700×44 Manastash Ridge in all casingsJan Heine
We now have the new 700C x 44 mm Manastash Ridge tires in all casings: Standard, Extralight, Endurance and Endurance Plus. A new dual-purpose knobby is a big occasion for us, and we’d like to use this opportunity to show you the tech behind these tires.
Our smooth all-road tires (left) were the first high-performance tires that were wide enough to ride on all roads, not just smooth pavement. But it’s our knobbies (right) that really push the boundaries of tire design. Rather than arrange the knobs in a more-or-less geometric pattern, the placement of each knob is computer-optimized to do exactly what we want from the tire:
For optimum off-road performance, you need knobs that are tall, so they dig into the surface. Just as importantly, they need to be spaced widely, so they don’t clog up with mud.
Making a good knobby is relatively easy—generations of cyclocross and mountain bike tires have offered excellent traction in rocky, muddy and snowy terrain. And yet many gravel tires have small knobs that don’t really help with traction and don’t self-clean when it gets muddy.
With traditional knobbies, you’ve got to be careful when riding on pavement. The knobs squirm and fold over when you corner hard. And even on the straights, the flex of the knobs wastes a lot of energy—most knobbies are slow on pavement.
Most of our rides include long paved sections, but also terrain that can be muddy or even see snow on the ground. The same is true for gravel races, which usually include miles of pavement connecting the gravel sectors. In the past, dual-purpose knobbies used lots of closely spaced, relatively small knobs. As a result, they didn’t grip well in mud and they didn’t roll fast on pavement. They may have looked the part, but you usually were better off just riding slicks.
How can we combine the performance of slicks and knobbies in the same tire? When we designed the Rene Herse knobbies, we started with slicks and carved away the surface, until only knobs remained. Those knobs are sized large enough, so they don’t fold over or squirm. (They are also small enough to dig into loose surfaces.)
The knobs are spaced out in a way that always puts the same amount of rubber on the road, no matter whether you are going straight or leaning into a turn. And since we started with a slick, the tops of the knobs form a round profile, so the tire leans into a corner like a slick. There are no surprises like you get with many knobbies, where you lean a little further, come off a row of knobs, and the tire suddenly breaks away.
New for the Manastash Ridge is our Brake Support technology, with knobs designed for optimum stiffness under hard braking. We all like to think that we have ultra-strong legs, but the G forces of braking, especially with hydraulic discs, are far greater than any acceleration—even if you are a pro sprinter. On most knobby tires, the knobs flex under those forces, and braking is compromised as a result. Thanks to their large, stiff knobs, all Rene Herse knobbies have very good braking performance, but the Manastash takes this to the next level. Even with your weight pushed all the way back, you can easily lift the rear wheel under hard braking (if your brake has enough power).
Most knobbies are very noisy on pavement. As the knobs hit the ground, they create what experts call ‘tire roar.’ One of the beautiful things about cycling is how quiet it is. We can hear birdsongs, water trickling over rocks, deer rustling in the undergrowth… unless our tires drown out everything.
By staggering the knobs so they hit the ground at precisely defined intervals, rather than in groups, the frequencies generated by each knob partially cancel those of other knobs. That’s how our knobbies with noise canceling technology are as quiet as slick tires on most surfaces. Only on ultra-smooth pavement, you occasionally hear the ‘singing’ noise that you also get with high-end tubular tires. Most of the time, Rene Herse dual-purpose knobbies are so quiet that you forget that you are riding on knobby tires at all.
The location of each knob is the result of complex and often competing requirements. This means that each Rene Herse dual-purpose knobby is a totally different tire. We can’t reduce the scale of our 48 mm Oracle Ridge by 8% to get a 44 mm Manastash Ridge. The knobs would be too small, and they’d squirm and fold over under hard cornering. We also can’t just delete a row of knobs, as that would put less rubber on the road and reduce cornering grip.
So we start over and design a completely new tire. That presents the opportunity to refine the tread pattern, using everything we’ve learned from our previous tires. And it’s an opportunity to think of new things we want the tire to do—things like our Brake Support technology. The new Manastash Ridge is taking all these features to a new level—it’s our favorite in the Rene Herse tire program.
That’s the story behind the new 700C x 44 Manastash Ridge tires. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did during our testing of the prototypes. It was during these tests that I finally was able to find a route through the Sawtooth Range in the Central Cascades after more than a decade of exploration. Previous attempts all required too much portaging across landslides and washouts to count as feasible routes, but the new route is quite spectacular. That’s the real reason why we develop our tires: We need them for the rides we love to do.