Friday, November 13

Continental Tires Are Better Than I Thought

Continental GP 4 Season Tires at 2300 miles
In my post, here, back in September, about nothing being idiot proof, I noted that I got over 2300 miles before I got my first flat with the 28c Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires I run on my commute bike. Well, this morning, I had two more flats. The first was waiting for me when I went to get the bike – it’d had full pressure at 10PM last night. I changed the tube and replaced the spare. Mentally, I noted that the tube damage looked similar to the September flat. Hmm. About 15 miles into the commute, the tire suddenly went flat as I was headed north on Katy Road on the Keller/Fort Worth border. It was about three doors north of the tank, shown here. I was really glad I’d replaced the spare!
Sure enough, when I got the tire off, I found tube damage identical to the first two flats. All three were caused by failure of the rim strip at one of the spoke holes (these rims have recessed spoke nipples, being semi-aero). Before installing the spare tube, I took a “no glue patch” and stuck it over the rim strip failure location. These rim strips are the type intended for use with a tubeless tire conversion, not the Velox I normally use.

So, dear readers, my previous report was in error. The tires were blameless at 2300 miles and they remain blameless at 3400 miles. With last weekend’s cyclocross, I took the opportunity to rotate the tires so that wear between the fronts and rears remains equal. At 2300 miles, I estimated the tires would last for 4k-5k miles. Now, I think they’ll last for at least 5k miles. 3400 miles with no tire-related flats seems like a pretty good start to me.

Continental tire (same tire as photo at top) at 3400 miles

Who are these tires for?
Clearly, I’m a fan of these tires, but they’re not for everyone. If you’re a road racer, their 28c profile won’t appeal to you. Their puncture resistance is also more than what you’ll need. On the other hand, if you’re going to go riding through heavy duty debris and glass, the Continentals won’t hold up as well as Armadillo All Condition. They also don't come in sizes wider than the 28c that I run - Dutch bikes need not apply. However, if you want a tire for a fast, long distance commute, and you ride where debris and potholes are a moderate hazard, these tires will get you there, they feel solid and roll nice, and they’re surprisingly light for a puncture resistant tire (lighter, for example, than ChipSeal's Armadillo Elites). Even in the wet, they feel steady.Yeah, I'll probably buy another set when these ones wear out next Spring.

This morning illustrated why having part of the commute in daylight is REALLY nice. First, I wasn’t changing things in the dark, which I would have been doing had this occurred in October. Second, a Good Samaritan living in the next door house made a special trip outside to inquire as to whether I needed help and he even offered to provide a pump. I didn’t need the help, but it was sure nice to hear the offer all the same. I think help offers would be less forthcoming in predawn darkness. Instead, the owner would see some scofflaw out in the dark, acting suspiciously.

And yes, the patch on the rim seems to have done the trick!


Rantwick said...

finding the source of a nagging problem is SO NICE. yay Conti!

Chandra said...

i have contis on my commuter. so far, excellent!

Big Oak said...

Nice review, before now, I hadn't thought about buying Continental tires. I've used Specialized and now Schwalbe. The Schwalbe's are much better - 1 flat in 3,400 miles (in the dark, on the way to work). I did get almost 4,000 miles on the Specialized, but I had probably close to twenty flats during that span.

Steve A said...

Probably the closest Schwalbe tires to the Conti I'm using is the "Marathon Racer" which is only available in WIDER widths than the Conti.

Regular Marathons are much heavier than the Contis in the 28c size. We're talking a half pound of rotating weight difference, which you'll surely notice, especially when accelerating. I suspect a lot of that is the bead, which is Kevlar in the Conti. Myself, 28c was wide enough for my 20 mile commute and it's far enough that wider than "wide enough" wasn't on the short list. Contis were far and away the lightest tires in that size with serious puncture resistance.

Remember, 28c is as wide as the Contis get. I'll do an update as they get closer to the 5K mile target mileage.

Another down side on the Contis? They're NOT cheap. At my LBS, I paid $60 for a pair which is probably double what I've ever paid for tires elsewhere. Ebay may be better priced, but they still won't be cheap. Even at the LBS price, they'll still be in the "penny per mile" ballpark.

PS: They're also easy to change, especially after you've done it a few times which between the cyclocross and the rim strip, I've done recently.

Steve A said...

BTW, the 30c Marathon Racers are 120g heavier per tire than the 28c Continental GP 4 Season tires if I believe the Conti and Schwalbe websites.

PS: As those that have seen me can testify, I'm not getting my mileage via starving the rider...

Steve A said...

Err, looked again - those Contis were $60 EACH. Now they're up to $70 each and eBay's not much cheaper. Still, they're great tires...

andy said...

I've been running bontrager hard case tires on my bike this last year (7000 miles of commute+weekend riding + some racing) and had very good luck. i ran gatorskins the year before and they were ok, but still had flat every 1000 miles or so.

Steve A said...

Andy, it's interesting that you'd get flats every 1000 miles and I never get them on the 4 seasons. I thought the Gatorskins were supposed be MORE puncture resistant. I'll have to go back & look again.

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