3 Ways to Ride Flat Free in Bad Weather

It’s no secret that here in California we’re spoiled in regards to weather. The ability to even be able to ride this time of year is a privilege. I think however, that our inexperience with the weather has some what scared us out of riding when it turns foul. Not I however! This fearless blogger has now braved 4 days of rain soaked riding and many more where the roads were significantly wet; it would’ve been more, but again, it’s California. I’ve learned a few things while hammering in the rain that may come in handy should you ever choose to ride regardless of the weather.

Check your tires after every wet ride

Water is an interesting substance. When forced between bicycle rubber and pavement, it tends to grab every piece of debris (small rocks, glass, splinters, etc.) in the road, pick it up and swing it around the tire so that you run over it every revolution of the wheel. This has an especially degrading effect on your tire, as you can imagine. When it’s not raining, tires tend to not pick up the debris, but watch out when it is. I learned that it’s a great idea to check your tires after every wet ride. Go over them with a pair of tweezers to pull out anything that may cause a flat next time you go out. You may be surprised at what you find. I personally have discovered that not all tires are suited to the wet weather. My first ride out in the rain on my stock Specialized Mondo Pro IIs rewarded me with a flat rear tire. My second rain ride resulted in the same and a significant hole in the tire.

Some road debris lodged in my tire after my first rain ride

Some road debris lodged in my tire after my first rain ride

To the left are some examples of the debris I found in my tire after my first ride out. You’ll notice that each is a different substance – a rock, a piece of glass, and a metal shard. I actually found much more but these were the biggest examples. I put them on a sticky note for reference. As you can see, it’s a very good idea to check your tires after every wet whether ride.

Get a Set of Rain Worthy Tires

After my second flat I decided to upgrade to a good set of rain worthy tires. I called around and Vittoria was happy to let me try out a set of Open Pavé CG’s. If that sounds unfamiliar to you, think Paris Roubaix. Since 1978, 16 Paris Roubaixs have been won on Pavé Evo CGs – the most recent victory coming in 2007 by Stuart O’ Grady with CSC, shown below. The tire is designed specifically for the slippery cobbles and wet weather that characterizes the Hell of the North. It’s easily identified from all other tires by it’s trade mark green stripe which also separates it from any other tire in Vittoria’s line.

O' Grady on his way to Roubaix victory

O' Grady on his way to Roubaix victory

It’s easy to mistake the Open Pavé Evo CG for a Corsa Evo CX, but beyond it’s skin, the Pavé Evo CG is an entirely different animal. Starting with the casing, it has a true 320 tpi casing where 80% is polycotton and the other 20% is Kevlar, making it one of the strongest casings on the market. It also only comes in one size, 700x24c. The larger volume helps the tire absorb more of the pavés ( for those who aren’t fluent in French, Pavé means “paving stone” hence the name) or any other road condition you may encounter. For 2010, the tread design is slightly different also, with the chevron blocks being slightly taller than on a Corsa Evo. The tire also employs Vittoria’s PRB 2.0 which is a strip of material under the tread that increases puncture resistance by 40% over the older versions. The question now is did it live up to the hype? I answer that with a resounding yes! Having just gotten off the Specialized tires, I had a great standard to compare the Pavé Evos to.

Unlike my Mondo Pro IIs, the Pavé Evos don’t pick up water nearly as much. I don’t know how but my guess is it has something to do with the tread pattern. Because of this, the tires haven’t seemed to pick any road debris and thus after 5 or 6 wet rides, I still haven’t had a flat. In fact, my tires still look almost new, with virtually no slits or tears in the tread. This is the biggest difference; other than the fact that I still haven’t gotten a flat, the tires grip well and the 24c size combined with such a high tpi count is heavenly to ride on. Pavé Evo CGs are fast and smooth. Lastly, as with all Vittoria Open tubulars, you really get the sense that you’re installing a nice tire. Many tires give the impression that they shouldn’t cost as much as they do, but Vittoria’s handmade tires look the part. You instantly recognize the 320 tpi handmade difference just looking at the inside of the tire. Open Pavé Evo CGs will soon be available from us here at Arts. We wanted to make sure they worked before we sold them to you, and they most definitely do.  In the mean time Continental Ultra Gatorskins are the standard for wet weather performance, and Vittoria’s Rubino Tech is also a wet weather champion.

My last little bit of wet weather advice is get a good set of fenders. I’ve learned this one the hard way. I’ve got some SKS Raceblades which are light, easy to mount and keep the water off my back and bike. What more could you want? Now get off the trainer and get out there!

Hammer On