Umtanum Ridge Tires Are Here!Jan Heine
The new 650B x 55 mm Umtanum Ridge tires have landed! Now our widest knobbies are available in the three most popular wheel sizes: The award-winning 700C/29″ Fleecer Ridge is perfect for the latest drop-bar mountain bikes. The 26″ Humptulips Ridge has made classic mountain bikes fun again. And now the 650B Umtanum Ridge is the ideal tire for gravel, all-road and adventure bikes. Like all our dual-purpose knobbies, it grips tenaciously in mud, snow and on rough surfaces, yet it rolls incredibly fast on pavement – and thanks to the patented noise-canceling technology, it’s quiet, too.
The Umtanum Ridge is the perfect tire for a bike like the Fern Chuck Explorer – designed to go fast on smooth roads, but also handle rough terrain. To test both the bike and the new tire – still in prototype form – I set out for an ambitious adventure: Ride around the Olympic Mountains – a distance of 560 km (350 miles) – in 30 hours non-stop. (I took three short breaks for meals, but never spent more than 30 minutes off the bike.)
Heading out for a spirited ride that includes 480 km (300 miles) of pavement on knobby tires may seem foolish, but these aren’t just any knobbies. The knobs of Rene Herse dual-purpose knobbies are large, so they don’t squirm or fold over during hard cornering. The knobs are distributed so that there’s always the same amount of rubber on the road for predictable grip. The ‘negative’ space between the knobs is large enough that they shed mud like the best cyclocross tires. And on the latest models – including the Umtanum Ridge – the knobs are staggered so that the noise frequencies generated as one knob hits the ground cancel those from the previous knob. The result is a knobby that rolls (almost) as quietly as a slick tire.
As expected, the new Umtanum Ridges worked great on the paved sections and also on the wonderful gravel roads that traverse the southern Olympic Mountains. You could argue that I didn’t really need knobbies for most of the ride…
… until I hit snow on the highest passes of the ride. The knobbies may have provided a big advantage on just 2 or 3 km, but they also didn’t hold me back during the other 99% of the ride. That’s really the beauty of these tires – there’s no need to choose traction on loose surfaces or speed and cornering grip on smooth asphalt – you can have both!
The new tires are in stock in the Extralight and Endurance casings. Standard and Endurance Plus will follow later. And for the full story of the Round-the-Olympic-Mountains adventure and the test of the amazing Fern, check out the Summer 2021 Bicycle Quarterly.
In the same shipment came a few other long-awaited models, like the ultra-tough Endurance Plus versions of the Fleecer Ridge 700×55 and Hurricane Ridge 700×42, as well as black Switchback Hill 650×48 Extralights.
As a sign of the times, I have to add ‘Quantities are limited.’ How much I look forward to the day when we won’t need to mention that qualifier any longer! But for now, let’s celebrate that the new tires are here!