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Rain Tires?

by Moe

Tires

The other day it rained in Sunny Southern California. I was hesitant to ride my bike on the rain so I opted to drive. One of the reasons I was hesitant was due to the fear of losing traction on the rain slick streets. I ‘googled’ bike rain tires but the results were inconclusive. So, I’m turning to you, the hardcore commuters that ride on the rain, snow, sleet, etc.

What type of tire is best for riding on the rain?

 
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19 Responses to “Rain Tires?”

  1. Richard says:

    Are you riding on the road? If so the answer is the one on the left, Sheldon Brown’s already answered the question pretty well. Staying safe in the rain is all about keeping rubber on the road, you want the largest contact patch possible. Knobby tires remove a lot of rubber in an effort to grip loose dirt and gravel.

  2. Jay says:

    What type of tire is best for riding in the rain?

    Answer: The tires you currently have on the bike. Just slow down so you don’t have to make sudden stops from high speeds. Seriously, would you really consider changing out the tires every time it rained?

  3. RC says:

    I find tires with inverted treads work the best under the widest range of typical commuting surfaces including light snow/ice. They are nice for hard ashphalt because of the inverse tread, they also move water or mud out of the way effectively and provide reasonable grip on loose small gravel.

    Another plus is they wear very slowly which means they last forever!

  4. Nick says:

    If my slick 700x23s can grip in the rain, I’m sure whatever you have will be fine. Just be sure to steer clear of anything in the road made of metal – grates, manholes, plates, things like that. Those are slippery when wet.

  5. Dave C says:

    1 on Richard’s reply. Sheldon Brown has it right. I run the biggest slicks that will fit on my commuter’s wheel (700×37), rain or shine – works fine. But, there is no magic, wet roads are more slippery than dry ones. Be careful.

  6. Moe says:

    Although I wouldn\’t switch tires every time it rains, I do have several bikes with different types of tires. For example, I would have assumed that my Cyclocross bike equipped with Ritchey Cyclocross tires would be be the best bike for wet weather. Based on most your comments, the Raleigh One Way would be the bike of choice to ride on the rain, it is equipped with 700X35 tires and cool fenders.

  7. Nick says:

    Good choice, Moe. I give the One Way a vote because it’s fixed. Rim brakes take longer to slow and stop when wet, but using your drivetrain to decelerate works just as well wet as it does dry.

  8. Moe says:

    Good point Nick.

  9. eddy says:

    Since the tire issue is covered, I can only add that fenders are a must in the rain – unless you want that wet strip going up your back. Fenders also make your bike less appealing to thieves and, well, pretty much everybody else.

  10. Josh says:

    I second the fenders. I’ve been running 700×23 slicks on the street every day for a year through rain, snow and ice and have never had any trouble. Just slow down and make easy manuevers.

  11. hibiscusroto says:

    I recently picked up a pair of Michelin Transworld City tires and have had good results.

  12. Tarek says:

    I’m a big fan of the Kenda Kinption, which are big, fat, (26×2.30) and have a bunch of rubber on’em. They’re based on a bmx tread, and so are really nicely optimized for the street, and can take the numerous potholes here in Boston just fine…

  13. [...] *Asking our loyal readers about rain tires proved to me that I don’t really know everything, and I can’t use google for crap. Thanks to all of you that contributed, and yes, fenders rule! [...]

  14. SEAcarlessTTLE says:

    When it’s wet out (and commuting year-round in Seattle, I know wet), I think flat protection is as much an issue as grip. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I think I get more flats when it’s wet. My current pet theory is that little bits of glass, metal, and plastic stick to a wet tire more than a dry tire…more chances stick into and through your tire.

    I tried the reputedly indestructible Specialized Armadillo series tires for a while, but they seemed slippy on wet pavement and rode harsh. Now, I’m happily riding a Panaracer Pasela Tourguard in the back (also kevlar tread but no sidewall protection, foldable and light!). It hasn’t been 100% flat-free, but I like it a lot more overall. In the front, I’m trying a Vredestein Fortezza SE, one of those dual compound racing tires with softer rubber on the sides, supposedly for better cornering grip. (Okay, I *really* got them ’cause they were on sale and were blue and black!) It also has a reinforced tread, and it’s been flat-free for six months. Let’s see if it survives the rainy winter…

  15. SEAcarlessTTLE says:

    I rode in the rain exactly once without fenders. I got sick of my front tire throwing muddy water up in my face pretty fast… But it’s not just about you. Fenders also…

    - keep crud off the friends riding behind you
    - keep crud off your frame (well, better than nothing)

    I like Planet Bike’s Freddy Fenders…good product from a cool company.

  16. Warwick says:

    I’m not sure whether the issue is surface contact between wheel and road. One can usually be careful cornering.

    I think in the Rain that the biggest problem is the lack of friction between brake and wheel. One can usually be careful cornering but not always braking suddenly.

  17. Mark McTamany says:

    IMHO some tires to make a difference, as you can feel the ‘grip’ while cornering and such. During my 2 year stint as a courier in university, I found Panaracer Stradius tires to be very capable.

    The only downside would be that they wear a bit fast, although I didn’t scientifically measure wear time, the consensus (along with other users) were that you’d have to replace it every month or 2,000 miles.

    They also seem to be made a bit delicately, as I’ve experienced sidewall wear (fraying), and they seem a bit more prone to punctures. The punctures are remedied with tire liners, and for the ultimate, tire liners and ‘slime tubes’. Although this adds weight, if you need grippy tires that you don’t need to worry about, this is what we used. If you are a weekend rider, heed the advice of the previous posters, go slower, avoid anything metal in the streets, etc.

  18. Marte says:

    Well, in truth, Sheldon Brown is wrong concerning hydroplaning and stuff like those. I respect him but i disagree with him on this part. I read his article concerning tires choices. The reason for hydroplaning is that water and other liquids are incompressible matter which means that they act as a layer between the rubber and the road allowing the rubber to coast. So why do we have little channels in the tires? That is where the water is channeled as a result from the tire pressing down on the water allowing water to escape and thus the rubber contacting the road. Take flip flops for example. When a flip flops tread is gone they are very dangerous because they allow you to slide because water cannot go anywhere (no channels) and thus form a layer. In case you wonder what my credentials are to be such a know it all? well, i am a physics major for one. second, i lived a long time in philippines a tropical country where it rains every time the sky gets dark. and finally, i wear a lot of flip flops to know that thread makes a lot of differences.

  19. Rodrigo Dias says:

    Hi,
    I was told by a friend of mine that road tires should not actually have the hydroplaning issues that other tyres do.
    The reason for that is that the amount of pressure that is put into such a small amount of surface is strong enough to not create a layer of water underneath.

    Now, by experience, if go on tarmac, that may be, but tarmac has some roughness that allows the water to escape. Should you try to do this on smooth concrete and you probably find the same effects as going on top of metal and manholes.

    Therefore, the slippery surfaces are obviously the less roughed ones and for those, the amount of touching tyre surface is not important, but the channelling of the water layer.

    Different ground surfaces will produce different results so tarmac is now made out of bits of rubber as well so it provides extra grip, but old stone streets or polished marble and concrete will not be stable unless you give the water space for it to move away from the gripping areas of the surface of the tyre.

    Bottom line, drive slow on slippery and buy channelled tyres for extra protection.

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