In this issue, we examine small tires and the advances in manufacturing that makes your ride or commute safe and comfortable.
Firstly, the most common tire size for small-wheeled bikes are that of the 20″ in circumfrence.
There are even smaller tires in the market like the 8″, 10, 12″, 14″,16″ and 18″ which you will find in certain bikes that are sold in specialty shops here.
But in reality, the more odd the size are, the harder you will find support such as spare inner-tubes and even the tires itself.
So, that said, a ‘safer’ bet is the 16″ tires.
Let me start with this particular size as its really popular with commuter folding bikes from manufacturers like Dahon (Dahon Jifo and Curve) and Brompton that are compact and easy to transport.
Having experienced a Dahon 16″ foldie, I must say that the most efficient tire would be that of the Schwalbe Big Apple 2.0 ‘Balloon’ tires.
We’ve been using this for more than three years and even with the high mileage (2,900km) clocked-in, there’s little wear and tear. What made it even robust, is the puncture protection feature.
LESS FLAT, MORE DISTANCE
The Big Apple is lined with a kevlar belt that prevents objects like glass, pebbles, metal shrapnels and nails from puncturing the tire. You can achieve this by putting enough air on the recommended pressure (65 – 70psi).
Even the rides are not bumpy with this particular tire and having used a pair since I purchased my 20″ Dahon Speed P8 back in 2009, I only changed it recently. Pricing for the Big Apple too is pretty decent. You can get it for RM85 each and during the sale period, enjoy a further discount that offers some savings.
The ‘faster’ small tire for a 16″ bike would be the Schwalbe Marathon Racer. With a width of 16 x 1.50, you can expect little rolling resistance and plenty of grip – ensuring superior road holding.
It came standard with Dahon’s discontinued Curve SL and is a known factor that gives the nippy little bike its speed.
Moving up a notch higher, is the Marathon Supreme. This is the latest from Schwalbe and most of Dahon and Tern bicycle’s 20″ rides in the mid-range category are equipped with this.
I’ve tried the Marathon Supreme 20 x 1.65 tires on my Dahon Jetstream EX on and offroad without a single puncture.
INVEST ON GOOD INNER TUBES
A pair of good tires are as good as its inner tubes. Now, they may cost more than any conventional tubes out there, but you get a piece of mind.
If you are a Schwalbe user, stick to the brand’s inner tubes. Also make it a point to take note the kind of valves that comes with your rim. Basically, its either the Schrader of Presta.
Some foldies that I know actually took their puncture protection seriously by adding liquid sealant into their inner tubes. This additional protection ensures you an uninterrupted ride.
LEARN TO RECOVER YOUR DOWNTIME
Changing or patching a bicycle tire’s inner tube is no rocket science. Once a while, short workshops are organised for the beginner to conduct a tube change or a patch job.
So, that said, its important for you to build a ‘rescue’ kit (tire levers, patch kit, C02 inflator) for your bike – especially during days when you need a extra patch kit or an inner tube to spare. I made it a point to pack these items in my saddlebag on short, middle and long-distance rides.
On the ‘how to’ and ‘what to expect’, there are many instructional videos that you can view on YouTube. To me, this is an essential way to learn as you can see how things are done.
A final word of advice is to take good care of your tires. If you look after them, they would yield you years of fun before a change is in order. Be vigil on keeping a good tire pressure and check your tire pressure every 30 days as a properly inflated tire would last you some time.
Well, there you have it!
Till we meet again in the next issue, take care and ride safe!