Friday, July 11, 2008

Equipment - Michelin Krylion Tires, 700x23

A while back I rode in the pouring rain. I didn't realize it at the time but I ended up with a lot of water in my rims. The first hint was a sloshing noise when I rolled my bike around, the second were the droplets of water flying around when I wheeled my bike (on just its back wheel) around in the basement.

At some point I also managed to knock my rear wheel out of true, and since truing the wheel requires removing the tire, I finally broke down and removed the tire. I figured I could drain the rim at the same time.

Lots of water.

Enough that I left the tire off the rim for a day for it to fully dry out - every time I thought I had it dry, I'd spin or shake it and more water would seep out from somewhere.

While I was in there I decided to replace the rear tire before it became completely unusable. Rotating tires is good because front tires tend to dry up and crack before they wear out, while a rear ends up with a flat spot on the tread while it's still nice and supple.

With the rim dry I trued the wheel, installed a new tire, and things are much better now. I did drain the front wheel also but simply reinstalled the original tire and tube.

Three tires, from the left - about 10 hours on a new rear, a front with about 120 hours (the original tire on this wheelset), a rear (original tire on wheelset) with about 190 hours.

The front tire has fewer hours because I spent a lot of time on the trainer, and that only uses the rear tire. I find the trainer is not too tire-abusive and have no problem using a "good" tire on it. Yes, the tire gets silverish, but wear-wise I don't see a lot of wear. The flashing took something like a month to wear off on the trainer (perhaps 60+ hours of riding), but outside it took only about 10 hours.

What I find interesting is that the (old) front tire and the new rear tire are almost identical in shape and feel. The new rear tire still has some traces of the molding flash left (the ridge down the middle of the tread). The excess flash (the tissue thing pieces of rubber hanging off the center of a new tire) just wore off after about 8 hours of riding. Whatever rubber Michelin uses in these tires is extremely durable.

A comparison of the front and rear. You can see that the rear tire, on the right, has a "flat" cap on the tread. The front tire looks round, like a new tire would look.

These tires are extremely durable - no flats until July and I rode over a LOT of glass out in California. I had a couple small cuts on the tires but based on the number of rocks pinging off of passing cars (due to me moving onto a debris strewn shoulder), I should have a lot more.

The front tire has virtually no wear and the next time I rotate tires, I'll install the front in the rear. (At this point I'm debating whether to set up a second wheelset with the tires, and if I do that I'll put the original used rear in the front of the second set).

Traction-wise the tires are very good. In the dry the tires are super sticky, tenacious to a fault. In fact I'd recommend riding the tires for 5-10 hours before racing them because the new ones feel like you just rode through some sticky tar on the road. I don't measure the rolling resistance because I can't but mentally it is taxing to ride the new tires. Once the tread loses its sheen the tire is good to go.

In the wet the tires are fine for me. I'm a real wimp when it comes to cornering in the rain so I'm not the best guy to ask about cornering traction. I never felt like the tires were sketchy but then again I never really pushed either. As far as straight line traction goes I have ended up braking super hard on steep descents, and the tires were always very good. No front tire washout, predictable traction, predictable behavior, and I stopped.

I mention the last bit because, with the yellow SwissStop pads on the Reynolds carbon rims, it takes a heartstopping 2-3 seconds before I regain my brakes in the wet, perhaps a second more than it does on aluminum rims. I've gotten into situations where I need to brake seriously hard in normal situations (like coming up to a light) because my standard braking didn't get me slowed down too much. Although I have doubted whether I'd stop in time, I never lost traction with the tires, and believe me, once the brake pads bit, I was on them 100%.

In the past I've used the Specialized Cipollini tires (cuts super easy), Michelin ProRace2s (cuts easiest, like wrapping paper under a box cutter knife, cut four in 2 weeks), Schwable Blizzards (named, I think, because you don't want to change a flat in a blizzard, but weighs a ton and has limited traction), Vittoria Rubinos (nice but nothing special, felt mushy), various Contis (tread hardens up like a rock, sidewalls get fuzzy), and I'm sure another tire or four. In the more distant past I used Michelin's ProComps and Comps, various kevlar belted tires, a slew of skinny Specialized tires, but those early generation clinchers paled in comparison to today's tires. And in today's clincher tire world, I think the Krylion rules for best overall tire.

