New Tires for the Tandems: Schwalbe Ultremo ZX

gatorskinRegular 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.

SDC11299 SDC11300 






  • 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!


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
This entry was posted in Analysis, Technology & Equip.. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to New Tires for the Tandems: Schwalbe Ultremo ZX

  1. cbratina says:

    If even pros are riding 25c tires because they have lower rolling resistance than a 23c, why are tandemists with twice the weight are riding 25c? Perhaps the higher thread count tires roll better, but I have had no trouble keeping up with Conti 4000s 25c tandems with out Grand Bois Cypres 32c tires. We need some real comparison tests.

    • TG says:

      Perhaps it’s simply a matter of riding conditions, expectations and preferences…

      Blonde, Brunette or Redhead?
      Red or White wine?
      Scotch, Whiskey, Tequila or Vodka?
      Ford, Chevrolet, or Chrysler?
      BMW, Mercedes or Lexus?

      Just add it to the list, be happy with your choices and don’t worry about the choices others make.

  2. Shirley says:

    So like that last line, TG! Sometimes takes years to figure that one out.
    Stoker D

  3. Andy says:

    FYI, conti gator skin 28mm are now available in folding Kevlar bead, lighter the wire bead they had only offered until recently.
    In terms of picking 25 over 28mm, the 25mm are lighter than 28mm, which matters for some kinds of racing, and hill climb events. Track racers have done quite a bit of testing and do find wider tires have less rolling resistance, to a limit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s