We have experienced 2 tire failures on our tandem in the past few months. The first failure, August, 2014 was of a Continental 4 Season GP 700×25. This tire had about 1035 miles. March, 2015 we had a Continental Gatorskin 700×25 fail in the same manner. This tire had about 550 miles. Both tires had the tire sidewall separate from the bead. We have previously used Gatorskins for at least 10 years without a problem. See attached photos.
We have 40 years of tandem experience and this is the first time that I have seen this type of failure.
I sent the Continental GP 4 season to Bill at Santana and he did not seem concerned about this issue.
I contacted the USA Continental importer about 2 months ago and sent them the Gatorskin tire. I was concerned that Continental might have a manufacturing problem or if we were just unlucky twice. Continental finally responded and said that they did not have any problems and were not aware of anyone else having this problem.
I would like to know if anyone else has had this experience with any brand of tires.
I too have never heard of this type of tire failure. If Continental is being candid about their experience, maybe the issue is with the wheels.
Get wider tires. better, safer, cooler, less likely to blow…
I know this is an old thread, but tire failure is a real concern. I am the amateur mechanic for a club for visually impaired cyclists (Tuesday Night Tandems). Our safety checks include deflating the tires at beginning of the year and mid season to inspect for separation at the bead. We have run tread off more than a dozen Gatorskins and only found a bead separation starting on one of them. We think it came from our larger teams overloading a tire. We have largely moved from 28s to 32s and have not seen another failure.
From the looks of the damage to the tire it appears to be age or temperature.
We use a lot of 700 x 25 gatorskins on our rental bikes and have had no problems, certainly had problems with other makes and models, including armadillos.
On the inside of the tyre there should be a serial number, did continental ask for that, they should have.
My wife and I have had two similar tire failures in the past 16 months but our tire failures were both with Schwalbe Marathon Plus. We ride a Longbikes Gulfstream long wheelbase recumbent. In both cases the tire sidewall separated from the wire bead causing a blowout and ruining the tube as well as the tire. The first occurrence we finally attributed to riding about 10 miles on the tire with it having a leaking valve stem before we realized we had a leak. The tire failure occurred about a month later. The tire had about 1500 miles on it. We talked to a Schwalbe representative without getting much satisfaction. The second occurrence was on a tire with less than 400 miles. At the time we were touring and towing a Maya trailer as well as having large Arkel panniers on the bike. After lengthy discussion with several bicycle pros and the Schwalbe people we have concluded that the second and perhaps the first blowout was caused by overload on the tire. Schwalbe recommended we go from our 1.75″ width to the 2″ width and use a foldable tire. The foldable has a higher weight load rating than the same tire in a wire bead design. We had to order the tire from Schwalbe and it took about 2 months to arrive. I don’t know what your weight load is on your bike, but this may be something you want to consider in determining why you had two similar breakdowns.
Yes two separations in the same manner with the gatorskins. They replaced them both, but confidence is not what it was for sure.
38 years of tandem experience and I have not seen a failure like that.
I had a failure exactly like this on a GP 4 Seasons tire earlier this year. The tire was brand new, failing literally on the first test ride around the block. I had bought it from Amazon, so I returned it and got a new one. I would be interested to know whether Amazon sends things back to manufacturers in these situations.
Thanks for the Heads Up.
This can’t be an anomaly unique to your Santana, can it?
I will switch to Schwalbe or Michelin on my Columbine, just to be safe.
The 4 season and Gatorskin were not old tires. I returned the Gatorskin to Continental rep in US. They inspected the tire but did not think that this was a manufacturing defect. They did send us 2 sets of tires. The 4 season failure was on our second set of tires and the Gatorskin was on a new rim after the first failure and crash.
Thank you for the update. I bet that Conti is subcontracting and merely placing their name on the tires. Best bicycle tires I have used have carried the Specialized name.
I recently replaced my tandem’s tires. Looking for a good price, I ordered a pair of tires from an Internet bike store. When I received the tires I was shocked that the tires were at least a year old, not the current year (2015) model. I’m concerned that tires are possibly compromised by sitting in a warehouse somewhere in a less than desirable environment. Is this an issue for tandem bikes after reading about this failure?
We have switched to Specialized Armadillo tires. 700×25. Now at 800 miles and seem to be pretty good.Same size as the Contis. We do not carry any touring type loads so I am sure that we are not overloading the tires. We are going to try 700×28 next set of tires. Thanks everyone for your comments.
We rode Armadillo’s for a short time. They have a harsh, non-compliant ride – both captain and stoker hated them!
I have seen (once) and heard of several instances of the Gatorskin tires separating at the bead, I would press them on the issue.