The Krylions match top level traction with unquestionable durability. There is a small penalty in weight (perhaps 40 grams from a standard light tire, 80 grams from paper thin super-light tires), but as they say, to finish first you must first finish.

If you're looking for fast training tires that you would feel 100% comfortable racing, check out the Krylions.

Note: I bought these tires and was not paid or compensated or whatever by either Michelin or any distributor or seller of their tires. But if someone wants to pay me, I take check, cash, or PayPal :)


Mike said...

"Michelin ProRace2s (cuts easiest, like wrapping paper under a box cutter knife, cut four in 2 weeks)"

Interesting. I've been commuting on these tires for quite a while now and haven't really had any problems. I did have a run last year where I was flatting about once a week, but since then it's been all good.

I'll probably look at the krylions next time - there's a pretty substantial savings there over the proII's

Anonymous said...

You should see the flat spot on my rear tire from trainer riding, as it's pretty ridiculous. Then again, they are pretty crummy tires (Maxxis Fuse). I was debating between the Michelin lithion and the Vittoria Rubino's for a training tire, but I might just get another set of Michelin Krylions now. I have a set on my race wheels and I really like them.

I don't really like the idea of using 'good' tires on a trainer, but the price difference isn't enough to lose sleep over it. Besides I'll probably buy 2 new sets of tires once a year, if even.

-Young Rider

Aki said...

mike - Perhaps I had a bad patch, but when my friend and I both ride over the same stuff and I flat (twice on one ride!), I get suspicious. I also get curious what my friend is riding, and he basically had Krylion type Michelins. In the other series of flats my riding partner had some Vittorias.

YR - as far as cheap tires go, there are those out there. I count any nice but cut tire as a cheap tire... which means that my ProRace2s may be trainer tires :) I'm just amazed at how durable the Krylions are - today I realized the front tires still have the molding ridge in them (!).

Anonymous said...

Haha, possibly another reason to buy once.

Maybe I'll buy a campy rear wheel cassette to replace the shimano cassette and wheel on my otherwise campy bike.



-Young rider.

mattio said...

due to your mention of these a while back, i picked up a pair at a good price thanks to wholesale QBP access (swish). i put them on my track bike and have been quite pleased with them. they hold up to the city riding that i do in order to get to the track - much more so than ProRace2s, which did flat on me a whole lot on my track bike, and my road bike - i'd never put them on my commuter. nyc roads.

anyway, thanks for the recommendation.

ggajic said...

Have to agree with all you wrote. This is absolutely best tire.. No tire can match it.

Jake said...

I've been riding these ever since I read your recommendation. It seems they are becoming harder and harder to find. Do you have a source you can recommend or a recommendation for another tire?

Aki said...

Jake -

I don't have a good source at this time. I am currently riding Maxxis ReFuse tires, ones I bought at an LBS to try and help them out (got one set, it was good, so got a second). I've been on them for about two years now (mostly on one set). The Krylions were great but since I rode them on the trainer a good portion of the time and rarely raced on them I decided to experiment and try less fancy clinchers. If I raced regularly on clinchers I'd make an effort to find more of these.

I tried, and was not impressed with, the Bontrager tires (I don't remember which ones I got but they were orange/black). The rubber hardened up quickly and the tires felt incredibly slippery as soon as the road was damp. It's the tire I used in the 2010 Nutmeg State Games (a wet race, and I made a clip out of it).

Hope this helps although I don't feel very helpful here.

Jake said...

No worries. I'll give the Maxxis ReFuse a try. Thanks!

Aki said...

Just as a heads up the ReFuse is a significantly different tire. It feels much less supple. It's less of a durable race tire and more of a commuter/training tire.

Having said that it seems fine in the wet and I have no qualms riding it for short distances on dirt and such.