Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Earlier this year I spent nearly $100 (including tax) for a single Continental Grand Prix 5000 Tubeless road tire. That’s so much money, it makes me not want to even ride on it for fear of hitting a piece of glass I don’t see and potentially ruining the tire – maybe on the first ride (because, it has happened to me before).
The way I deal with this is by using my best rubber only on my race bikes. And those only hit the road when I’m competing. All the rest of my riding – the vast majority – is done on training bikes. And all those rigs have “training tires” on them.
What defines a “training tire?” For me, it has to ride well in all weather and on all road surfaces. It has to resist flats and last for a good long time. I hope to get 1,500 miles (2,414K) out of rear training tires, or translated to training, about a couple of long months of 150+ mile weeks.
Plus, and to me this is almost as important as the attributes just mentioned, a good trainer tire has to be as affordable as possible. I look for rubber that’s no more than $30 a tire. That way should I hit that chunk of glass and slice a tire beyond repair, it’s no big deal.
With these things in mind, I’d like to point out the tires I’ve been running on my training bike for over a year now, Schwalbe’s Luganos – the folding versions with a weight of about 325 grams. Ranging from less than $20 to upwards of $30 a piece depending on how much searching I do – they’ve proven to be an excellent value for my riding.
Just so there’s no confusion, since I mentioned the Conti TL 5000 tubeless tire, I want to make it clear that the Lugano tires are regular clinchers. They are not tubeless or tubeless-ready tires.
Here are three photos showing a new tire and my front and rear Lugano treads after approximately 1,500 miles. While my front shows signs of tread wear, the rear is ready for replacement. I’m already pushing my luck as the casing is starting to appear through the worn out tread spots.
I’m happy with how long the rear lasted and how evenly it’s worn. I don’t expect the front to wear out for maybe another 1,500 miles.
Knock on wood, but I haven’t had a single flat on my 700 x 25c versions. Schwalbe Luganos feature their K-Guard flat protection, and it works well. The tires are also available in 28c from Schwalbe and it looks like they may have offered 23c and 32cs also since some show up searching for them.
I haven’t tried other widths because my Cervelo S5 is an aero road bike with super tight clearances. On this cross country trip I’ve mentioned the last two Tech Talks, I’ve been riding on more dirt roads than usual because they’re the only safe routes to take.
I ran into a guy in a pickup on one of these backroads. He obviously knew something about bikes because he stopped in the road, leaned out his window and said, “Mighty skinny tires for a dirt road.”
Made me laugh, but while definitely skinny, the Luganos work fine in the dirt and even gravel. They’re not going to compete with a knobby cross or gravel tire, but for just rolling along I have had no issues.
Nice Ride Quality
I’m running Schwalbe’s Aerothan tubes in these tires, which makes the Luganos ride even more nicely than with the butyl tubes I had in them before the Aerothans became available. If you haven’t heard of the Aerothans, they’re one of the new crop of ultra expensive, superlight and small thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) tubes. I reviewed them here recently: https://www.roadbikerider.com/schwalbe-aerothan-super-tubes-review/.
With both standard butyl and the new TPU tubes, the Lugano tires have a nice road feel. They’re reasonably supple for a narrow clincher, hold their speed well and hang tight in the corners. In the rain the tires still track fine and grip – even the rear tire still grips and it’s just about worn out now.
The Luganos have 50 thread per inch casings, which is a relatively low TPI compared to higher end and more expensive rubber. But, I haven’t had any trouble with road vibration from the tires such as numb hands.
Overall, I think Schwalbe’s Lugano tires are excellent performing treads at a bargain price and recommend them highly. Oh, I almost forgot, they’re easy to install and remove, too.
If like me, you spend most of your time on training tires and you have another great tire value to recommend, please comment and share it with your fellow roadies.
Ride total: 10,067
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. A pro mechanic & cycling writer for more than 40 years, he’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Tune in to Jim’s popular YouTube channel for wheel building & bike repair how-to’s. Jim’s also known for his cycling streak that ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.