Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bontrager Hard-Case Tires: The good and the bad

I've been rolling on a hard-case tire for about 8 months on my rear wheel. Constant glass-shard flats and occasional snakebites finally pissed me off enough to swap out the OEM Bontrager Select 25mm tire for something beefier. A Little more than a month ago, my front OEM tire gave out, too. I replaced it with the 25mm Bontrager Race-Lite Hard-Case tire, too.

I haven't flatted once in the rear since I put this tire on. I haven't flatted in the front, either but it's only been a month.

One thing I noticed is that the rear seems to lock up a bit easier than the original tires. They also seemed to have a little bit of squirm to them when cornering hard, but I attributed it to the sidewalls being a bit less compliant.

Today, I put them to the test, unintentionally. I was coming down a steep viaduct and preparing to turn left. The left turn light went green, and I hammered to catch it while it was green. 40 MPH when riding down hill is easy to come by with this bike, and I was going about 40. I went to lean hard like you'd see a racer do, but the bike wanted to slide. I wasn't on the brakes, but I was going to wipe out if I didn't act fast. Not wanting to hit the front brake while it's washing out on the hot pavement, I opted to right myself a bit and hit the rear brake. It locked up instantly and I started skidding again. I counter-steered and feathered the front brake enough to scrub off some speed, but I wasn't going to make the turn. I finally got upright and feathered both brakes again to slow down as much as I could, and then ran head-on into a 4" tall curb between 10 and 15 MPH, doing as much of a bunny hop as I could muster. The front wheel bounced off the curb pretty good. The rear wheel hit hard. I got it shut down before I slid all the way into the concrete streetscape.

That mess narrowly avoided, I'm standing in a flower garden with my front wheel a foot away from a concrete wall. I click out and dismount, fully expecting a mess of mangled rims, broken spokes and pinch-flats.

Aside from two hefty skid patches on the rear tire (the worst shown below) and a roughed-up sidewall on the front, only one word describes the condition of my bike's rolling stock: "Unscathed"

I need to make sure the fork didn't take a beating, but I think these Hard-Case tires saved my wheels. They are, indeed, more bullet-proof than originally thought. Having said that, they don't grip nearly as well as my admittedly crappy OEM Bontrager Select tires. These are definitely not for racing.


Chris said...

Noah, just how wide of a tire can you fit on that bike? I think you need to look at the Pasela Tourguards; I have over 5600 miles without a flat and I don't move for glass or road debris on my bike.

Noah said...

I can run 32s on it if I take the fenders off and if the wheels are 100% perfectly true. And with some more tweaking to the front brakes. I don't think they recommend any wider than 28.

These are great tires for being bulletproof. I just can't play wannabe club racer on this bike with these tires.

Apertome said...

Whew, that sounds like a close call! I'm glad you are ok, as well as your bicycle.

Maybe get some 28s for that thing, I put 28s on my bike (it came with 25s) and there's no turning back for me, my traction is much better and if anything I feel faster because I don't have to slow down or ride around rough stuff. I'm amazed how many people ride 23s ...

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