Unboxed & Weighed – IRC’s New Road Tubeless Tires

IRC Roadlite Road Tubeless bicycle tires review and actual weights

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve run IRC tires. For many years, their Mythos XC were my tires of choice. But being a lover of all things new and shiny, eventually I moved on to various other things and, over the past decade, the IRC brand really sort dropped off the scene.

About a year ago, we heard rumor they were developing Road Tubeless tires, so we reached out via email. Crickets. Then we saw them at Interbike, tucked into a little 10×10 booth in the basement with a tiny little display featuring two new road tires. And lo and behold, they are tubeless!

Two versions are on tap, the Roadlite training/racing tire shown above, and a lighter weight race-only version. Check actual weights and first impressions below…

IRC Roadlite Road Tubeless bicycle tires review and actual weights

The daily driver Roadlite model comes in at just under 300g per tire – 297g and 296g for our test samples.

IRC Roadlite Road Tubeless bicycle tires review and actual weights

The Formula Pro Tubeless Light race tires come in almost 60g lighter at 241g and 240g each. Both are 700x23c.

IRC Roadlite Road Tubeless bicycle tires review and actual weights

I’ve mounted up the Roadlite model first. They’re being tested on Shimano Ultegra Road Tubeless wheels with Caffe Latex sealant.

IRC Roadlite Road Tubeless bicycle tires review and actual weights

First impressions are good. Total tire weight (plus a bit of sealant) is about what you’d end up with using a reasonably light standard tire and tube, so the benefit here is being able to run slightly lower pressures without fear of pinch flats and, more importantly, puncture protection. Greatly reducing the chance of having to remove and fix a tire/tube on the side of the road is reason enough for me to make the switch to tubeless tires on the road.

Performance wise, the rubber on these is extremely grippy. As in really, really grippy. So far, I’ve only ridden them in dry conditions, but it grabs the corners and doesn’t let go. The sidewalls feel a little bit stiff, but I need to play with air pressures a bit to see if they soften up the ride a bit more than I would expect from a tubeless set up. I’ve tried 100psi to make sure everything’s working right, but generally drop down to about 90-95psi with road tubeless once I’m confident they’re seated well and holding air.

Speaking of which, they mounted up easily and held air quickly. I used a cheap, low powered Black & Decker home compressor (my parents have it to fill tires on their golf cart) and the rear filled and seated in one minute, the front in about four minutes of continuous pumping. I suspect a high powered commercial compressor would have seated them inmediately. With the sealant, they held air immediately and I was off on my first ride with no additional fuss.

IRC Roadlite Road Tubeless bicycle tires review and actual weights

We’ll cover more on the casing and tech specs in the final review.

Comments

Chris - 11/22/12 - 8:42am

They look more like tireless tubes

Jacob - 11/22/12 - 10:45am

^ totally agree with Chris. I am all up for new technology but i really think all this stuff (hydraulic disc brakes, tubless tires ect.) is a little overkill for road bikes.

MaLóL - 11/22/12 - 10:54am

just wondering, how many ml of sealant are required to have a light setup? in cross country is about 90ml.

Tobi - 11/22/12 - 11:13am

@MaLóL:
You don’t have to use sealant.
The ?first? tubeless system UST from mavic was meant to be used without sealant.

I would like to know if any sealant can work agaisnt the high pressure inside the tire.

MarkV - 11/22/12 - 3:22pm

I have been riding the IRC road tubeless for a few months and feel these are what road tubeless in general needed. They are lighter, wider, rounder, more supple and ride great with good durability. I hope they open the door to more people riding tubeless. Hutchinson, take note! Kudos to IRC, these are sweet.

Bart - 11/22/12 - 4:04pm

according to what I have been told by Shimano is that they don’t want sealant in their rims….The Ultegra wheels seem to handle it ok because the inside is anodized but the Dura-Ace ones I have seen that are bare aluminum inside have oxidized.

Editor - 11/22/12 - 4:41pm

I put 30ml/cc of sealant in the tires, which is the minimum amount recommends on the Caffe Latex bottle for road/cyclocross use. So far, so good. Don’t think the sealant is absolutely necessary, but helps against punctures and adds minimal weight compared to the peace of mind.

Adam - 11/22/12 - 6:49pm

I would really like to see more tire manufactures get involved with the road tubeless market. I would need a wider tire than the current 23′s to sell to be more relevant.

Choc - 11/22/12 - 7:54pm

If only you could actually find them in wild.

Matt - 11/22/12 - 11:39pm

IRC, make them wider and then we’ll talk. Would love to have a real-25mm (unlike Hutchinson, which has a 25mm that’s just 23.5mm) or even a 28mm and you’d make me very interested in picking up a set.

Rich - 11/23/12 - 8:00am

I hope they start making 29er mounatin tyres, they made soem awesome 26″ MTB tyres. Piranha Pro, Mythos, Mud Mad.

PatD - 11/23/12 - 8:12am

I just don’t see how tubeless tires are something I need. I very very rarely get pinch flats. The only type of flat I generally get are rocks or glass piercing the tire. This would make a tubeless tire unusable unless I had a tube handy. So I guess that would make it a messy tube tire now wouldn’t it.

Nick - 11/23/12 - 9:43am

PatD, the kind of flats you’re getting are reduced when using a lower pressure.

