The Enduro Allroad Bike

The Enduro Allroad Bike

Last year’s Oregon Outback was a great test for the ultimate gravel bike. The course consisted of 1/3 rough and soft gravel, 1/3 smooth gravel and 1/3 pavement. The situation is similar to our favorite local rides: We leave from our backdoor on pavement and ride up to the mountains, where we explore gravel passes far off the beaten path.
What is the ideal bike for this type of riding? We approached the subject by evaluating the real-world performance of different bikes, without regard to tradition and established practice. As we reported in more detail in the Spring 2015 Bicycle Quarterly, we found:

  • Road bikes are faster than other categories (mountain bikes, fat bikes, etc.).
  • The widest tires that can fit between the chainstays of a road bike measure about 52-54 mm. Any wider, and you have to use mountain bike cranks with wider tread/Q factor.
  • Using 26″ rims keeps the outer diameter of the wheel similar to a 42 mm-wide 650B wheel. This makes it possible to use short chainstays, and it also maintains the nimble handling we enjoy in our bikes.
  • Our testing has shown that the small differences in wheel size between 26″, 650B and 29″/700C don’t affect how well a tire rolls over moderately bumpy terrain.

With one question remaining:

  • We’ve already seen that supple casings are faster and more comfortable, but what happens if we make a supple tire that is 50+ mm wide? Nobody had ridden supple tires that wide on the road, simply because no such tires have been available.

There was only one way to find out: Make some prototype tires! Thanks to our cooperative effort with Panaracer (who made a few sets of knobbies with the Compass Extralight casing) and Peter Weigle (who then shaved off the knobs), we were able to get prototype tires with the extra-supple casings, but in a 26″ x 2.3″ size (above). Then we went out to test them, using Alex Wetmore’s “Travel Gifford”, a road bike that is designed for wide 26″ tires (below).
What did we find out? Off-pavement, the wider tires are absolutely amazing. Perhaps that is not surprising, since the tires hold 70% more air than a 650B x 42 mm tire! On these 51 mm-wide prototype tires, the bike simply floats over rough gravel, yet the sensations are those of riding a road bike on pavement. With the low tire pressure and supple casing, traction is amazing. Sprinting up hills out of the saddle is easy, where bikes with narrower tires simply spin their rear wheel. Now I understand why many professional mountain bike racers ride on FMB or Dugast tubulars.
The biggest question for us was how the new tires would perform on the road. After all, tires are big air springs, and the more supple the casing, the less damping you get. Would the bike bounce down the road like a basketball?
We are glad to report that this isn’t the case. If the tire pressure is too high, the bike gets a little unsettled on undulating pavement. The window between “too high” and “too low” pressure is smaller than on narrower tires. In that sweet spot, the bike rides and corners like a road bike, except with much, much more grip on dry roads. The contact patch is huge, and more rubber on the road results in more traction. The lower tire pressure means the wheel doesn’t skip over surface irregularities, so it never loses traction. It’s amazing how far you can lean over on these tires without even getting close to the limits of tire adhesion. (That is why racecars have extremely wide tires.)
What about rolling resistance? We have not done any carefully controlled tests yet, but our on-the-road experience indicates that it’s no higher than narrower tires. Whoever rode the Enduro Allroad Bike during our testing easily kept up with the rest of the group.
So what are the drawbacks? Well, there are a few:

  • You can use these tires on most mountain bike frames, but if you want to use “road” cranks with narrow tread (Q factor), your frame needs to be carefully designed and built to fit the ultra-wide tires.
  • Fenders will not be able to wrap around the tire as they do on bikes with narrower tires, since you cannot make the fenders much wider than 60 mm while keeping a “road” chainline. (The chain would hit the fender in the smaller gears.) The solution probably is to use a 60 mm-wide fender with a shallow profile and mount it a little higher above the tire.
  • As noted earlier, the tire pressure needs to be maintained more carefully.
  • Since the tires are so soft, the bike tends to get deflected by longitudinal depressions in the pavement a little more than bikes with narrower tires.
  • It appears that the bike is more likely to shimmy with tires that wide.

