Have Delta Cruisers Met Their Match?

How is this for proof that my aesthetic preferences do not trump all else: I think the old, nondescript tires on my vintage Gazelle may have been ever so slightly more comfortable than the gorgeous, creamy new Delta Cruisers I replaced them with. I replaced the old tires not for the looks, but because they were 15 years old and worn out. I rode with the original tires for the first 5 months of owning the bike, but winter was coming and it seemed like the right time to get new ones. And as long as I was replacing them, the 28" Schwalbe Delta Cruisers were the natural choice: beautiful, gloriously shock absorbent, and puncture resistant. I love them on my Raleigh DL-1, I loved them on the Steyr Waffenrad I rode in Vienna, I love them in the 700C size on my Royal H. mixte, and I loved them in the 26" size on my formerly owned Pashley Princess and Raleigh Sports.

What I like about Delta Cruisers in terms of functionality, is that they are both faster and cushier (i.e. better at dampening road shock) than other tires I've tried in equivalent sizes and widths. Whenever I replace other tires with Delta Cruisers, the change has always resulted in an "Ahhh, much better!" feeling... until now. It's a tiny difference, but I think the old tires on the Gazelle may have felt softer. I am not ready to state this with certainty, because the roads are in such worse condition now than they were before winter's start and part of me hopes there may just be more potholes now than before. But on the other hand, I remember the feeling of going over the potholes themselves as having been a bit better with the old tires.  Darn! Just when I thought I was done with this bike, there is something new to obsess about.

It took me a while to determine the brand of the old tires, as they were quite worn out. But finally I was able to make out "Kenda NL 40-635." Ah, so they are Kendas, made for the Dutch market. The checkered tread pattern looks just like this, but I don't see any 28" tires on Kenda's website. I've been able to find some on ebay that look like they might be the same model - or at least the current version of the same model, as the tires on my bike were made 15 years ago. But will they feel as good as my old ones? I've read so-so reviews of Kenda tires and it's hard for me to believe that they could be more comfortable than Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. Still, I am open minded and will readily admit it if indeed this is so. I don't want to replace the lovely Delta Cruisers, but for me ride quality is an area where comfort wins over aesthetics. Does anyone have 28" Kenda tires on their bike?


  1. Harris sells a Kenda in 635. Maybe check it out the next time you're there.

  2. Oh! That's too funny. I couldn't find anything when I searched for them, but I'll look at Harris's website. Thanks : )

  3. It's been known that Schwalbe tires aren't the cushiest (or free-ly rolling) tires... but tend to be one of the preferred urban and commuting tires because of their incredible puncture resistance and durable casing.

    I felt similarly about the original Raleigh-branded tires on my Dl1 (I don't know who actually manufactured them). They were simply cushier than the delta cruisers that are on there now, but I wanted to upgrade to something puncture resistant.

    I think Broadway Bikes might stock the Kenda 40-635.

    1. The original tyres on 70's DL-1's were IRC tyres

  4. Velouria, the links to Schwalbe website in your cream tires post (http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2010/10/cream-tires-directory.html) are dead. also this model isn't listed anywhere on their website. but if you google you can find an active schwalbe page where, it seems, you can purchase deltas. they're listed under road tires in the link but website's road tires section doesn't list them.
    here's the link - http://smtp.schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires/delta_cruiser_hs392

  5. somervillain - Interesting. For me the Delta Cruisers were an improvement, both on the DL1 and on the Raleigh Sports.

    hihik - The Delta Cruisers are easily available, I was talking about the 28" Kenda tires. Sorry for the broken links; they are always changing their website around!

  6. somervillain: That's an interesting observation because I had precisely the opposite experience. My DL-1 came with the (surprisingly well preserved) stock tires, but replacing them with the Schwalbe Deltas was like night and day. The Delta tires were noticeably more shock absorbent and the ride quality changed drastically for the better.

    Although, I suppose it's possible that Raleigh could have changed the tires over the years between the various DL-1 models?

  7. Whatever you choose for a replacement, make sure it has good puncture resistance like the Schwalbes. Removing a rear tire on a bike with an enclosed chain case and internal hub can be a real PITA. If the bike has roller brakes or similar, that only compounds the problem and makes removing the front more difficult.

