Today or tomorrow, depending on available time, I’ll be doing one of the most frequent maintenance tasks in cycling: replacing my tires and chain. It’s a coincidence that this is happening at the same time, but I’m glad as it saves me time in the garage. Also, making a double swap like this gives me that new bike feeling. It’s sort of like when I pay for preventive maintenance on my truck. As I drive away, I’m always thinking ‘man this thing is driving better’, when really it’s not. The same thing happens when I change tires and / or the chain. I feel better about the bike, but I don’t think I can really tell the difference.
So here’s the nitty-gritty that all cyclists were thinking as they read the first paragraph – what tires and chain are you using? And here’s the answer:
I’m a cheapie when it comes to tires. I buy things on chainlove.com, performancebike.com, the LBS, and anywhere else I can find a sale on reputable brands. In my experience, there’s not that much difference in performance for MY KIND OF RIDING. If I were racing, my approach might be different. If I were riding really rough roads or strictly city routes, I might buy a different tire. But not right now.
So I’m currently riding on Continental Ultra Races. These have been pretty good, although I have a lot of cuts on the front tire, and have had 2 flats. One seemed to be a tube problem, the other was a ‘push through’ flat due to a through-and-through cut in the tire. I’m replacing these with Vredestein Fortezza Tricomps, which I picked up at Bike Masters (one of the LBSs) because I thought I got a good deal. This is probably too much tire for me, but like I said, I buy partially on brand and model, but with a heavy weighting to price.
And lastly, I’ve started buying black tires. My bike is black, with silver accents and just a touch of blue. In the past I’ve bought tires with grey accents, grey bar tape, and a few blue items. But now I’m leaning towards plain old black. It’s easier to find, and I’m not too picky.
And the Chain?
I purchase chains with a different set of criteria than tires. I buy high quality, serviceable chains that are easy to remove, clean, and replace. That limits me to a few brands, such as SRAM and Wippermann.
I’ve just about worn out my SRAM PC-1090 10 Speed PowerLock chain (sorry for the non-SRAM link, but just try to find the chain on SRAM's site). Speedo checked it with his chain tool when he serviced my bike before the San Antonio ride, and it was close to needing replacement. I’m hearing a lot of chatter and having trouble with derailleur adjustment, so I’m going to replace it.
But I really have come to dislike the SRAM chain. It requires a new PowerLock link every time I remove the chain for cleaning. That’s $3.50 or so each time I do a thorough chain cleaning. If I wanted to go through all that, I would use one of those wacky chain washers and just not remove the chain. But I would rather remove it and do a really thorough, soaking clean. So I’ve ordered the Wippermann 10S0 (steel) Connex chain. It uses a reusable link, and comes highly recommended.
I’ll have my own opinion on the new tires and chain shortly, which I’m sure to bore you with at a future date. Any comments or suggestions on my choices and logic are welcomed.