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I’m always trying new equipment. I pay for it except when noted. If it’s an improvement over what’s on the bike it sticks. If not it’s immediately relegated to a box in my favorite bike shop where it joins other used equipment that’s given to UNH cycling team members. Here are the first in an ongoing series of product reviews.

Hutchinson Tubeless Road Tires

Plus— a much better mousetrap. Most notably they offer an incredibly smooth, plush ride and they roll at least as well as the best conventional tire/tube combination. They are also supposed to have advantages when punctured but thankfully I’ve no experience with that.

Minus—none except price and availability. Just introduced as a high end product that for now is exclusive to expensive, tubeless compatible Shimano Dura Ace wheels.  That makes them not for most riders.  A friend at Shimano who helped develop the wheels sent me a set of tires after I bought the wheels and joked they had no shoes.

Brand—Prototyre  (Fusion on the Hutchinson website)
Wheels—Shimano Dura Ace Scandium Tubeless Compatible 
Recommended riding pressure 95-100PSI Maximum 125PSI   

These tires have just come on the road market after being introduced at an October bicycle trade show. Tubeless mountain bike tires have been around for a few years and make a lot of sense because they dramatically reduce pinch flats. The road version will retails for $55 each.  That’s about the same price point as mountain versions and a bit cheaper than conventional high end road tire and tube combos.

Pinch flats are not a road problem and the need is a mystery to most since conventional tire/tube combos work very well. In this industry change is slow and commercial success comes with need not hype. Until they’re OEM on production bikes they’re going to be for racers.  For consumers they’re an elitist curiosity but they’re so much better they will eventually take root. 

I wasn’t expecting much difference other than the cool factor of having something nobody else has.  But after 1500 or so miles I’m blown away and tubeless is it for me.  How well they ride was a revelation.  They have the same supple ride of the best sew-ups which makes them remarkably smooth and comfortable.

No flats so far and I’m told they’re less frequent. Here’s what else I’ve been told. Sudden flats are rare. They tend to leak slowly and may not require anything more than a shot of air every so often to get home. For those who are challenged by fixing a flat on the road that’s huge.

I’m also told a quarter ounce of sealant in each tire fixes small leaks on the fly. There’s none in mine. I didn’t know that when I got them; ignorance is bliss.  Also there’s no mention of sealant on the manufacturer’s website. 

They also are not supposed to come off the rim when a flat happens at particularly inopportune moments such as fast downhills or cornering; that’s a serious problem with conventional tires and sew ups too.  The ability to keep the rubber on the road and the bike upright keeps the ER away.

So far these tires have worn extremely well. They are free from any small tread cuts that afflict other lightweight tires. I’ve ridden them more than I wanted to on long gravel driveways, albeit gingerly, and on one ride managed to unconsciously dig into a narrow chunk of missing tarmac that more than likely would have flatted a conventional tire/tube  and got away with it.


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