Tires selection is often tough to get right. I have been experimenting with tires in road, cyclocross, and mountain biking, but I have gained the most experience with road and road tubeless. Simply put, it is the riding that I do most often, and the people I ride with and get advice from ride lots on the road.
I have found that I really liked the 25 mm tires after coming from the smaller 23s. When I had 22s on a set of old tubular wheels, I found them to be almost unrideable.
The cushion and the control in the corners are big factors in choosing the right rubber. Tires with good flat resistance are a bonus, especially if they are easy to fit and change tires. Sometimes my flats are the result of pinch flats because the tires are tough to mount.
I am hoping that the tire choice for my steel road project Mr Pink will be a good one. The Panaracer brand is one that I like a lot, and I have been using their road tires for years. I really like the Race A tires I have in used in 25 mm. They were just great on my aluminum road bike. I sold that off, but wish I still had those tires.
I also really like the 32 mm Paselas from Panaracer that I have on my son’s single speed. I put those on because they had good flat resistance, and they also were larger and thus more forgiving for when he forgets to put air in them. I would have tried the Paselas on the Mr. Pink, but I think that I want to be a little faster, and I do not want to stray too far from the road riding I am used to.
When I bought the Mr Pink, I was aware that it could accommodate a huge tire compared to my other road bikes. However, if I want to ride gravel, I think I would just as soon use my cyclocross bike. I bought some of the larger 32 mm size Gravel King SK’s on the cyclocross bike for just that reason this spring. The 32s are a grippy deep tread perfect for loose gravel and dirt. Again, these were not quite the tire to fit the bill.
The 28mm Gravel Kings are what I bought for Mr. Pink. They are a lot more like the Vittoria Paves: a mild file tread. Someone I really trust at the shop has been raving about them, and he is a fast and good racer. I also like the price of the Gravel Kings, which were a lot less than the Rubino Pro’s I considered first. (If the GK 28 doesn’t work out, that is probably what I would go for next at about $50 a pop.)
The 28s were a tad tough to mount largely due to the thick gum wall tire bead. I found that I was pinching the tube during the mounting process, as I just could not get the last little bit on the bead without using a tire lever. I pinched and popped a tube before I figured out a solution. The key to not pinch flatting was to work the tire onto the bead starting on the side away from the valve; when you get to the valve side, push the valve up into the tire so the tube clears the bead and rim. Seat the tire using the lever if needed. Check to make sure the tire isn’t caught up under the tire. Then slightly inflate and fully deflate the tire. Check again to see that the tube was not pinched under the tire before final inflation.
I am hoping they are easy to mount after they get a little stretched out, and that they are also easy to keep rolling with few flats. So far, these are riding superbly. The first time out, they seemed cushy and fast. I was not trying too hard to avoid hitting things, and I had a blast!