    I took a long 'bicycle hiatus' and when I started riding again, I was amazed at how much more puncture resistant new tires are. Seemed I was constantly repairing flats through about the mid-90's when said hiatus started. I hate to jinx my luck, but I've had only one flat in the last year and that was when an 6" gutter nail speared both sidewalls of my tire. And that was on a bike with an internal hub. I had no spare tube, so changing had to wait until I got home, but it wasn't fun there - even with all the tools and comforts of home.

  8. somervillain -
    "It's been known that Schwalbe tires aren't the cushiest (or free-ly rolling) tires."

    You mean my Franks are Fat for no reason?



  9. Everyone keeps citing the puncture-resistance of the Delta Cruisers, but I wasn't really impressed by it. I used Delta Cruisers for about a year and got punctures every few months.

  10. My Dutch Technica city bike has sweet riding cream colored tires. 700x37c "Darlington" made in Holland. They are seriously rotted and I expect the rear to blow out any day now. Have you ever seen Darlington tires for sale?
    I was considering the Delta Cruisers as replacements, but I'd sure hate to spoil the ride. I see that Electra sells tires that appear to be copies of the old Dutch models. Have you tried those?
    Also, do you have (or know of) a good tutorial on wheel changes for bikes with full cloth chain cases? It looks very intimidating!
    I've heard that there are tubes that aren't a closed circle, but rather a long tube that's sealed on both ends that can be installed without removing the wheel. Have you ever seen such a thing? I'd sure like to have one of those as a spare.
    Sorry for all the questions!

  11. Everyone keeps citing the puncture-resistance of the Delta Cruisers, but I wasn't really impressed by it. I used Delta Cruisers for about a year and got punctures every few months.

    Did you determine where the punctures were originating? If they were coming from the inside of the rim or spokes, that indicates a faulty wheel or rim strip.

  12. lyen - I agree with somervillain that if you had problems that frequently, it may have been a result of something else and not the tires themselves.

    While the Marathon Plus tires are the most puncture-proof of the Schwalbe range, I don't like how they feel and don't want them on my bikes. I've had no flats thus far with the Delta Cruisers.

  13. Oh noes... not again.

    *shudders* remembering the rear wheel "process."

    Ryan--V has published on this blog a relatively recent post about removing the chaincase/rear wheel of a Dutch bike.

    Some people use spreaders to pull apart the fork ends and thread a tube + tyre through the opening. I don't like this method.

    I've heard of these long tubes you mentioned but have no experience with them. They do sound like an excellent road-side backup. You only need to get the rim off the ground, if they do that, wonderful!

  14. It occurred to me that we may be over-inflating them on this bike.

    What pressures are people using on their 28x1.5" Delta Cruisers with a light rider?

  15. I too recently replaced tires on my sam hillborne as my front tire had rub from somewhere i noticed after a small accident.
    It was the perfect opportunity to put cream tires on my bike as the rest of my bikes have either delta cruisers or cheng shins. The 28" CST on my gazelle are great, the 26" delta cruisers on my BSA are great. The 27" CST on my
    motobecane are not that awesome. Well, I still need to ride it more but initially i missed my old tires, the were Panaracer paselas and they felt amazing, like floating above the street. Bummer.

  16. Here is the post that shows the rear wheel and chaincase removal.

    MDI - I am not inclined to experiment with tires, as it's not exactly a piece of cake with these bikes and is also expensive. I'll keep riding with the cruisers and see how they feel. But I was curious whether others have 28" Kendas and what they think of them.

    Another important point, is that I have no idea whether the currently produced Kendas feel as good as the Dutch ones from 15 years ago. They could have changed them, for the worse.

  17. ann - Hadn't realised you have a Sam Hillborne as well as the Gazelle! I've never tried CST tires. Why did you replace the Pasela's with them in the first place? The Paselas are my favourite tires for road/touring bikes so far.

  18. With my Delta Cruisers, I had about 4 or 5 flats in one year which were purely due to glass damage. I'm not sure if that's normal or not.

    Does anyone know how the Schwalbe Marathon tires compare to the Marathon Plus? Are they significantly faster?

  19. Somewhere in the basement we have the original rubber that came with my DL-1. I think it has some cracking, but I remember it was very cushy. Those were labeled "Raleigh Roadster" on the sidewalls, I believe.

    We could show it to Harris or someone and see if they think it's still safe to ride.