For bikes that see mostly pavement use, with only occasional forays onto gravel, 650B x 42 mm tires will remain my preferred option. But I know I’ll add an Enduro Allroad Bike to my stable for those rides where we spend significant time on gravel.
What about the name “Enduro Allroad Bike”? We wanted to emphasize that it’s a road bike, not a mountain bike. Yet it’s not limited by its narrow tires like a typical road bike. We already use “Allroad” for our 650B bikes. To emphasize the “go-anywhere” capabilities, we added “Enduro”. A road bike that can go on any road and beyond…
For those of us who would prefer to float over gravel rather than “grind” through it, the Enduro Allroad Bike is an exciting new development. Compass Bicycles will offer the Rat Trap Pass, a 26″ x 2.3″ (54 mm) tire specifically designed for this type of bike. Rawland is working on their Ravn, the first production Enduro Allroad Bike that is designed around this tire. MAP also is considering making a small production run of Enduro Allroad Bikes. Of course, custom builders can make them, too. And other companies will probably offer them as well, since they make so much sense and are so much fun to ride.
If you want to try supple, ultra-wide tires but still prefer to stick with 650B wheels that you may already have, Compass will offer the Switchback Hill, a 650B x 48 mm tire. There are many 650B bikes that can fit a tire that wide, and you’ll get 30% more air volume than a 42 mm tire offers. Both new tires will be available this summer.

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Comments (74)

  • Johan

    Wow, both tires are super interesting for me. Since I weigh about 100 kg, I can’t really run Hetre or the Babyshoe Pass tires on the pressures that are possible for let’s say a a 65 kg rider. I’ve always been a bit jealous of the comfort lighter riders can have on the road with low pressures, but with these new tires I can get pretty close.
    Any details on the casing and tread? I assume they feature extra light casing and the fine “file” pattern? Thinking of it, offering this casing but with a small blocky rubber stud pattern, like the Schwalbe Furious Fred or Conti Speed/Race King, you could probably reach a large group of interested mtb riders, both with the 559 and the 584 tires. Fast mtb tires are a big thing…
    As a note, many years ago I remember reading about Jobst Brandt’s inverted tire pattern that he developed for Avocet ( ). I can’t find the discussion now, but it’s probably in some newsgroup archive. Avocet made some mtb tires with this pattern which were tested by an mtb magazine, and while they apparently were faster (both better grip and lower rolling resistance) than the traditional mtb tires by the large manufacturers, the magazine didn’t want to upset the big manufacturers and loose advertizing, so they didn’t publish the results.

    April 4, 2015 at 5:54 am
  • mattsurch

    Jan, what are your thoughts about doing a file tread (like Conti CX speed, for example) on the Compass casings? We do routes and races with wet stuff and sometimes ice and snow, and that sort of tread really helps. We can only use the Compass 700s and 650bs when it’s quite dry….

    April 4, 2015 at 6:17 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Tire tread for an Enduro Allroad Bike is always a matter of compromise. Do you give up a little traction on mud and snow, or do you accept a higher resistance and less-optimal cornering on pavement. We opted to stay with the tread pattern of the other Compass tires, which works incredibly well on 95% of the conditions these bikes will encounter. They do have a file tread, but it’s very fine, so it actually improves traction on pavement, too.

      April 4, 2015 at 2:39 pm
  • Bill Russell

    These new wide, supple 26″ tires will find a ready market in an odd niche: velomobiles. Since we clearly don’t give a hoot about tradition we are already deep into wide cushy tires as the fastest solution for real-world roads. The current standard is Schwalbe’s SuperMoto; it looks like the Compass offering will easily surpass this. Let’s go!

    April 4, 2015 at 6:43 am
  • Michael Arciero

    My thinking on tire width and pressure has changed over the years, mostly as a result of reading BQ and this blog, and I’ve now enjoyed the benefits of wider tires for a while (Thanks Jan, et. al.) But I think the “larger-contact-area-implies-more-traction” argument is often stated without qualification/clarification. The friction force between two surfaces, the force that resists horizontal slipping on the road, is simply proportional to the the downward force of the bike/rider. On a smooth road that downward force is constant for a given rider/bike weight, being the product of contact area and pressure. (As pressure decreases contact area is increases but the product of the two is constant) So, at least in the “first approximation”, traction does not depend on tire width or pressure, only on the tread compound. What is true is that the lower pressure will enable the tire to remain in contact with the road over irregularities, which will improve traction. Jan points this out above, but I think that point is often missed.

