FMB Super Mud first ride

Exceptionally agile cotton mud tire with latex sidewall treatment

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

FMB's handmade Super Mud tubular is wonderfully malleable, thanks to the pliable cotton casing it rides on. With a latex sidewall treatment protecting the cotton, the Super Mud is also relatively low maintenance, once you get over the hurdle of gluing it on.

In a muddy cyclocross race, I found the Super Mud tubulars to be a big help, not only in the mud, but throughout the course. As a hopeless roadie with poor off-road technical skills, I loved how the supple rubber gripped the ground.

With widely spaced, 3mm-high, Z-shaped knobs, the tread isn't quite as aggressive as something like the Clément PDX. But the knobs do hook up well in the mud. Just as importantly, the tire clears the mud packed onto the tire when you roll back onto drier ground. Some tires retain mud between the knobs, making them slippery when back on hardpack.

           

The Super Mud tread is glued by hand to a cotton casing woven from a single thread by FMB

FMB stands for François Marie Boyaux; boyaux being French for tubulars, and François Marie being the founder of the four-person operation that BikeRadar recently profiled. FMB casings are made in France and stitched together around latex tubes. Treads are purchased from outside vendors in Thailand and France and glued on in FMB's shop.

The romance of a handmade tubular — made by a Frenchman, no less — certainly holds some cache, but the fact is that FMB's cotton casing, made from a single thread, are more lithe than a polyester casing. Before gluing, an unmounted tire can easily be twisted in any direction. The end result, when matched with good rubber, is a great-riding tire.

Keep in mind, this is a specialty tire. Although the knobs in the center are configured into a line for faster rolling on hardpack, it's not the absolute fastest ’cross tire on pavement. And the soft rubber, though grippy, won't last forever. But when the course turns mucky, the Super Mud tubulars offer sure footing and a luxury ride.

To comply with UCI regulations for elite-level racing, the tire comes in a 32c width.

Latex treatment protects the cotton sidewalls from nicks and moisture

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