In spite of expensive ‘puncture resistant tyres’, regular ‘pinch-flats’ from potholes were ruining my ride – so I gave solid tyres a go.
I ride a bike regularly to get places, usually on journeys of 2-10km, often with panniers full of shopping, work or sports equipment. Sadly most of the road-shoulders and bike lanes I ride on are full of potholes, crumbling bitumen or debris. So my tyre tubes were taking a pounding and split. My short trip home from the surf club or footie turns into a long, miserable walk pushing the bike home at night.
I decided to ignore the warnings of bike shop staff, import solid tyres and put up with their grumbling to get them fitted. To fit solid tyres you will need 2 people, and some types need to be warmed up to stretch over the rim.
So what are they like to ride on?
On the short ride home from touch football I was thrilled – no more flats! The bike handles a bit differently – it feels a bit ‘heavy’ and more of the bumps pass through to the rider. But this potholed route is so bad I have to rise out of the saddle fairly often anyhow – so it made little difference. I did not mind the compliments on how they looked either.
The hilly 18km ride to work was a different matter. I’m a commuter not a sport rider, so I’ve never set speed records, but I would estimate the tyres added 20 minutes extra to my journey.
When selecting gears I was often 2 gears lower than usual, and the ride felt tougher than normal. The agility of the bike turning corners or navigating hair-pin bends to cross road bridges seemed to be the same as with ordinary tyres.
I was warned at the bike shop that these tyres would cause an accident, but I am not convinced. Handling issues may be different in wet weather, but otherwise they seem the same.
Will I keep them on?
Yes. Most of my journeys are short and I need to be able to rely on my bike actually working. (I really hate punctures)
I chose an inexpensive set as an experiment, but other types may have better environmental credentials, fitting requirements, or do a better job. Try a quick google search for solid tyres if you want to try them yourself.