    April 4, 2015 at 6:50 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      In theory, weight and rubber compound are all that matter. That is what I learned in high-school physics, too. In practice, one look at a racecar will show you that tire width does make a big difference, even on very smooth racetracks.
      That was perhaps the biggest surprise in our testing of the new prototype tires: I didn’t think we could get much more traction on pavement than our Babyshoe Pass 42 mm tire offer, but I was wrong. We cornered faster and faster, and finally were left to acknowledge that on this particular downhill – where many people crash because they go too fast – we simply couldn’t reach the speeds needed to approach the limits of these tires.

      April 4, 2015 at 2:40 pm
      • Arn

        Michaels point regarding tire width not having an effect on friction is correct. Your argument regarding automobile race cars and tire width doesn’t hold water either. Added tire width, in the case of an automobile tire, does not improve friction in general, with the exception that tire width, when dealing with high horsepower and high speeds, can affect tire temperature. Higher temp can change the coefficient of friction of rubber, reducing friction. However, bicycles will never be subject to the power or velocity that would be needed to alter their coefficient of friction. By the way, if you have been paying attention to formula 1 racing over the decades, you will notice that the tires are typically narrower today that twenty and thirty years ago, despite the fact that engine power output, straight line velocities, and cornering speeds are substantially higher today.

        April 4, 2015 at 11:12 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          You overlook the interlocking effect of tire and road. More surface means more interlocking, and hence more traction. If you were riding on a glass surface, tire width might not matter. On the road, I can tell you that it does matter hugely. When I ride bikes with narrow tires now, I really need to recalibrate to the much lower cornering limits.

          April 5, 2015 at 7:12 am
    • jimmythefly

      Tire-to-road adhesion and friction is hugely complex. For one, there is no such thing as a smooth road.
      Just to get a taste, take a look at the posts by user Ciro Pabon in this thread:
      And that’s from 2011! I wonder how things have progressed since then.
      I know it’s mentioned elsewhere in BQ, but contact patch shape is also important, both in straight line speed and in the cornering we are talking about.
      And as mentioned below F1 tires are heavily regulated. And they have a bunch of other factors in their design that don’t really apply to bicycles, but the friction discussion from that forum link is still very relevant.

      April 6, 2015 at 10:41 am
  • Harth

    Jan, what do you believe will be the optimal rim width for this tire? And, do you think it will perform well on a 23mm rim? Looking forward to trying it!

    April 4, 2015 at 7:13 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The prototype tires performed very well on 23 mm-wide rims. With stiffer tires, having the rim match the tire width gives you a more vertical tire sidewall, which helps hold up the bike. With supple tires, it seems to matter much less. Witness the use of wide tubulars for cyclocross and mountain bike racing. Tubular rims have an effective rim width that is very narrow – they support the tire only from below, but not the sides.

      April 4, 2015 at 3:31 pm
  • Pete

    And if you’re fortunate enough to own a 650b road bike with disc brakes, like the Elephant NFE, you’re only a wheel change away from swapping between the two sizes interchangeably.

    April 4, 2015 at 7:30 am
  • Andrew H Robertson

    How do these new prototype tires compare to Schwalbe’s Super Moto that were tested on the Jones bike in the last issue? What did you like in the Super Moto that these tires lack? Does the new tire have a tread pattern?
    I’m riding a pair of Super Motos on my gen 1 Salsa Fargo and I have found them to provide a great ride on pavement, sandy/loose gravel, and hardpacked dirt; however, on loose gravel the rear tire does slide out as noted in the last issue. Overall, after 4 years of riding the Fargo (with different tires) I’ve found perfect tire for all roads. I’m still experimenting to see what tire pressure works best for a given road.
    Great post! I’m excited to hear about the development of enduro all road bicycles.

