The German manufacturer of premium tyres is truly is a specialist when it comes to producing tyres, to say the least. The two catalogues they presented us was chock-full of information, not only about their products, but also of their production methodology, technical information on tyres and technology incorporated in their tyre. Inside the catalogue, there were so many tyres that you’d be either confused to no end or spoilt for choice.
However, with a person such the Area Sales Manager of Schwalbe, Willy Olfert, guiding us through the range of tyres from Schwalbe, there was little confusion. Instead, there was great insight on how little nuances in tyre construction have profound effects on performance. Also, Willy guided us through the new range of new tyres for road and mountain bike enthusiasts.
This year, they upped the ante this year with their new range of tyres. This year, they are proving to the world that they can make tubular tyres with by making the Ultremo and Racing Ralph tubular. The Ultremo HT and Racing Ralph HT are tyres based on the clincher version and have been highly welcomed. All tubular tyres are handmade in a new Schwalbe factory.
The Ultremo HT is a racing tyre which is new for 2011 and is also the preferred tyre of the Leopard Trek team. Being tubular, it has certain advantages over a clincher. The principal benefit being that it can take more air pressure – up to 205psi – whereas the clincher can only take up to 145psi. This allows the rider to choose from a wider range of pressures to suit the ride.
Schwalbe has not forgotten its off-road tyres, of course.
Critical to its high performance off-road tyres is the advent of the Triple Star Compound. Three layers of different compounds allow a tyre to be tailored to have more grip, less rolling resistance or be lightweight. Detractors argue that this would be impossible as the layers would separate, but Schwalbe proved them wrong.
In the lead up to choosing the compounds, Schwalbe made a few test tyres out of a combination of 16 different compounds and let professional riders from the Yeti Team loose on the loose gravel and mud. The blind test concluded and then six compounds were chosen – Extremely Soft, Super Soft, Soft, Medium Soft and Medium, then the Base layer. Combining three of these into one tyre gives them different properties – a PaceStar, TrailStar and VertStar all have a different mix for different ends.
Lastly, Schwalbe makes its foray into the entry-level market with the introduction of the Black Shark mountain bike tyre. The Black Shark doesn’t integrate most of Schwalbe’s high-end tyre’s technologies, but is aimed at children’s bicycles and lower end mountain bikes.
No doubt, Schwalbe is still at the forefront of tyre innovation, making a wide range of tyres for riders of all disciplines. Although Schwalbe now makes its tyres in Indonesia, rest assured that the Germans are still behind the tyres with their strict quality control.