Aaron - 11/23/12 - 12:28pm

Who distributes these tires in the US? Quality Bike Parts doesn’t have them and consequently a lot of shops don’t stock them.

jcharles - 11/23/12 - 7:08pm

Glad to see a non-Hutchinson made option available for tubeless road tires! I’ll get a set as soon as I can figure out where to do that.

I see several posters saying that there isn’t a need for tubeless tires for road.. I may be missing something (and correct me if I am) but isn’t half the point of running tubeless the ability for the sealant to seal holes (not just pinch flats) occurring during the ride? If you think that glass or rocks are a problem, watch one of the stans promo vids where he stabs tires with nails and awls.. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_BsT8D9JYY ) They close up pretty quick. you might need to pump em up a little after a big puncture, but I’d rather pump up a tire than change a tube.

JCL - 11/24/12 - 5:04am

Go tell my wife, she doesn’t need tubeless on her bike.
For 18 months now, she’s tubeless all the go, she always gets home now, and I have a lot less worries to handle …

Have a set of IRC and one Hutch, she also prefers the IRC but Japan import back then did cost a lot :-(

Steve - 11/24/12 - 9:30am

Bontrager makes a 25mm tubeless road tire. Hutchinson is making a 28 now. I’ve been using road tubeless for the past 4 seasons on Dura Ace WH-7850-CLs with Caffe Latex, SlimePro, Stans and now Orange Seal. Caffe Latex doesn’t work. Period. Slime Pro sealed some small holes. Stan’s is just okay and Orange Seal rocks for some really big punctures. I’ve had several tires punctured only to have the tire seal. I hate tubes and I hate changing flats. Tubes are the most unreliable component of a bicycle. Why have them if they are not needed? Road tubeless is not all about taking the tube out. Not only do the tires feel better at all pressures, Schwalbe claims their tubeless tires have less rolling resistance than their tubulars. Hence Cancellara’s use of them in several prologues. What is not to love? Folks should not pre judge. Try them. Tubeless road is amazing, especially if you ride rough roads like we have here in Maine.

greg - 11/24/12 - 8:07pm

id like to see both tires mounted on the ultegra wheels with a caliper measuring their actual width. please and thank you,

kulivontot - 11/25/12 - 2:37am

Where the hell did you get these tires? I’ve been itching to give road tubeless a try but haven’t been able to get past the weight penalty. I first heard about these tires over a year ago but still the only place to find them is $130/tire on eBay from a Japanese importer.

Ken - 11/26/12 - 2:34am

IRC is offering a 25c option in the Roadlite. I have used both the of roadlite widths, 23c and 25c and love these tires!!! Bike shops can order direct through http://www.IRCtireUSA.com. Very easy and was happy I asked my local bike shop to start stocking these! Used to be a Hutchinson user and will never go back. Thank you IRC!

Chris - 11/26/12 - 12:58pm

IRC has really raised the bar with these tires and its great to finally have some options when it comes to road tubeless!

IRC Guy - 01/14/13 - 11:21pm

If you are interested in purchasing IRC tubeless road tires, I can help. Please contact me at tires (at) realight.com. Our site isn’t online yet, but we can get you tires.

John F, New York, NY - 02/02/13 - 5:16pm

I purchased a pair of IRC Roadlite Tubeless, and also a pair of IRC RBCC tubeless from alexscycle.com. They are a Japanese bike shop. The tires arrived in less than a week (shipping from Japan to New York, NY).

Shane - 02/26/13 - 2:49am

To those saying tubless is overkill for the road – I simply got sick of getting punctuers when commuting. You are already either:
a) running late
b) Its 40C celsius
c) Its raining

5000km after fitting tubeless road tyres, I’m yet to have a flat and the ride is faster and yet more comfortable. I simply run sealant with Stan’s yellow tape to achieve a seal. Next time you flat with tubes and its a major pain in the *ss ask yourself if its overkill.

David - 07/01/13 - 8:57am

I’m ready to go road tubeless, but I’m stuck between choosing which IRC tire to go with, & need some input. IRC’s US distributors were not exactly helpful as they didn’t have any experience riding on the tires, so I’m hoping the riders out there have ridden them & can help.
I ride in the metro NY area, & the roads are not always in the best shape & road debris is always an issue. I do not race, but like a lighter, grippy tire geared more towards dry conditions, as I try to avoid riding in the rain.
So which tire should I go with?
Roadlite-all around performance
X-Guard-xtra puncture protection or
Formula Pro Tubeless light
thx in advance for your input-safe riding

Dwight Kellams - 09/16/13 - 7:45pm

Don’t understand the difficulty inflating once the technique is known. I use to take up to 30 minutes to inflate a Hutchinson road tubeless on a Dura Ace 7850SL. Decided just to take it to the LBS and use their compressor. However all you have to do is push both sidewalls down into the center channel of the rim and make sure tire is sealed around the valve stem area. Inflate with floor pump and tire will expand uniformly and begin the nice popping sound that indicates the bead is sealing against the rim. Has worked the first time every time since using this technique. Also lubricate the tire and make sure the tire is supple by letting it sit in the sun for awhile or put it into the clothes dryer.

BillB - 03/15/14 - 8:43pm

Hey PatD – Need, no. nice, yes. You’re still on a 1″ steel tubed bike with a 5 speed freewheel and friction down tube shifters, right?

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.