  20. lyen - I don't remember about speed, but I've read in several reviews that the non-plus Marathons are considerably less puncture resistant.

  21. I've heard (anecdotally) that Marathons are significantly less puncture proof than Marathon Plus. I've only personal experience with the Plus version.

    At the same time, I seem to recall from reading their site that Delta Cruisers are rated even lower than their standard Marathons. So they are not really supposed to be puncture-proof per se. In that sense, I am not surprised that you're getting glass flats.

    All I can say about Marathon Plus is that they are ridiculous, thick, heavy and unyielding. If you ever take one off the rim, you probably couldn't feel your fingers through them. I am sure they are making my main transport bike less comfortable, but I think it's worth it for the superb flat protection.

    I wouldn't put Marathon Pluses on a bike that's for pleasure rides or even longer distance fun rides.

  22. MDI said...
    "...At the same time, I seem to recall from reading their site that Delta Cruisers are rated even lower than their standard Marathons."

    I wouldn't say that unless you can produce some evidence. The Schwalbe website does not say this, with the Cruisers described as having "Puncture Protection" in the same manner as they describe the Marathons.

  23. Well maybe you're right. They changed their web site (and it's all weird now) but they rate plain Marathons with 5 stars, and Delta Cruisers are with a group that doesn't have a similar rating. It could be nothing, but I interpreted it as Schwalbe only rating their most resistant line.

  24. Everyone keeps citing the puncture-resistance of the Delta Cruisers, but I wasn't really impressed by it. I used Delta Cruisers for about a year and got punctures every few months.

    I just got my first flat on my Delta Cruiser (embedded glass), so hopefully this won't be an ongoing trend. Especially since removing wheels from my Raleigh are not easy.

    Regarding Marathon vs Marathon Plus:
    I've only used the regular Marathons, and never had that many flats on them, and I've run them on two different bikes. They've been on the LHT during the two tours I had the last year, with a cumulative mileage of 1000 miles. One flat.

    Now for a tire that I'd steer clear of, that would be the Specialized Armadillo...

  25. MDI is right. Delta Cruises are in the cheaper "Active" line as opposed to the "Professional" Marathons. Plain Marathons are rated 5, higher for protection than Big Apples (4) with the Marathon Pluses rated at 6.
    What this all translates to in the real world is hard to say, but I'd trust cheaper lower spec Schwalbes over any other low spec cheap tyres.

  26. If the difference is only slight I'd just let it go and give myself a week to adjust to them. The Schwalbes should have much better puncture resistance than Kendas. I keep tire liners in my Kendas, which I'm sure negatively effects the cushiness and levels the playing field with my Schwalbes.

  27. Also, maybe they're overinflated. Try inflating to just above the minimum recommended PSI.

  28. I know it is sort of off-topic now, but your old tires may have been so deteriorated, rubber separating from fractured cords, that they really were softer, to the point of flying to flinders.

  29. I work in an office
    where there are now another 15 people
    who cycle commute. In my experience
    I see that beginning cycle commuters
    find getting flats a real disincentive
    to cycling. They ride for a while,
    then get a couple of flats in a row,
    and that's it - back to the car.
    I used to fix their flats for them
    (we have an office pump), but now
    I recommend Marathon Plus tires
    and everyone is happy.
    None of my colleagues complain
    about the ride, but they did complain
    about being late for work, etc.

  30. Adam said...
    If the difference is only slight I'd just let it go and give myself a week to adjust to them.

    I've been riding on the new tires for over 2 months so far, though my travel radius during the winter was fairly limited. But yeah, I'll wait a little longer to decide.

    The Schwalbes should have much better puncture resistance than Kendas.

    I don't know how much truth there is to this, but several Dutch bike owners have told me that the tires made for these types of bikes have traditionally tended to be very much puncture resistant despite not being officially rated as such, by virtue of being thick. I did ride on the old tires for 5 months with no flats, including after riding over some glass and metal shavings.

  31. All other variables aside for a moment, maybe 15 year old rubber rolls smoother because it's so thoroughly "broken in".

    Also, regarding flats and tire choice, pressure has a lot to do with it. Over inflated means a rough ride, but under inflated means more flats.

    I'm on Schwalbe Marathons these days. My current set is ~2 years old. I've had one flat in that time. That's pretty remarkable for San Diego, Land of Road Debris.

