Wednesday 16 March 2011

Kick stands and tyre pressures

Spanninga Easy 30 mm version
The kickstand failed on one of our rental bikes at the end of last year.

A bicycle which falls over unless leant on something is a nuisance, even just in storage, let alone in use. Leaning on brick walls causes damage to the bike. Other surfaces can be damaged by the bike. Therefore, I've replaced the broken part with our favourite type of single sided stand, the Spanninga Easy kick-stand. This is a long stand which is sturdy enough that it will support quite heavily laden bicycles safely.

Luckily, with most bikes, fitting a kickstand is an exceptionally easy job to do. It fits to the bracket provided as part of the frame, with one bolt just in front of the rear wheel, and just a single tool is required to do this - an 8 mm Allen Key.

The stand simply has to be held in position with one hand, while the bolt is done up with the other. It takes just a couple of minutes to do.

It's a good idea to put a little grease on the thread of the bolt so that it won't seize up over time, and to put some on the mechanism of the kickstand as well to make it run a bit smoother.
Most bikes use the "30 mm" version of the stand. Dimensions of both variants are in the web shop.

Bike with working kick-stand, so which no longer has to be leaned on something.

And now something about tyre pressure and tyre choice...

The bike in the photos above is fitted with the same tyres as I've currently got on my Mango for winter commuting - the Schwalbe Marathon Plus. The great advantage of these tyres is that they are virtually impossible to puncture. As a result, they're our choice for most of our bikes, most of the time. If you prefer riding to repairing punctures, these are the tyres to go for.

They're also quite fast tyres... but only if pumped up quite hard. I realised on Sunday morning that after months of riding the narrow Marathon Plus tyres on the front wheels of my Mango were well under the maximum recommended pressure of 6.5 bar ( 100 psi ). In fact, they'd got down to about 5 bar ( 75 psi ) which is low enough that they roll much worse. I'd been disappointed by my speed of late, but of course pumping the tyres up to the recommended pressure restored their previous performance.

It's one thing to have to stop and fix a puncture in the middle of the summer when it's warm and the sun is shining, but something else altogether in the winter when it's dark and cold. That's why I use them especially in the winter.

But now it's just about Spring... and Summer is around the corner. This time of year, punctures are less likely, and in any case I don't quite so much if I get them. Soon, I'll take the Marathon Plus tyres back off my Mango and replace them with something which is a little more fun to ride with. For everyday summer use, I intend to switch to the the Marathon Racer. They still have a puncture resistant layer, so punctures should at the least be rare in summer conditions, but it's a much thinner one making them lighter and faster rolling than the Marathon Plus. They're well suited for everyday riding.

For racing, I've a pair of only slightly worn in Continental Grand Prix tyres for the front, or perhaps Stelvio or Durano. These are all nice fast rolling, narrow, durable, puncture resistant and light weight tyres with decent grip on the road, and should work well combined with a Marathon Racer on the rear.

Repairing a puncture in a
Comp Pool which I fitted
to Judy's bike
However, I've also some more unusual tyres which I might use again, but only if the right opportunity presents itself: Three Avocet Fasgrip tyres. These are a real curate's egg of a tyre. They're fast, they're durable, but they have a magnetic attraction for sharp objects on the road so you get lots of punctures. The lightest sprinkling of rain results in no grip whatsoever, and even more punctures. I don't sell these. I don't think I could live with myself if I did. However, a colleague of mine at the Ligfietsgarage sold them to me personally (they don't sell them to the public either), describing them as "just like the Tioga Comp Pool". I should have taken this as a warning, but of course I'm a glutton for punishment so I instead took it as a recommendation. He was absolutely right. They really are just the same. I should have known what I was letting myself in for. But with both of these tyres there's a pay-off in the right conditions in that they do genuinely have low rolling resistance - so long, of course, as they're pumped up to their recommended pressures, plus a bit more if you're really daring... I raced with the Avocet tyres last year.

