Michelin: new tread, clinchers and urban tires
Michelin showed off a new mud tire, aptly called the Wild Mud. Not surprisingly, it sports a very soft rubber compound and a relatively narrow, 2.0in-wide casing (in both 26in and 29in diameters) for better grip on wet surfaces and to pierce sloppy top layers into the hopefully firmer dirt down below.
The open tread design is built with a novel twisted pattern on the stepped blocks, though. Product manager Rudy Megevand told us thisis designed to be self cleaning – the idea being that the knobs straighten out under braking or driving load when they come in contact with the ground but then spring back to their native shape, actively shedding debris.
Michelin will cater to the growing 27.5in (650b) market with three tires for 2013: an enduro-focused 27.5x2.35in Wild Grip'R with bigger and firmer knobs than the standard version in both reinforced (1,080g) or non-reinforced casings (780g), a faster rolling 27.5x2.25in Wild Race'R, and a 27.5x2.25in Wild Grip'R for all-around trail use in mixed conditions.
Cross-country racers get a new 29x2.1in Wild Race'R with a shaved-down tread design, fast 64a single-compound rubber formulation, and an ultralight claimed weight of just 415g.
On the road, Michelin adds a new Pro4 Grip with a new tread design and compound. Megevand claims this offers 15 percent better wet weather traction than the standard Pro4, plus 20 percent more puncture resistance owing to a new Twaron aramid-based breaker belt material. US consumers also finally get access to the company's road tubulars, built with cotton and aramid casings in 23mm or 25mm widths.
US roadies will finally be able to get Michelin's road tubulars
Michelin has been busy with its urban tires, too, with a trio of durable Protek models for commuting, plus new, high-efficiency Energy tires aimed at e-bike riders who want to maximize their battery range.
Finally, there's the intriguing StarGrip tire, designed for all-season use but specifically targeted for use in poor winter weather such as rain, snow, slush and ice. The unique tread design is molded from relatively soft rubber into a highly segmented and conformable pattern that Michelin claims offers more biting edges than normal.
Megevand admits the StarGrip isn't particularly fast rolling, but for those commuters looking to get to their destinations safely, the Stargrip might just be the ticket.
Kenda shows new fast rolling Turnbull Canyon but Honey Badger don't care
Kenda's Eurobike booth included one of the more unusual looking mountain bike treads of the show: the Turnbull Canyon. Despite the sparse array of low-profile, thin, dash-shaped knobs, Kenda nevertheless insists it's grippier than it appears – at least for cross-country applications and in terrain similar to the southern California grounds that sponsored rider Tinker Juarez calls home.
Kenda will offer the Turnbull Canyon in both 26in and 29in diameters but only in a narrow 2.0in width.
Kenda also debuted a new do-it-all mountain bike tread for 2013, called the Honey Badger. The versatile-looking tread sports medium-sized, triangular-shaped knobs that are relatively widely spaced and ramped on their leading edges to decrease rolling resistance.
The Honey Badger is meant to be a do-it-all option for nearly all conditions
Kenda will offer a single 2.0in-wide version for 29ers but a more usable 2.2in-wide version in 26in, 27.5in and 29in diameters.
In yet another sign of the coming tidal wave, Kenda will have three other 27.5in sizes of several popular treads in its arsenal for 2013, too: the 2.1in-wide Slant 6, a 2.0in-wide Karma, and the Nevagal in both 2.1in and 2.35in sizes.
Maxxis updates High Roller and Minion DHR, adding 27.5in sizes
Maxxis delved into treacherous territory at Eurobike, updating the company's long-standing Minion DHR and High Roller treads for 2013.
The new High Roller II mostly sticks to the original formula of wide spacing, an open shoulder and heavily ramped center knobs, but exaggerates the recipe somewhat with even burlier cornering knobs, a slightly more open arrangement and a trimmed-down center section.
We haven't had a chance to ride the revamped pattern yet but it looks like it will offer a faster roll plus surer traction when attacking tight turns – especially if the ground is loose or soft.
Maxxis was no stranger to the fact that many riders used its Minion DHF – originally intended for front wheels – at both ends owing to its more confident cornering characteristics relative to the DHR.
The new Minion DHR II clearly addresses that shortcoming, however, with a more open and reinforced shoulder pattern that's expected to bite more effectively when leaned over. The ramped center tread is still primarily shaped for drive and braking traction, so we still don't expect to see many of these mounted up front.
Other new items from Maxxis include the Torch BMX tire, which was supposedly designed specifically for sponsored riders competing at the London Olympics, and the new high-efficiency Roamer and Gypsy urban tires, both of which are specifically targeted at e-bike riders.
The Maxxis Torch BMX tire
Schwalbe bets big on the 650b format
German tire maker Schwalbe is investing heavily in the 650b/27.5in wheel size movement for 2013, with five distinct tread options and nine variants in total. The new tires address nearly every off-road application – the Rapid Rob, the Racing Ralph, the Hans Dampf, the Nobby Nic and the Rocket Ron.
Schwalbe looks to be ahead of the curve with its new Super Gravity-edition Hans Dampf tires, too, which are aimed specifically at the growing crop of enduro racers looking for downhill grip and durability but a little less weight and a bit more speed. Distinguishing features include tough snakebite protection borrowed from the company's DH range, plus bead-to-bead puncture protection, tubeless-ready construction and folding aramid beads.
Schwalbe will offer the Hans Dampf Super Gravity tires exclusively in 2.35in widths but in both 26in and 27.5in diameters. Claimed weights range from 995-1,040g.
Meanwhile, the more cross-country oriented Rocket Ron gets a redesign, retaining the general open-pattern theme of its predecessor but with siped instead of hollow blocks to provide more biting edges, plus smoother beads for easier tubeless conversions, and a claimed 15 percent reduction in rolling resistance. The revamped tread will also be offered for the first time in a 33mm-wide tubular version for cyclocross.
Finally, Schwalbe has added several new road models to its enormous range. These include a tubeless Ultremo ZX clincher (23mm width only, 295g), a high mileage-focused Durano HT tubular with extra-thick tread rubber and a butyl inner tube (22mm width only, 280g), an inexpensive Lugano T tubular (22mm, 300g), and narrower sizes in the ultra-durable Durano Plus and Marathon clinchers for road training.
Schwalbe has finally jumped on the tubeless road tire bandwagon