By Michael White
In its current form, the Schwalbe brand has been developing bicycle tires since 1973, but the company’s roots in the bicycle industry can be traced back to 1911. Last week, Schwalbe invited a small group of journalists to Spa, Belgium, for the official press launch of the all-new Pro One tubeless road tire line, as well as several other unique new tubeless options. Several test rides were also planned to let attendees get a feel for the new rubber, which included a two-day adventure for a select group of media reps that started in Spa and ended near Schwalbe’s headquarters in Reichshof, Germany, all while taking in some of the finest sights and eateries in the western portion of the country—more on that in an upcoming web post. But first, scroll down to learn more about the latest road tires from Schwalbe.
“We don’t make motorcycle tires or car tires; we are absolute specialists for bicycle tires,” said Carsten Zahn, Schwalbe’s head of marketing. Although some of Schwalbe’s products are also utilized on unique active lifestyle wheelchairs, the German brand really only produces rubber for bikes. Its wide selection of mountain bike tires contains some of the most popular models around (thanks in part to their clever names like “Rocket Ron” and Nobby Nic”). And Schwalbe’s lineup of road bike tires ranges from high-end, handmade tubular models to lower-cost, entry-level clinchers and everything in between. But one of the brand’s biggest specialties is tubeless road tire technology, and Schwalbe first released the One tubeless road tire two years ago.
“Tubeless is a technology that has already been proven for a long time in car tires,” says Zahn. “It makes for better performance and higher reliability, and it is the tire technology of the future for the road bike. Wheel development for road bikes was always slow going, but there are many more options available now and forecasted for the future.”
Schwalbe reps pointed out that the advantages of tubeless tires include the ability to run much lower pressures than standard tube-type clinchers without fear of pinch-flatting due to the lack of an inner tube. And punctures caused by sharp points or edges are reduced because of the liquid sealant utilized within the tubeless tire. Indeed, as Zahn mentioned, there are more and more tubeless wheel and tire options continually being made available. So with a continually increasing amount of tubeless road tire options to choose from, what makes Schwalbe’s new Pro One stand out?
MEET THE PRO ONE
Until now, Schwalbe’s premier road tubeless offering was the One model, which has now been replaced by the all-new Pro One. Schwalbe says that the One model will remain within the company’s line, but will no longer be available as a tubeless option, but instead can only be had as a (tube-type) folding clincher or tubular. The One’s same triple compound construction carries over to the Pro One, as will the unique tread pattern that features a slick center section with slightly elongated grooves along the shoulders. It will be available in three sizes: 23mm, 25mm and 28mm. Most significant of all is a new addition called MicroSkin, which is a woven layer inside the tire that is crafted from a fishing line-like monofilament synthetic material. Schwalbe claims the MicroSkin layer helps give the Pro One some very significant performance credentials over the previous One model.
Schwalbe says that the Pro One weighs in at 235 grams for a size 23mm version, while the older One model in a size 23mm tipped the scales at 305 grams. The 25mm and 28mm versions of the Pro One have a claimed weight 255 and 275 grams, respectively. Also, Schwalbe says that the Pro One boasts a 10% decrease in rolling resistance, making it significantly faster than the One. The Pro One’s layer of MicroSkin also adds some puncture protection, although Zahn admitted that it was minimal: “The Pro One has maybe a little better puncture protection than the One thanks to the new MicroSkin.” Schwalbe says that the Pro One is currently in production and should shipping to retailers later this summer, with a retail price expected to be somewhere around $80-90 per tire.
TUBELESS EASY, A NEW STANDARD?
The older One tubeless model was constructed in the Tubeless Ready standard, meaning that it required a liquid sealant in order to ensure complete air tightness (versus a Road Tubeless standard that does not require a sealant to become air tight, but is air tight upon inflation—still, most brands recommend running a liquid sealant anyway for protection against sharp punctures). Schwalbe says that the new Pro One is the first model to feature a new standard called Tubeless Easy which, similar to Tubeless Ready, requires a liquid sealant for the tire to become fully air tight, but is said to be much easier to install and remove from a tire. Many tubeless road tires are notorious for being difficult to put on or take off a rim, but we’ve generally had a relatively easy experience with previous Schwalbe models. Likewise, we found the new Pro One to be quite easy to remove from a rim (more on that in our upcoming First Ride Review).
THE REST OF THE NEW LINE
In addition to the flagship Pro One tire, Schwalbe was also showing off several other new tubeless road models. The new S-One sports a 30mm width, an extra aramid layer of material for added puncture protection, and a very minimal dotted tread pattern for some added grip on hard-packed dirt roads. The G-One comes in both a 35mm and 40mm width and has a minimal file-tread pattern, similar to several we’ve tested previously and have found to be ideal for dual-purpose road and gravel riding. Finally, the X-One is Schwalbe’s new tubeless cyclocross tire and it measures 33mm wide and features a knobby pattern developed from Schwalbe’s mountain bike line to provide good, all-around traction on a dry or muddy ’cross race course. Prices are still forthcoming for the rest of Schwalbe’s new line, but should be released soon.
DOWN THE ROAD…
Coming up, we’ll have a First Ride Review of Schwalbe’s all-new Pro One tubeless tire as we hit the roads of Belgium and Germany. Plus, we’ll take you inside Schwalbe’s world headquarters for a look at how their tires are tested for performance and durability. And for more info, visit www.SchwalbeTires.com.