Thursday, August 1, 2013

Road Test: Schwalbe Durano Tires

The search for that perfect tire is as noble a cause as it is an adventure, albeit, a laborious one.  It is a lot like British mountain climber George Mallory’s famous quote regarding Mount Everest.  When asked why it should be climbed, he famously replied, “Because it’s there.”  The same wisdom applies to finding a tire that works for a rider on all occasions, however, it can be phrased a little differently: Because, it’s out there.

So began my quest for a light, durable, good traction bicycle tire, because I knew it was out there – Somewhere.  Being I was fed up with road tires that could barely handle being ridden on actual roads, I began to seek out things I may have never tried, otherwise.  See, we are told lighter, and faster are better to unleash that racer locked inside of all of us which is just dying to get out.  Wrong.  Race tires do indeed have their place, however, for day-in-day-out riding the bulk of us cyclists do, no, they are not the tool for the job.  So began my quest.

I began where all inquires begin these days – The internet.  After pouring over website after website, article after article, and cycling forum after cycling forum, while no solid “Eureka” moment was uncovered, certain patterns did begin to become clear.  First, racing tires on the street were a recipe for low mileage and guaranteed flats.  Second, high mileage tires were great for plonking along, but they were heavy and provided sketchy traction.  There had to be a middle ground, and I believe I have found a very good solution to my list of requirements, namely light weight, high traction, and high mileage.  And, I have traded in my affections from a French cutie to a German one - The Schwalbe Durano.

While the long-term data is not yet available, the short-term returns are very, very favorable with the Schwalbe Durano’s (technically, the HS399's).  To date, I had been using 23mm tires on SRAM S40 wheels.  However, being I am as curious as the proverbial cat, I decided to explore the notion 25mm tires provided a better ride, and a bit more performance in the puncture resistance and durability departments.  I decided to use my trusty, reliable Mavic Ksyrium SL’s for this experiment, as there is no tire size restriction on them up to 28mm rubber.  They mounted up really easy with no tools necessary, and they look good with their all black sidewalls, large, white “Schwalbe” logo, and minimalist tread siping.

The packaging.

The tire.

The test mule.

The rear tread - Better than anything else I have used.

The front tread - All good here, too.

The details.

I have been very pleased with their performance after 200 miles of mixed-surface testing.  While this may not seem like a lot, here in Southern California, even one ride on our extremely poorly maintained streets can reveal a tires’ weakness. I have ridden these tires over some of the meanest streets of the Greater Los Angeles area, streets which would have scared the rubber off my previous favorite Michelin Pro 3 Race’s, and the Schwalbe’s have not even a nick on them, let alone any tears or marks.  Wow!  And, they ride extremely smooth, and provide excellent traction in the turns, though they have not been put to the rain test, yet.  I have been running them at 100 PSI front, 105 PSI at the rear, and the ride has been excellent and completely smooth, almost, dare I say, almost like plush suspension.

Stay tuned for the long-term report, something not every review bothers to conduct. 

The Stats:

  • Type: Clincher, folding bead
  • Use: Training/Everyday tire
  • Size: 25mm
  • Weight: 255 grams
  • TPI: 67
  • PSI: 85-115 
  • Tread: Dual-Compound, slick center, edge siping
  • Puncture protection: Race Guard protection belt
  • Color: Black
  • Retail: $66.95 USD
  • Rated Mileage: 6500 Miles (manufacturer’s claim)

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