We experienced the exact same failure on a 28mm Gatorskin, about 2 hours AFTER riding a 5.5 hilly century in the Colorado front range in fall, 2008. The rear tire failed while bike was sitting in our garage – sounded like a gun went off. We had seen speeds over 50mph on the century, tire had about 500 miles on it and was pumped to 110 psi that morning. Rider + bike weight about 330 lbs. Never had experienced a failure like that in 30 years of tandeming. Contacted Conti and they replaced both Gators. Same story – “never seen this before …”
My wife and I have Failure with Continental 7000, side wall falier
I am the volunteer mechanic for a club of visually impaired tandem riders. Most of our bikes run Gatorskins, including a triple. The triple especially wears out the tires at the attachment of the bead. We inspect for it every 300 miles of so and replace the tire when found. The triple only gets 500 miles on a set of tires because of this wear pattern.
Mark, you might want to try Specialized Armadillos. We have switched to Specialized Armadillo Elite tires. 700×25. Better life so far on the first set then the Continental Gatorskins. Also seem a little better at flat protection. I plan to try The Armadillos in 700×28 this spring. I have used Gatorskins for almost 20 years but I may stick with the Armadillos on the tandem. ride comfort is almost as good as the Conti GP 4 season.
We have used Specialized Armadillos, on both our tandem and my road bike. While they have been “bullet proof,” they also have a very harsh, bouncy ride – really uncomfortable for anything other than short distances on very smooth roads.
I have been riding the Conti Force Attack tyres [24mm] and have had the same failure – side wall blows out. 5 people in my riding group have had the same type of failure with 23 & 25mm tyres. I believe it’s a Conti tyre problem with this amount of tyre failures in the past 3 months. Pity because Conti have always been a good tyre. I too will be looking to change brands
We put 2700 miles on the Armadillo Elite 700×25. Probably could have gone to 3000 miles.
We now have 1600 Miles on the Armadillo Elite 700X28. Looks like they will last over 300 miles. 28s have a softer ride but only max out at 95psi. Both sizes ride as well as the Contis and the flat protection is much better.
I had a series, either two or perhaps three, of failures with Armadillos maybe four or five years ago. The problem was the side wall de-laminated, switched to Gatorskins and no issues since. Seems like it’s a crap shoot out there as far as reliable tires goes.
Had the exact same problem tonight. Could have been seriously hurt. Tires have maybe 100 miles on them. Sorry no excuse for a tire failure where the side wall pulls apart in that fashion. That is a quality control problem plain and simple
Had two of this exact type of failure last year. Switched to flexible bead Gatorskins and have not had any more problems.
I had a similar failure on the rear of my solo bike with a Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II 700C X 25 mm tire. I am 18 stone (255 lbs) and ride about 100 miles a week. I am very careful about tire pressure.
The delamination on my tire was about 10 mm in length when detected. I had about 400 miles on that tire when this happened. The dealer replaced the tire. I have about 2000 miles on the replacement with no issues. The tire is almost worn out and I will be replacing it with another of the same.
I suspect that the failure was a quality control issue, combined with my relatively high weight.
As a very heavy rider I have had a lot of trouble with tires. I have had several tire carcass delaminations in the past. I blame them on low tire pressure, but I may be mistaken. They were not Continental tires.
On the tandem we run Continental Top Contact II 700c X 37 mm tires. Fully loaded the weight is close to 35 stone ( almost 500 lbs).
We have had 2 flats this past summer in at least 1000 miles of riding. One was a pinch; hit a big pothole going down hill at 20 mph on a “B” road on Skye. Can’t blame the tire for that. The other was a glass puncture.
We’ve had this exact situation twice. The first time was about 3 years ago, on a Bike VA tour. We flatted 3 times in about 5 miles before I found the problem with the bead separation. I chalked it up to a one-off.
Happened again this past weekend. This time I knew what to look for and sure enough, bead separation, about 1-inch long. Wrapped a dollar bill around it, patched the tube and that was enough to get us home.
Both times were on wire-beaded Conti Gatorskins, 700×25. I’m switching to the Kevlar-bead version for now as I do like the performance, ride and durability of the Gatorskins, with the exception of these incidents. It has to be a manufacturing issue.
I had a 700-25c gatorskin separate exactly like this on my half-bike this winter. I was on a ride and was just starting to notice a subtle thumping in my rear tire, which then blew out at the point of bead separation.
Rim brakes or disc brakes?
Were there any long descents? Heat can build up, and cause problems.
Did you check the rim for a possible sharp spot, or rim warpage due to heat buildup. I was on a tandem a few years ago, and, on the descent, the front rim completely exploded, due to heat.