  32. I have a Gazelle and it has 28" cream Vredestein tires that you can get from any Gazelle dealer. They are supposed to be puncture resistant and are from Holland.

  33. Two things: About fixing a flat on a bike with full chaincase. It is possible to partly (one side of the rim) remowe the tire and pull out the tube without remowing wheel or chaincase. Mend the tube and put it back in where it belongs and bring the tire back on the rim (still one sided).

    If you want to replace the tube just to be on the safe side do it at home, maybe in the weekend or something with plenty of time.

    On all flats: Make sure you inspect the innside of the tire to find out if a piece of glass or wire is stuck in there. If it is you can get flats over and over and.. You can use your hands, but best is to use a piece of cloth or some white tissue paper and run it around innside the tire. Clothe will catch the sharp object so you can detect it. White tissue wil often tear so that a small piece of white tissue is cought in the sharp oject. Easy to see where it is. Badmother.

  34. Re: Optimal tire pressure.

    This depends somewhat on total weight on the tire, as well as the surface. I assume you mainly ride on solid pavement.

    If I assume Veloria weighs ~120 lbs, and her bike weighs ~40 lbs, there will be about 70 lbs on the front wheel and 90 lbs on the rear wheel. Based on the chart from Bicycling Quarterly, your 38 mm tires should be inflated to only 30 to 40 psi front, and 35 to 45 psi rear.

    Bicycle Quarterly tire pressure chart: http://tinyurl.com/475bgva

    If you have them pumped up harder, try them at lower pressure and see if the ride is smoother. In theory, rolling resistance may go up a little with lower pressure, at least on hard pavement. But if the streets are really bumpy and full of debris the lower pressure may improve grip and reduce bouncing, so it may be just as efficient.

  35. Addendum: Actually, Veloria might benefit from weighing the bike. According to the article, some city bikes have only 1/3 of the weight up front, and 2/3 in back. In that case, you would want 30 to 35 psi front, and 45 to 50 psi rear for total weight of around 160 to 165 lbs. Closer to 50 would be better if you often carry 10 lbs on the rear rack.

  36. A tire's comfort depends on many factors, but A to B comparisons for smoothness are meaningless if the pressure isn't the same.


  37. I've never seen the long skinny tubes mentioned here but on 2 occasions where I used my last spare tube on a long mountain bike ride I cut the tube at the hole and tied a knot in each end, pulled it as tight as I could, then used a zip-tie to join the knots so there wouldn't be a gap(a helluva big thump though)and finished the ride. No leaks either. If you used a tube for a larger diameter tire you wouldn't even have to zip-tie them together. Just overlap a little(although what tire is bigger than a 28" roadster tire).

    I always try to patch the tube with the wheel in-situ when my DL1s get a rear flat to avoid removing the wheel and mine don't even have chaincases.

    There is another option that I've never tried but have seen demonstrated with sew-ups. Regardless where the hole in the tube is, you open the seam at the valve stem just a little(3/4" or so) and pull the tube out a few inches. You then cut the tube 2"from the stem and take another sew-up type tube that you have cut the same way and tie the non-stem ends together. You then pull the new tube into the casing with the old one, you untie them and insert one end of the new tube inside the other end so it overlaps 3/4" and glue it fast. It works slick and doesn't leak, come apart or create a thump. Then you only have to sew-up a short section at the stem.

    The part of all this messin' around that may apply to bikes with chaincases is the part about splicing new tubes together. A new tube can easily stretch the little bit required without creating a problem inside the tire and the joint, if done properly will hold as well as a patch.

    I've used lots of Kenda's over the years on everything from BMX and Mountain bikes to roadbikes, the quality was always good on their better tires(they make a lot of really inexpensive stuff too), if they suited the application they always did very well.


  38. No experience with the Kenda tires for 28" wheels, but I have a set of Kenda Kwests on my '85 Stumpjumper that have been there for 11 years now, and are just beginning to get thin on the sidewalls. They have been run underinflated on quite a few occasions, too. Like spindizzy says, they do alright with the better quality lines.
    I paid $10 each on sale at REI, if I recall correctly.

    Be careful about running the Delta Cruisers at very low pressure; they can be prone to cracking if you go under their minimum PSI. (the carcass is usually fine, but the cracks are disconcerting.)