    April 4, 2015 at 7:44 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The Super Motos were surprisingly nice on mud and snow – even though they are essentially slick tires. Low pressure and a lot of rubber make a huge difference… The Super Motos still are a relatively stiff tire. Consider that we ran them as low as 16 psi, because the sidewalls were holding up the bike and rider. On the Compass prototypes, which were only a little narrower (51 mm vs. 57 mm), we had to run 28-29 psi to prevent the tire from collapsing, because the sidewalls are so much less stiff.
      The lower pressure on the Super Moto doesn’t have any benefits for comfort or traction, since the tire deforms less, not more, due to its stiff construction.

      April 4, 2015 at 2:45 pm
  • Tim Clark

    For some time, Ive been looking for an “offroad speed” platform, but have not found the right balance of practicality and performance. I think the combo of the (26″) 55mm tires and the new off-the-shelf frames coming to market will fit the brief. Great work!

    April 4, 2015 at 9:56 am
  • cpkestate

    what about compass 26 x 1.75 with new (more pavement friendly)threads? it would be much easier to retrofit into already available bikes…

    April 4, 2015 at 11:33 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      That would be nice. Our current 26″ x 1.75″ tires use existing Panaracer molds, so they feature a tread that is thicker than it needs to be. We’ll have to amortize the new tire molds for this run of tires before we can start thinking about new tires. Then we’ll consider it.

      April 4, 2015 at 2:47 pm
      • John Oswald

        I feel like you said this last year when the new Compass tires were released and people commented asking for an update of the 26 x1.75 tire…along with something else about demand for 26 inch tires. I guess we only see the requests and you are the one with the sales figures, capital investment and old stock. All I can say is that , as a rider with a 26inch commuter, a 26inch touring bike and a 26 inch wheel tandem, I’m an already paying customer who is interested.
        A question about molds: are they circumference-specific? If a silky smooth file pattern 42mm mold exists for 650b wheel could it be used on a 26″ tire? (although, I suspect if it could they wouldn’t be as expensive…)
        Finally, for what it’s worth, I’ll be ordering a set of Rat Trap Pass tires for the tandem on the day they are released but I too would like the option of having an optimal 42mm or so Compass tire that fits well under existing aluminum fenders –remember back when plastic fenders and dirty bikes were unacceptable compromises?–for rides that are primarily on pavement. Thanks for listening 🙂

        April 7, 2015 at 7:33 am
  • Alex

    my “off-road speed” platform, or enduro allroad bike, is a ritchey p-21 MTB frame set up like a road bike: drop bars and double crank in front. Tires are the super fast 55-559 Conti Race King in the (important!) supple Race Sport version mentioned by Johan. The bike is astonishingly lightweight, fast, comfortable, no-hands stable with a moderate front load, and, judging by my performance riding this bike, measured against my cycling peers, Jan and team really have found the fastest way to go (almost) anywhere.
    I’m totally sold on the formula “road bike with fat fast tires”, and very much look forward to the new frames and tires mentioned in your post, Jan.

    April 4, 2015 at 2:06 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      That sounds like a great bike, and if it fits the new Rat Trap Pass tires, it’ll be even more awesome.

      April 4, 2015 at 2:48 pm
    • Carl

      I snatched up a 1992 Paramount series 90 and converted it to drops in anticipation of the RTPs. Currently rolling on Compass 26×1.75s . (They will find a home on my tandem when I switch to the RTPs). My favorable assessment of it’s performance is clearly subjective, but it rides one of my frequented loops in nearly the same time as my road bike. Climbs well too. Looking forward to getting it on some other terrain.
      My riding enjoyment is increased by a quiet ride, so the road noise of the 26×1.75s is not ideal. I’m hoping that the light tread of the RTPs will be as quiet as the Compass rubber I enjoy on my 700c road bike.

      April 4, 2015 at 7:29 pm
  • Em

    Curious if you could give some numbers on what the narrow range between “too high” and “too low” looks like from your experience?

