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TESTED: TIRES FROM SOMA, IRC AND CLEMENT

November 18, 2016
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tires2Soma

SOMA SHIKORO
One of the newest models from Soma’s tire line, the tube-type Shikoro, was designed for training, touring and commuting thanks to its high level of puncture protection. Made in Japan by Panaracer, the Shikoro can be had in two versions—Kevlar or wire bead—and in an impressive five sizes, from 23mm all the way up to 42mm. It includes a thick casing and a densely woven polyamide breaker to help prevent cuts from sharp objects. And, the tread features a unique pattern of squares with miniature siping to help improve grip, and the rubber compound was selected for its longevity, designed to give you plenty of mileage before needing to be replaced. The sidewalls are decked out in a unique dark brown color for added style points.

THE RIDE
We mounted our size-28mm Shikoro tires on a set of Zipp 202 carbon clinchers, which measure 24.6mm wide at the brake track, and they came out to 26.8mm wide fully inflated to 100 psi. Interestingly, Soma recommends running the Shikoro’s tire tread in opposite directions, with the side grooves pointing inward on the front wheel and outward on the rear wheel. Out on the road, the tires performed well, offering an amount of both dry- and wet-weather grip akin to other comparably sized tires in the Shikoro’s price range. They’re not the supplest tires you can buy, but considering that they were designed for training and commuting, the Shikoros rolled reasonably well. And although we didn’t test them to failure, we suspect that they’ll give you plenty of high- mileage service. If you’re looking for a suppler alternative, check out Soma’s Vitesse clincher model with the same tread and a softer casing.

STATS
Price: $59.99 (Kevlar bead); $44.99 (wire bead)
Weight: 320 grams
Sizes: 23, 28 (tested), 33, 38, 42mm
www.somafab.com

tires3IRC

IRC ROADLITE
Japanese manufacturer IRC offers a wide range of tires for both bicycles and motorcycles, and its selection of tubeless models is one of the most expansive we’ve come across. The Roadlite model is one such tubeless offering, and it comes in 23 and 25mm widths, as well as three colors—black, white and red. IRC says that the Roadlite was “specifically developed for training and endurance riding,” and that it utilizes a rubber compound that is highly abrasion-resistant for durability, yet is paired with a 120-tpi casing for a smooth-rolling feel.

THE RIDE
Thanks in part to its tubeless-specific bead design, the Roadlite is the heaviest of the three tires featured here, but this weight penalty is offset by the lack of an inner tube you would otherwise require. Mounted on the same set of Zipp 202 carbon clinchers that we used throughout these reviews, our size-25mm IRC Roadlite tires measured 26.1mm. Because the 202s are not tubeless-compatible, we first ran the Roadlites with a set of inner tubes and discovered that they were quite easy to install relative to many other road tubeless tires. We also tested them on a set of tubeless Stan’s NoTubes Grail wheels and were delighted by the same easy installation.

The Roadlites provided a good amount of grip in both wet and dry conditions, and they felt relatively suppler than some other “training” tires we’ve tried out recently, although not as smooth-rolling as other models claiming to be “performance” or “racing” tires. We were also able to run low pressures thanks to the Roadlites’ tubeless capabilities. If you’re in the market for some new tubeless tires and want easy installation and durability, we’d recommend giving the IRC Roadlites a try.

STATS
Price: $79.99
Weight: 342 grams Sizes: 23, 25mm (tested)
www.irc-tire.com

tires4Cle

CLEMENT LCV
Clement may be best known for its lineup of cyclocross tires, but the company has just released a new road model called the LCV. It’s a tube-type clincher that was designed to be the brand’s high-end road-racing model, and so it features a 240-tpi casing along with a layer of puncture protection positioned underneath the tread. Speaking of the tread, it sports a classic design featuring a smooth center portion with diagonal siping along the shoulders. The LCV comes in all black and in 23, 25 and 28mm widths.

THE RIDE
When mounted to a set of Zipp 202s, our size-25mm Clement LCV tire measured exactly 25mm, right on point with the manufacturer’s specification. The LCV was also the lightest tire in this comparison, tipping the scales at a scant 206 grams. It was also far and away the supplest of the trio of tires tested here, offering an incredibly smooth-rolling feel and plenty of cornering grip.

Conversely, though, the LCV feels the thinnest when held in our hands, meaning that its level of puncture protection is most likely not on par with the Soma Shikoro and the IRC Roadlite. Still, we didn’t experience any flats or troubles with the Clements during our review. And considering that they’re designed to possess speed for “racing” as to durability for “training,” the LCV would be a great choice for someone shopping for a new set of rubber for races or fast group rides.

STATS
Price: $75
Weight: 206 grams
Sizes: 23, 25 (tested), 28mm
www.clementcycling.com

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