The last few weeks have been an eye opener. A new tyre changed everything.
When I first clapped eyes on the new Schwalbe S One I scoffed at its size, its tread pattern and its price. I couldn’t believe that anyone would want to spend that much money on something so quirky.
Who could possibly want to ride around on a 30mm lump of rubber? Surely it would be like riding a fat bike. Well, I was wrong.
I had read that the IAM pro team had used these tyres in last years Paris Roubaix and apparently they’d had no punctures. It made sense after all most mountain bikers know that for them the inner tube is history. I can’t remember the last time I worried about getting a puncture out on the trail. Tubeless meant more grip, less weight, better ride quality and easy fix punctures. Mountain bike tyres only run at about 30 PSI though, surely those benefits couldn’t cross over to the high-pressure world of tarmac. They needed to be tested.
I chose my long suffering cross bike for this test. The chunky little numbers snapped nicely onto a pair of Stans Crests borrowed from my 29r mountain bike. Pumped up to 80 PSI, I rolled them out onto the road.
First impression was OMG how fat, as I looked down at the front wheel. This was a mistake; I’d just wasted over £100.
As I rolled along though I quickly forgot about their size and started to marvel at how comfy they were. I also realized that against all odds, they felt fast. Nailing it around my usual country lanes route, covered in places with grit, gravel and mud, these tyres felt great. Really great. And guess what? My average speed was unaffected. You really could use a big comfy tyre and like it. That slightly odd looking tread pattern also seemed to work a treat giving plenty of confidence, inspiring grip.
Did they stop punctures though? Well I haven’t had one that I’ve noticed yet.
To date, the only big puncture I’ve come across was on a customer’s bike. A huge screw had put a sizeable hole in the tyre which the customer had repaired using a tube. In the name of research I had a go at remounting the tyre with fresh sealant. It managed to seal but only up to 70 PSI. This should theoretically be enough to get you home and this was an abnormally big hole.
So they’re big, bold, fantastically comfy, offer lots of grip and are surprisingly fast. If you’ve been toying with road tubeless I would say go for it and don’t be afraid to bulk up. I’m sold on it.
Something on fitting to come, watch this space.
About the Author: Chris Hudson is 55 and has over 30 years experience in the cycle trade. Cycle Mechanic and owner of Chalet Ribot situated on bend 12 of the famous climb of Alpe D’Huez. He rides bikes, repairs bikes and photographs bikes. In the winter he loves to ski.