so if I get a flat, I am on my own. Oh, yes, I know how to fix flats out on the road and have done my share of them, but as I'm sure we all know, you always seem to get flats at the worst times. Changing a tube in the dark with just the aid of your bike light just isn't fun.

    For another, I have lived in some serious thorn country (prairie states) where even thorn tubes, inner tube goop and thorn liners were no guarantee of not getting a flat. Soft, low tpi tires wouldn't last a week. Just because this isn't an issue where you live, doesn't mean you won't encounter these locations when you take off on your cross country ride.

    For a coast to coast ride, a standard road bike with 23mm or 25mm or even 28mm would not be my first choice, anyway, but I'm lucky enough to own a number of different bikes and not everyone is. That, and plenty of folks have done such a trip with 23mm tires with no issues. Just a matter of taking a little extra care when riding.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Columbus, IN
    Posts
    221
    Quote Originally Posted by ny biker View Post
    Just curious, Sky King, what do you mean by better quality?

    I know someone who buys tires based on their recommendations -- much wider than would fit on my bike -- and he loves them because they give a super smooth ride. But they're also so thin that they puncture if you just look at them funny. Personally I'd rather have road buzz with a tire that is more puncture resistant. But that's me, obviously my friend has a different preference.
    Ditto, and ditto what everyone is saying here. My son has gatorskins on his bike -- I can't stand them. I just get too much buzz and I can't stand it. I ride on lots of rough country chip and seal road, and its just too much. On the other hand, too supple and I'm changing tires too often. For the longest time I went with Conti Grand Prix 4000sII (or whatever they are) and they seemed a good fit until I lost three within two months to sidewall damages (I don't feel like I ride through a lot of debris, but apparently I do). Now I use Conti Grand Prix 4 season tires. They wear out sooner than the gatorskins, but I'm happier with them. I'm always looking for the perfect tire though!

    I use 25s on my Domane, but they came with 25s and I've never tried 23s. I've looked at found that there really aren't many 28s that would fit.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Columbus, IN
    Posts
    221
    And for what its worth - I often ride solo so if I get a flat I have to change it myself. I find it easier to change the more supple tires, and I've always struggled with gatorskins -- even with the help of a tire bead jack or whatever they're called (a tool too big to carry with me while biking). So if I'm going to ride something like that, they better not go flat or I'm screwed on the road!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    630
    I her what you're saying, Aromig. I'm really the glass if half full type, but I DO remember just about every flat I've had out on the road. Yuk!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,099
    I live in fear of flats. I can do the tire part, but I have great difficulty getting the back wheel back on, the derailleur, etc. and remembering how to use the CO2 cartridge/inflator. I know all of the tricks, but the fear was paralyzing me. I got Gatorskins 3 years ago and I have not had a flat since then. I feel more confident about riding alone now.
    I used to have the Conti 4000s, which were super easy to get off and on.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,200
    Quote Originally Posted by Sky King View Post
    I too enjoy a more supple tire. Many tires for many uses .
    On my road bike and because of the roads i ride on I get maybe one maybe two flats a year at most with a high TPI supple tire....and occasionally it’s been one that would have caused a tube to go regardless of the tire…..and logically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually I see flat tires as just another part of a positive time while riding. Well that and I’m usually on a road with good views so taking a break is nice too… now having to replace a tire for wear sooner than most is the price I pay for a fast more comfortable long ride or climb and especially a more secure feeling taking corners on a long descent.

    Now on my commuter I use heavy and stiff side walled 26 x 1.50 schwalbe marathons plus cuz I’m not crazy.

    +1 on both 'many tires for many uses' and Rivendell..my Waterford sport tourer is my all time second favorite bike behind my seven.
    Last edited by rebeccaC; 06-08-2016 at 02:18 PM.
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

 

 

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