(Disclaimer: The lawyers told me to inform the readers that this is not a sponsored product endorsement. I am not sponsored by any brand, manufacturer or other type of equipment company. I buy all of the gear, products and parts I review with my own monies. My reviews and opinions are solely my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GoMeansGo or any other sane people who may be reading this.)
Tires are probably the most expensive consumable in cycling…right behind massive quantities of micro-brewed IPA’s.
Historically, the cycling masses have been indoctrinated into thinking they need ultra thin, ultra skinny, ultra light racing tires on their road bikes, regardless of their riding style or environment. After all, we’re all aspiring to win the next Tour, despite the facts that we’re pushin’ 40 and just commuting to our soulless desk jobs at big corporations.
As a pleasantly plump pizza munching pedal pusher, I’ve always gravitated toward stuffing the largest tires I can fit into my road frames so as to avoid pinch flats.
In addition to being plus-sized, I rarely ride anyplace without a backpack on or bags attached to the bike.
Chunkbutt + variable amounts of cargo + Seattle potholes=Death to Tiny Tires.
Plus, I’m lazy.
I don’t like changing flats on the side of the road in the dark in the cold ass Pacific Northwest winter rain.
Hell, who am I kidding?
I don’t even like watching other people changing tires in a comfortable, well lit, climate-controlled environment. It makes me tired and a little hungry to boot.
SMALL TIRES SUCK!
My current road ride is a 2009 Raleigh One Way I inherited from my father…minus a few key pieces. The steel framed single speed is a descendant of Raleigh’s famed cyclocross racing frames with slack geometry and gobs of tire clearance. Since Dad didn’t ride it much, I acquired it last year with the stock, 5 year old Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires, size 700x35c. While I’ve had decent luck with Vittoria products over the years, I’ve always felt that the Randonnuer and Rando Cross tires were somewhat stiff and liked to let go without warning when hanging corners in the Seattle rain.
After losing a fair amount of skin to putting bikes down in the rain, I went shopping for new tires.
I knew I wanted to stay in the 35–38c range and I also wanted to try and find something with reflective sidewalls, which were my favorite feature of the Vittorias. I also wanted puncture protection, but not so much that it made the tread/cap area of the tire stiff and hard like a…well…like a pen is.
Enter the Michelin Protek. It appeared to have all of my requirements:
–The smallest size available is 28c
–The tires include a 1mm thick cap of super secret puncture resistance, rather than the 5mm thick band found on the higher-end Protek Max, so they’re pliable, like morals on a Friday night and not stiff like Brian Johnson’s upper lip.
–Michelin includes a reflective sidewall for safety at night, even on the low end Protek.
After putting 100 miles or so on them, I have to say that, initially, these tires are pretty awesome. I’ll post an update after I’ve run over a few thousand miles’ worth of road debris.
-At less than $40 a set, they’re affordable.
-1mm of puncture proTEKshun seems durable as well as supple. I ride on the east side of the Seattle metro area most days, where the road debris is swept into the bike lane and forgotten by the majority of population who’d
-The actual size of the tire is approximately 2mm larger than what’s printed on the sidewall (e.g. my 35’s measure about 37mm wide).
-Great all weather traction on the pavement. Decent traction on gravel roads. After all, this really is a road tire, so if you’re looking to run the Dirty Kanza, you’re going to need more cowbell than the Protek has to offer.
-The ride is smooth like a Cadillac. Luckily, they corner better than a Coupe de Ville.
– The actual size of the tire is approximately 2mm larger than what’s printed on the sidewall. This may raise clearance issues for some frames. The 35’s are so wide, in fact, that I can’t stuff a fully inflated tire into the rear of the One Way due to my own issues. My doctor says they’re all in my head, but I don’t believe it.
-Speaking of things that get into your head, while the V-shaped tread pattern of the Protek is great for hanging corners on wet roads, it begins to quietly hum at around 14-15 MPH. Unfortunately, the hum doesn’t go away as you go faster. It just changes pitch. If you ride by yourself often, after about an hour you’ll want to get drunk on absinthe and cut your own ears off ala Van Gogh.
-As is typical with most thicker city/trekking/touring tires, the beads on the Protek are THICK which means a healthy dose of words that begin with F and rhyme with “truck” when installing these babies. Once installed, they seat nicely though.
-These things are HEAVY like Norwegian death metal. The (claimed) 35c is 100 grams heavier per tire than the comparably sized stock Vittorias. To put 100 grams (3.5 oz) into perspective, it’s almost like adding a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder to each wheel. Normally, I’d say just skip lunch to make up the difference, but you can definitely feel the added rotational weight under acceleration. However, if you’re counting grams, you’re probably not shopping for fat trekking tires with puncture protection, and therefor, probably not reading this article.
-These tires aren’t what you’d call “stylish.” They don’t come in Bianchi green. You won’t find a pair to match your yellow jersey. They don’t come in skinny sizes like hipster jeans.
Not fashion accessories.