    April 4, 2015 at 2:36 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I weigh 155 pounds, and for me, 25 psi was too low, and 32 psi was too high – on pavement. On gravel, I probably could go as low as 20 psi without problems…

      April 4, 2015 at 2:48 pm
      • B. Carfree

        The moment these are available, I’m going to put a pair on my tandem. I ride stoker (175 pounds) and the captain weighs 125 pounds. I have a feeling we are going to be able to enjoy a wider range of pressures simply because of our greater weight, but I’ll have to wait for summer to find out.
        We won’t be able to confirm the better cornering since we descend with cowardice. Our lack of boldness in our dotage compensates for all those 70 mph descents I did in my youth.

        April 4, 2015 at 5:46 pm
  • John Oswald

    (Insert “Price is Right” Showcase overbid sound effect) I was hoping for a 26×48 with the new Compass tread for brevets on the tandem. It would have fit better under the 60mm aluminum fenders we have and offered us the smooth rolling that our previous Tandem’s Compass 700×32 tires had. Clearly the new 55 tire is designed for specific rides and not the massive growth potential of the People-who-ride-26″ wheel-tandems-on-brevets market!
    We already ride the Compass 26×1.75’s and love them (as fast on gravel as on pavement and we’ve ditched the stoker’s suspension post) but the extra cush and the lack of the Pasela tread hum on pavement of my hypothetical 48 (or even a just a 44 without Pasela tread) would have been perfect. Maybe these 55’s will run small on our rims!

    April 4, 2015 at 2:46 pm
  • Jayme Frye

    Ok after seeing the picture accompanying this post I get the new All Road Enduro tire. If this is what constitutes a “gravel” road in Oregon I can see the need for the fattest tire you can possibly find. 🙂 Around here NE/IA we would call that a mountain bike trail.

    April 4, 2015 at 4:16 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The photos were taken in the Cascades. In Oregon, at least during the Oregon Outback, the biggest issue was incredibly loose aggregate made from lightweight pumice – probably from the Crater Lake eruption. Even 42 mm tires just sank into the stuff, and it became hard to pedal.
      Many of our gravel roads are much smoother, but the beauty of a wide, supple tire is that you don’t give up anything on the smooth stuff, and you gain a lot on the rough stuff. After all, the Enduro Allroad Bike is still a road bike – just one that can comfortably go on much rougher roads.

      April 4, 2015 at 4:32 pm
      • Fred Blasdel

        Plenty of the people riding their new 29+ demi-fat bikes with 75mm tires were struggling worse in the “red sauce” on that freshly-graded road climbing up to Sand Springs from Fort Rock.
        The tendency of narrower tires to sink isn’t the core problem, it’s much more to do with the rider’s fit — their ability to float on the bike, not the bike’s ability to float on the soft surface

        April 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          Riding ability plays an important role, but tire width is at least as important. When I did an internship as a park ranger in Namibia during my undergraduate years, they had Ford F-250 pickups with tires from DC-3s that could go over the sand like few other vehicles. Their Toyota trucks didn’t fit the monster wheels and thus were much less capable. I want those DC-3 wheels for my bike, or at least the equivalent.

          April 6, 2015 at 5:21 am
      • Conrad

        Recently during an exceptionally wet gran fondo Ephrata, where there was a lot of riding on wet gravel roads… While riding with a group on a gravel downhill grade, I could just coast away from them. They were still pedaling! I was on Compass 38mm tires; most other people were on 28 to 32mm tires. It was a huge advantage being on wider tires, regardless of fitness.

        April 6, 2015 at 9:43 am
  • Marco Marriage

    I think these bikes look really interesting but what would be the best brake to pair with tyres of this size? I’m not a huge fan of cantis or v brakes but could a centrepull allow enough clearance?

    April 5, 2015 at 12:49 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      There isn’t a centerpull currently available that has enough clearance. For my Enduro Allroad Bike, I am going with cantilevers. On gravel, braking power is much lower anyhow, because you have less traction. On pavement, I prefer 42 mm tires and centerpull brakes. I don’t expect the Enduro Allroad Bikes to replace our current bikes, but complement them.

