First Ride: Wolfpack Race Tires

A new name in cycling that you should know.

The Wolfpack brand might be new and when we first came across it, it seemed a bit silly. After only one name was mentioned the branding came together and the companies relevance skyrocketed. Wolfgang Arenz might not mean a lot to the end-user but for those in the know, he is the compound mastermind behind some of the most popular tires in the industry.  Maybe you have heard of Black Chili Compound from Continental or GRIPTON Compound & Turbo Cotton Casing from Specialized. There are are a lot to list in his more than 25 years of work but this is what pushed the new Wolfpack brand to the top of our product test list.

THE PITCH

For us, there was little introduction needed and we knew that if Wolfgang put his name on it we should pay attention. The new line of road tires uses a new ToGuard Compound that is engineered for tread surface contact. It increases grip across the entire tread surface area, providing a tire that improves turning and stopping. Turn harder, slow down and stop faster. ToGuard Compound also offers increased grip with even lower rolling resistance and improved flat protection.

The flat protection is one of the first things that caught our attention because the Wolfpack tires don’t use a belt style layer in the casing to minimize flats. Instead, the compound is inherently puncture-resistant, something all tire brands have been trying to figure out. That’s because the added weight and increased rolling resistance means that customers have to choose between performance or protection.

THE LINEUP

Currently, Wolfpack is offering two tires and each is offered in two sizes. The line is “race-oriented” with a Road Race Cotton Tire in sizes 24mm and 26mm. The second offering is the Road Race Tire with nylon carcass in sizes 24mm and 26mm. Currently, there are no road tubeless options but we have been told that they are in the works. We opted for the nylon tire is size 26mm since 28mm is the new 23 and we hardly ever find ourselves on anything under a 25mm.

Wolfpack Road Race.

THE SETUP

For our test, we wanted to use a wheel that many could relate to in the terms of internal dimension. While the Zipp 454 NSW is not relatable for most it only has a 17mm internal width and is not tubeless compatible. Mounting the tires was what we would consider easy with no need for tire levers, even on a brand new tire. On the first air up, the tires evenly popped onto the bead no problem but measured in at only 24.74mm wide. We went on a few rides to let the tire settle in and it now seems to hold steady at about 25mm.

ON THE ROAD

As many know we are located in Los Angeles and start many of our rides in the undermaintained and rough city streets. The bike lanes are where debris regularly sits, making race tires a tough sell for us. Once into the mountains the fallen rocks and glass that line the edge of the road are also tough on tires, so that’s everywhere we headed. The rubber is promised to be grippy but not “soft” which leads to slices and picking up debris. We set our pressure to 78 (front) and 80psi (rear) and hit the roads.

Normally of the first few miles of a new race tire or any tire for that matter, we can hear the fresh rubber picking up the grit of the road as it pelts the frame as it comes off. The Wolfpack Tires didn’t have this, even when we purposely rolled through the silty dust left from buildup after a recent rainstorm. Next, we pointed our bike into almost every situation that any sensible rider would navigate around. Debris filled curb gutters, broken window glass, broken pavement, small potholes, rough paved transitions but the tires seemed unaffected. Sure the 25mm width was rough compared to our now-standard 28mm but honestly, they were surprisingly supple.

After lots of torture testing, it was time to test performance and “normal” riding. The 25mm wide tire is light at 230 grams each. This was the first thing we noticed, they just felt nimble on accelerations and low speed turns. At speed, they offered much less high-frequency feedback (the feels fast feedback) than other 25mm nylon race tires. We would say they felt more like a cotton tire to be honest.

The tires feel confident and supportive as we lean deep into turns. The rubber seems to hold traction extremely well, even as we cross paint lines or notoriously slippery turns. Don’t get us wrong we weren’t out there trying to push them to a failure limit but we pushed them past what we would normally consider the “safe limit.” On a few group rides, we found ourselves solo at the bottom of a twisty descent as most others were unwilling to match our pace around the tight turns.

THE VERDICT

With only about 500 miles on the tires, we have come away impressed. The rubber on both tires doesn’t have a single slice, imperfection or imbedded foreign object. The amount of glass, rocks, and generally trashed roads we have been on, makes this impressive. The tires are light and easy to mount, which goes a long way for most. The biggest downside is the selection of sizes. Sure the 26 measured at 25mm but we really want a 28mm tire. If the 26 is mounted to a more modern 19-21 internal width rim it will most likely measure 26mm.

Since all the tires offered require tubes we cant wait to see what the company will launch in the road tubeless market. This level of protection from imbedded debris combined with the self-healing qualities of tubeless would be something. As we put more miles on the tires we will update, but as of now, we would say these are tires to contend with the more traditional big names. Our biggest beef is there is no 28 or 30mm and the 26 fits a bit narrow.

Price: 69.95 – 89.95

Weight: 230 grams

www.wolfpackna.com

www.prestacycle.com

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