Is it harder to turn a smooth tire?

Hey all!

Last year I purchased a Torker AX29 from a guy craigslist. It was basically brand new, with the rubber “fringe” not even worn off the tire. I love this uni, and have put a few hundred miles on it since.

A few months ago, I switched the stock WTB Exiwolf tire out for a Schwalbe Big Apple in hopes of a smoother feel on road and less sensitivity to road camber. Both of these issues seem to have been sorted by the change in tire, but I have encountered a new issue.

With the old tire, I was able to pedal around smooth turns down to a 5-foot radius or so with no difficulty, but I find making smooth turns with the smoother profile tire to be really difficult. I am having to resort to the old jerk-twist style turns which, while effective, aren’t nearly as nice. I find I’m still able to pedal around tight turns with my other unis which have more aggressive tread, so I’m fairly certain it’s the smooth tire which is causing my issue.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? If so, were you able to make it go away with practice? I’m curious if this style tire requires a different technique, or if it is simply harder to make a smooth tire grip in turns.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

tire traction

makes perfect sense to me.
smooth tread =more traction on pavement, so its harder to break loose to turn.
your other tires with more agressive tread actually have less rubber touching the road.
i would think inflating it to the max would reduce the contact patch, reducing the amount of rubber you have to break free to turn.
the lesss rubber contacting the road,the easier to break loose = turn.

That matches my experience during track at NAUCC…

During the 800 expert heat I realized that going around the turns I looked no more stable than a beginning unicyclist ‘swimming’ around turns (I’m USA level 8 and have been riding for almost 7 years). This was on a Nimbus E-Sport race, and I found that even less experienced riders, with a wider tire, looked more stable. Thinking back on it, during criterium day a friend was able to corner much better on the more square Nightrider tire than his rounder profiled Coker Button tire.

There are also different levels of stickiness for rubber. Like with motorcycle tires, you can have sticky or hard. Sticky tires have more traction, but wear out faster than a hard tire. That may or may not be a factor with your tire.

The amount of friction also likely depends on the surface being ridden on. Many different surfaces would have different effect on different tire treads. A smooth tire may turn easier on grass and maybe dirt or fine gravel. Maybe a smooth tire would be harder to turn on a smooth hard dry pavement and maybe turn easier on a wet pavement.

One thing that Geolojas mentioned himself, sensitivity to road camber, has to be kept in mind. I noticed this when I started playing around 5" tires. When using really wide and “square” profile tires (e.g. Snoshow xxl) you can turn very easily by twisting your hips. They react to road camber the same way though (turning). Decisions… :smiley:

Yes, this is exactly what it feels like.

Its interesting to me because I’ve gone back and forth between the different points brought up here so far, whether its the larger contact patch making it difficult, or the lack of knobs not pulling into the turn. I think HKiviniemi has it right though; based on how this tire is relatively immune to road camber vs the knobbier tires which like to climb the camber, I think the lack of shoulder knobs is the culprit.

I wonder if getting more rubber on the road, either through lowering pressure slightly, or by more aggressive lean and pedaling through the turn would help? This will take some experimentation; I’ll play around with it a bit and get back here if I learn anything useful. :slight_smile: