I recently had an experience involving a flat that restored my faith in Portland cyclists, and maybe in humanity itself. I was riding to work on my beloved Terry Symmetry, which is equipped with 26″ (559) wheels front and rear. While crossing the Tilikum Bridge, I experienced a flat, so pulled over to get out the tools needed to install a new tube. Unfortunately, the tube I was carrying would not hold air. As I contemplated my fate, thinking I would walk the bike, or take the Max train, a friendly cyclist rode up to ask me if I needed anything. I mentioned that my replacement tube was compromised, and she reached in her bag to offer her spare tube. Taking a quick gander at her bike, with its flat bars, I mistakenly assumed that she was riding 26 inch wheels. She rode off before I could even offer payment for the tube she supplied, and that is a favor I intend to pay forward. However, the 700c tube (622 mm) I had in my hand needed to go into my 559 mm rim. Well, it did.
I barely inflated it, and gingerly installed the Pasela TourGuard folder back onto the rim, and was reminded why I carry FOUR tire irons in my tool kit. The Paselas are a tight fit on these Mavic X221 rims, both on and off. While I was underway with getting the bike back on the road, using very low pressure for the too large tube, a nearby construction worker asked me whether flats are a common problem. To which I replied, no.
I have had more flats on my Terry, with its Pasela Tourguards than on any other tires I ride, but that is too say only once every year or two. Even so, as I was thinking about the fact that the only tires I ever have flats on are these Paselas on the Terry, maybe it was time to consider something different.
Based on Georgena Terry’s recommendation, I ordered a set of Compass Elk Pass tires. As you can see above, these tires have no tread at all, and have a kind of cross-hatch pattern on the very flexible side wall. The logo is understated relative to the Pasela’s. Both tires are made by Panasonic.
I was hoping that the Elk Pass tires would be at least as wide as the Pasela’s, but that was not that case. The Elk Pass tires mounted at a little over 28mm on the Mavic rims, whereas the Paselas are a little over 30 mm in width. Both tires are marketed as 32 mm tires. I suspect that the Elk Pass tires will widen over time, but probably they will never be 32mm on my rims.
I also questioned my sanity when I read this warning on the Elk Pass packaging: “This tire is made of very sensitive material. Never use the tire when you drive on unpaved road, mountain trail and waste land. Please be careful of flat tire due to side wall cutting by fallen rocks…” Hmmm…are these tires so delicate that commuting on them will rip them to shreds? I am not sure, and hope that this is just a wacky result of over zealous product liability advisors.
Now that I have the Elk Pass tires mounted, which involved over-inflating them so that they would seat properly on the rims, then bringing the pressure back down, I am going to test them out on my Portland commute, which includes occasional rough roads and some gravel riding. I will follow up with a second post once I’ve ridden these tires for a few hundred miles. As far as tire pressure goes, I am going to start with 70 psi rear and 60 psi front, which is the tire pressure I have used on the Pasela’s. We will see how that goes.