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In the World of bike shops we probably talk about tyres more than any other component, from punctures to the science of rolling resistance it takes up a lot of our time. Subsequently, we are all experts, and we know the best tyre for your needs and how to make your bike faster/least likely to incur a puncture. That’s not true, but we can dispense some good advice that works for most people.
Keep them pumped up – The majority of punctures we fix are ‘pinch flats’ (also know as snakebites) which happen when the tube does not have enough air in and the bike hits a sharp edge such as a pot-hole or kerb, pinching the inner tube between the hard surface and the hard edge of the wheel rim. There isn’t really a catch-all pressure to pump your tyres to, but on a hybrid you should have at least 60 psi in there, and more on a narrower tyre. You can of course put too much in, and MTB tyres are subject to a completely different set of rules. Most people don’t have a pump with a gauge on to figure out exactly what pressure their tyres are at, but most good bike shops do and will generally be happy to lend you a pump (in exchange for a joke in our case). It is also worth remembering that even when in good condition your inner tubes will slowly leak air over time.
Invest in quality – you can get a decent road tyre for just £10, but a £25 tyre will offer better puncture resistance, a more compliant ride and lower weight*. We love the Panaracer Pasela, it looks great, has a shallow tread making it ideal for commuting or winter road rides, the supple sidewall gives it a great feel on the bike and like all mass-produced things of quality it is made in Japan.
Check the condition – It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your tyres for cuts, little bits off glass stuck in the tread, excessive wear and other signs they might be about to give up on you, half-way to work, when you have a meeting – this is when it will happen, that is sod’s law.
*The weight issue is a ginormous can of worms which we shall leave firmly shut at this point, suffice to say that if you are going to save weight anywhere on the bike then the best place is on the wheels and tyres.