The Art of Compromise

Posted by: Jan Heine Category: Tires

The Art of Compromise

It may be popular to talk about “no-compromise” products, but the reality is that the best products involve a careful balance of features and properties. Take our new Compass tires…
We could have made them lighter!
The only place to remove material is in the middle of the tread. We might save up to 50 grams on the 650B x 42 mm Babyshoe Pass, but the tire would wear out much faster.
So we removed all the weight we could, but left just the right amount of tread to provide a long service life.
We could have made them faster!
A thinner tread flexes less, reducing the rolling resistance slightly. If we had reduced the tread thickness in the center, we might have increased the speed by up to 1%. The difference is very small, and it comes at the expense of longevity and puncture resistance.
We already use the most supple casing available. Our research has shown that the casing, more than anything else, influences the speed and comfort of a tire.
Our tires will be as fast and as light as “event” tires once you have ridden them for a few thousand miles. A friend of mine calls other companies’ super-thin event tires “pre-worn.”
We could have made them sturdier!
Reinforcing the tire sidewalls, adding puncture-proof belts or making the tread thicker all will make the tire sturdier. The downside is that the tires would ride harshly and roll slower.
We decided that our tires needed to hold up in most off-pavement conditions. We have tested them on gravel roads and even moderate mountain bike trails (above) without problems. For us, that makes them sturdy enough.
Hint: Wider tires are inflated to lower pressures, so they roll over debris that would puncture a narrower tire. You get less flats that way.
We could have made them last longer!
A thicker tread gives you more rubber to wear down before you have to replace the tire. However, after a while, the tire becomes “squared off” and no longer corners well. The thicker tread also increases the tire’s rolling resistance. (The Grand Bois Hetre in the photo above may look squared off, but it’s actually still nice and round after about 10,000 km/6000 miles.)
We decided to make our tread thick enough that it will last thousands of miles, but not so thick that it will square off before wearing out. We feel that is a good compromise.
Hint: Wider tires spread the wear over more rubber and last longer.
We could have made them more colorful!
Our on-the-road experience has shown that colored rubber does not grip as well as black rubber, especially on wet roads. So our Compass tires use black tread rubber for optimum handling and safety, but the sidewalls are available in both tan and black, depending on your taste.
Fortunately, there are some things where compromise is not necessary. Handling is one of them.
We could NOT have made them corner better!
We spent a lot of time researching tire treads, before selecting a pattern that offers optimum grip in wet and dry conditions. The tread pattern along with the grippy yet durable rubber make our tires corner better than any tire we have tried.
We made many compromises when we designed our tires. We think they are the right compromises to provide you with tires that offer a maximum of performance, comfort and fun, while being suitable for everyday riding, commuting and even gravel roads. We are proud of the result, and we are glad to hear that others are enjoying these tires as much as we do.
Click here to find out more about our Compass tires.

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