So I finally bought some new ones. I went for cheap and heavy - the Freedom Ryder 700 x 38 at 665 grams, $26. I like the 38c size for the Vaya - it's a good combo of width and grip for the pavement, urban single track, gravel streets I find on my way home, and other off-pavement rides, but will fit fenders easily.
|Chief Tire Inspector Dash
I considered a few other tires in the 38c range before getting the Freedoms. We have Pasela Tourguards on Debbie's blue Redline cross bike and I like how smooth they ride. But Universal Cycles was out of the 37/38c size TG/PT's and I don't like the tan sidewalls for looks (too grimy for one thing) and think the Vaya needs black sidewalls.
The Resist Nomad 45c tires were tempting at only $22 a pop but I think I'd have trouble getting even clip-on fenders over them for the rainy days. They do make them in 35 but I'm stuck on something a little wider.
I considered the Schwalbe Little Big Ben 700 x38, $40 from RivBike. Not sure about the tread pattern, might be too much. Compass Bicycles has broken down and now offers a wider 700c tire - Barlow Pass 700 x 38, $59 380g but with tan sidewalls, and $78 for the extra light ones at 327g. Some report the Compass tires are long lasting, others reports quick wear and flats - probably the difference in opinion is same for any tire. I'd read the new ones might be running smaller than stated, so that was a negative.
So in the end I gambled on the Ryders since they were less expensive than many other tires.
I only have a few commutes on them but I like them. I don't notice the extra heft while rolling, and they're quicker and smoother than the Clements. The Clements have an edge when rolling over cracks in the street. The Ryders have what is billed as an "Urban Barrier" for flat protection, but I don't have much faith in any tire's protection against the debris in the streets. Hoping they're better than the Clements in that regard.
The true test of the tires for me was how they handle the dirt trail at the end of Nettleton Street before NW Blvd, because the Vaya is not just for city street riding. I was surprised that even at 60psi they had grip in the loose dirt/debris and were close to the Clements in handling.
An aside: 38mm is a good size for city riding, but I'm starting to think 2" mountain bike tires with minimal tread would be perfect. Every once in awhile I ride my Fargo to work, and it just rolls over any cracks and holes in the pavement without a care. Plus it handles the trail below Gov't Way with ease if I want to got that way home.
Another aside: tire pressure. I'd been running the Clements around 50psi to smooth out the street bumps and cracks. I recently had it in the shop for service, and it came back with the tire pressure higher around 65-70. I noticed that while running over cracks there was a sharper jolt, but it was quicker, and the tires didn't sink into the crack. Hard to explain what I mean, but I'm finding 60psi is a good compromise - not too high to still have some cushion, but not so low so that the tires squirm in the corners or sink into the cracks.