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…