I was glancing through April's Cycling Plus with their annual group test, it occurred to me that the cover title summarising the test which states “4026 miles, 12 punctures” is actually pretty notable, this would never really cut it for commuting, I would be getting punctures every month.
Without getting into the well worn arguments over the suitability of the kind of road bikes “pushed” by some bike shops for commuting, vs touring / audax type bikes that can take wider tyres with mudguards, I am amazed at the number of “road bike commuters” around; true race bikes being used happily for regular journeys. I recently took a Giant TCR Advanced SL 3 out for an extended test, I desperately wanted the Giant to be “a few thousand pounds” faster, but the truth is while it felt nice climbing, it would have required pretty careful riding through the road debris and the potholes of North London / Hertfordshire and I am sure would have been notably slower for my typical rides as a result.
As we have come through Spring, I have replaced 32mm Marathon Supremes with lighter Vittoria Rubino Pro III 700x28c tyres on my Bob Jackson. They are certainly not race tyres, nor I suspect as puncture proof as the Marathon Supreme 700x32c which survived the Winter and Spring with only one war wound, but they are more flexible and comfortable despite being slightly narrower and still provide reasonable protection - I have upped my average speed on the commute consistently.
With the slightly narrower tyres, rocky tow paths and muddy trails are now out of the question though, so I have done a few tweaks to the Surly Cross Check once again to improve position and address braking power. I have fitted a longer lower stem for a more stretched out position, this has worked well for me, it also gave me an excuse to get rid of the Lizard Skins Race bar tape - too sticky, and wrapped poorly, I have replaced it with Cinelli Cork tape, cheap and superb. I have removed the cross top brake levers which I rarely use, this has reduced cable friction due to the improved cable routing at the front, I then replaced the black Swissstop pads with squishier Koolstop Salmons to improve the braking. And I remembered to add the "donuts" to the brake cable to stop it rattling on the top tube this time!