My Air Free Tires finally arrived at the house today. I ordered them on July 18th and it took some time to get here. “Better late than never,” I thought as I cracked open the box. I’ve been looking forward these solid tires after having suffered through several flats during and following the Death Ride. Felix has been using Air Free Tires on his commuter bike with some success, so I said, “Why not?” I won’t have to worry about flats anymore with them, which means no more carrying tubes, tire irons, and bike pumps. I paid $50 for a pair of Daytona TT Air Free Tires. They have an effective 120 psi rating. The cost of the tires are cheaper than a pair of Michelin Pro Race tires with tubes.
Installation was fairly easy, though I did need another person’s help to hold the wheel while I pull the rest of the tire onto the rim. The 700-20 Daytona TT Air Free Tires snapped into place onto my aging Mavic Helium wheelset. I noticed that, with some effort, I could peel the tire off of the rim. I was somewhat concerned that a fast descent or sharp cornering might cause an accident with these tires. There’s no way to find out except by testing, so I went off for a 30-mile ride up Highway 9 in Saratoga. It was about seven miles from my house to the base of the climb. One of the first things that I noticed was a perceived sense of increased rolling resistance. It could have been that Saratoga Avenue heading west is ever so slightly inclined, or it could have been the tires. I felt like at a given gear, I had to pedal harder to go at a reasonable speed. Then again, it also could be my couch potato lifestyle since finishing the Death Ride!
The climb up Highway 9 was as painful as ever. My heart rate was in the mid-180s throughout the entire climb, and I averaged about 6.5 mph. I finished the ascent in under 55 minutes. My rear derailleur has been bugging me since the Death Ride. It won’t go into the easiest gear, which meant I was primarily using the 34-23. Having the 34-25 probably would have made me go slower, but it would have been just a bit more comfortable on the knees.
As for the descent, my concerns about the tires peeling off were allayed as I descended at 30+ mph. I wasn’t a maniac like on the frontside of Ebbets Pass, but I wasn’t purposefully holding back either. The bike felt pretty stable throughout the whole descent. My top speed going down Highway 9 was about 43 mph. This was the first time that I’ve ridden the climb with a working cyclometer, so I unfortunately do not have a reference point for my clincher tires.
Since the ride back home was slightly downhill, I was averaging around 21 mph. I still felt like I was going slower than normal. Again, it could have been fitness or the tires. I’ll have more to say after a few more rides. My initial impressions with the Air Free Tires are encouraging, however. I’m certainly no racer, so even if the tires have a slight negative impact on my top end riding speed, I won’t mind too much. If I feel the need for speed, I can always put my Michelin Pro Races back on.
On a side note, on the way back home, someone in a car threw a plastic bottle at me! I have no idea why they would do that, but come on… that’s really juvenile!