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Ramps and edges
Next rider - 10 seconds. 5 seconds. Beep, beep, BEEEEEP! You rip out of the start, flying down the first straight, pedalling for all you are worth into turn one. Then it's time to haul on the anchors and shut your rig down into the tight left hander.
While all this is going on, the rest of the race field are lined up at the start, watching the course down to turn one. The pressure is on and you want to perform your best. All your kit is pimped - but what about your tyres?!
Having spent £2000 on your bike and up to £40 per tyre, you need to maximise the work that those 2 square inches of rubber that contact the ground are doing for you. It's all you got to rely on.
The tyre should roll as fast as possible, saving all that latent power for the final finish line sprint (not blowing chunks on turn three) and it should hook up like velcro so you can brake as late as possible, saving fractions of a second and maintaining momentum.
The race scenario might be 'over the top' for 90% of riders, who probably don't race. Well, not officially, against the clock on a taped track. But you still compete - either with your mates or your own limits. Why make it hard for yourself?
Here's a top tip - and it aint rocket science! Ignore the markings on the sidewalls and use your common sense....
This way forwards...
Most tyre blocks, viewed from the side, have a saw tooth profile. The Michelin Comp 16 is a classic example. I call the two faces of this profile ramps and edges. The ramps allow the tyre to roll along smoothly. The edges hook up under braking.
Most tyres have this pattern. Check it out. Fit the tyre with the ramp on the front when looking down, as you would over the bars. This lets the front edge of the tyre hit the ground and roll up easily.
Run your tyre the other way and you have to climb or bump up each edge - using extra work - and the ramp has to do the gripping under braking, which it aint good at. It slips...
If you follow the advice on the Michelin tyre casing, for example, you get a tyre that neither rolls easily or hooks up under braking.
As always, there is an exception to every rule. Some tyres have no obvious direction - just fit and ride.
Sometimes, you may benefit from flipping the rear tyre. Deep mud, for example, may cause you to spin out the rear. If you need more pedalling traction then flip them. But be aware that plenty of people will be looking at you in the uplift queue!
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