Anything less than a 28mm tire on a tandem is silly. Here, bigger is definitely better. Put on the biggest tire your frame will accept. We’re running 38s and getting good mileage wear, great handling and a smooth ride. Check the latest tire size research. Bigger, flexible side wall, tires have less rolling resistance and are more flat resistant. Even the racing pros are going to bigger sizes.
What is the make and model of your 700×38 tires. I am looking for this size for my Cannondale 29er tandem for the road.
ReneHerse tires are the best !
25C tires on a tandem? That is asking alot from a tire. Very high pressures put tire at risk from sharp objects. Gatorskins aren’t all they’er cracked up to be. Just a personal opinion. I ran them on various bikes and road tandems briefly. They just seemed to get cuts easily. Now I was using 28C Gskins minium, volume is King. Like Lary said.”put on the biggest tire the frame will handle”. 25C on a tandem just doesn’t seem prudent to me. Schwalbe products and the Maxxis ReFuse have been working well for me. Long and short of it is, ditch the Gatorskins.
I just experienced a failure like this with my Conti Gator Hardshell 700X28. Tires were less than 30 miles old, on new Rolf Prima rims. The sidewall of the tire separated from the wire bead, and blew out. Fortunately NOT while we were riding. I’ve contacted Conti…but have not heard from them yet. Will keep everyone posted.
Get a wider tire. Why run skinny tires an a big bike…??
We have had 4 blow outs on Continental Gatorskins over the past 13 months. Had never had any in 10 prior years of tandem riding same tires. Sidewall / bead separations in each case. Three of the 4 blowouts were going slow; top of hill, starting from a stop sign, on a sidewalk and one was maybe 17 mph on bike path. No severe road conditions, no harsh riding, disc brakes, all rear tires. Seems they have a significant quality issue with outsourced manufacturing.
Addition to last post, all tires were 28mm.
We just had a blowout on a 28mm Conti 4000. It was new this spring, and had 1800 miles on it, unloaded. Using 90 psi, and a Velocity Blunt SS rim. The kevlar bead blew out for about 3″. Thankfully, we were only preparing for a ride. It was on the rear wheel, and the brakes are disc.
A – who would ever run a 25c on a tandem.
B – the tires in the pictures have the typical cord showing through the sidewalls.
C – Continental tires are not worth the price.
D – more tire volume equals better ride quality 32c minimum on a road tandem.
Lots of people run 25c tires on a tandem. A lot of the older Calfees and “racing” Co-Motions had forks and chainstays that would not accommodate tires any bigger than that. If you attend rallies, take a close look at the bikes and you will see that most of the faster and even the used to be faster teams are running 25’s or 28’s at most. There are even a few teams still running 23’s that just won’t be persuaded with the current research that says wider tires are actually faster on normal roads. I just switched from 25’s to 28’s on my Calfee and I run 32’s on my touring tandem.
We used to run 25c on our tandem (even 23’s on the front), but now only use 28. The larger tires can run at lower pressures, which adds compliance to the tire, resulting in welcome improvements in comfort on rough roads, plus safer high speed cornering if hitting a bump – a real plus when riding fast descents. We are not out to ride 1/4 mile per hour faster – we are out to have a fun and safe ride. 28’s support these goals far better than 23’s and/or 25’s.
Just upgraded from a 1992 C’dale road tandem to a “modern” titanium from a small NH builder. Part of the upgrade is to have room for 50 mm tires (yes, 2″ of rubber) for riding Colorado gravel roads. Currently we have the bike setup for pavement and are running the 38 mm Panaracer Gravel Kings and are loving the upgrade from 28 mm Continental 4000s II. Note that the GK’s measure 41 mm and the 4000s II measured 31mm – both are much wider than the stated width. I’m still sorting out tire pressures but the GK’s at 75 front & rear seems to do well for the combined captain+stoker weight of 320 pounds. The larger volume tires are so much smoother but the bike feels faster than the older C’dale. Note I am using the smooth version of the GK and not the “SK” model with knobs – I’m using those on my gravel bike (single).
I’d like to see this post die. Oh my goodness, give it a break. Continental tires SUCK. Buy some new Maxxis, Vittoria or Michelin. This post has literally been up for years. I’ve made a comment or two, but to no avail. Please make it end!!!
I am on my second set of gator skin folding tires changing from 28c to 32c
1st set lasted over 1500 miles, they do tend to square at the back with wear.
I have had no issues with flats or quality problem, total weight bike and all around 340lbs running 100-105lb psi.
I purchased two 700Cx32 Continental Gator Skins and both showed signs of sidewall seam separation at less than 500 miles. These sections (3) started with a slight rise that turned into a noticeable split at around 600 miles. Poor quality control.
The same thing happened to my 700×25 gatorskin today. Was relatively new maybe have cycled 300km. I should contact Continental with this issue hopefully they can replace the tire.
The same thing happened to my gatorsins