I reckon of all the parts that make up a bike, tyres are by far the most single most important. A bad set of tyres make a good bike bad, a good set can transform your ride. There's a magic mix of compromises to be found through trial and error between fast and light and tough. Finding the right set of tyres for your bike and its use can be an expensive process and takes a fair bit of patience but when you get it right you'll never switch.
I had been running Kendra Small Block 8 knobbies on the Surly Crosscheck over summer to take advantage of the fire trails around these parts, but they're light and the rubber is soft and they wore out far too quickly. I bought a cheap set of touring tyres to replace them, but they were no good on dirt. I tried some Vittoria Randonneurs - which turned out to be the worst set of tyres I've ever owned. Sluggish and misshapen, these tyres lasted a week I gave up on them and hung them on a hook in the shed. Good job they were cheap. The search began anew.
Lately I've been keen on wider tyres, largely because a good proportion of most of my rides is on dirt and gravel roads, so I like something with a bit of substance to it. The set of wide 26" Schwalbe Marathons on my touring bike go very nicely indeed, so I ordered a set of 32mm in 700c for the Crosscheck.
And what do you know? The 32mm Marathons transform the bike, but this time for the better. Fast, comfortable, grippy, they're ideal for my needs and come with a reflective sidewall as well. They look like they're up for just about anything so a run out along the fire trails up the valley might well be in order some time soon.
After the fitting of they tyres and the run home, a pleasant afternoon of al fresco bike maintainence followed. Throw in a new set of brake cables and a new chain that had been sitting on the shelf for a while and it's like riding a new bike.
Let me know if you want a set of Vittoria Randonneurs cheap.
2244km so far this year.