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I'm a female road cyclist and put in some decent miles. I'm looking for a road tire that is resistant to flats, but is also easy to change. My hand strength isn't as strong as mens and I don't want to struggle putting on the tire. Something supple, but yet resistant to punctures. I ride Maxxis Xenith now, but I'm going through them too quickly. Any suggestions?
There is no best tire..it's all a matter of personal preference and the type of riding that you do. You have to give somewhere..a supple tire, though more responsive if you are "racing" would be fine but you may flat more often.
There are plenty of tires out there that will fit your needs, but most importantly, a puncture resistant tire will bring you greater pleasure overall, since the majority of your time will be spent on the road riding on them, not fixing a flat.
As was mentioned, tire choice is a personal preference. With that said, I have found that most wire beaded tires are more difficult to put on a rim and remove. On the other hand, "foldable" tires are for the most part easier. I have ridden Vredestein tires with great success against flats, but I am also very cognizant of road debris while I ride. These tires are very easy to remove without use of tire levers. Continental Gator Skins are specifically designed against flats. The Continental tires I have ridden (Force/Attack) were also easily removed without tire levers.
I will also recommend the "Quik Stik" tire lever, which I have used personally for over a decade and prefer its use over multiple tire levers. The Quik Stik is available at local shops, also on Amazon for $3.20 or REI.com. When used properly, it is both easy and eliminates pinch flats when replacing the tube/tire back on the rim, and it is small enough to drop in your jersey pocket when you ride. I trust this is helpful.
Another consideration is your wheels. Some tires/wheel combinations work better than others in ease of removing tires. Somewhat trial and error to ease what works best for you.
Yes, tires and wheel combos make a difference.
That said I generally like Vredestein (SLs for racing and Fortezzas or Fortezza Tri compounds for fast training and racing) and Vittoria (EVO CX) tires at the higher end for great riding and ease with which to swap them though I'll admit that my recent purchase of Vredestein SE's (special edition at a great price) from PerformanceBikes were really tough to get on though my buddy was surprised as he got a set about a week prior to my purchase and he had no probems.
Keep in mind that the lighter the tire the lower the rotational weight of the bike. A training tire for me is about 250 grams or so. A fast training/racing tire is about 220 to 230 grams or so and a race only tire would be about 180 or 190 to 200 grams. You pay more for less so I'll take the tire off if pricey and save it for races or important fast rides with roads I can count on! Last October I rode with my teammate Mark Cahn, a former teammate of Bob Roll's and his former teammate and California State Road champ Fred Fisk, from Marin to LA. In a combined mileage of over 1750 miles on our rides the only flat we had was on the truck that supported us. I used the Vittoria's for the ride which I normally use only for racing but the roads in California were excellent and I needed all the help I could muster to hang with these former pro's. On the descents the wheels and tires were too fast (blind turns on the mountains had this midwestern rider a little freaked I'll admit) but I think it important to consider the feel of the tire on the road, the coarseness of your asphalt and the quality of the roads as far as repairs are concerned.
When I lived in Austin I noted that the asphalt was heavier/coarser than in Michigan and while there were only rare fissures to avoid (no potholes that I can recall) the roads were often rougher feeling.
I just read some great reviews for Hutchinson Pro 3's I believe which were on sale for only $29.99 and weighed only 205 grams. (PerformanceBikes.com) Perhaps worth checking out as the reviewers stated they were easy on and off.