  39. A couple weeks ago I happened upon and picked up a step-through 1969 DL-1. Wasn’t really in the market for it but it’s in very nice condition throughout, had been sitting for awhile with no takers (kind of surprising), and the price was low. The previous owner replaced the old tires with Kendas. Hasn’t been ridden yet so will have to let you know impressions in spring.

  40. My new* Delta Cruisers are supposed to be arriving tomorrow in the mail and will hopefully be installed on Saturday. Even if they turn out not to be as super-awesome as I hope they will be, at least the cream will go nicely with the blue frame of my vintage Sears bike! I'm sure there are worse tire choices I could make...

    *Purchased due to my first blow-out ever, which happened last week when the stock whitewall tire on my rear wheel EXPLODED (with a huge bang and a puff of air) right as I hopped off the aforementioned Sears 3-speed at my front door. The guy who sold it to me said the tires were fine, as did the nice people on the Classic and Vintage section of BikeForums, as did the owner of my LBS when I took it in for a tuneup, so I thought I'd save some money and wait to replace them. Surprise! They were wrong - rubber tires DO disintegrate after decades in storage, on the inside if not the outside. Listen to Velouria when she tells you to get new tires for your upgraded vintage bike (http://tinyurl.com/4odnkt3). She is right!

  41. LadyEnoki - When did you purchase your Gazelle? It is a 3 speed Toer Populair? I ask because mine that is about a year old came with cream 28 CST Tires made in China, not the advertised Vredestein. Did I get jipped?

  42. When I asked him about the tires on a WorkCycles Omafiets, Henry Cutler replied:

    The Plus versions don't flat but they ride awfully.

    And about flat tires, from his FAQ on the bakfiets:

    Help! I’ve got a flat tire. How do I get the wheel out with the chaincase, gear hub, chain tensioners, roller brake, jacket protectors etc etc?
    Silly foreigner! You don’t need to take the wheel out to fix a flat. Just open the tire on the non-drivetrain side, find the puncture (and cause of puncture), patch it, and put it back together again. You only need to remove the wheel when there’s no more room on the tube for another patch or its time for a new tire. Given that Schwalbe Marathons don’t flat easily and wear like iron that’s not very often.

    In my experience, disconnecting a Rollerbrake and a generator hub is more difficult than not having to do so, but really isn't difficult at all. One additional tool is required (a 10mm wrench, I believe), but it's easy to get it back in place. For me, the biggest difficult in removing either wheel is actually the problem of getting the bike off the ground far enough to extract the wheel. It's not really possible to flip a bakfiets over and rest it on the handlebar and saddle...

    But I haven't had a flat with either the Marathon or Marathon Winter tires yet.

  43. I had Kenda tires on my bicycle, and just recently switched them out for Delta Cruisers. I find the Delta Cruisers a little less smooth than the Kendas, but the Cruisers make up for it in prettiness and puncture resistance.

  44. When I bought my Sports, it had old gumwall Kendas. Because I liked the look of your Sports, and because the vintage Kendas were cracking, I replaced them with the Delta Cruisers. The ride was noticably different: harder and less responsive. I did not prefer that, obviously. But they look nice, and no punctures after hundreds of miles and a neighbor who paves his driveway in broken glass.

  45. Dang it! Flat number two with the Delta Cruisers on the Raleigh. This time the rear wheel, and it was a thorn. I think this thread has jinxed me... ;-)

  46. I've used Marathon plusses on my expedition tourers now for years and I like them; I have ridden through Africa, rough roads in Eastern Europe, mountains in Greece and Turkey, and thousands of miles in Britain and western Europe and not only have had no flats, but find that they roll well, perform in the wet and on gravel, and are also comfortable. I've had no troubles riding 100+ mile days on them, and that's with loaded tourers as well as fun rides on weekends at home here in Sussex. THey can be fiddly to get onto a rim, but once they are there you won't need to be taking them off again for a very long time.

    All that said - having seen Velouria's cream tyres I am making a bold and aesthetically minded experiment by putting cream Paselas on my bespoke tourer that is now being built!

