700C x 44 mm Manastash Ridge TiresJan Heine
Eagle-eyed observers have spotted a gap in the Rene Herse tire program, and they’ve flooded our suggestion inbox with requests for a 44-45 mm knobby tire. They are right.
At the narrow end of the spectrum, we have our 38 and 42 mm gravel knobbies. At the wide end are our bikepacking tires—48 and 55 mm. These days, the lines between adventure and gravel are blurring. The latest generation of gravel bikes has clearance for wider tires, and 44-45 mm is quickly becoming the accepted standard for gravel racing.
That’s where the new Rene Herse 700C x 44 mm Manastash Ridge comes in. It’s 44-45 mm wide, depending on your rims, the casing you choose, and the pressure you run. So it fits right into the bullseye of current gravel bikes. After testing prototypes over hundreds of miles in the Cascade Mountains, we can honestly say that this is our favorite tire yet. Like all Rene Herse dual-purpose knobbies, the Manastash Ridges are tubeless-compatible.
As you’d expect from a Rene Herse dual-purpose knobby, the new Manastash Ridge has large knobs that don’t flex or squirm even under hard pedaling. Strategic placement of the knobs means the tire is always supported by the same amount of rubber, whether rolling forward or leaning into a turn. This gives you uniform grip at all times—from muddy gravel races to paved descents with ultra-fast hairpin turns.
The big, flex-free knobs are also why the Manastash Ridge rolls as fast as our smooth all-road tires—which are among the world’s fastest tires. The new tire also incorporates our revolutionary noise-canceling technology, which uses the frequencies of one knob hitting the ground to cancel the noise generated by other knobs. The Manastash Ridge rolls as fast as a slick—and almost as quiet.
All our knobbies corner as well as slicks, that’s a given now. With every tire we design, we use the experience from the previous models to push the boundaries even further. The Manastash Ridge is the first tire with our Brake Support technology, with specially shaped and arranged knobs. Even under the massive g-forces of hydraulic disc brakes, the knobs don’t fold over. This is the first knobby that also brakes as well as a slick. If your brakes have enough power, it’s easy to lift the rear wheel, even with your weight pushed all the way back.
If you’re trying to choose between a knobby, semi-slick, or full slick for an upcoming ride or race, the Manastash Ridge has you covered. It handles everything from fast pavement to deep mud or snow.
This takes the guesswork out of tire choice: No need for a ‘quiver’ of tires, if one tire can do it all. In fact, a friend here in Seattle has been riding the similar 700C x 48 mm Oracle Ridges in the (all-paved) brevets to qualify for Paris-Brest-Paris. And he has no trouble keeping up with the fastest riders in these events. Of course, he’s a strong rider, and it’s not like the knobbies provide an advantage on pavement. It’s just that he already had the dual-purpose knobbies on his bike, and they certainly aren’t holding him back.
There’s one place where you wouldn’t want to ride our knobbies (or any other tires with knobs): peanut-butter mud, which clogs up any tire tread. There you want the smoothest tire possible, so you pick up the least amount of mud. That’s one reason why riders often choose slicks for gravel races known for their sticky mud, like The Mid South. (Above is ‘Inno’ Zavyalov on the smooth 700×44 Snoqualmie Pass taking the hole shot that determined the outcome of the men’s race.)
What about the name of the new tire? Manastash Ridge is the Native American name of a rugged ridge in central Washington. This bedrock spur separates the southern interior from the central Cascade Mountains. A gravel road traverses Manastash Ridge via Ellensburg Pass (above). Depending on the season, the gravel can be smooth, rough or muddy. On the approaches to the pass from both sides, there’s plenty of fast pavement, too. This is typical for the mixed-surface routes that have inspired our tires. Routes where you need a tire that can handle pavement and dirt, even mud and sometimes snow, with equal confidence.
We know that many customers want the new Manastash Ridges for their upcoming races and adventures, so we air-shipped a small quantity of Endurance and Endurance Plus casings. For now, sales of the Manastash Ridges are limited to two tires per customer. More are on the way, including Standard and Extralight casings. We should have them by the end of the month.
And if you want to know more about the Distance 45 gravel bike we used for testing the prototypes, a full review will be in the Spring 2023 Bicycle Quarterly.