I’ve used street tyres on my mountain bicycle for many years and found the smaller, more responsive and better rolling tyre to be a good combination with the rest of the bike set-up. It’s not just a better performing tyre – it actually feels better. Originally the slick tyres were fairly large diameter, but I was soon on 25mm rubber and this has been where my commuting set-up has stayed for a while. If you’re getting around town on a bike with suspension – give narrow street tyres a go for commuting.
Almost always the first question I ask when someone comes to me with a bicycle problem is about tyres, because in my opinion if the tyres aren’t right – then the feel of the bicycle won’t be right. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, tyres can make the biggest difference to the ride quality of your bicycle. The only thing that is cheaper – is tyre pressure.
So the Schwalbe Kojak 26 x 1.35 is actually a step up in fatness for me. I went with the Kojak for a few reasons that boiled down to the recommendations of Jan Heine from Bicycle Quarterly about medium sized tyres with pliable side walls performing as well as hard, narrow road tyres, and from my perspective they were aesthetically pleasing, had reflective qualities, claimed to be puncture resistant and fairly light at 295g. When I bought them they were actually for another bicycle I have in the shed, however I learned a thing or two about wheel size when they arrived – and now they’re on my mountain bicycle.
The ride from them is good, but they aren’t as light and responsive as I had imagined they might be. I had high expectations and so after having had them for a while and letting my preconceived ideas fade, I’m pretty happy with them. Having a larger tyre allow some wiggle room with regard to tyre pressure. I’m using the recommended pressure as my bicycle has front suspension, but if I was on a rigid bicycle, I’d probably ease off a little to use the pliability of the side walls. It’ll take months of riding for me to be totally convinced but my early impressions are that the tyre rolls well and is comfortable which is what I was looking for, the big question is durability which you generally pay for in extra tyre weight. More tyre casing material means more weight and the more weight in your tyre the more watts of energy you need to accelerate, and the more friction required to decelerate. The Kojak is a light tyre if it is as durable as described, only time will tel how well this is achieved in the Kojak.