Regular readers may recall that I did a little experimenting with wider rims/tires on our Calfee back in July and in the process of doing so had something of an epiphany about Continental’s Gatorskins: there’s a reason they’re billed as being durable. Yeah, what they offer users in tread life and purported durability / resistance to road debris, they give away in performance.
So, as noted in one of my comments on that thread, I went in search of some new tires for our triplet — which was the donor bike for the Gatorskin tire experiment — and decided to give the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX Evolution V-Guard Folding Road Tyre (boy is that a mouthful) a shot, given the favorable feedback some of the folks who use them have provided. I was somewhat taken aback by the $79.95 US MSRP starting point for the cost and, sadly, had to go off-shore to Wiggle in the UK where they had them at 30% off of the UK $59.95 MSRP price point; about $39/ea. with free delivery.
Yeah, go figure: even with international shipping the better deals can be found in the UK. I think I discovered this a few years back when I picked up some Ortlieb panniers for our Calfee. I ended up ordering two pair of the Ultremo’s: 2-700×28’s for the Triplet and 2-700×25’s for the Calfee on August 3rd. My sense is, we’ll only be able to get a real appreciation for any difference in the Ultremo’s vs. our beloved Vredestein Fortezza’s on the tandem that’s most familiar to us and on familiar roads.
The tires arrived on August 12th, but we’ve not yet had a chance to try them out given our soggy weather. However, I’ve mounted them and have some initial observations.
- The tire compound has an unusual look and feel; seems to use a polymer-based rubber rather than the natural rubber that I’m used to seeing on the tires we’ve used.
- They are VERY light:
- The 700×25 was 195 grams vs. 235 for the Vredestein Fortezza
- The 700×28 was 230 grams vs. 330 grams for the Continental Gatorskin, noting the Gatorskin uses a wire bead which really puts it at a disadvantage. However, that’s still nearly a 1/4 lb per wheel weight reduction for the triplet.
- Their width is approximate, not quite accurate:
- The 700×25 measured 24mm at 115 psi vs. the Vredesteins at a true 25mm.
- The 700×28 measured 30mm at 115 psi vs. the Gatorskins at a true 28mm.
- The graphics take some getting used-to: the branding is LOUD! And, at least on the 25mm models — which appear to be a bit newer version of the Ultremo ZX than the 28s — there was a ton of graphic “marketing” stuff on the sidewall. Weird. Anyway, side-by-side comparison of the Vredestein Fortezza at left and Schwalbe Ultremo ZX at right, below.
- Mounting the Schwalbes was a piece of cake, right out of the box. The 25’s mounted up snug on the Velocity Deep V rims but only needed a lever to pop in the last 6″ of sidewall. The 28’s went on the Velocity Dyad rims by hand, no need for a lever.
Again, if the rain ever stops and Debbie can shake the chest cold she developed this past week we’ll give the tires a spin on our local loop this weekend and update this entry with some feedback.
A permanent switch over to the Schwalbes at least on the Calfee would be a few years away, as we still have a pretty good cache of Vredestein Fortezzas on hand and our annual mileage doesn’t have us tearing through tires. Then again, if the Schwalbes really tickle our fancy, perhaps some of the Vredesteins will get redistributed to the single bikes, as they could probably benefit from some fresh rubber!