Hutchinson still make 60 percent of their tires in their French factory, which has been churning out bicycle tires since the late 1890s. For 2013 they have two new road tubeless tires (one of which is claimed to roll more efficiently than a tubular), a three-tire range of 650b tires, two new downhill tires, and something special for Julien Absalon’s Olympic bid in London.
Over the course of Hutchinson’s 120-plus-year history, they’ve won 24 Tour de France titles, co-developed the UST tubeless mountain bike system, and led the development of Road Tubeless. Outside of the bike industry, Hutchinson supply bullet proof run-flat tires to the US president, and tires for aerospace, military and automotive applications. Hutchinson claim to spend 150 million Euros annually on research and development, with a department that employs over 200 engineers. Six of those engineers work on bike-only projects, but much of the other engineers' work transfers to cycling.
Road Tubeless: Galactik and Intensive 28
Hutchinson’s Galactik is a superlight, super-efficient Road Tubeless tire
One of the main complaints of Road Tubeless, says Jason Rico, Hutchinson’s OEM sales manager, is that it’s too heavy. In response, Hutchinson offer the Galactik, a 245g 23mm road tire. “It’s lighter than a lightweight tire and tube,” said Rico.
Besides being lighter, Hutchinson claim Galactik to be the most efficient rolling tire in their entire road line, even when compared to their professional level tubulars. Hutchinson claim they’re 6-percent better than the ProTour tubular. The lightweight and low rolling resistance come at a price, though; the Galactik costs $109 each. One of the reasons for the high price of the Galactik and Hutchinson’s entire Road Tubeless line, is the fact they test 100-percent of their production using a 24-hour dunk test, were the tires are inflated and submerged in water for 24 hours to test their integrity. If a tire loses air over that period, it’s deemed defective and tossed.
We’ve been waiting for Hutchinson’s Intensive 28mm since Road Tubeless was launched more than a half dozen years ago. The high-volume tubeless tires are sure to show off the best attributes of Road Tubeless: comfort, flat resistance, and loads of grip. Unlike Hutchinson’s four other Road Tubeless tires, the Intensive is a tubeless ready design, thus relies on sealant to hold air. The design keeps the weight down to roughly 295g per tire, and it costs $99.
Three 650b tires: ‘This is our second chance, we don’t want to miss it.’
Hutchinson, admittedly, missed the 29inch boat, but they’ve vowed to not miss the 650b ship. “We’re riding the same wave,” said Kevin Buchet, Hutchinson’s French sales and marketing manager. “This is our second chance, and we don’t want to miss it.”
Hutchinson’s three-tire 650b line up: Cobra, Toro and Cougar
Hutchinson will have three 650b tires ready to go come the fall trade shows. Two — Toro and Cougar — are pointed at the trail/all-mountain market and equipped with Hutchinson’s tougher Hardskin tubeless casing. The former will be available in a 2.35in, while the latter will be made in 2.2in and 2.4in sizes. The third tire — Cobra — caters to a more weight-conscience cross-country rider and will come first in a 2.25in size (in Hutchinson’s Hardskin tubeless ready casing) with a 2.1in model to follow soon after.
Two new Hutchinson United Ride developed downhill options: Squale and DZO
Hutchinson United Ride team member Fabien Cousinie is a special kind of rider. Not only is he competitive on the World Cup downhill circuit, but he has a mechanical engineering degree, and serves as an integral member in Hutchinson’s downhill tire development process. Hutchinson give Cousinie credit for the bulk of the new Squale’s design. The Squale is a dry and rocky conditions tire, which comes with a Hardskin downhill casing in a 2.6in size.
Fabien Cousinie, Hutchinson-United Ride racer, and the man behind the Squale
Also new is the DZO a spiked mud tire, which comes with the same Hardskin DH casing in a 2.6in size.
Hutchinson Black Mamba: Olympic hat trick?
Julien Absalon has won the last two Olympic men’s cross-country races on Hutchinson’s Pirana tires. For this latest Olympic bid, Hutchinson took their Cobra and basically shaved all the knobs off to make the Black Mamba.
Black Mamba is made in France, as with all of Hutchinson’s high-end models shown here
The new tire is supremely light and available in 26in and 29in sizes. Absalon will also have a tubular version of the tire available for the Olympic race should he deem it faster. Last year Absalon won the test event on the London cross-country course on the Black Mamba.