Nov 14

Triathlon Bike Tips: Bike Faster By Choosing Faster Tri Tires

Daily Triathlon Tip: Race Tire Choices REALLY MATTER.

Do you want to bike faster in triathlons? Do you want a faster tri bike split? Without flatting?

0601508PARTMost people don’t think about tires much. They are all black and all kind of look the same. But you should really think hard about which tires you use in races, and they SHOULD be different from the ones you use in training. The one really big variable is floppiness. It turns out floppy tires are MUCH MUCH faster, but also more prone to getting flats.

Training tires should be big heavy nasty stiff things that you can barely bend onto the rim- who cares if you are slow, but flats in training are a huge drag. I use these

Race tires are the opposite- speed really matters. You want tires that are fast! That being said, you can’t tolerate a flat in every race. Here are a few tips:

-Evaluate your size- heavier riders flat more often
-Think about the road conditions of the course- some roads are terrifyingly covered in sharp things, some are smooth and fast- the cleaner the road, the more you can risk a really fast tire
-Think about your goals for the race- qualify for Kona? Set a PR? Just Finish?
-The key thing to look at is this chart: AFM_tire_testing_rev9 which covers the rolling resistance of every tire you can imagine.

One key thing to keep in mind- the really fast tires are also really puncture prone.  I used to use Continental Grand Prix Supersonic Road Bike Clincher Tire – Folding but I found them too puncture prone for my taste. Now I’m using Michelin Pro4 Service Course Tires and have not had an issue with excessive flats.
As always you can:


  1. Thomas Gerlach Professional Triathlete

    By too puncture prone what exactly do you mean? Many have lots of experience with the tire – myself included – and the tire is very robust. There is no reason to go with the Michelin Tire. If you want a bomb proof tire with great RR and great aero then go with the Conti Attack/Force combo. If you want even greater RR then go with Grand Prix TT. Given a properly installed tire — operative word their is properly — tires flat much less than people actually think. With that being said if you are worried about flats I suggest people become familiar with changing tires. Lastly, for most racers, the downtime that is spent changing a flat, 2-3 mins, is hardly wasted. It gives the body a chance to recovery.

    1. T1_coach

      I really wanted to like the supersonic- I was all excited about it. Ive been racing for forever, and prior to the supersonic, never once flatted in a race. And then on that tire I flatted in 2 races in one year. Then when I switched back to the michelins, 2 more years with no flats. So while the N is too small to be sure, it did seem a lot more flat prone. Granted, a lot of the half-irons I do, (and both of the ones where I flatted) were on really bad pavement (St croix and Austin).

      Keep in mind, I race at 190 lbs, so I may be flatting more than lighter riders just as a function of my size.

      I also agree that changing flats isn’t much of a loss in time, though I think how long it takes to change a tire really depends on the wheel/tire combo. I use Zipps, (which are known to be very slightly larger than the official 700c size) and they are a NIGHTMARE to get tires on/off, so it takes much more than 2-3 minutes. I have read (but havent tried myself) that some other wheels (HED) you can change tires by hand without even using a tool.

      I was using the supersonic before some of the more modern tires came out- the other ones I would try now are probably the Bontrager Aerowings or the PR-4 michelins.

      Do you have any good data on puncture resistance? I have the awesome file of RR, but I don’t have any source for data beyond anecdotal on tire RR.

      Would love your further thoughts.

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