Variation on a question that's been asked a few times.

For reasons, we have signed up to do a charity ride of ~80 miles on our super-cheap Viking Saratoga tandem. I've already made a few upgrades, mainly ergonomic, but was wondering whether I should bother changing the tyres.

I realise conventional wisdom dictates "slicks" rather than "knobblies" for riding a MTB on the road, but the tyres currently fitted are Kenda Kiniptions in 26 X 2.3", which the manufacturer describes as:

Excellent tire for urban assault or skate park use; equally versatile on hardpack race courses

Diamond shaped knob design wraps from bead to bead for sidewall protection and grip from all angles

We run these pumped all the way up to the recommended maximum of 80psi.

Now, I'm all for "marginal gains", but the bike is already pretty heavy, so I'm not sure that lighter weight tyres would make things much easier - I think any potential improvement would be in rolling resistance.

Is there any tire around that would be a useful upgrade in speed? The rims are drilled for Schrader, so if Presta tubes (to allow higher pressure) were part of the solution, I imagine this would require some fiddly adapters.


The rims are unbranded with no markings, so no idea of max pressure.

2 punctures in 50 miles a couple of weeks ago, and I have changed both tyres for Marathon Supremes. This has made an appreciable difference in cruising speed, more than I anticipated.

From https://bicycle.kendatire.com/en-us/find-a-tire/bicycle/bmx-street-park/kiniption/

  • 1
    Yeah, the only obvious improvement would be to get tires that are less "knobby", as that is a major factor in rolling resistance. But the Kiniption looks like a reasonably decent compromise. However, if the bike and rims will take it, a wider tire might be better, to handle the weight of a tandem better. And, if the roads are smooth, you might consider running a hair above 80psi -- most decent quality tires are good to 10-20 psi over their sidewall rating, and higher pressure reduces rolling resistance (but increases tooth rattling). Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 19:23
  • All this confirms my suspicion that I may as well leave the current tyres on for now. And yes, I have considered pumping them up a bit harder! Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 19:26
  • How wide are your existing rims? Tyres too wide will erode around the edge of the rim. Tyres too narrow have different problems. <br> Were these tyres the factory fitment ?
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 13, 2019 at 22:30
  • Consider up-grading the brake pads. Most inexpensive bikes come with pads that are marginal at best. In 80 miles you are bound to roll down some long hills which will test the brakes integrity.
    – mikes
    Commented Apr 14, 2019 at 19:30
  • It has disc brakes front and rear, and I have already upgraded to rotors that wouldn't look out of place on a motorbike! The bike was secondhand, I doubt those are the factory tyres. Commented Apr 15, 2019 at 14:15

2 Answers 2


It's not the weight of knobblies that's the issue, but how much effort you have to put into deforming them with every rotation - the rolling resistance. The tyres you've got are certainly going to be slower than a wide semi-slick, like many touring tyres, but they'll be a lot faster than tyres designed for muddy trails. The ones you've got don't actually look too bad for road use.

If you're going to make a habit of riding this bike on roads for decent distances, a tyre upgrade might be in order - you could gain puncture protection as well. As it's a tandem, note the weight recommendations on potential new tyres.

Overall I suggest you run with what you've got, and if you think "that was good but I'd like to be a bit quicker next time" consider an upgrade.

BTW Presta tubes don't inherently allow higher pressure, though they're more common on rims rated to higher pressure. Adapting is easy with a grommet but of no benefit to you.


Looking at that tyre, its not very knobbly.

This would be a common knobbly MTB tyre as sold on 95% of BSOs out there - these would make a characteristic "rooooooaaaaAAAaaarrrrooooooaaaAAAaaaarrrr" as you pedal on smooth asphalt. (the AAA is where one crank is horizontal and adding the most power on the down stroke.

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I'd simply carry ~3 spare tubes for your ride, along with the tools to get you out of basic problems.

If your tyres were worn out you could replace them with something like these 28mm slicks:


But the tradeoffs are less grip due to narrower profile and require higher pressure, of which your rims may not be capable.

I run these at 90-100 PSI on 26" MTB rims with schrader valves, on a 22 kg recumbent, and while your tandem will be about the same weight, it has two riders not one so an extra person's worth of mass.


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