  47. Re "long tubes". That's what they use for the Vélib' bike share program in Paris. They're somewhat heavier than regular tubes, and one can feel a slight rolling irregularity, a slight "bump" in each wheel revolution, when they're used in thinner and bigger wheels than the wide and heavy 26 vélib ones.
    I'm not sure if it's really more convenient for a roadside puncture fix than a patch, but to each his own.
    Re Vredestein Classic (current Toer Populair tyres). My wife has used them (almost) daily for 10 months now, and no punctures so far. Knock on wood.

  48. velouria,
    yes, i have a green sam hillborne and it is an obvious favorite in the stable (prompting me to want a roadeo). i use it as a commuter more than anything right now as i only live 8 miles from work but i have a large bridge to contend with as well as horrible lack of bike infrastructure.
    the reason i replaced the paselas was they were about to blow and i was going to get thinner creme paselas, but that seemed not wise as i had just almost been hit the other day and i am a little mor confident on a 34-35 mm tire on that ride. so i tried the delta cruisers (for aesthetics) and they are fine for the use, but i'd like to get a roadeo with thinner paselas for long weekend rides.

  49. I'd be looking for Vredesteins. That is what all the good quality stores are carrying here in Groningen. The company has pretty much taken over the higher quality marketshare here.

    I've been using cheap tires from Halfords and Hema on two of my bikes and I liked them a lot. I only use Vredestein innerbands only though because the cheap Hema and Halford brand seem to pop more.

  50. Something to watch for with Kenda, if you do decide to take that route, is the enormous variations in quality. They produce a lot of tires, at a lot of price points. My off-the-rack road bike came with cheap Kendas, which were kind of awful. Kenda's higher-end tires are pretty well thought of, though. I know this especially is true for mountain biking, where a few of their models have been considered practically an industry-standard.

  51. Kerry,

    Mine was bought in the last month and it was shipped from Holland to Connecticut and down to Florida (furiously tracking the late fedex national truck). They are all supposed to come with Vredestein tires as far as I know. Who did you buy it from? Was it a Gazelle dealer?

    Vredestein also use the Presta valve and not the American one so be aware when inflating.

  52. Oh Kerry and mine is an 8spd but I think even the Basics come with Vredestein tires.

  53. Thanks LadyEnoki,

    I got mine from a Gazelle dealer in SF. It looks like ann ladson who also commented above got the CSTs. They seem fine. I have had the bike for a year and no troubles. It just bothers me that they weren't as advertised (and are probably cheaper). I just sent an email the Ann Marij (the US Gazelle importer) to find out why they are different. Mine also have the Presta valve.

  54. Kerry

    Anne Marij can be a hassle to get a hold of. She screws things up sometimes but at least will make it up to you (when her boss yells at her). I would suggest asking your dealer first.

  55. Gazelle uses presta valves on their transport bikes? So weird. Are the rims Presta too? You have to wonder. :)

  56. Weird indeed, usualy dutch bikes, including the two Gazelle in our household, use dunlop valves (they fit on schraeder rims).

  57. You are right, they are dunlop/woods valves. I misspoke. Anyone know if the presta to schrader adapters work on dunlop as well? My pump works, but it is hard to get a good seal.

    BTW, my dealer is going to replace my CST tires with the Vredestein.

  58. ?
    You mean a Schrader to Presta ? Yes, it should work. Dunlop and presta valves use the same fitting.

  59. That sounds great. Did the dealer give a reason for the CST rather than vredestein?

  60. LadyEnoki,
    They ended up replacing my tires with Delta Cruisers :-). They said that Gazelle said the reason for CST rather than vredestein is that sometimes when they run out they substitute. Anyway, love the new ones. Much more creamy in color as well.

  61. Velouria,
    You may have found that Harris does carry the Kenda's in 28 x 1 1/2" but if not, it looks like Yellow Jersey in WI has them.

  62. Hi! I got Delta Cruiser's for my CX bike on your advise.
    Someone already mentioned 15 Y/O tires will oxidize & crack affecting the compliance of the sidewalls. New Kenda's will be nothing like the old Kenda's. If what you really want is a more compliant tire but they do have their own set of problems. A thinner sidewall tyre (like a skinwall Panaracer Pasela ) might ride faster and smoother but it will also be more prone to lateral damage.
    At about twice as much as the Delta Cruiser's, the Challenge Parigi-Roubaix might be the ultimate great riding, fast and fragile tyre for your Gazelle...


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