Schoie81 Posts: 749
edited March 2015 in Road buying advice
I know there's probably been some eye-rolling at the thread title, as I've seen lots of 'which tyres should I buy?' threads, but this is slightly different - I'm not affect a recommendation for a specific tyre, more a bit of advice on how I can choose some when buying online.

I've worn out my first set of tyres - well, the rear one anyway. The tyres that came on my bike were complete slicks - not a hint of 'tread' on them and I've never had any problems with them. I figure if I replace them with a tyre with tread on,even if its smooth down the middle with some texture to the sides, its going to either make it harder going, or slow me down, or both...? As I've never had any issues with the ones I've got, it would seem logical to stick to something similar. But when looking online, I find it a bit confusing to see what tread the tyre actually has on it, as most retailers websites seem to just stick a 'generic' image of 'a road tyre' rather than a specific image of the actual tyre being sold. So basically, is there any way of finding out what the actual tread is like or have I got no option but to head to a shop to see them in the 'flesh'??

Sorry if its a bizarre question, but that about sums me up!! :wink:
"I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"


  • Tread on a tyre is needed to prevent aquaplanning, aquaplaning cantbappen on a road bike tyre ( check Sheldon Brown website for detailed explanation. So tread or no tread is irrelevant and not a reason to select a tyre. Better to make your choice on where you want the balance of puncture proofing and lightness/suppleness to lie.
  • Schoie81
    Schoie81 Posts: 749

    So a tyre with no tread (what I would call a 'slick tyre') has no less resistance that a tyre with some 'texture' on it? I assume a smooth tyre would run 'easier'?

    I'm not too worried about weight - I weigh too much myself to worry about shaving a few grams off the weight of my tyres, and I'm not going to be setting any speed records! My thinking is that I've been happy with the tyres I've been riding on, so stick to what I know! The current ones are just stock tyres though (Giant ones..) so I imagine they can be improved on.
    "I look pretty young, but I'm just back-dated"
  • Rolling resistance, AFAIK, is determined primarily by the composition of the rubber the tyre is made from and the carcass. For the types of tread that appear on road wheels I.e. very shallow cross hatching or lines I don't think it has much influence - or at least very very little reactive to the tyre materials. There would be a big difference in say MTB off road tyres and similar slicks but not between the very shallow treads you see on treaded road tyres vs slick rad tyres.

    As to stock giant tyres not tried them myself but I would be willing to stake my mortgage that gp4000s, vittoria open corsa or pave, or any of the other oft recommended tyres, would all feel and roll a lot better. I love open paves myself for the feel of speed and lightness I get with them and just prefer them to GPS and they have a litte tread whereas GPS are slick!
  • KevChallis
    KevChallis Posts: 646
    I have small tread round the edge of my tyres, can't remember which of the top of my head, surely on a road bike its about edge grip in the wet as opposed to aqua planing? The centre I would always stay slick.
    PlanetX Pro Carbon
    Voodoo Bizango
  • beski
    beski Posts: 542
    I've recently changed my stock Giant tyres to Schwalbe Durano Plus', mainly for the extra puncture resistance that they give. The rolling and being folding, rather than wire bead are improvements. All in all I'm very pleased with them, were a pain to initially fit though!
    Giant Defy 4 2014
    GT Avalanche Expert 2006
    Specialized Hardrock 1989
  • iron-clover
    iron-clover Posts: 737
    If you are only going to be riding on the road, then high pressure slick tyres are better than any tread.
    The easiest way to think of how grip works is that the harder thing digs into the softer thing which gives the grip.

    On the road, it is the tarmac/ pavement which is harder than the tyre rubber, and the tiny (and no so tiny!!) imperfections and bumps 'dig into' your tyre.
    If you had a tread pattern on your tyre, then there will be gaps where rubber is not in contact with the tarmac, meaning your grip is reduced.
    You will not aquaplane on a high pressure bike tyre (you would have to be doing in the region of 90mph before a 100psi tyre thought about aquaplaning) so even in the wet slick tyres on tarmac will give better grip than treaded tyres.

    Off road it is the rubber that digs into the softer dirt- here a slick tyre wont work as well and in the case of mud will just spin uselessly.

    If you want to be able to go on bridlepaths etc regularly then you should look for at least semi slick tread which behaves like a slick tyre on the road, but has some tread (particularly at the edges) to give grip off road. However, you might struggle putting them into tight leans on tarmac though because of the reduced contact at the edges. Even just grooves in a V across the tyre will be adequate on large MTB style tyres.

    The worst thing you can do is get a full nobbly tyre to use on the road. Not only will they wear quickly, but your contact patch will be tiny. I once had an interesting ride coming downhill on such tyres in the wet last year- the braking was poor and the whole bike drifted a couple of times...

    As for pictures of the tyre- if you shop at reputable online stores such as Wiggle, ChainReaction, Ribble, Merlin etc they will display the actual tyre in the picture- most have slight differences but at the end of the day a slick tyre is a slick tyre.
    The best way to find out how much a specific tyre might slow you down is to read reviews tbh- it will be a combination of weight, how the tyre has been put together and tread that contribute to rolling resistance, but as a general rule you're right, tyres with tread down the centre are harder work than slicks.

    Good luck!