Initial Review: Schwalbe’s sturdy-but-sticky Ultremo DD tire

While many riders “save” their high-end road bikes for races and spirited group rides while commuting on lesser machines, I just can’t see leaving such a wonderful vehicle (to say nothing of such a large investment) at home more days than it gets out.  Sure- there is the issue of daytime storage to be dealt with, but with an understanding employer and insurance agent, these can be overcome.  While modern road bikes are generally up to indignities daily use, high-performance tires are a notable exception.

When it came time to replace my last set of puncture-resistant tires, I turned to Schwalbe for advice.  Makers of some of my favorite dirt tires, Schwalbe know how to make a tire perform well.  After three months of near-daily use, how has their recommendation- the ceramic-belted Ultremo DD- performed?  You know how to find out…

Billed as a tire with low rolling resistance (4/5), high levels of grip (5/5), and good puncture resistance (5/5), the Ultremo DD uses what Schwalbe call an HD Ceramic belt to blunt sharp fragments (such as flint and glass) and prevent them from reaching the inner tube.  The entire casing is protected the SnakeSkin fabric that has served me well in the dirt and the the 700x23c tires came in at 243g apiece- only slightly higher than the 225g advertised weight.  Though they don’t advertise the fact with their seamless black tread, the Ultremos’ three-durometer RaceStar Triple Nano Compound rubber aims to balance low rolling resistance and good wear characteristics with tenacious cornering grip.

While I was initially reluctant to be rough with a pair of $82 performance tires, I needn’t have been.  Mounted up on a a 23mm wide HED Ardennes wheelset, the 23c Schwalbes measure an honest 24mm across.  Running approximately 90psi front and rear (I weigh 145lb and often commute with a 10lb pack), the Ultremo DDs have proved fast and comfortable on all flavors of pavement.  Wet weather and cornering performance are each a notch above Michelin’s Krylion Carbon- and both are leagues beyond Maxxis’ Re-Fuse.  Despite adding a daily dose of dirt road to New Mexico’s usual broken glass and goatheads (tenacious thorns), the Ultremos are holding up far better than I expected, with only a handful of small nicks and no punctures (touch wood) to date. 

On fast-paced group rides, the Ultremo DDs have more than held their own.  Sure, a dedicated race tire will not only be lighter but roll better- but we’re not talking about a huge difference here.  The compromise is more than worthwhile when shattered, off the back, and not noticing roadside glass until it’s too late.  Remember- there’s little slower than a lightweight tire that won’t hold air.

Riders looking for a mega-mileage tire might be better served by the 5,000 mile (claimed) Durano.  The Ultremo DD is intended as a daily use tire that will meet riders’ performance expectations while maintaining a high level of puncture resistance.  So far, I have to say that Schwalbe have met those goals.  If you believe that racing bikes aren’t only for racing, the Ultremo DDs may be your tire.  We’ll be back in a few thousand miles with a verdict!

DOH!  The evening before this review went live, I felt a soft feeling on my ride home- followed by a telltale ffft-ffft-ffft and the spray of sealant.  The hole was a small one and could be a freak incident.  The tube’s patched and the tire’s back on: I’ll let you know if it happens again…

marc

www.schwalbetires.com

Comments

Sir Eddy - 03/27/12 - 10:37am

Pretty consistent with my experience. After years on GP4000′s I thought I’d try the Schwalbe. Started with the Ultremo ZX which was a disaster (destroyed rear within a few weeks). Left the front on and stuck and Ultremo DD on the rear in 25c. They handle superbly, but man are they soft. I wore through to the grey under-layer after one short skid on the rear tire, and after around 1000 miles the grey underlayer is showing the whole way around. To be fair, I haven’t had a flat yet, but I am disappointed with their durability, and will probably go back to Conti’s or try the Vittoria Corsa next.

cristi - 03/27/12 - 12:31pm

Absolutely the same situation as Sir Eddy declared. Back to conti.

