First Impressions: Schwalbe Ultremo ZX Tires

We FINALLY got a chance to get in a tandem ride on Saturday with the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires fitted to our Calfee.


Sadly, regular readers will recall that I mounted these back on August 17th and between the weekend weather and planned trips this is the first time we’ve been on the tandem since then.  It felt great to get out on the tandem… really great!  Nothing too dramatic or epic: just a moderate pace over a bit under 30-miles on our local roads here in the Northwest suburbs around Atlanta, Georgia.  We plan to get out there again this morning before the day gets too far ahead of us.

OK, with that out-of-the-way, first impressions of the Schwalbe tires…  pretty nice.

What does that mean?!  Compared to our Vredestein Fortezzas, the Schwalbes offered a lot of similar ride characteristics: they felt light, lively, and cornered pretty well noting that will improve as they get scuffed-in.   I’m not sure if it’s simply having less mass in the tread or the tread compound, but as often happens when you switch to lighter-weight wheels and tires you sometimes end up with less vibration dampening and I believe that’s the case with the Schwalbe Ultremo’s.  There was a bit more perceptible road buzz coming through the tires and a little more bump transfer to my hands than what I experience with our Vredestein Fortezza’s.  I ran the tire pressure at the same 135 psi that I use with the Fortezza and that may be part of it, so today I plan to drop the pressure to 120 psi for today’s ride to see if that takes off some of the edge.  After that I’ll remount the Vredesteins and then do some switching back and forth with the Schwalbes to see if the initial impressions were valid.

Bottom Line: They seem like a really nice tire that offer up a nice alternative to the Vredestein Fortezza in terms of initial riding impressions.

The true test will be longer-term durability and tread life.  If the Schwalbes offer longer tire-life but similar handling characteristics with no real change in reliability — we rarely get flats with the Fortezzas — then that could tip the scales towards the Schwalbes as a tire of choice for the future even on the Calfee.  Near term, we’ve fitted a set of 28mm Ultremo’s to our triplet and I’m cautiously optimistic that they will yield a huge improvement in handling vs. the Continental Gatorskins that came on the bike.  Shoot, I should have taken those Conti’s over to RJ’s last night for his Speedster: they’re simply going to gather dust here.

More to follow…


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?
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3 Responses to First Impressions: Schwalbe Ultremo ZX Tires

  1. Dave Snope says:

    I’ll be anxious to hear about your extended experience with the Ultremo ZX on the tandem. I just mounted the tubeless version of that tire on my single bike and my first impression of them is similar to yours, especially the bit about the firm ride. But I found them to handle quite well and have good road grip-so far. I have been using Michelin Pro tires on the tandem for years and they are hard to beat, so the Schwalbe will have to perform very well for me to consider switching..

  2. Eric Schroeder says:

    I have been using Schwalbe tires for years on my road bikes and XC race bike. Went tubeless on the road bike with the Ultremo’s and love them. After 1000 miles they are still performing well and being able to run lower pressure is a big bonus. I would suggest adding tubes with removable valve cores to the tandem and adding a ounce of sealant to the tubes to eliminate those nagging flats.

  3. Mike Wilkinson says:

    The Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires are the best we’ve had on our tandems, though we have never tried the Vredestein Fortezzas. We are a 280lb team, and we run our 700x28s at 100/110psi. Two other tandem teams we know use about the same pressures. With that size, at those pressures, the Schwalbes have a pretty plush ride.

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