A Racer’s take on…TIRES

30 10 2007

These tire reviews were submitted by one of our very own RCR racers.

Schwalbe Ultremo Clincher

Ultremo TubularI’ve only used one pair for about 300 miles but think they’re awesome! They are hands-down the most secure tire I’ve ever used in the rain, tubular or clincher. They also have a very nice road feel to them. Do they ride like cotton casing sew-ups? Not quite, but they are getting really close – much better than the older Stelvio clinchers, which were a good tire in their own right. I can’t comment on long-term reliability yet, but after racing on some very nasty chip-seal, the rubber hardly has a mark on it. In fact, the rear tire still has the center molding strip!

Veloflex Paves and Vittoria Evo Corsas may have lower rolling resistance, but personally, I’ve had way too many flats while using them. Flat tires can really ruin a race. Additionally, the Ultremo is 10-20 grams lighter than a GP4000 or Pro2Race and they appear to be lasting far longer.

Anything bad? Anything this good has to come at a price, and these puppies ain’t cheap. But, I’m comforted by the thought that I can feel the quality in the ride.

Need another reason to like Schwalbe? How about how they actively sponsor racing in the U.S. They support/sponsor several clubs (including Recycled Cycles Racing) on a long-term basis. This has made racing significantly more affordable for many young riders. Perhaps that adds some bias to this review, but

Schwalbe Stelvio Tubulars

Stelvio TubularFor those of you who aren’t familiar with these, they are a tubeless construction where the inner tube is vulcanized into the casing of the tire. They are well-made tires, but having notoriously crotchety gear opinions, I would rather have a crack at the new Ultremo Tubular 🙂 . Until that day though, I have no problem rolling on these tubies.

The Stelvio is a more than acceptable race tire, especially for questionable roads. They are several performance notches above Vittoria Rallys and Hutchinson Tempos (which are pure frustration), and are by far the most reliable tubular I’ve ever had. That said, it lacks the perfect road feel of a hand-made cotton sew-up and is a relative slug on rolling resistance tests, but you can’t have it all I guess!

I’m on my 3rd tire (two 22’s and a 25mm) and have yet to puncture despite riding around a college campus and severely abusing them on Roubaix rides. The 22 is a nice width for some of the newer carbon rims out there and the large-volume 25mm floats across bricks and gravel at 80 psi. Also, the bigger tire still feels as light and lively on the road as the 22 when inflated to road pressures. It’s quite versatile and still weighs the same as a 22mm Conti Sprinter.
So, if you need a year-round, all-purpose race tire, or just want a dependable-but-still-fun set of ‘training tires,’ then Schwalbe Stelvios are a perfect choice, but if all you are doing is track racing, or time trialing where rolling restsitance is key, you might want to look elsewhere.

You’re probably looking at the cost of one tire and saying, “Hmm, that sure is an expensive training tire.” Well, yes it is, but for those of us who are still dumb enough to be training on tubular rims, they pay for themselves after realizing how many Rally’s you’ll flat, patch, and reglue before going through one Stelvio, with much better performance.

Ben Rhodes: Cat 1/2 Racer, Recyced Cycles

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