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Getting a grip on bicycle tyres

Ah, welcome. I’ve been asked to do a new column — anything to do with cars, bikes, and so on.

So I will start with something close to my heart and something I have always had a great interest in: Tyres. Simply put, they keep me from damaging myself, my car or my bike. Today, it’s bicycle tyres at that. Michelin are well known for car tyres, and slightly less wellknown for motorbike tyres. Now they have taken much of the knowledge gained from motorbike tyres and transferred it to bicycle tyres.

Some time ago, Michelin announced their new Power Tyre, replacing their ‘old’ Pro4 range. For me, Sundays mornings in Drogheda are usually spent with a group of lads on a bike ride, with distances varying from 90-140km from winter to summer. We stop for calls of nature and for punctures. Nothing else. Our group leader, let’s call him Willie, will always help fix the puncture (I don’t help with the call of nature!). The funny thing is, we’ve never, ever stopped in the last five years to fix a puncture on his bike. We also have a chap who rides as a cycle courier in the daytime.

Both swear by Michelin tyres, with Willie now riding the new Power Endurance (the one for training). Ideally, we would like to see double-blind, crossover, controlled trials on bike tyres but that’s never going to happen; however, what Michelin has demonstrated is very acceptable. Michelin has performed various tests, using their Pro4 as the benchmark, and using a rolling drum can prove there is a lower rolling resistance between the two tyres. Michelin is claiming the reduced rolling resistance of the new Power Competition tyre can save a rider 10 watts at 35km/h — enough to add a further 776m to the hour record, according to them.

The website Bikeradar has tested (via an independent company called Wheel Energy) their tyres and found Schwalbe to have a lower rolling resistance. But they say it wears out more quickly and is prone to punctures. So no real advantages there. Bike Radar has called the Power tyre the “best, fastest-performance clincher we have tested”. What interested me most was, they set up an electric bike around a (very) wet circular track and kept going around in circles, increasing speed and lean angle until the bike slipped. They achieved 15 per cent more lateral grip than their previous Pro4, confirmed again by Wheel Energy tests. If you need to know more, you can see their tests videos on You-Tube (do a search for ‘Michelin Bike’).

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mercedes has announced a new EClass Coupé. Already I know that the current E-Class saloon is a fine car, so I would expect good things from this model. Although the previous E-Class Coupé model was based on the C-Class (yes, confusing, I know), this one shares much more with the current E-Class. Looking at it, there are a lot of design cues carried over from its smaller and larger siblings within the Mercedes stable, in particular the absence of the B-Pillar. I never thought this important until I allowed my good wife a choice in our last new car. She would veto a particular model simply because she did not like the colour of the interior.

Now the E-Class Coupé has not only a choice of two light wood trim packages, but also an option to have ambient lighting, with 64 colour variants. I’d love to know whose job it was to count all those choices. Initially, the Coupé will be offered with one diesel and two petrol engines.

How times have changed, but this is because petrol engines are technically cleaner. Diesel has nearly reached its maximum cleanliness, whereas petrol has a bit to go. Favourites in Ireland will be the E200 petrol with 184bhp at €52,310 and the E220d with a newly- developed 1,950cc, 194bhp diesel at €52,995. To make things more confusing, there will also be a 245bhp E300 with a two-litre petrol engine (I don’t understand it either) and an E400 with a 2,996cc, 333hp V6, called E400 4MATIC. Features carried forward from the E-Class saloon include its three-chamber air suspensionm system and a remote parking pilot system that allows the vehicle to be moved into and out of garages and parking spaces remotely. Now, that would be one great party trick to show friends who have never even heard of it before.

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