Vélo Birmingham & Midlands
Perhaps you imagine yourself a participant in the Tour de France? Or maybe your cycling doesn’t get more adventurous than a ride to the shops? Whatever your style, riding a bike is proven as a healthy activity and a reliable mode of transportation. To get the most out of your rides, however, it's a good idea to check the condition of the tyres, wheels and brakes on a regular basis. They'll need a bit of pampering every now and then to maintain optimal performance.
After all, nobody wants to find out they have a serious problem with their bike after they've set out on their journey. Issues left unattended may cut a ride prematurely short or, worse, endanger your safety. To minimise the chances of this happening, we would recommend an effective strategy where prevention is the best cure. Here are some simple and easy suggestions for bike tyre maintenance to give you peace of mind, based on our substantial experience in the development and production of bicycle tyres.
Check the air pressure by squeezing the tyres. A good rule of thumb is to follow the air pressure range recommended by the manufacturer -- which can be found embossed on the sidewall of the tyre -- and adjust according to your personal preference.
Low air pressure won't necessarily ruin your ride, but if it's too low it can impact road handling and stability. In extreme cases it can lead to tyre damage, tyre wear, rim damage, or even punctures. If the air pressure is too high, meanwhile, you may end up feeling every little bump and imperfection from the road. This could be too harsh for your comfort, especially for long rides in the saddle.
Another good reason for checking air pressure is that over time, the inner tube of a tyre will slowly leak pressure. If you find that's there's been a major drop in pressure in the space of a few days, then that indicates the presence of a slow puncture in the inner tube. Needless to say, you should locate and fix this slow puncture before embarking on your next ride.
Examine the tread of your bicycle tyre for any wear and tear. See if you can spot any nicks or cuts, and that there's nothing sharp stuck in between the treads that could lead to a puncture. It's a simple process to remove any pieces of flint, gravel or stone that are wedged in there.
Also, check the sidewalls of the bicycle tyre for any tears or bulges. A tear may eventually enlarge to the extent that the inner tube begins to bulge outwards and impacts the integrity of the tyre. It will need to be replaced.
Important to note is that the rear bicycle tyre will tend to wear out quicker than the front bicycle tyre, based on the distribution of the rider's weight. If you can see a flat spot or bare canvas in the middle of the tread, then it's definitely time for a replacement.
Being able to effectively brake with your bicycle is absolutely critical for your safety. Assuming you have rim brakes rather than hydraulics, the first test is to spin the wheels to make sure the brake pads aren't rubbing against the rims. Next, squeeze each brake lever, one after the other, to confirm that the pads are hitting the braking surface correctly and aren't rubbing against the tyre. If not, you'll have to re-center the calipers.
Another thing to keep in mind here is the height of the brake block. This can change over time, as the block wears down and the brake arm has to move further to bring it close to the wheel rim. In certain cases, the block can misalign with the braking surface of the rim, forming a lip that rubs up against the tyre sidewall and slices through it.
Finally, apply enough pressure on the brake levers so the wheels come to an absolute stop. The levers should not come into contact with the handlebars. If the response feels too sluggish, then cable adjustments are definitely necessary.
Your tyres must be correctly seated in the rim of the wheel. Inspect the wheel rim, with particular attention to the bead of the tyre where it contacts the rim. The desired state is for the bead to look uniform all the way around. If it isn't, then you should deflate and reinstall the tyre.
Give the wheels another spin, this time to check they're running true. If there's a wobble in the spin, it could mean a loose or broken spoke, or that the wheel nut needs tightening. If you hear a strange grinding noise, or if the movement feels rough, then it may be time to have the bearings replaced or serviced.
Hearing about BlackChili for the first time, you might think that Continental Tyres have gone into the business of food. But this isn’t grandma’s secret recipe for a nourishing bowl of chilli; this is a revolutionary tyre tread compound, highly prized by cyclists and motorists alike. That’s because our patented BlackChili compound has unbeatable grip, speed and durability, equating to a road performance that’s not only dependable but also… rather spicy.
Black Chili compound is exclusively manufactured at the Continental factory in Korbach, Germany, combining the very latest polymers with specially developed carbon black particles and filler materials. Both cars and bikes benefit from this technology. Fitted to a bicycle, tyres with Black Chili give riders supreme confidence whether they’re tumbling downhill on a mountain bike or time-trialling on a road bike. Fitted to a car, drivers can expect maximum grip during acceleration, cornering and braking on wet or dry roads.
The improvement is dramatic. But don’t just take our word for it. The professional cycling elite has long relied on this exceptional tyre compound. Geraint Thomas and Team Sky have won the world’s biggest bike race, the Tour de France, using Competition Pro LTD tyres made from Black Chili. And for this year’s edition of Le Tour, six out of the 22 teams taking part in the three-week race around Spain are using Black Chili compound in their hand-made tyres.
So how did this legendary compound come into being? At the Continental R&D labs in Korbach, our heroic team of engineers grapple with one of the fundamental problems of tyre construction. Essentially, the running properties of a rubber compound of a tyre are determined by three co-dependent factors:
The challenge is that when you make improvements in one area, there’s a performance penalty in at least one other area. A compound which offers maximum levels of grip, for example, will wear out faster and roll slower. Conversely, a compound optimised for higher speeds or greater durability has a reduced ability to grip.
The Black Chili compound is different because it takes advantage of the latest innovations in polymer and other raw material research. For the first step, we refine proven natural rubber with special synthetic rubbers into a high-performance tread mixture. Next, the mixture is combined with special nanometric carbon soot particles. Finally, the surface and shape properties are optimised for the best use case of the tyre.
The result is that Black Chili compound provides a truly unprecedented level of performance. Compared to Activated Silica Compound – our previous best performer – Black Chili tyres have 30% higher grip, 26% less rolling resistance, and 5% increase in mileage. The speed and grip advantages are readily apparent, applied to either a bike or a car tyre.
Furthermore, the science behind Black Chili is in constant development; we can adjust the formulation of the compound to match individual requirements of new Continental tyres rolling out of the factory in Korbach. In other words, it’s possible to tailor the tyre to the specific needs of the vehicle. The compound technology is so sensitive and complex, however, that Black Chili cannot be manufactured anywhere else in the world.
You can personally experience the innovations of Black Chili on either two wheels or four, as high-performance tyres for both bicycles and cars. Here’s a sample of the custom formulations available in our premium tyres.
Car / SportContact™ 6
For the SportContact™ 6, we developed a new Micro Flexibility Compound to ensure optimal contact between the tyre and the road surface. The compound provides shorter braking distances and better acceleration at low and high temperatures – in dry or wet conditions.
Bike / Continental Grand Prix 4000 SII
For athletes demanding the ideal combination of comfort, speed, and low rolling resistance, the Grand Prix 4000 SII is the best all-rounder. The Black Chili compound provides excellent grip, high mileage, and efficient rolling, plus a Vectran puncture protection insert for added security.
Car / WinterContact TS 860
The Cool Chili compound is a variation on Black Chili specially made for the WinterContact TS 860; a Maximum Traction Silica Compound which stays flexible in all winter conditions, substantially improves braking performance, and provides excellent grip in the wet.
Bike / Mountain King
With superior grip and fast rolling, the Mountain King is the perfect companion for exploring trails and hilly terrain. The continuous central tread and grippy outer lugs are made with Black Chili, and the ProTection technology – three plies in the sidewalls and four under the tread – mean the whole tyre has greater resilience and is less vulnerable to damage.