Tannus Tire Test Session—What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.
I was grateful when Tannus Tires allowed me the chance to review their tires, yet there were a few times I thought the test was dead. Not one to dwell on the negative (although possibly on some classic rock and roll), I will first (maybe) tell you the results of how they feel and ride on my vintage bike. If you don’t know already, Tannus Tires are air and flat free. They are solid as can be and are held to the rims with short flat plastic clips. They come in different sizes, colors, and some in different hardness compositions. They could be the answer for many that want to ride with no worry of flat tires on their bikes.
Some of all this might be familiar to you if following my video diary is on your radar. All those are linked at the bottom of this post and I suggest you watch them after reading along. This all started during the summer at a bike event when a friend (and reader) asked me how he could ride his bike without ever dealing with flats and air pumps. I had already gotten many inquiries about flat-free tires, yet this in-person encounter got me to thinking.
I started off by telling him many of the things I do to avoid the issues he was having. Thorn-resistant tubes, Slime and modern puncture-resistant tires go a long way to help with trouble-free biking, and don’t forget keeping your tires inflated correctly and doing your best to avoid road debris. Still, he wanted more. Through the years I have installed and tried solid tires or tubes on other people’s bikes. I can’t say I was ever impressed, and in some cases the owners wanted them removed almost as quickly as I had installed them. They just never seemed to be that worth having.
When our town did a demo day for our new bike share program, one company brought a bike with solid tires. It rode pretty nice I thought, yet that company didn’t get the nod, so the bikes our town now have are pneumatic tired. I never looked, yet I bet they were Tannus Tires. Tannus was the company I contacted about doing this test, and for all I know they are the only company offering such a product. I have been pleasantly surprised with they way they work with my bike.
The Tannus Tires I mounted ride firm, yet have some give similar to standard bike tires. They handle well, although don’t think the way I ride my vintage ten-speed is radically performance oriented. The tires seated perfectly and roll with no runout or wobble. The rolling resistance feels the same as the tires I had on it before, and the tires I used back when I was a kid riding bikes just like this one. I can’t say I feel any difference, good or bad. The only difference I can see is that I don’t have to air them up, carry a pump and spare tube, or worry about a puncture.
The story is that the larger cross-section tires will exhibit some softness or a feeling of extra slip angle when cornering. I had the chance to try other sized Tannus Tires out yet just didn’t follow through. As you can see from the photos and videos these are road tires that are pretty small in the cross-section department. All I can say is that if all these benefits interest you, give a set of Tannus Tires a try. I am glad I did.
My post title makes it sound like a real journey, yet I guess it wasn’t that bad. For most people and bikes these Tannus Tires should go on easily and quickly. For me that wasn’t the story, as it often the case. First up was my decision on which one of my bikes to mount them up to. Most of my bikes have awesome tires already, or the size selection of Tannus Tires didn’t match up. My 1960 Schwinn Continental had fresh tires yet I didn’t really like them, so that was my candidate. Two issues though, one it uses 27 inch tires and two, the rims on it were straight sided (not clinchers).
I have (had) a 80’s road bike with a bent frame as yard art, yet the wheels are very nice. With a bit of checking I found I could adapt them to my Schwinn, they were clinchers, and they had the correct inner rim spacing to match the tires. Another bonus here is that I was updating the bike to lighter aluminum rims (the old were steel) and these had quick-release attaching skewers. They told me the 700c Tannus Tires would work great on 27 inch rims, as they are very close to the same diameter. So I got a pair of 700 X 28c Road / Cross black Tannus Tires in the regular hardness compound designed for a 14mm to 16mm inner rim size made with the Aither 1.1 polymer compound from Cycle To Go (your US distributor) at Interbike this year. I was all set for the test.
I polished up the wheels and hubs, cleaned, lubed and adjusted the bearings, and trued and tensioned the spokes. I re-measured the rim inner spacing and chose the orange 17.5 mm installation clips using the included instructions. Installing the front tire went smooth as can be (check out the installation videos on their website). It was a sweet fit and the tire turned true. Alright I thought, halfway there, wrong I was.
I struggled a bit with the rear, probably pushing too hard to get the clips locked into the rim. As I was close, I spun the rim and found I had bent it. Time to rethink this. With a bit of doing I found a new rim that was a very close match and laced it up. A truing and tensioning session was next and then I was ready to try again. Luckily I hadn’t gotten all the clips locked in so the tire came off the rim with just one of the spots where the attaching clips go getting slight damage (not a problem I decided). This time I devised a new plan to install the tire without putting too much pressure on the whole rim (check the video and photos).
This new rim was a bit narrower so I found some soapy water worked good as a lubricant to make the side beads slide in nicely. On both installs I left the tire in the hot sun for a while to allow it to be more pliable, knowing that I would have to stretch the slightly smaller diameter tires onto the 27 inch rims. Success was mine and onto the bike they went. Like I said earlier in this post, I do believe most Tannus Tires will go on way easier than mine did without the issues, although in the future I will use my devised method of supporting the rim right under the point of the installing pressure.
So my journey is as much complete as it is just starting. The bike rides great with the new Tannus Tires. I have many miles to travel with my 55 year old friend, as its rubber has met the future. Other than the process, I couldn’t be happier with the results. I am enjoying the ride quality just as much of my lack of flat and maintenance concerns. If you see me on the the bike path with my Tannus Tire equipped vintage Schwinn, ask me to try them out, I just may say yes,
Have flats got you down? Not with Tannus Tires, Turbo Bob.
“Because, you know, I can’t work a bicycle pump.”—Judi Dench.
The Tannus Tires website and Facebook page
Your US distributor is Cycle To Go
Here are the series of videos on my Tannus Tire test
Plus I shot this video of the Cycle To Go booth at Interbike 2015