How To Choose The Best Tire Tread?
For cycling enthusiasts, perhaps the most important parts of the bike are the tires. The tires keep our bikes going and enable us to travel to wherever we want to go. And if you love bikes as much as I do, then you would also agree that choosing the best tire tread for your bike is extremely essential.
Which Tire Tread is Right for Your Bike?
Basically, the tire tread is the part of the bike that makes contact with the ground or the road. Most tire treads are made by combining natural rubber with materials such as carbon black, Kevlar, and silicon. Through frequent use, tire treads become worn, proving less traction on the ground and eventually needing to be replaced or retreaded.
What are Tire Tread Patterns?
What makes each tire tread unique is its pattern. Tire tread patterns are generally designed for either on-road usage or off-road usage.
If you are planning to ride your bike mostly on the road, then your tire treads don’t really require any specific feature patterns. In fact, the best bikes are actually able to run on roads smoothly even without treads on their tires.
On the other hand, if you plan to go biking off the road, then tire treads are absolutely necessary. This is because tire treads have knobs that connect firmly to the ground, providing good traction and a strong grip. Without these treads, your bike is in danger of slipping or getting out of control, especially on damp surfaces.
As you can see, choosing the tire tread for your bike depends greatly on the kind of surface that you will be riding mostly on. For biking on different kinds of surfaces, your bike tires could either be slick, semi-slick, inverted, or knobby.
If you ride your bike to work regularly, then slick bike tires are what you need. These are designed specifically for biking on smooth surfaces, such as city streets and roads, even on a rainy day. As the term suggests, slick tire treads appear smooth and their patterns are almost invisible to the eyes.
Meanwhile, if you ride your bike mostly on city streets, but like to go off-road once in a while, then semi-slick bike tires are for you. The main feature of these tires is a smooth center, which allows you to accelerate quickly. At the same time, the treads on its sides still enables you to have a firm grip when changing directions and riding on corners.
For those of you who are thinking about biking off the road, or at least venturing on pothole-ridden tracks, then you should have inverted tread tires. This kind of tire treads are designed for a stronger grip as well as greater rolling traction.
If you are into trail biking and often encounter various kinds of surfaces, then you should consider getting knobby tires. These contain tall knobs that provide traction when riding on rocks and roots, and small knobs that work on smooth surfaces. These tires also tend to be wider, which is suitable for damp trail conditions.
What Kind of Design Suits Your Style?
When it comes to knobs or lugs, there is a wide variety of designs to choose from, depending on your riding style. For instance, small knobs that are spaced tightly provide a modest traction with low resistance -- meaning greater speed. Meanwhile, big knobs that are spaced widely are able to work on soft and muddy surfaces.
There are also knobs that slant to the back and provide lower resistance, allowing you to ride faster. These are also known as ramped knobs or lugs. Side knobs, on the other hand, are designed for firmer grip when riding corners.
Moreover, there are transition knobs, which are situated between the side and central knobs. As the word implies, they help provide a smoother transition as you turn corners. If you look closely, you might also see sipes, or slits within the knobs, which allow for greater grip on smooth surfaces.
What Else Should You Look for?
Aside from looking at tread patterns and knobs, another thing that you should consider when selecting mountain bike tires is whether they are for front-wheel or rear-wheel use. Take note that front tires are typically designed for front-end grip, particularly when turning corners. Meanwhile, rear tires are made for controlling the rear wheel as well as providing efficient power transmission.
For road bike users, the process is less complicated because the front and rear tire treads are usually sold as a set. These kinds of treads are not as varied as mountain bike treads, as they are generally designed for providing traction on irregularities in city roads. In any case, be sure that the treads are mounted in the right direction and check for arrows indicating the proper rotation direction.
Why are Tire Treads Important?
In trying to decide what tire tread is best for you, it is worth considering the basic functions of tires in the first place. Always remember that the tires are designed to support weight, absorb road “shocks,” provide traction, and modify the travel direction.
Regardless of the kind of bike treads you have, tires should be able to support your body weight as well as the weight of the bike itself. Without this basic function, your tires would not be able to stand properly, let alone run smoothly.
In addition, your bike tires should be capable of absorbing “shocks” on the road. No matter where you ride, you are bound to run into potholes, humps, and other irregularities along the path. A good set of tires would allow you to face these things head on.
Bike tires should also be able to provide adequate traction, no matter what kind of terrain you plan to travel on. Without traction or resistance, you would be in danger of slipping and getting out of control of your bike.
What’s more, bike tires are designed to be able to modify your direction of travel. If not for this fundamental purpose, you would not be able to steer your bike to wherever you want to go.
Ultimately, choosing the best tire tread for your bike highly depends on your location and the kind of riding that you plan to do. Consider whether you plan to use it for traveling to your workplace, riding on off-road tracks, or somewhere in between. This way, you would be able to select the tire tread patterns and designs that match your riding style perfectly.