20 June 2012

What tires and wheels do the pros use?

Wheels, tires and the importance of pressure

2013 Updates:

To see a list of the what bikes, components, wheels and tires the pros will use in 2013, please go to: ProTeam Equipment 2013 - Bikes, Components, Wheels, Tires

To see a list of the what pedals, saddles, clothing and helmets the pros will use in 2013, please go to: ProTeam Equipment 2013 - Pedals, Saddles, Clothing, Helmets

Recommended reading today comes from Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly.

Bicycle Quarterly: Performance of Tires

We've all had the casual conversation with our ride partners while out on a ride - how much air pressure do you fill your tires to? The onslaught of opinions easily follows typically beginning with "I always...," or "So-and-so said... ," I walk away more confused than ever. This blog post by Off The Beaten Path makes sense. Wider softer construction with lower PSI within the recommended tire pressure rolls faster.

The other day I was out riding in a nearby mountain town and a local began admiring my bike. "Wow that bike sure looks nice," he began, "What is it like to ride? Those tires sure look fragile, can you roll over this dirt if you want, or will they pop?" Pop? Pop is one word I had never thought of to describe my wheels. To me, my Reynolds wheels and Vittoria tires feel solid and reliable. The gentleman told me he hadn't been on a bike "like that" since his first Schwinn bike he had as a child. I explained that he would probably first notice how far forward his body would feel over the front wheel but that the wheels would be quite sturdy. He smiled and before departing said "maybe I'll get a bike again."

(I probably should have recommended this video)

Wheels - they are what makes cycling go round and round   Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen

Here is a list of the wheel and tire sponsorships for the UCI ProTeams, please keep in mind that as Nick Legan of VeloNews writes, "Wheels are one area where a lot of rebranding occurs." Sometimes riders have a preference for riding certain wheels and will disregard the team sponsorship. Often wheel sponsorship is loose and teams will ride whatever is fastest or best suited for the parcours of the day. Some wheel changes can be blatant by simply putting on a different wheelset, or teams will go to the trouble of taping over the brand logo. Some will rebrand the wheels with the team name rather than showing the true manufacturer.

Still I was curious to see how wheel and tire sponsorships are spread out across the teams, so I put together this concise table. No one uses a Reynolds / Vittoria combo like I do, but I was surprised at the variety.

2012 list of professional ProTeam tires and wheels:

 PROTEAM                                             WHEELS  TIRES     |     other brands used for TT or spring classics
ASTANA PRO TEAM (KAZ) Corima Specialized      Ambrosio, Veloflex           
AG2R LA MONDIALE (FRA) Reynolds Michelin                               
BMC RACING TEAM (USA) Easton Continental       
EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI (ESP) Shimano Vittoria              Pro
FDJ-BIGMAT (FRA) Shimano Hutchinson       Pro                
GARMIN-BARRACUDA (USA) Mavic Mavic               Veloflex
KATUSHA TEAM RUS) Mavic Mavic             
LAMPRE – ISD (ITA) Fulcrum Vittoria              Ambrosio      
LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE (ITA) Mavic Mavic             
LOTTO-BELISOL (BEL) Campagnolo Continental   
MOVISTAR TEAM (ESP) Campagnolo Continental   
OMEGA PHARMA-QUICKSTEP (BEL) Zipp  Specialized       Zipp, FMB
ORICA-GREENEDGE  (AUS) Shiimano Continental    
RABOBANK CYCLING TEAM (NED) Shimano Vittoria              Pro
RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK (LUX) Bontrager Schwalbe             
SAXO BANK (DEN) Zipp Specialized       FMB, Continental, Veloflex    
SKY PROCYCLING GBR) Shimano Continental       Pro, HED
VACANSOLEIL-DCM  (NED) FFWD Vredestein              
A Liquigas-Cannondale mechanic cleaning the team's Mavic wheels in California
Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Related articles on wheels:

