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What are the best/safest tires to blow out at speed?
Last Post 06/20/2013 01:54 PM by Nightfend the cyclist. 17 Replies.
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79pmooney

Posts:808

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06/13/2013 08:11 PM
I am looking for wisdom from experience.  What tires and kinds of tires are the tires you want to be riding when you suffer an unexpected blowout at speeds you never want to hit the road at.

A little background - a week ago I was motoring along a slight downhill with tailwind and passing vehicles, feeling good, on my fun fixie (Team Dumpster aka Jessica).  Wheels were standard aluminum rims, 36 X4 in front Open Pro and 32 X3 rear Velocity Aero.  Both good builds, newish and in good shape.  Tires were Performance Forte DC Pros, good tread in front, worn but not yet flat-spotted in back.  102, 107 psi.  48-18 gear = 72"  I was going about 25 mph.  116 rpm.

The rear tire blew with a sharp pistol crack and I was instantly down on the rim.  From that moment on, it was all I could do to keep the rear end of the bike behind me and eventually I could not, went roughly diagonally over the bars and hit the road hard.  The tire stayed on the rim even though the bead fit is rather loose with those rims and tires.

This was with cheap Forte DC Pros.  In my 5 years or so of riding my favorite Vittoria Open Paves, I have often wondered what would happen under the same circumstances.

I am a relative latecomer to clinchers.  Rode sew-ups virtually exclusively from 1973 to 1996 and was still commuting on sew-ups until 2000.  In my decades of sew-up riding I certainly had my share of blow-outs under all circumstances, but I never remember thinking more that "Oh suck!  A flat" and at times being glad I wasn't cornering.  The thought "Jeez!  I hope I can burn off enough speed before I crash!" was not in my memory until last week.

So, forumites, best tire/type of tire to blow at speed?  Clincher vs sew-up?  Wired vs folding bead?  Other concerns/features?  A best brand?  A brand to stay away from?

Remember, I want your experience.  If you offer second hand info, make it clear.

And I am not interested in hearing about tires that will or will not blow out.  All can.  If you want to start a thread about the most or least likely, by all means, but not here, please.  I just want to know the best tire to be on after it has blown.

Thanks

Ben
laurentja

Posts:122

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06/13/2013 08:24 PM
Ben I'm a long-time sewup devotee like you. I almost never flat tubulars; if I do it's the slow-leak variety. I might get 4-5 flats all season (granted I avoid rain riding) and all on clinchers, yet I have been fortunate to not have a blowout at speed. The only thing I really have to add to the discussion is that the Conti's I've mounted on my Campagnolo Neutron wheels are a bear to stretch over the rim when new - those suckers are tight. A Vittoria Open on the other hand are easy-peasy - can always do without tire levers.
Tortue Volante

Posts:22

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06/13/2013 09:18 PM
Ben,

I've flatted on both sewups and clinchers. I's definitely easier to ride out a flat on sewups, but I've had high speed flats in turns with clinchers and lived to tell the tail. (As I recall, I was probably riding Vittoria EVO's at the time.)

My guess is that your eventual ass-over-tea-kettle moment had more to do with the fact you were riding a fixie, than that you were riding clinchers. As you were frantically trying to scrub speed, your back wheel was frantically trying to fling you in the air. Eventually it won.

Just thinkin' out loud. Hope you didn't get too banged up.

Rachel
zootracer

Posts:172

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06/13/2013 09:21 PM
I've only blown out a couple tires in the past 30+ or so years of riding. #1 was caused by over-inflation, back in the days when my floor pump did not have a gauge. #2 Blew out a Conti Ultra 2000 after hitting a couple of small rocks when descending. #3 Blew out a Conti Gatorskin after hitting a rock. All the tires were clinchers. Never blew out a sew up, but did not use them much. Crash #2 caused some severe injuries (front tire). #1, #3 were rear tires.

I clean off my tires after every ride with a paper towel and water. I give them a good eyeball. I probably pull them off when they are about half shot.

Currently using Michelin Lithion 25's folding.
Oldfart

Posts:346

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06/13/2013 09:54 PM
Tubeless because it is less likely that you will blow out. Unless you slash the tire on nasty debris leaks from punctures tend to be slow. The tire bead will stay on too. I used to ride tubulars too. I recall at least one blow out on front at speed in a yellow light situation on a curved road. Yaaaaaaa. Huge slash across the tire from something. It squirmed but I held up. Could it be that your crash was a combination of the sudden flat and fixed gear? Or do figure the crash would have worse if you weren't being pedalled by the drive train?
CERV

Posts:136

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06/13/2013 11:32 PM
Tubulars always better to flat at high speed with.