Tioga's Comp Pool is long out of production. I thought the Avocet was out of production too but it's still on the manufacturer's website. Occasionally someone comes out with a new tyre which is described as "just like the no longer available Tioga Comp Pool". Sensible people run away when this comparison is made... Speed without such compromises comes from the more sensible tyres which I mentioned earlier.


Zyzzyx said...

What's the general consensus over there for Schwalbe Kojaks for the velos? They seem to be an overall favorite on this side of the pond. I know I've found them a good mix of durability for commuting and reasonable speed for racing.

David Hembrow said...

Zyzzyx: The Kojak is also a great tyre. They come somewhere between tyres like the Marathon Racer and the Durano/Stelvio, both in durability and puncture resistance as well as in speed.

They're all a compromise in one sense or another - you have to pick your poison.

Principal Skinner said...

Reading this post made me suddenly desire a stand. However, the bike that I have is a hybrid and has no bracket to bolt a stand onto. Any suggestions? Here in Auckland it is hard to find decent 'normal' bikes and decent accessories to go with them.

David Hembrow said...

Principal Skinner: How about something like this. I have one like this fitted on an old bike of mine which has a broken mounting plate. It works well.

Unknown said...

Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres came as standard factory-equipped tyres on my Pashley Roadster Sovereign.

But mine are marked as 55-85 PSI.

Has Schwalbe changed their tyres?

Also, I remain rather sceptical about performance claims for lighter tyres. The weight savings is an insignificant percentage of the weight of cycle and rider. I suspect that any gain in performance is due to reasons of psychology rather than physics.

David Hembrow said...

Kevin, the wider versions run at lower pressures. That's normal for all types of tyre.

Low rolling resistance always makes you go faster. The Marathon Plus are not actually bad in this regard, for a general purpose tyre. If you want to get to work on time, they're a great choice because a slightly slower bike is a lot faster than one which has stopped for a puncture repair.

However, while they're good tyres, they're not fast tyres. Faster rolling, lighter tyres are an advantage and do make a difference if you are riding for speed. However, it matters much more for racing than for riding about town.

Also, it depends on your bike. For most riders on most bikes, rolling resistance differences are swamped by aerodynamic effects. They become more important when you make the bike more aerodynamic.

Principal Skinner said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I wonder if any local retailers sell them. Time to find out.

David Hembrow said...

Thanks a lot !

Unknown said...

I love the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres on my Pashley. I've never, ever got a puncture. I've never been late to work or anywhere else due to any kind of tyre problem.

The big 28" wheels soak up all kinds of bumps from our lousy roads here in Toronto. Big jealousy of your recent post on nice smooth Dutch roads.

The great thing about cycling to work is the absolute consistency of timing. The alternative is taking the subway, which has a 7.5 minute variation. It takes two trains to get to work, one on a five minute headway and the other on a 2.5 minute headway.

David Hembrow said...

Kevin: The consistency of cycling times is indeed excellent, and the reliability of the Marathon Plus tyres helps a lot with this consistency. However, I'd still recommend you get them right up to their maximum pressure. It seems to make quite a difference with those tyres.

Harry Lieben said...

David: I have called the producer of the Avocet and he said they were no longer being produced. I have no idea why the website has not been updated. It's been over a year ago.

Unknown said...


I do inflate them to their maximum recommended pressure. This also gives the benefit of less tyre wear.

Another thing that I have noticed is that the Schwalbe Marathon Plus keeps its air pressure very well. My previous tyres I had to inflate every week. With the Schwalbe, I check them every month, and there is little air loss.

Perhaps it is the tube that deserves the credit. All I know is that it is all factory original equipment and I'm a happy customer.

Pjotr320 said...

@Principal Skinner
You could of course have a look in David's webshop Dutchbikebits.....

Spip said...

Please check out Schwalbes website, they summarize a lot of topics, for example about the correct inflation pressure (