Hutchinson launch seven new tires by BikeRadar.com
Reynolds launch 2013 Aero road wheels by BikeRadar.com
Shimano tests prototype wheel with deep section rim at Paris-Nice by VeloNews
Wheels, tires and brake pads for big riders by Nick Legan
The joys of hand-built wheels, flat-fixing tips by Nick Legan
Stretching tubulars, lawyer tabs by Nick Legan
Tire choice for an epic, re-gluing tubulars by Nick Legan
Roadside tubular flats and hops in tubular tires by Nick Legan

Time Trial Wheels:

News: Mavic unveils Cosmic CXR 80 aero wheels
See the BikeRadar.com video - CXR 80 Development (courtesy: Mavic)
New Specialized clincher TT tire at the Tour de France 

Pro wheels: a choice of several ProTeams

A few teams use Pro disc wheels for time trials   Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Video: Team Sky's time trial Prototype disc wheels

If you are wondering about the location of this video and where there exists a place on earth where bike wheels seemingly never touch dirt ... you have just had a tour of the Sky team's portable mechanics trailer (a temperature sealed environment where, I am guessing, shoes must be left at the sliding glass door). This trailer must be on every mechanic's wish list.
Team Sky's mobile mechanics trailer parked in Belgium   Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen

Spring Classics Wheels:

Related Articles: The tires, wheels and pressures of Paris-Roubaix by VeloNews,
American Classic Hurricane wheels stand up to Belgian cobbles by Nick Legan
Clinchers for Paris Roubaix sportif by Nick Legan
Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite Tire by RKP  

A Saxo-Bank mechanic works on their Zipp wheels in Belgium  Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
What I saw the day before the 2012 Tour of Flanders - Ambrosio wheels being prepared and taped over.
Prepping wheels the day before Tour of Flanders  Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Ambrosio wheels with some clever electrical tape added  Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
A Lampre-ISD team mechanic works to prep wheels in Kortrijk, Belgium  Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Video - Pillars of French Cycling - Hutchinson; wheels for the Paris-Roubaix (for FDJ and Europcar)

Attention to detail
Pumping tires in Brugge minutes before the start of the 2012 Tour of Flanders
Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen
Flats happen, especially at the Paris-Roubaix, Arenberg Forest   Photo by PedalDancer.com/Karen

And then there was Ted King's story about his flat at the Paris-Roubaix: Done and Dusted
 - - - - - - - - - -  Related posts by Pedal Dancer:

What pedals do the pros use?
2012 ProTeam Bikes
2012 Time Trial Bikes

Professional cycling teams for 2012 - visit the team websites for other equipment sponsors and partners
Team                                                                               DS                                                                       team website
AG2R La Mondiale ALM France Vincent LAVENU www.cyclisme.ag2rlamondiale.fr
Astana Pro Team AST Kazakhstan Giuseppe MARTINELLI www.astana.lu
BMC Racing Team BMC United States John LELANGUE www.bmc-racing.com
Euskaltel-Euskadi EUS Spain Gorka GERRIKAGOITIA ARRIEN fundacioneuskadi.com
FDJ-BigMat FDJ France Marc MADIOT www.equipecyclistefdj.fr
Garmin-Barracuda GRM United States Alan PEIPER www.slipstreamsports.com/
Orica GreenEdge Cycling Team GEC Australia Matthew WHITE www.greenedgecycling.com
Katusha Team KAT Russia Valerio PIVA www.katushateam.com
Lampre - ISD LAM Italy Roberto DAMIANI www.teamlampreisd.com
Liquigas-Cannondale LIQ Italy Dario MARIUZZO www.teamliquigas.com
Lotto Belisol Team LTB Belgium Marc SERGEANT www.lottobelisol.be
Movistar Team MOV Spain José Luis LAGUIA MARTINEZ www.movistarteam.com
Omega Pharma-Quick Step OPQ Belgium Davide BRAMATI www.omegapharma-quickstep.com
Rabobank Cycling Team RAB Netherlands Frans MAASSEN www.rabosport.nl
RadioShack-Nissan RNT United States Luca GUERCILENA/td> www.leopard.lu
Sky Pro Cycling SKY Great Britain Sean YATES www.teamsky.com
Team Saxo Bank SAX Denmark Bjarne RIIS www.slipstreamsports.com
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team VCD Netherlands Hilaire VAN DER SCHUEREN www.vacansoleildcm.com