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.

3 comments:

BadgerLand 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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