This Space for Rent

Reranking tires

Even though they aren’t designed for tubeless (and, I suspect, will need to be on 700d rims to keep from blowing off when inflated to anything > atmospheric pressure) I’ve decided that tubeless Hutchinson Confrérie des 650B tires are the most comfortable things I’ve ridden on, even better than my beloved Nomad 28s. The Nomads are (at least comparing 10k miles on them vs. 20 miles) a close second, tied with 27mm Vittoria Pave tubulars, and third place is (at least with 100 miles) Pacenti Pari-Motos.

Everything else sits a long ways down, with the lanterne rouge being held by the magnificently horrible Rivendell Nifty Swifty (there’s approximately 1100 th the selection of 650b tires vs 700c tires, but the bad 650b tires are spectacularly horrible. It’s the curse of being attracted to a vanity – I suspect that a large part of the American popularity of road 650b is that it’s French – tire size. A affectation that I can’t really understand, given the American fetish for the widest tires possible while the Confrérie des 650B commissioned Hutchinson to make a nice narrow(ish) 650b tire. A tire that I can’t really get in the USA unless I want to pay a kings ransom, so I have to mail order from France instead.)

I’m not really sure how my experiment with tubular tires is going to go. I’d like to experiment with tubeless Nomad 28s, but since they’re wire-bead it’s a real pain getting them to seat on no-TLR rims (I tried, but even with filling up the rim bed with layers of electrical tape I couldn’t get the silly tire to seat and seal) so instead I’ll run the tubulars until either the rims wear through or I have a catastrophic tire failure that tire sealant and/or inserting a boot, then sewing the rip in the tire back together can’t fix.

But now, in the department of ride quality×tire cost, it’s

  1. Hutchinson Confrérie des 650B
  2. Resist Nomad 28s
  3. Vittoria Pave Evo CG 28×27 tubulars
  4. Pacenti/Panaracer Pari-Moto
  5. Resist Nomad 35s
  6. Panaracer Col de la Vie (pumped up to at least 60psi to keep the tread from walking sideways on sharp turns)
  7. 28mm Clement Strada (actually 25mm, and nice riding tires, but with a spectacularly quick failure curve after they start wearing down.)
  8. Kenda Volare 28×23 tubulars (only tried because I got a used pair. They ride as well as the Pave Evos do, except that since they’re 23mm they bottom out really fast on rough and unimproved roads. If I had to pay $100/tire for them, there’s no way in hell they ever would have been glued onto the midlifecrisismobile)
  9. 28mm Schwalbe Ultremo ZX (also tried because I got a used pair. At $80/pair new they’re too rich for my blood.)

If money was no object, the Vittoria Paves would be tied with the Nomad 28s, but neither of them compare to the “like floating on a very speedy cloud” feeling of tubeless Confréries.

When I replace the frame of the project bike (I found a SE racing “draft lite” frame that’s almost the same size as the born-again Trek in a junkpile, so I’m going to throw out the Crisscross frame and replace it with the finest in carbon steel. Or braze up my own frame out of one of the frame kits in the basement) it’s going to get Nomad 28s, and then I’ll be able to do head-to-head comparisons of Nomads vs. Vittorias vs. Confréries.

Oh, and the worst tires I’ve ridden?

  1. Rivendell Nifty Swifties (“This is a tyre with a message in, and the message is ‘beware’. This is not a tyre for randonneuring, this is a tyre for laying down and avoiding.”)
  2. Vittoria Randonneur (I didn’t mind them at the time, but they compared really unfavorably to…)
  3. Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy (The first pair seemed really nice, but when I got a second pair after the Clements wore through they were slow and didn’t ride very well.)
  4. Grand Bois Hetre (amazingly wandery unless I load down the bicycle with 20+ pounds of cargo.)
  5. Grand Bois Cypres (just dead. Not actively terrible, but it sort of sits sullenly on the rim.)
  6. Some random 650A tires I got as emergency spares for the born-again Trek after I lost a Confrérie to a flat on a gravel road (I hit a rock hard, which pinched the tube – when the air shed its container the rim slammed down on the ground and tore a 2" gash at the bead which I could not boot properly for love or money. So I put down $12 for a pair of bargain tires, which rode very sluggishly at 30psi, but blew off the rims at 35 psi. They weren’t sluggish enough to risk brevet minimums, but they were still very uninspired.)

If I had to pick two tires with cost being no object I’d pick Confréries and Nomad 28s. Thank goodness they’re the cheapest tires on my most desirable tire list. I don’t know if I’d want to use Confréries on my xtracycle, but Nomad 28s are just as good for a cargobike as they are for a fast randonneuse.


I have just recently returned to the Hutchinsons, myself, after an affair with the Soma Xpress.

Lynne Tue May 6 13:13:17 2014

You should try the Confréries tubeless. They’re really really really really really nice that way, and sealant goo works very well at stopping small cuts and punctures. I’ve taken the born-again Trek up to Ripplebrook once since I tubelessed it, and got a couple of small gashes along the way that plugged themselves up before I noticed them.

When I finally drag myself out on the road, I’ll do a series comparison between the Confréries and the tubulars (I’ve already got 3 series on Nomad 28s, so I’ve got a moderately good idea how they ride.)

David Parsons Tue May 6 19:23:04 2014

What kind of tire pressure do you normally run? (“At least 60psi” made me blink, because I don’t run anything under 80.)

I’m also off in a different, slower, 35mm world, and very happy with Marathon Supremes. Now if only I could stop bending 50t compact rings!

Graydon Thu May 8 15:21:59 2014

It depends on the tire; I run Nomad 28s at 80-90psi, Nomad 35s at 50, Vittoria Paves at 80, Confréries at 60, tubeless Conféries at 45-50, Col de la Vies at 60, and Pari-Motos at 35-40. I tend to run 650b tires at a lower pressure than the equivalent 700c tire, because 650b rims – at least the ones I use – are wider than most of my 700c rims and don’t do that terrifying bit where the sidewall folds outward and the back end of the bicycle starts skittering around like it’s on ice until the pressure gets really low.

The Col de la Vies are an exasperating tire, because they have a really narrow sweet spot between being underinflated (and trying to walk sideways on their inverted tread) and overinflated (where they start bouncing like I’m riding beach balls instead of a bicycle, Many people loathe CdlVs because they only inflate them to 20-30psi instead of shovelling the air in until they start riding better.

David Parsons Thu May 8 16:35:26 2014

The whole fat bike trend might end up with the beachballs in a few years. :)

Thanks; that’s interesting, and the sort of list I hope you’ve got written down somewhere, because that’s a lot of detail for anybody to retain.

Graydon Fri May 9 06:15:19 2014

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