Are you riding the wrong tyres?

In recent weeks, I had a fascinating chat with a guy from Schwalbe tyres at a trade show. I had expected that he’d want to talk to me about their top end Ultremo race tyres including the new tubeless version when I said I was a blogger and interested to write something about tyres. But he didn’t. In fact he wanted to talk about how most UK recreational riders are probably on the wrong tyres.

You might think that the right tyres from Schwalbe for your best bike are a pair of Ultremos, after all they keep winning tests in magazines and they’re one of the more expensive tyres in the Schwalbe range. Apparently they’re probably not the right tyre for you and this is why.

A Schwalbe Ultremo is a very fast race tyre and it is one of the best out there but if you’re not actually racing – it’s not the best idea to use them for your ride with your mates on the weekend or your training rides.

Why not? Well the message I got is that you’re not racing and your riding the Ultremo then you’re taking a tyre and using it away from the use it was designed for. An Ultremo is designed to have a short life (relatively speaking) to give maximum grip in race situations with low rolling resistance. It’s not designed for the rough, potholed, poorly surfaced roads that most of us actually ride on – not to mention all the detritus you find on the roads too. The Ultremo is an extremely popular tyre here and one that fulfils it‘s designed purpose extremely well. However the point was that it’s not going to survive as long in the normal UK road environment as a tyre designed for the conditions we actually find ourselves riding in. So, if you’re riding top end race tyres for your training, café rides and sportives you’re probably making a mistake and you shouldn’t be disappointed if they get smashed up on your local roads as they’re not designed for hacking around the lanes.

I have to say I wasn’t expecting this discussion but I found it thought provoking. My own attitude with tyres has mostly been – look for the top of the range and then shop around for a good price, especially if it’s had good reviews. This meant that I was there to talk about the Ultremo as potentially being my summer best bike tyres for 2013.

So my next question was “ok then, so what tyres should recreational/sportive riders like myself be using in the Schwalbe range?”

Helpfully Schwalbe have a Performance line in their range for just this reason. This includes tyres like the Durano S (S for speed), the Durano, the Durano Plus (extra, extra puncture protection) and even the classic Schwalbe Marathon (although they’re far from light).

Many of these tyres can also be bought for less than Ultremos too if you take the time to look. So my previous assumption that you should buy the top of the range if you can, has been shattered a little. In fact the man from Schwalbe spent time telling me how you shouldn’t underestimate the quality of the Lugano either, which is a cheaper option again.

The Durano S is only available in a 23mm width whilst all of the other Schwalbes listed above come in a wide range of sizes.

So with the above in mind I now have a set of Schwalbe Durano S tyres on my desk ready to use for the Spring/Summer of 2013. I just have to decide which of my two best bikes I put them on, which could also mean they end up on new wheels as well (as I’m looking for new wheels for my NeilPryde Alize).IMG_4145

I finished the conversation feeling like I’d had my mind opened to a different point of view.

The simple takeaway was that race tyres are for racing. If you’re not racing, choose a high performance tyre with more durability, more puncture protection but is still fast with good rolling resistance. The answer might not be where you thought it was. Obviously I’ll write more on my experiences with the Durano S later in the year.

You can find more info here:


And if you’d like to see more about how Schwalbe makes their tyres you can check out this video:

Thanks for reading