‘Are you interested in e-bikes?’. It was hard not to roll your eyes when being asked this again. It’s where the market is at, everyone is trying to cash in, and that includes the tyre manufacturers – which isn’t surprising, as tyre choice has certainly been a weakness in the early e-bike market. A lot of the brands we spoke to were keen to shout about their new e-bike tyre line ups, but there were plenty of other new products and updates too. Here’s our rubber round-up.
CST has traditionally produced fairly high-volume low-end tyres for the OEM market, but they’re also the sponsor of the CST Sandd American Eagle XC team, which includes the UK’s own Grant Ferguson. You can’t be a tyre company sponsoring an XC team and expect them to win on supermarket tyres, so CST has introduced its Jack Rabbit II Pro tyre.
As you might expect from a modern XC team, they demand tyres for modern XC courses, with all the rough and tumble that entails. The Jack Rabbit II Pro tyres deliver a fast rolling ride with traction for cornering and technical sections. Made with 120tpi casing, triple compound, and available with and without EPS sidewall protection, the tyres will only come in a 29×2.2in size. With the sidewall protection – which is what the CST racers are using – the tyres have a claimed weight of 575g, but you can shave off a bit more, down to 490g, if you’re not riding the kind of trails that need that sidewall protection. Prices are to be confirmed, and they’ll be available from the end of 2018.
Kenda has really upped its game in recent years, with a whole bunch of new and improved rubber hitting the market over the last 18 months or so – taking them out of the bracket of ‘tyres to upgrade from as soon as possible’ to tyres you may well choose to upgrade to.
At Eurobike Kenda was showing the new Regolith, designed to be an all conditions tyre to suit most of many riders’ needs, being fast rolling with good cornering and wet braking traction. There will be three versions: the Pro TR tubeless race will be the lightest, at 680g for a 29×2.2 tyre; the Pro SCT with sidewall protection will add 90g; and the Pro EMC is specifically for e-bikes and is certified for use on e-bikes at up to 50mph(!). The EMC tyre will be available in a 2.6in width only, but in both a 29 and 27.5 wheel size.
Kenda also launched the Booster – another XC tyre for modern XC courses. Developed with and used by the Bianchi MTB team, it is available in 29×2.2in only, and in two casings: the 580g TR edition and the slightly heavier SCT option with sidewall protection. Made with a single tread compound it has been designed to be supple and compliant and give as predictable a ride as possible. Other tyre sizes may yet follow.
The big news from Maxxis was that they launched not so much a new tyre as a whole new casing, EXO+. Sitting between the existing EXO and Double Down casings, this incorporates a Silk Shield layer from bead to bead alongside the EXO sidewall protection. This should give many a hard riding enduro (or perhaps Lake District) rider the lighter weight they need but combined with a tougher tyre. Initially, this casing will be applied to only the Rekon, Minion DHF and DHR II.
As well as some rather nice colourful options for the gravel market, Panaracer introduced three new tyres which should all be available next spring.
The three tyres will be available in 2.4 and 2.6in widths in both 27.5 and 29in wheel sizes. The Romero is an enduro/all conditions tyre, the Aliso is designed for softer ground, and the Driver for hardpack – like trail centres. All will be priced somewhere in the region of $60-$70.
Possibly the most enthusiastic product Product Manager of the whole show talked us through the Shwalbe line up. Carl managed to still appear to be excited by the tyres even after three days of repeatedly taking people through all the new features.
The well known Hans Dampf has had a complete redesign, with a new tread pattern that’s designed to make sure the tyre wears a lot better. With better support on the shoulder knobs there should be no more ripping them off, while block volume has increased by 20% meaning you’ve got a lot more tread to get through before they go bald.
Designed to be forgiving with a good transition into corners, the tyres are non-directional, so there’s no putting them on the wrong way round. The plus tyre editions have added snakebite protection built in, and the Evolution and Performance editions are designed to provide two different price points while still delivering a tubeless ready tyre. As these have historically been a popular OEM choice, this is good news for consumers as you should see new bikes coming with tubeless ready tyres even at lower price points. If you do want to buy them aftermarket, you’ll be looking at a maximum price of €67,90 for the most expensive tyre (the Evolution in a plus size).
The Racing Ralph has also been revamped, and this fourth iteration of the tyres goes more aggressive to pair with a Racing Ray up front.
Once again, Shwalbe sees the e-MTB market as being an important customer and has nailed its colours to the mast when it comes to Moto wheel sizing. Designed to work as a 29×2.6in front and 27.5×2.8in rear pairing, these have huge blocks and are very long lasting – since they figure the motor can take care of the extra rolling resistance and weight, and wanted to provide a tyre which is highly resistant to sideways sliding. The elongated blocks should help prevent heavier bikes, heavier riders, or inexperienced riders (you can see who Schwalbe thinks the e-MTB market is aimed at) for washing out quite so easily.
6. Wolfpack Tires
This is a new brand from an old hand. Check out the full write up here. We saw three tyres, the Race, Trail and Cross, each designed with a unique tread pattern to suit different riding conditions.
Which of these new tyre choices might be making its way onto your next bike? Or is there still a gap and you can’t quite see exactly what you were looking for? Maybe something a little more colourful?
We’ll leave you with these. Yay or nay?