      April 5, 2015 at 7:14 am
      • Fred Blasdel

        There are several dozen different centerpull brakes in current production designed specifically for tires this size and bigger, all using the same brake post mounting standard set by the original Dia-Compe 990. They were invented for 26″ rigid mountain bikes, GT even made a low-trail road bike with 650B MTB tires that used one on the rear!
        They’re still used on every quality BMX bike, for all the same reasons you prefer them yourself. That industry may be dying but is still selling 30,000 new complete bikes a year, all with at least one integrated braze-on centerpull, and every aftermarket component company makes at least one brake model. Were there even that many RAIDs produced total?

        April 5, 2015 at 5:44 pm
      • marcpfister

        Most BMX centerpulls don’t offer much fender clearance anymore – they’ve been getting tighter on top to fit shorter back ends. The original Shimano U-brakes could probably clear a 60mm fender but they’re ridiculously overbuilt.

        April 6, 2015 at 9:47 am
      • jimmythefly

        They also suck for trying to get open wide enough to get your wheel and fatty tire out. not related to cable tension-the arms just don’t pivot far enough open, at least on the small number of models I’ve experienced.
        IMO discs or Vs are the way to go.

        April 6, 2015 at 11:19 am
      • Peter

        Will the new Switchback Hill fit centerpull brakes? I would imagine that if a fender for a 42mm tyre would fit, then a “bare” 48mm tyre would fit too?

        April 7, 2015 at 6:21 am
  • Owen

    Any plans to offer larger 700c tires that your current Barlow Pass 38mm? I have a cross bike that will handle 45mm, and while not 50+ this would still be a step in the right direction. Would love to hear your thoughts on using tires this large with the larger wheels.

    April 5, 2015 at 1:06 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      A wider 700C tire would be great for those bikes that can fit them – which isn’t all that many. You do get a bit too much stability for my taste – the feeling we described in the Jones test of wanting to turn, and the bike not immediately reacting, but we all ride the bikes we have, not the bikes we wish we had or plan to have.
      Changing tires is a great way to upgrade your bike – it’s the biggest and most cost-effective change you can make to how the bike feels and performs.

      April 5, 2015 at 7:15 am
      • James

        my older steel frame will accept a fairly large tire, i’m guessing a 38-40mm with room to spare. i have never used larger than 28. Does running a larger tire, say a Barlow Pass 38mm, affect handling (in a negative way) vs a 28mm tire. The bike in question has trail in the high 50″s but the wheelbase is fairly long with 430mm CS.

        April 6, 2015 at 6:49 am
        • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

          The bike will be more stable. That can be a good thing, but it also can mean that it corners “like on rails”, making it difficult to adjust your line in mid-corner. Overall, I think the positives will outweigh the negatives.

          April 6, 2015 at 11:29 am
    • jimmythefly

      I’m with you Owen! Would love a 45c or 42c 700c tire.
      I believe there are quite a few bikes that fit a 700×42. Most of the recent Trek and Specialized cx bikes fit them. Same with their touring bikes. Salsa and Surly each have multiple models that will fit a tire like that. Soma wolverine.
      Purely selfishly -so does my old Novara.

      April 6, 2015 at 11:16 am
      • Matt Hassman

        And don’t forget the humble Surly Cross Check. Thousands of people are out on that bike.

        April 8, 2015 at 4:29 am
  • Bob Zeidler

    Been building various versions of these bikes since the early 90’s when I saw Tomac on his drop bar mtn bike just slay the field in several races. Then at one venue in Canada, saw him ride the same bike with different wheels on the road to warm up on race day morning.

    April 5, 2015 at 4:40 am
  • John Duval

    So far the discussion on tires has focused on rolling resistance, comfort and traction. What is intriguing to me was hinted at in the spring BQ on the Jones; that tires can make the difference where a bike will “plane” or not. Maybe it isn’t enough on its own, but tire size and pressure could be a way to tune a bike for seasonal fitness, or to wake up a frame that is a little too stiff. At least it is another variable to consider in setting tire pressure.

    April 5, 2015 at 9:26 am
  • John Johnston

    If I am not mistaken, F1 tire widths are governed by the technical regulations.

