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…