Monday, October 01, 2007

Ritchey SpeedMax Cross Pro cyclocross tire review

I'm putting up this review because I was really surprised by this tire's performance at the muddy cyclocross races this weekend. The Continental Twisters that I'd been racing in Portland were finally worn out, and what would normally be the muddiest race of the year here in Minnesota was already over anyway. The Ritchey SpeedMax Cross tires and fast-rolling tires that would be perfect for the mainly grassy races remaining for the year, but wouldn't be expected to perform as well in the mud.

Note the file tread down the middle of the tire. This minimizes the rolling resistance and increases the contact area compared to knobbies on smoother surfaces. It still has knobbies on the sides for cornering traction and some traction when the tires do encounter mud and sink in enough to come into play. It would be expected on most tires that the file tread would get clogged with mud under muddy conditions, but note the design of the tread and the fact that the tires require installion in one direction only: the front facing sides grab the ground, but the way they're shaped in the back allows the mud to be shed. At least that's my theory, because that's sure what happened!

The grassy courses this weekend turned into mud bogs with the thorough soaking of rain all weekend, especially the wooded sections of the Hudson race on Saturday and pretty much the entire course at Orono on Sunday after even more rain. The ONLY time the tires slipped in mud was when I attempted to ride a steep runup that some with tubulars were able to ride. They performed awesomely through mud bogs, sloshy grass, deep mud and slick muddy corners. I was truly impressed with the mud-shedding performance of these 'fast-rolling' tires!

Even more impressive is the fact that these tires, even the lightweight 'Pro' version with Kevlar bead, are very affordable! Note that this review is for the 'Pro' 32c version. The wider version seems to perform more poorly in mud, as they're wide enough to slip around on top of the mud, and the non-Pro version are a bit heavy. Tire pressure is also crucial depending on conditions.

For a good all-around tire, I'd highly recommend these!