    April 5, 2015 at 2:33 pm
    • GAJett

      Indeed. Tire width reduction in F1 has nothing to do with increased performance, but has been driven by rules changes to REDUCE performance. The narrowing of the tires is intended to reduce friction, including “interlocking effects”, in order to reduce cornering speeds and increasing (perceived) safety.
      It is true that the amount of friction available depends on load and the force per unit area on the contact patch, the result being that the total amount of friction available is independent of the size of the contact patch. This, however, applies only to perfectly smooth surfaces and neglects the “interlocking effect” between the tire and the road surface. It is this interlocking effect that allows wider tires to corner at higher speeds than narrower tires.

      April 6, 2015 at 6:49 am
  • Doug Wagner

    We are A heavy tandem team and run the Compass 26 tires at max inflation. This looks like a great next tire for us

    April 5, 2015 at 6:52 pm
  • drew

    I have been making new bikes to increase the width of the tires of my portable/folding bike design (with 20” /406 wheels) for several years now.
    I am presently running 406-62 (20×2.4) tires. The Demolition Momentum BMX tire is my lightweight favorite at this time. This is as big as BMX tires get. But I don’t think it’s necessary to get any bigger for a mixed on/off road use.
    I can still use a 68mm bottom bracket shell because the smaller wheel is further back and not in the way; it creates no chainline issues.
    The cornering grip on pavement is much better, compared to narrower sizes. At 20 to 25lb pressure, many rocky roads and paths are “full speed ahead”, where with narrower tires I would have to thread my path at a slower pace.
    The all-road improvement between the 2.0 and the 2.4 was just amazing. I cannot imagine wanting to go back to a skinnier tire.
    It’s great to see all the experimentation with tire width going on these days!

    April 5, 2015 at 10:01 pm
  • Ben

    Jan, what will be the wheel diameter with the RTP tires? I’m planning for a new fork, and these tires are very welcome news!

    April 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The prototypes had exactly the same diameter as a Babyshoe Pass. The production tires will be a few mm wider and taller.

      April 6, 2015 at 5:26 am
  • José Pereira

    That bike ends up looking a lot like a 26″ LHT or some of Velotraum’s offerings

    April 6, 2015 at 7:40 am
  • Todd

    What’s the projected diameter of the Switchback Hill? Sounds like the perfect road tire for my 650b Vaya. The Hetre would probably work but seems a hair short.

    April 6, 2015 at 10:39 am
  • Mark

    I like and hear what you are saying, but I prefer a bike with a bit more versatility. I am currently in possession of two bikes that fit the bill. One is a 700×33 flat bar SSXross bike that has a sliding dropout that has enough room to add 29×1.85/9 mtb tires and LOVE how fast it is on the trails. Same welder has made me a 27.5×2.2 SSdrop bar mtb that can transform in to a drop bar 700×44 gravel or a 700×35 road tourer. These bikes are shear genius when it comes to the EnduroAllRoad bikes you speak of.

    April 6, 2015 at 11:04 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      We appreciate that there isn’t one bike-and-tire combination that meets everybody’s needs and desires. That’s why we are introducing several new tires. Seems like you’ll love the Switchback Hill 650 x 48 mm tires.

      April 6, 2015 at 11:24 am
  • Tom Howard

    The 26-inch tire revolution begins!

    April 6, 2015 at 11:10 am
  • Sebastian

    Dear Jan,
    having read the article about JP Weigle and his tyre shaving apparatus a few months ago, i de-knobbed a quite heavy enduro/downhill schwalbe fat albert (26×2.4″) tyre using a very sharp Tajima blade and an angle grinder with various sanding discs. The result is a very high volume folding tyre which is now 180g lighter than before. Having tried it on the front wheel for a few meters around the block it felt comfortable, even with its stiff sidewalls. I will finish the second tyre when its warm outside, because tyre shaving is a huge mess. The second picture of the blog post reminded me of this:

    April 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm
  • kjoyes

    Jan, any early comments on the Switchback Hill’s overall stoutness? (By that I mean “stoutness” in quotes). I’d love a fatter commuting/”durable” tire a la Hetre over a more “fragile” one like the BSP – just curious about your vision for the new model. Cheers

    April 6, 2015 at 7:46 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I am surprised that you consider the Babyshoe Pass “fragile”. The only difference to the Hetre is in the tread pattern and thickness. The Hetre may last most riders 6000+ miles, the Babyshoe Pass last “only” 4000-5000 miles. That is still way longer than most narrower tires will last, much less any narrower tires offering that sort of performance and comfort.
      The Switchback Hill will be wider yet, and it’ll have the same tread pattern and thickness as the other Compass tires. Anything else would be overkill and reduce the performance and feel of the tires.

