Car Less Ohio

Promoting the bicycling lifestyle in The Buckeye State

Monthly Archives: April 2011

Product Review: Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3 Tires


I use an Xtracycle cargo for most of my bike commuting and errands. Last year, I experimented with using the Xtracycle attachment on an old hybrid bike frame that uses 700C wheels. The Xtracycle is designed for 26-inch wheels, but it can be made to work with 700C wheels. It won’t work with 29er tires. I ended up using a Schwalbe Marathon 700×32, and it worked well with just enough clearance within the Xtracycle frame. You can read more details about this setup in the post I did for it on my company’s blog.

Something about a cargo bike, though, just demands the confidence-inspiring look and feel of a nice, fat tire. Earlier this year, I decided to put the Xtracycle back on my old Diamondback Zetec Comp mountain bike frame, and I set about looking for a pair of worthy tires. My first thought was the Schwalbe Big Apple 26×2.35, but I came across the Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3, and decided to give them a try instead.

The Michelin Pilot Sport is a bit of an anomaly in the bike part world–a 26-inch, extra-wide tire with a smooth tread and a lightweight folding bead. The advertised weight is 725 grams each. The actual weight is always more than what is advertised for bike parts; I did weight one of them to see how the actual weight stacked up, but all I recall at this point is that it was close enough to have nothing to complain about. The tires mounted easily to my rims.

The tread is reinforced with Protek HD for durability and puncture-resistance, but I have to confess that I am “cheating” a bit by using thorn-resistant tubes, which probably negates the light weight benefit of the tires. I don’t tend to have a lot of problems with flats (knock wood), but I’ve had one flat on the rear tire of my Xtracycle in the past, and it’s a real pain to deal with, so I figured it’s worth the extra weight to minimize this possibility in the future.

The Michelin Pilot Sport tires didn’t disappoint me with the stout look and feel that I was hoping for. They’ll take up to 58psi, which doesn’t sound like a lot for a tire meant for pavement, but the smooth tread combined with the high air volume provides just the right balance of zippyness and cushion that you want in a utility bike. The tread is quiet and doesn’t feel like it’s dragging you down. The grip is excellent; even with a load of groceries, I feel like I can lean into corners with confidence. There is a reflective stripe on the sidewalls for a little extra safety.

I’ve been using the Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3 tires for about a month now in the wide range of conditions that Northeast Ohio weather has blessed us with–dry, rain, snow; mostly on pavement, but occasionally on gravel and dirt trails. I highly recommend them for anyone looking for a fat, comfortable, yet efficient tire. If you don’t have a cargo bike, they’d be excellent for converting an old mountain bike into a commuter bike, or as replacement tires on an old beach cruiser.

The suggested retail price of the Michelin Pilot Sport 26×2.3 tire is $49.99. It’s not an item you’re likely to find in stock at most bike shops, but ask if they can special-order them for you. If you’re looking for something similar at a more economical price, try the Serfas Drifter 26×2.0 tires for about $32 each–they are what I used on this bike previously, with great success.

A perfect storm of tagging

This morning, I did a quick 5-mile ride around a loop consisting of some local neighborhood streets and two local bike/hike trails, the Old Hickory Trail and the Center Valley Trail. The weather was perfect for a nice, long ride, but due to other plans, I had limited time to ride, and got this ride in to continue my participation in the 30 Days of Biking challenge.

A geographically-dispersed group of software developers, known as Automattic, are the people behind the platform known as WordPress.com, which this blog uses. They’ve planned an event, dubbed the Automattic Worldwide WP 5K, encouraging all of their staff to run, walk, or bike at least 5 kilometers today. Other WordPress bloggers and any other interested friends were invited to participate. My ride today qualifies as my contribution to the worldwide effort.

Another WordPress.com promotion started at the beginning of this year, and was aimed at getting bloggers to blog more often. I’ve been trying to participate in “Post-A-Week 2011″ and have been successful so far, although some more ambitious bloggers are doing “Post-A-Day 2011.” This post lets me mark off the notch for this week early for a change.

Ohio Bike Trails in the News

The long-awaited arrival of spring weather in Ohio has been accompanied by several recent articles in the news that have given many suggestions and encouragement for cyclists to get out and ride. Here are just a few.

A Mansfield News Journal columnist talks up his favorite bike trails in the Central and North-Central regions: http://bit.ly/ie6NsY

A Dayton Daily News story highlights the many bike trails in the Miami Valley region: http://bit.ly/gWu0p0

The Dayton Business Journal notes how the availability of trails and other facilities has made bike commuting a popular and viable option for many in the city: http://bit.ly/gAVD6U

An internal Defense Department article describes the daily bicycle commuting regimen of one of their Cleveland staff: http://bit.ly/hbF5J5

Several Yahoo! Sports contributors offered suggestions for trails and routes for riders of all types in and around Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland notes how it was likely the good weather, and not so much the continued availability of park staff, that brought cyclists and other trail users out in Cuyahoga Valley National Park gets its day in the sun after federal budget crisis solvedhttp://bit.ly/icKHHl

Take the 30 Days of Biking Challenge

Hopefully, you’ve heard about this already, because if you didn’t start yesterday, it’s too late to join the worldwide movement and sign up to ride every day for 30 days! Why? Just to prove you can! To motivate yourself to ride more this year! To motivate your friends and neighbors to ride more! Just for fun!

All you have to do is ride your bike every day in April. It doesn’t matter how much you ride each day–do a short spin around the block just for the sake of riding! If you can ride to work or school, do a long training ride or group ride, all the better!

Sign up to let the world know that you’re in: just go towww.30daysofbiking.com and fill out the online form. If you use Twitter or other social media, post daily updates on your daily biking experiences. Use the hashtag #30daysofbiking to automatically include your updates in the worldwide feed! Also, see the 30 Days of Biking page on Facebook!

Yesterday, I got started in the spirit of “around the block just for the sake of riding” by taking a short break during work to test-ride the Raleigh XXIX singlespeed mountain bike with belt drive. Today, I took a road loop on the Surly Cross-Check around Twinsburg, Aurora, and Bainbridge Township, for a total of 26.5 miles. I plan to ride to work tomorrow, so I’m off to a good start on the 30 days.

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