I was on a ride with several other riders on a road that had been closed for some time. There were goat heads galore, and all but one of us got at least 2 flats.
The one person that did not flat had Hardshells, so I figured I'd give them a try on my commute bike.
I only used them for a week or so. The grip was terrible in anything but bone dry conditions, a few close calls were enough for me.
I guess that's the trade off with the hard rubber. Pity.
Pros- Long lasting, easily get 4000 plus miles on the tire. I've used the Gator Hardshell for past 7 years as they have provided me with best puncture protection especially since I ride in a rural area with goatheads along trails and roads.
Cons - More difficult to mount tire onto rim. Seems to work best to lay it in sun and let it warm up and soften some. Make sure you have tire levers and / or tire bead jack and that will save your fingers or thumbs.
I've been using this tire for a couple months now, and they've been such a relief. I was getting paranoid with the number of flats I was getting with my Michelin Pro4s. Those didn't last long. These Hardshells feel like they're built for the real world.
About as puncture-proof as a Schwalbe Marathon at about 2/3 the weight. IMO the Conti Hardshell is the standard for flat resistance and durability. I recently replaced a Hardshell on my rear wheel. I weigh 205 and the tire lasted over 4000 miles until the wear dimples were gone. That's a rear wheel. Amazing. Flats were few and far between. The Hardshell sidewalls are far more durable than the GP 4000 with only a slight weight penalty.
These are durable, tougher-than-tough tires! I commute pretty carelessly over some really sketchy surfaces strewn with broken glass, gravel, bits of metal, the whole nine yards... and I have yet to get a flat with these tires after many months. That said, I hate these tires in the rain! They feel slippery and I don't have much confidence through the corners when the roads are wet. I plan to take them off and replace them with something grippier when it starts raining in the fall... but you can bet the Gator Hardshells will be back on my bike come spring.
Summer 2014 edit: I never got around to taking these tires off last winter. I got used to taking the corners a bit more carefully and the tires didn't give me too much trouble even in heavy rain. Still going strong now! I recommend these tires all the time to anyone who's sick of flats. Awesome.
Best City-riding tire I've used yet. I've pulled small bits of glass and other detritus out of my tire which have been unable to go all the way through to the tube, and when used on one of my brakeless track bikes in the City, its skidding lifespan is far, FAR outside any others (including the Vittoria Randonneur). I've also ridden this tire outside the City and it has avoided pinch flats in potholes as well as errant thorns and otherwise. And on top of all this, the rolling resistance is super low, which means you're going faster than a lot of other puncture-resistant offerings. Honestly for the price this is a no-brainer for commute bikes, courier bikes, errand bikes, and fun bikes. I wouldn't put it on anything that's going off-road (though I have foolishly ridden it off-road hahaha), but otherwise it's what I recommend to ANYONE who will listen.
I was hesitant about spending a lot on a tire for a long time but after trying all kinds of tires and getting sick of flats I decided to try these. Well 1800 miles later I love them! No flats so far! I ride in Houston, about 50 or more miles a day pending weather, I come across bad roads, there is all kinds of crap on these streets, cans, bottles, glass, nails, screws, rocks, wire, wood, steel, a rake, a shovel, no kidding,, anyway these tires still look new, I ride a road bike and ride pretty hard, I love the ride, the grip, all of it. I will buy these tires always from now on.. Try them you will love them!
After two flats in two consecutive rides on a 12 mile urban commute, decided to give the Gators a try. So far, so good; zero further flats. Will buy again and recommend if you're experiencing trouble with punctures.
It's true that it is a stiff tire:
1). Contrary to other reviews, I did not experience any difficulty mounting the tires. They went on totally by hand, the only tool used was a pump to inflate.
2). Inflated to 90 PSI, the ride is harsher than the Vittoria Zaffiros used before. The ride has mellowed somewhat with mileage, could be due to a variety of factors.
I have an 11 mile (one way) commute that varies from rural to city (bike lane) routes. As you might imagine, lots of debris (rocks, glass, metal, you name it) from time to time in the bike lanes. New commuter bike this year, and on the first ride in, picked up something that cut through the rear tire. In the past, I've used Gatorskins as my go-to robust tire.
This time, went with the Hardshell, I was happy to find it in 32mm folding, and on sale. I've been riding on this for a couple of months. Tread still looks great, no signs of cutsbreakswhat not. I expect to get many, many worry-free commute miles.
One oddity - this tire must run very slightly small, my commute went from 10.7 to 10.8 miles. The 10.7 value was based on three bikes, three different tires. They were all consistent at 10.7, this tire has been consistent at giving me 10.8.
Very happy with this tire, I'll grab one for the front once I either wear out, or flat, the tire that came on the bike.
I've been using these for years and swear by them. The roads I ride are littered with junk that'll puncture most tires, except these. I've never had an issue changing out a flat on a ride, since the tires are warm enough to re-seat.
For those who complain that they're too hard to install properly, here are a few tricks I've picked up over the years.
1. heat the tires to make them more pliable before attempting - lay them in the sun for 20 minutes, or a warm oven. Seriously!
2. don't let the bead get seated until you fit both sides of the tire over the rim. you'll need that little bit of extra room.
3. all else fails, try a little baby powder OR dish soap to get them seated. soapy water is what mechanics use on car tires for the same issue.
4. don't try to muscle them onto the rim - you'll damage the bead. try the steps above first.
5 still having problems? take them to a bike mechanic & have them show you how to do it right.
The Gator Hardshell is my tire of choice for my road bike. I ride 60-90 miles a week around the Vancouver/Portland area, and I've found the Hardshell to be a very durable tire. I haven't had a flat due to puncture in a very long time, even though I frequently ride by "homeless" camps and the piles of trash that litter the road or bike path. These tires are dependable, wear well and resist punctures. What more does a bike rider need?
With out a doubt the best tire for the rider who wants the best protection from rock, glass, thorns and wire from car tires. I tried many brands, the gator skin hard shell may be difficult to get on but it's worth the time it takes to mount them.
I use Continental Gator Hardshell on our tandom and will use nothing else. Tha're a great tire and hold up very well with over 300 pounds riding on them. We are running custom Zipp carbon wheels and the tires mount up with no problems what-so-ever.
If you want a great heavy duty tire and are more concerned with durability, safety than weight, the Hardshell is the tire for you!
These tires work for me, daily to work and back, on the streets of San Francisco. They have a good feel and aren't as fragile as other road tires I've used. Punctures are almost a thing of the past.