For clinchers I always figure, the harder it is to get the beads on, the less likely they are to come off the rim when the tire flats. If I can pull a tire on/off the rim easily with my bare hands, I don't have much faith in it staying on the rim when I flat at speed around a corner. By that logic, for clinchers, wire beads are safer than foldups.
79pmooney

Posts:808

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06/14/2013 01:18 AM
OK so far it is:

Folding clinchers:
Vittoria EVO No Crash
Forte DC Pro Bad Crash
Conti Ultra 2000 Bad Crash (front)
?? (Conti Ultra 2000 Zootracer?) No Crash (rear)

Andy, was that a sew-up?

CERV, do you have any examples? Remember, I want to hear first hand examples. You guys have collectively far more miles than I've got. You've experienced things I haven't.

Ben
79pmooney

Posts:808

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06/14/2013 01:39 AM
Rachel, yes, riding fixed, switching to a bike I haven't been riiding much and that has very quick steering and powerful (no-name sidepull) brakes didn't help. But remember, my fix gear skills are pretty darn good. I have preferred being fixed (except on real descents) for decades. Used to ride winters fixed in snow/ice country. I know I've kept fixies up when I'd have dumped a coaster. Quite a few times. Riding fixed to keep the real wheel in line in snow was my revelation in December, 1976, Boston. And, in my crazy days, I used to ride a 42-17 down Juaquim Miller-Fruitvale. (On sew-ups, never flatted doing down. Never got passed by a car either. Of course, that was probably because they doubted my sanity.)

Ben
Oldfart

Posts:346

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06/14/2013 09:53 AM
Yeah Ben that front blowout was likely a Wolber Invulnerable. I often used them or the Futura which had a Kevlar belt under the tread. The Wolber had. Fine steel mesh under the tread. Whatever I ran over had cut the tire wide open right across.

To drift a bit, this analysis of your crash is an important mental exercise Ben. Off road crashes are not frequent for me, but I do crash once or twice a year on get a little scuffed up. It helps me to get over the fear of crashing again by figuring out what I did wrong.
Gonzo Cyclist

Posts:185

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06/14/2013 10:57 AM
Vittoria Clinchers in my experience, had a blow out with a sew up one time, then it rolled off the rim, scary as hell.
Hit a rock, blew a Vittoria Rubino Pro as close to 60mph, just rolled to a stop, no problem
zootracer

Posts:172

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06/14/2013 11:54 AM
The Conti Ultra 2000 I blew was on the front rim. No recollection of the event. I ended up in the middle of the road like a beached whale, knocked unconscious. None of my mishaps with tires caused the tire to come off the rim. Guess i was lucky and was not at any sufficient speed.

Vittoria clincher wire beads are a pain to mount. I have to result to tire irons.
Tortue Volante

Posts:22

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06/14/2013 03:58 PM
Ben, I would never presume to question your fixie bike handling skills. But I will say that the only time I've ever seen somebody go ass over tea kettle due to a rear flat at speed was at a velodrome. I think physics are simply not your friend in that situation.

Going back to the initial question, I have to wonder if rim choice might also have an effect. I may have overly rosy memories, but I think the old school box rims might have been a little more forgiving during a sudden flat. If so, I imagine it would be due to them flexing a bit more, and having softer, more deformable aluminum in contact with the pavement.
79pmooney

Posts:808

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06/14/2013 04:32 PM
Interesting thought, the old box rims. Velocity Aeros are aluminum but they are quite stiff vertically. Now, if they contacted the pavement (I'm about to go out and look), the contact patch won't be much different than any other aluminum rim. Yes, there was real rim to road contact. And it is clear that when I lost it the rear wheel was sliding out on just aluminum.

Also found the cause of the blow-out. Too much wear. Down to the cord. Oops.

Ben
zootracer

Posts:172

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06/17/2013 12:55 PM
"Cause of blow out, too much wear, down to cord". Nice to cop out to that. I am totally neurotic about tires. I clean them off and inspect them after each ride. Pull them off when they are about half shot and hang them in my garage to use for a temporary spare in case I should cut or damage a tire.
C2K_Rider

Posts:139

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06/17/2013 01:24 PM
I had a flat on a curve on a fast technical descent a few weeks ago - but not a blow out, just went flat. I rode it out but scudded across the road (luckily no cars coming up!). The guys behind made it by me OK. I had GP4000S clincher tires. They are damn hard to put on and take off, and did not come off the rim. Maybe that was what helped ride it out.

I'm conflicted about using the tires - hard to put on take off, but, as I mentioned, maybe that saved some skin....
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