Giant TCR Rear Wheel Clearance. Send In The Drone.

Rolling-Resistance-Conti-571x440Like reading a great novel, watching a great movie, all good things must come to an end. I’m riding early AM the other day before the heat, rain and skeeters when I hit something sharp and flatted my already marginal rear tire.  We’ve had a long run, it happens and I’ve gotten good at fixing a flat, I’m prepared. I have my spoon, tube and air. It takes me about five minutes to fix a flat if I’m by myself and about twenty if I have help. Within minutes I’m back on but I’m heading back to the barn because now I’m riding naked. I still have a can of air but I no longer have a tube. Like I said, the tire is marginal. Plus I haven’t had breakfast yet and I can smell the Dutch chocolate mango protein shake that awaits. Nectar of the gods.

Those of us who ride a lot tend to zero in on things we like such as tires. I ride Continental 4000’s and they work for me and while  there are other comparable brands out there I’ve settled. Don’t wish to argue the point with you. Not only do I get great mileage out them, 5000M+ for the rear, umpteen thousand on the front, under normal conditions I can go long  between punctures. I run them between 105 and 110 psi which gives them a more supple feel. No I don’t know why bicycle tires cost so much. You could probably make 50 bicycle tires out of 1 pickup truck tire. Actually I do know why. They have em and we want em. Thus endith my bicycle tire love story.

I’ve been thinking for awhile about bumping up the tire width on the TCR, going from a 23 to a 25 mm. The upside, while slight, is less rolling resistance which you can read all about thanks to an article posted by Bicycle Rolling Resistance. They appear to have done their homework. Something about the short wide contact patch vs the long narrow contact patch illustrated nicely by Continental above. The trade off is weight and aerodynamics. The 25 mm is 20 grams heavier than the 23, equal to about 1 sip of water, give me a break. I’m not intimidated by the increase in aero drag either. I know I’m a little thick headed, ignorant, just ask my wife, but I do get it. When moving forward into an atmosphere, not a vacuum, a turbulence, or dirty air, is created and a more aerodynamic shape will better cheat, deflect, this disturbance. Aerodynamics are sweet indeed when faced with a mighty head wind as well but come on! On most of my rides the wind is off to one side or the other, cross breezes. Then there’s the tail wind, no help from aerodynamics there. The least aero thing on my bike is me and I’m not getting any smaller, (wider me is better). I can feel the love coming from all the TT riders out there right about now, riding on their 80 mm disc and bladed spokes. I’m sorry………I ride 35 mm disc and the cross winds have actually picked me up and moved me. And besides, the oval shaped spokes are the most all around aero, a subject for another day. Don’t hate me, I’m just a simple minded road biker which you already knew and I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Then there’s the gravel grinder rides that are becoming more and more popular. Not mountain bike or cycle cross, just adding some gravel roads to the road course while riding your road bike. There happens to be miles and miles of it around here, a whole new world to be explored. 23 mm just don’t cut it. 25 will definitely improve the handling especially going into those soft corners. Add reduced tire pressure to the mix and Wha laa….. a softer ride for me bum. Seems to be the ticket according to friends who seek out the gravel more than yours truly, but I aspire to. Wouldn’t mind having a sweet old Reynolds tube steel bike just for the gravel. Maybe add a Lemond to the stable.

conti 23BUT……………..here’s the heart of this matter, the rub, the crust of the biscuit.   Will the 700/25 fit my Giant TCR medium frame? It appears that it will but looks can be deceiving. I’ve no doubt about the front but with a 23 on the rear there’s only about a 1/4″ of wiggle room at the bottom of the seat tube. The* TCR is a compact frame with a short wheelbase arrived at by shorter chain stays. This geometry makes the TCR what it is. The bike is stiff and responds immediately if not sooner to the whip, loves to sprint and climb. My strength and ability are the weakest link on this bike, I’m holding it back. I ride the medium frame which is going to be smaller than their M/L frame for example so who knows. Giant is silent. SURPRISE. Even the internet doesn’t know. Anecdotal and opinion pieces run reckless abandon on the net and I dismiss them all. Giant puts their name on tires and they do offer a 700/25 and so I’m encouraged. Team Giant Alpecin ride the wider 25 mm tires on the TCR and so they should fit……….right! What’s the worst that could happen! I may have to send it back. I may have to install/remove the wheel before/after deflating.

Okay so I pulled the trigger and have a 25 mm coming my way. I’m hoping a drone drops it off. I’d love to see that. Actually when drones start showing up at the door I’m gonna start having my morning coffee delivered that way. Have an app. on the phone to order my mug of 8 O’clock Colombian blend, black, served at a perfect 175 degrees F followed by getting a text saying it’s on the way. What am I saying, a tweet, yes a tweet giving me a heads up. Talk about useful technology. Question? How much do you tip the drone? The days coming people. Valerie and I were at the Olive Garden just recently and they have the thing on the table that you can use to place your order and pay the bill. We ordered our meal traditionally but the server wanted us to pay the bill using the thing which we did. I love the Olive Garden don’t you! Never leave hungry even if it’s just the bread sticks and salad. Anywho…….it’s just a matter of time before the server is a drone and you’ll be faced with the same dilemma. What does one tip a drone? What does the drone need with money? No worries about the poor human server being replaced by a drone. Each drone will require a programmer and a mechanic and so there will be an actual increase in employment opportunities for ITT Tech. grads. 2 for 1. Real progress. But of course management will want the mechanic to also do the programming and so it’ll actually be 1 for 1, a wash. Until of course the drone is serviced by another drone. Think this through with me. Will the day come when I can have my bike serviced by a drone? Maybe the drone can find that irritating clicking noise that until now NO HUMAN CAN!!!

It’s now Tuesday 7/28/15 and I’m still waiting for the new tire. WTF! (Where’s The Freight?) I got an email from the supplier saying it was to arrive on the 27th via USPS but……it was a no show. This has to be a human error. No self respecting drone would say one thing and then do another.23-25

differnt wheelThe tire made it, a day late, but no drone to be seen anywhere. The top picture shows that the 25 has plenty of room on the rear when mounted on my 30 mm rim but a good 1/16th” less  when mounted on my 35 mm rim, bottom photo. Less but enough.

Conclusion: My contribution to all of this is only to show that while the Continental 4000 25 mm clincher fits my Giant TCR medium frame the clearance varies depending on the wheel. You may want to try things on at the bike shop before spending a lot of money on deep disc aero wheels if you wish to run 25 mm tires.  Most of the real useful information here is provided by Bicycle Rolling Resistance and Continental Tires, they have done the heavy lifting.  Any bios towards Continental tires is my own. Bicycle Rolling Resistance tested most of the brands I’m familiar with and a couple of Schwabe tires have less rolling resistance. After couple of road rides on the 25 mm tire I have noticed nothing. No eureka moments, no epiphany of any kind, as I expected. When it comes to RR, running wider tires at lower pressure being equal to narrower tires at higher pressure appeals to me. I like the supple feel and less bouncing on the roubaix.

SAFETY TIP: Riding early mornings means riding with blinkers. When I flatted last week I had to work on the shoulder of the road and while traffic was light I used my rear blinker like a road flare. I set it on the ground near the outside of the shoulder where hopefully the motorist would see it.

Related: Resistance is futile.

*Published 2013

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