Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tale of two tires, part 2...

There's been some pretty great releases of new larger volume tires recently.  Vee Rubber listed a whole slew of tires (too many in too short of a window) that are supposed to be coming down the pike in the 40 to 50mm width range.  However, I have my doubts that they will actually bring all the tires they list on their website to market.  Hopefully, I'm wrong, but the guy they hired to perform this task and market the brand has left after a short stint.  

One company that does seem to be stepping up to the plate and hitting home runs is Clément Tires.  One of the key aspects to a successful new product introduction is a steady growth plan.  Introduce a few great products to start and then make successful product introductions as follow ups.  Clément did that with the introduction of some great 'cross racing tires.  They followed that up with a super riding road clincher, the Strada LGG.  Their newest tire to become available is the X'Plor MSO tire in size 40.

The X'Plor MSO (MSO is the airport designation for Missoula, MT, home base for Adventure Cycling) is the most recent release.  It's only available in a 40 size and in a 60tpi or 120tpi version.  The 60tpi version was received first (120tpi tires are on the way), so the 60tpi is what I'll offer as my first ride impressions.

The X'Plor MSO tire is pretty darn close in design to my favorite (now discontinued) cross tire, the WTB Interwolf 38.  Needless to say, I was pretty excited to give the MSO tires a go.  Before I got out to the trails, the first couple of rides were commuting on them.  Now, I don't have a huge commute (one mile each way), but the commute has a short, fast descent with a sharp left hander at the bottom.  One of those corners that people usually brake heavily on, but I have it pretty dialed and can hit it at full speed.  The Clément MSO handled the hard, asphalt corner with great confidence.  But, this wasn't dirt.

So, one morning last week, I got ready to ride my favorite loop.  The Inverness Ridge loop is a good test of a cross tire.  If it works well on this loop, it'll likely work well anywhere.  I started out with about 45-50 psi and the tires were nice and fast on the road.  Once the trail turned to dirt (of the slippery decomposed granite type), the higher pressure was evident as the tire started loosing traction when I rose out of the saddle.  I stopped and released some air with 3 or 4 taps on the presta valve.  The change was immediately apparent as the tires hooked up much better.  I did stop once more to see what a few more taps on the valve to release a bit more air would do and it was even better.  

When the trail turned down, I noticed a similar skating on the front end that I experienced with the Vee12 tires.  Releasing a bit of pressure up front, eased that feeling.  With some air out of the front and rear, I was curious how they would handle descending the steep paved section back to town.  No problems there.  In the end, I think I ended up with about 36 psi up front and 38psi in back.  And that's what I set the tires to on subsequent rides.  

What did I think?  They were damn fun tires.  Pretty optimal for my riding style and where I ride.  I took them on the Inverness Ridge loop several times and a Bolinas Ridge out and back once.  These are the kind of tires that you want to keep on your bike until they are worn out and then put on a fresh set.  Definitely going to clear off a space on my tire wall to keep a supply of these tires in the shop.  

Interwolf vs. MSO
WTB Interwolf on the left, Clement X'Plor MSO on the right.

 Clement X'Plor MSO 40
After several rides, still looking good.

Clement X'Plor MSO 40
The clearance of the MSO 40 in my cross frame.

Clement X'Plor MSO 40
Fork clearance.

Inverness Ridge Trail
Hard to see here, but this is a steep, marbly descent with twists and turns and water bars.

And again, the loose, steep climb.

(What's playing:  Credence Clearwater Revival I Put A Spell On You)


Dustin said...

Thanks for the review. Did the tires measure an honest 40mm when mounted up?

Guitar Ted said...

These are fantastic tires on gravel as well. Glad to hear they are working for your rides.

I had to take a second look at the fork image. The way your finger prints dusted away the dirt make the fork look as if it has a camo paint scheme.

Hmm.....a camo paint scheme BMC Monster Cross? Sounds pretty tasty to me!

blackmountaincycles said...

They measured 38.5mm on a 24mm wide rim and 37mm on a 20mm wide rim.

SJBikeGeek (Lars) said...

How do they compare to the Conti Cyclocross Speed tires?

Also, I rode my BMC Monster Cross in last Sunday's LiveSTRONG ride in Davis on the Continentals(AC Victory 30 wheelset). Great road tires. I did the 65 mile ride with Jandd frame pack and Topeak MTX DLX rack/bag combo and SKS P50 fenders. I got many compliments on the bike and you should be getting a new inquiry or two.
Love the bike, Mike!

blackmountaincycles said...

I've never used the Conti Cyclocross Speed tires so can't compare. However, the 'cross Speed tires have a file tread. Comparing these to the MSO is like apples to oranges. I would pick the MSO over the Speed any day for any type of terrain - except if I was racing cross on a mostly grass, smooth non-technical course.

CD Reynolds said...

The MSO tires sound fantastic, however, what do you recommend for a 559mm (26inch) wheel?


blackmountaincycles said...

CD Reynolds - excellent question and one for which I do not have an answer.

Years ago, Ritchey had high quality 1.7" tires for 559 rims. Today, the 35mm - 45mm options for 26" rims are left to the slick road tires or stiff casing touring tires. I don't know of a tire like the MSO that's available in a 26"/559 size.

Bill S. said...

I'm looking at putting these on deep-v's, 19mm wide. Have you had any experience with that combo? I noticed above that you had them on 22mm wide rims.

blackmountaincycles said...

No problem in a Deep V. The front rim on the bike above is a Mavic Open SUP.

Deacon Patrick said...

Have you ridden the 120 TPI MSOs also? I have a pair of 60 TPI that I love and am wondering if the more supple casing translates to practical differences in rolling resistance (all surfaces) and greater traction (loose gravel climbs) and thus worth the extra scratch.

blackmountaincycles said...

Deacon - I would say, yes, the 120 version is worth it. It does have a more supple/flexible casing that has a bit more traction in the loose, at least for me. And it sings along on the pavement with a better ride. I found that the highter tpi resulted in running a few psi more in the tire than the 60.

Deacon Patrick said...

Thanks! Great info, and makes my choice easy.

Keith Romain said...

Newb question.. should I get a specific tube for these? Thanks.

blackmountaincycles said...

Keith - Like with any tire, you will want a tube size that matches the tire size. For the 40mm Clement, I use a tube that is sized for 35-43 tires.