      April 6, 2015 at 8:36 pm
      • kjoyes

        I don’t consider it fragile – I attempted to use the quotes to draw a comparison between the two, as the Hetre has a reputation as a great mix of performance and longevity. I couldn’t be happier with the Compass tires I have 🙂

        April 7, 2015 at 4:59 am
  • Rob

    Another purpose for the Switchback Hill tires hasn’t been mentioned yet. They sound like proper “ballon” tires like they were ridden in France before World War II, and should work nicely on certain bikes from this era. I have a frameset from the late 1930s with modern angles and plenty clearance. It takes 62 mm fenders, and I’m pretty sure its Jeay brakes will clear these tires just as well. Can’t wait.

    April 7, 2015 at 4:26 am
  • Matt (Papa Rondo)

    Wait, isn’t that the same mold as the New Compass Lark Pass Solid Rubber Tire you introduced last week. Wink Wink Nod Nod.

    April 7, 2015 at 6:42 am
  • Russ Paprocki

    Tan sidewall 650b x 48mm extralight tires, new 30mm wide polished 40 hole Velocity Cliffhanger rims, polished TRP HY-RD hydraulic calipers, my dreams for my Cannondale road tandem are coming true. I hope you’ll offer tan sidewalls. I know some don’t like cleaning them, but the occasional scrub with a soft fingernail brush and warm dish soap solution not only keeps them styling it’s an important safety check / procedure. If SRAM would expand their new CX derailleur chain tension clutch innovation maybe I could move the drive crank to the front, lower the crank “Q” with shorter bottom brackets, maybe Herse cranks, fenders…

    April 7, 2015 at 10:07 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      Tan and black sidewalls will be available for the Extralight model. The standard model will come with tan sidewalls only.

      April 7, 2015 at 2:47 pm
  • Vince DePillis

    Great news. Did I miss availability timing?

    April 7, 2015 at 11:15 am
  • Lee Vilinsky

    Hi Jan,
    I’m wondering how these new tires will compare to the 26 x 2.0 Schwalbe Kojacks. It would only be a few millimeters than the 2.3″ tires you talk about, but is there some sort of “magic” relation to the comparable diameter of 650b x 42mm / 26″ x 2.3″?

    April 8, 2015 at 1:07 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      The magic is in the casings. Compass tires feature ultra – supple casings that are more closely related to handmade tubulars.

      April 8, 2015 at 2:36 pm
  • Vince DePillis

    Idle thought– If you pair these “balloon” tires with a stiffer fork, would it give you decent comfort and less chance of shimmy?

    April 9, 2015 at 9:56 am
  • erick

    im really sold on this new kind of bike, perfect for my location…. but why this bikes won´t replace your actual 650×42 bikes? only for the fender coverage? this enduro bikes climb slower? maybe you can do a test in the same bike climbing in smooth road (you don´t need to brake).
    it´s getting harder justify my actual randonneur bike (a soma GR) vs the rawland ravn for all kind of rides even only in tarmac i think the ravn will be faster due to the better tubing…

    April 9, 2015 at 2:25 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      I don’t think the Enduro Allroad Bike will climb any slower. Big issues are brakes – can’t is are OK, but I really prefer the superior modulation of centerpulls. Suitable fork crowns for the flexible blades I like don’t yet exist. And making the big tire fit between the chainstays won’t be easy. Add to that the slight bounciness on choppy pavement, and I think a 42 mm tire is a better choice for pavement riding.

      April 10, 2015 at 12:11 am

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