When the Elephant NFE was first constructed it was only natural to put Rene Herse tires on it. The tires were the Babyshoe Pass 650B x 42mm and were tan. Somehow the combination of a red bike, black rims and fenders and silver cockpit just looked off with tan tires. Of course, the same Rene Herse tire is also available in black, but the cost ($87 per wheel) and flat-tire likeliness of the extralight casing were a combination that was too risky for a ride that’s used in the city on daily basis.
There was enough room under the fenders to try something with more volume so after much soul searching and considerations, you decided to try the Schwalbe G-One Speed in 650B x 50mm.
Now that the technical details are out of the way, how do they ride? How well can they handle the mean streets of Berlin? What about off road riding?
Overall these tires are pretty great. You bought them in March 2019 and have ridden them almost daily since. So far they have not had a single flat tire (the rule is that as soon as one make such statements, a flat tire will arrive). The little round pattern on the tire surface are meant to provide an indication of the health of the tires. The one in the front looks brand new. The back tire thread is starting to wear, but is holding nicely.
These are not as lively as the Rene Herse, but they are very robust. Like most engineering decisions, any benefit also have a price and in this particular case, the price is the extra weight and the less than lively feeling. This being said, for a bike that often is used with groceries and always has fenders and a dynamo on, it is a reasonable balance.
It is interesting that Schwalbe decided to pull these out of the market and replace them with a tan version. The decision is probably based on two factors: tan is all the rage these days. More and more bikes are shipped from the larger manufacturers with tan tires. Tan sidewalls are what fixies were 10 years ago. The second possible reason for pulling these out of the market is that a 650B x 50mm tire is very niche. There are not many commercial bike frames that are at the same time “road” and can fit such wide tires. So one option is enough and tan won the fight.
A good tool is one that fulfills its purpose. The Schwalbe G-One Speed fulfill their purpose nicely. Do they live up to their “speed” name? Not that much, but further studies are needed to make an evaluation. Where they do excel is in providing a cushioning ride and their ability to run across a wide variety of terrains without flatting. At half the price of a Rene Herse tire, these are a great value.
When you designed the Seven Mudxium, the bike was built for Bruce Gordon’s Rock’n’road tires. The BGs measure 700cX43mm and weight 540 grams. They were great to start with, but pretty soon after the bike was completed, you joined some Brevets (long distance rides) and the BGs were a total overkill for these rides. This is when you started looking for alternative tires and came across the Compass Tires Snoqualmie Pass.
Rene Herse tires used to be called Compass Tires until Jan Heine, the owner of Rene Herse, bought the rights for the name Rene Herse. From your perspective, Rene Herse tires are the baseline against which all wide tires are measured which is the reason why the first Tire Obsession article is focused on this brand and more specifically on their large volume 44mm wide 700c (i.e. 28 inch) road tires.
Let’s get the details out of the way:
The Rene Herse Snoqualmie Pass are amazing tires. They feel like road tires without having to suffer from every little crack in the road. They allow the rider to take off the road and traverse almost any terrain. They allow you to float on rough forest roads and provide you the confidence to bomb down a mountain without worrying about loosing traction. They are very light for their volume and with the Endurance casing are also rough enough to withstand the “normal” Berlin city road – broken bottles, broken streets and all sorts of random nails.
There is also something very Germany about these tires. They adhere to standards and have been known to be rather picky when it comes to the rims they match best. For example, according to Jan Heine, the Velocity Blunt SS rims, do not have enough of a lip to actually hold these safely in a tubeless configuration. Another example is mounting them on Zipp carbon rims where multiple layers of tubeless tape are needed to make them airtight. Regardless of such small issues, all of which are easily fixed, these tires are amazing. You never knew that tires could make such a difference in a ride before putting these on.
If your bike has room for 44mm tires on 700c wheels, you will be loving these.
Bicycles tires are somehow an obsession. It is unimaginable how much time one can spend researching tires. Yet, it also makes sense. If you ever changed the touring tires on your bike, the ones with the puncture protection and white reflection strip on the sidewalls, to supple, volumenous tires, you’d understand.
You never claim to be a reviewer, but since you do spend time investigating tires, it may be a good idea to share. So in no particular order, here are some bicycle tires key performance indicators (KPIs) worth considering
Now that we defined the key performance indicators for tires, we can dive into all the tires you love and some that have opportunities to improve.