So I bought a Continental Der Kaiser (similar to this one) and the peripheral knobs are pure magic. When I shift my weight slightly to the side, the central thread disengages and the peripheral engages. This has two advantages:

  • The grip is excellent, the bike feels as if it is upright, while it is actually 45 degrees tilted
  • I can very cleanly feel when the switch happens, so I know how hard am I cornering and what is the actual friction with the trail.

I have had similar experience (without the first advantage, only the second) with much cheaper tires, similar to the following, but with uninterrupted central thread:

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The side knobs change the feel of the bike while cornering, and I know how close am I to losing traction. The effect is most pronounced on asphalt.

However, my new Scwalbe Land Cruiser tires have a round profile. Lacking the peripheral knobs, I feel very insecure during turns, because although the tires grip well, the two times I fell there was no warning - just the tire sliding our from under me. A tire with peripheral grips would have stood on its peripheral knobs and I would have felt that the edge of the tire was getting at funny angle and would have straightened the bike.

Is it true that round profile tires (like the Land Cruiser) are inferior at cornering (on pavement)? If so, what are their advantages (considering that side knobs do not add to rolling resistance, when travelling at straight line)?

As a bonus question, is the technique for cornering with round tires different from tires with side knobs?

  • There is some difference in traction between a smooth tire and a knobby one, especially on "unstable" surfaces. On smooth dry pavement the smooth tire will generally be superior, but that changes if there is sand, mud, leaves, etc on the surface. And of course you've become used to the "feedback" to help you judge degree of lean and are apt to lean farther absent the feedback. Nov 28, 2013 at 13:09
  • @DanielRHicks, the Land Cruiser has quite some knobs. I feel that it is just that it's profile is circular, not square. Contrasted with that, the Scwalbe CX is semi-slick (no knobs in the center) but has knobs on the sides, that will probably give some feedback. Another point - side knobs do not increase rolling resistance when riding in straight line. Why do there exist tires without them?
    – Vorac
    Nov 28, 2013 at 13:14
  • 2
    Knobby tires are heavier, have more wind resistance, and don't corner smoothly on smooth, dry pavement. Nov 28, 2013 at 17:23
  • 2
    The Schwalbe Land Cruisers are intended to be tires for both on road and off road use. In practice, these tires typically don't work well in either case. Off road you will want knobby depending on the type of terrain. On road, you want slicks (even when riding in wet conditions). See: sheldonbrown.com/tires.html , sheldonbrown.com/brandt/slicks.html
    – Batman
    Dec 2, 2013 at 6:10

1 Answer 1


Knobs and pavement don't go together. At all. Knobs are made to dig into loose riding surfaces to optimize traction. They can't do that on pavement and, among other reasons, that's why road tires don't have knobs.

What you're likely feeling with the higher profile knob is more warning before the tire cuts loose. The lower profile knobs on the Land Cruiser almost certainly grip pavement better, but offer less warning before they let loose.

The best tire for grip on pavement is a slick. Slicks offer the most rubber in contact with the pavement and the least deformation under side load. The flip side to that coin is that when they're ready to cut loose they offer virtually no warning, and when they're gone they're gone- your chances of recovering traction are nearly zero.

To kind of answer your bonus question, cornering techniques don't differ so much by tire, but by riding type. There are differing cornering techniques for road vs mountain bike riding. I would say that cornering on dirt is much more dynamic than on pavement.

EDIT: in response to your question in the comments:

So basically my question was "[Your third paragraph] - is that normal?" and the answer is "Yup, deal with it."?

In terms of your tire cutting loose, the answer is partially yes, but not entirely. Proper cornering technique and weighting of your bike, especially your front tire, will help you maintain traction. Keep in mind that it's different for road than it is for mountain, but that's a different question.

A set of tires specifically designed for pavement would make a huge difference. You're not limited to narrow road slicks either. The Specialized Electrak is very wide for a slick, and Schwalbe has several very wide mostly slick tires that can be run at very low pressures (as in, 20-30psi) which equals a lot of rubber on the road and a lot of traction.

In the end though, when you lose the front end on the road it is going to be harder to recover for a variety of reasons. It's not the same as temporarily losing traction in the dirt because you hit an especially loose corner. Traction on the pavement is typically pretty consistent, and you're usually going significantly faster, so when the front tire lets go, it will be very hard to regain traction and stand the bike back up. The tips above will help with the problem but not eliminate it.

  • +1 for "dynamic", even though i know what you mean the picture that formed in my head made me laugh......
    – mattnz
    Nov 28, 2013 at 20:27
  • So basically my question was "[Your third paragraph] - is that normal?" and the answer is "Yup, deal with it."?
    – Vorac
    Nov 29, 2013 at 15:19

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