Friday, October 17, 2008

Tire Time with A Homer Hilsen

When it comes to tires, the A Homer Hilsen is a swiss army knife. It can run a huge variety, from skinny road tires to burly cross tires. A fender usually fits too. Most people already know this about the bike because the Rivendell website talks about it plenty. I've run a variety of tires on the AHH in the last several months, and here is my assessment.

The Grand Bois Cypres 700x30. Reading anything related to Bicycle Quarterly gives you the impression that these are amazing tires. It isn't a surprise they sell them for $55 a tire, probably the most expensive tire I'd buy by a good margin. I had to see what the fuss was about, so I ordered a set. I mounted them for the recent Great River Ride and a few rides during the week, so maybe 150 miles total. I admit that they are excellent. As advertised, they roll fast and soak up bumps. Cornering is great. In these categories they are at least as good as the Rivendell Jack Browns I used for a long time. Though if they are in fact better, the difference is slim. The one thing that bugs me about the Grand Bois is that they are fairly insubstantial and reputedly not flat-resistant. I haven't had any flats yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if I did, and their lightness does not inspire me to seek out trashy surfaces. That said, they still perform well. I wouldn't say that they are life changing, but if you want some nice mid-width comfy tires for brevets or long fast rides, these are a great option especially considering that there aren't many high-quality 700x30+ slicks out there.

Ritchey Speedmax Cross Comp 700x40. Big fat cyclocross tires. Actually, they are too fat to be UCI legal ( limit 700x35), but I'm not racing anytime soon, so who cares. I enjoyed the fast and grippy 700x32 version of this tire, but I needed a little more volume for cushioning. The 700x40 is the fattest 700c tire I could find. Like the other Ritchey Speedmax tires, they balance speed and traction well. The AHH fits the 700x40 with room to spare. Clearance with a fender looks adequate but not ample, and I didn't bother with them. The Ritcheys are ideal all-around tires for roads and trails, great at everything while not superior at anything. The only improvement I could make on this tire is having it in a foldable version, but the wire bead is not difficult to mount and it's just fine.

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