Nivlac - 03/27/12 - 3:09pm

@ Sir Eddy – The Vittoria EVO CX’ cut like a teenage sweat shop laborer – early and often. Vredestein or Conti all the way.

Taylor - 03/27/12 - 4:41pm

question; I average a flat a week on my commute, mostly very small wire (I think pieces of steel belt , part of my ride is along a highway). So which Continental tire in a 23c?

Hugh Jass - 03/27/12 - 6:46pm

Thanks Sir Eddy. I’ll stick with my GP4000S

Scott - 03/27/12 - 7:27pm

Sir Eddy, skids? Are you looking for fixie trixxxxxx of durability in something billed as a race tire? Well then maybe you should hook up a M.Cipollini RB1000 with an Eno hub and get after them sick bar spins and all types of ill sh** son.

Know why Grave Digger isn’t a Yugo? CUZ THAT MAKES NO SENSE. Buy race tires for race. Buy Everwears, ThickSlicks, and Randos for lasting skids.

Also if it took you a few weeks to skid through a DD your doing it wrong. I can kill one in a week. ThickSlicks barely last a month.

Andy - 03/28/12 - 12:05am

Vittoria corsa evo cox are super race tires for good pavement. Crap for commuting. Way too soft.

Conti hold up well. I am trying the gp 4000s for some training tires and so far so good.

Had great results with the bontrager hardcase clinchers (not the fold ups) for 3 yrs of commuting. To heavy and slow to race, but put 5000mi plus on several of them.

Used to be all 23mm, now with the Ardennes wheels I run 25mm for a better ride.

Nick - 03/28/12 - 5:41am

@Taylor – GP 4 Seasons. Replaced my rear a couple of months ago after 5000 miles without a flat (plenty of commuting into London, with a lot of cr@p on the roads). Decent weight, last well, grip nicely.

zac drennan - 02/16/13 - 4:41am

only had two flats on dd’s, one was automotive radial wire, “needle puncture”(will puncture any tire). second flat was in ruidoso, nm, where during a good fall rain, a piece of glass cut into tire. the cut was center tread and ruined tire first use. – ruidoso, nm is awesomely rad place to roll, angry climbs in mountainous terrain-.

TomZeus - 02/17/13 - 7:43pm

Looks like I’ll give the Ultremo DD a try. I just put a brand new set of Durano S’s on my bike, 10.4 miles into my first ride I hit a very small rock(dime or smaller) and it pinched the sidewall between the rock and the rim…toast. put a patch on the inside of the casing and on the tube and rode 8 miles before it went down. So won’t be buying the Durano S again.

BIGBADBAKES - 05/04/13 - 7:28pm

Wildly unhappy with my pair. They came on a bike I bought (were near new) and flatted 3 times in the first month. I’ve ridden Pro2,3,4 and Conti 4000s for years and have never had so many consecutive flats. These are trash.

SouthSider - 05/22/13 - 10:51pm

I’m getting close to 2000 problem free miles on the Ultremo DD and could not be happier. The rear tire is just starting to show signs of getting flat in the center of the tread. Also a couple of cuts but nothing major. The front tread looks brand new, I can still make out the center manufacturing seam. I’m 175 lbs, far from a lightweight.

DaneWAlker - 10/27/13 - 6:58pm

Just replaced a set of DD’s after 3800 miles. More than likely could have exceeded 4k but wanted a fresh set for a tour. A total of 2 flats on the set. I’m 900 miles into the current set with zero flats.

You absolutely cannot go wrong. A fantastic combination of performance with puncture resistance.

DaveR - 12/05/13 - 7:29am

I’m now replacing a set of Ultremo DD after a year. I trust Schwable as a brand, however despite my excitement, they were ultimately a bit disappointing. I average a flat every 6 weeks or so and have had two in the last month. This is on an urban/small amount of towpath route. In the middle of winter, it’s not great to be stuck by the roadside with a set of tyre levers. Still, they were better than the Rubino Pros I ran before. Next I’ll be trying the GP 4 seasons, which I’m hoping will be a bit more reliable.

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