The Z-Max was famed in the early '90s for its VectorForce Analysis tread design and credentials as a cross-country race tyre with limited grip. Well, Ritchey have dug up the old-school design and given it a tubeless-ready carcass, which will please many of the new-schoolers.
The basic tread design is the same as it ever was except that it's been enlarged with slightly deeper, chunkier versions of the classic jagged-edged and bevelled tread. Now made in a new softer, tackier rubber, the tyre is advertised as having better mud characteristics.
While we’re keeping our ﬁngers crossed for a zero-mud summer, the tyres also run surprisingly well in the dry, thanks to their very rounded proﬁle. The grip part of the new name is well deserved, as we had little difﬁculty dispatching tacky climbs.
The Achilles’ heel of this tyre is its width. Nominally labelled 2.0, it’s nearer 1.95in wide and not in anyway a ﬂoaty trail tyre. It’s deﬁnitely one for skinny tyre lovers who aren’t looking for any tyre suspension. You need to pump them up hard to protect the rims, but even so we pinch ﬂatted (while running the tyres with tubes once on test with 35psi in them).
The tyres set up ﬁrst time with a dose of Stan’s latex ﬂuid and we had no further puncture issues. That said, we enjoyed the blast from the past on the Z-Max Grip, and have it in mind for a couple of cross-country races in the near future