24 April 2008

bikefix Initial Review: Maxxis Courchevel tire

Tire choice is amazingly important part of how any bike rides. With different weights and rubber types, tires can make a bike feel slow and clumsy or fast and efficient, or, in the case of the Maxxis' Courchevel- smooth and “gripy." The Courchevel is a three compound tire with a puncture-resistant Kevlar belt, a thread count of 120, and a respectable weight of 205g. The “Triple Compound” construction enhances cornering grip without compromising straight-line speed or durability. The center strip of rubber is a hard, durable rubber, with the mid-shoulder strip being slightly softer and more tacky, and the high-shoulder strip being very tacky for maximum traction. For the tech-heads the rubber durometers are 62a/58a/50a respectively. These tires have no tread and are smooth.

I replaced a pair of Maxxis Re-Fuse tires (a heavier, but bombproof model) on my commuter bike with the 700x23 Courchevels (the same size as the Re-Fuses) and I was astonished at how smooth they made the bike ride. Bumps that used to make my wrists hurt were transformed into little jolts that didn’t bother me at all, and even bigger bumps like curbs or riding on a gravel road became completely acceptable. Of course, it's twice the price of the Re-Fuse and 50g lighter, so that's not a huge surprise. Regardless, it was a fantastic change and the Courchavel rides very well for a puncture-resistant tire.

The funny thing is that the Courchevels don’t really seem faster that the Re-Fuse’s. They ride better and they grip much better, but they don’t seem much faster. I have no data to back this up- it is just how it feels. They are a bit lighter so they probably wind up a bit quicker, but they have more grip- so maybe it‘s a wash. Anyway, if I don’t get many flats (none so far) it will be a very worthwhile change. The ride is that much better. They are available in gray/black or (for fashionable types) orange/black. They retail for $60.00.



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