Walking around the show, it’s easy to spot obvious trends. But we talked to product managers, brand ambassadors, and the marketing folks at hundreds of companies over the four days of Eurobike to get the real scoop on what’s coming across the board to new tires this coming season…

TAN / NATURAL / BROWN WALL TIRES

Everyone is going with retro looking designs and you need natural rubber sidewalls to cement that classy look. You can go the simple way, like this Stevens 29er aluminum hardtail did, and just toss on a set of tan wall Schwalbes, or…

WTB nano riddler and cross boss gravel and cyclocross tires now available with tan sidewalls

Get a set of Road Plus brown or tan walls from WTB or Maxxis for your gravel bike…

Or go all the way with a set of white wall silk or cotton Challenge cyclocross tubulars to get down below 25 psi.

The trend ran through almost every category, including this city eBike from Scott.

ROAD TUBELESS

For a mountain biker it is hard to understand that Road Tubeless hasn’t caught on yet. But the tire selection has been limited, and rim consistency is even more critical considering the higher pressures used on the road. Sealant struggles to be a permanent fix above 4-5bar / 58-73psi, but it’s hard to argue with the lower rolling resistance and being able to ride home on what would have otherwise been a flat tire. Fortunately, things are swinging in the right direction. Joe’s No Flats showed off a Road Tubeless specific sealant formula designed to seal at those higher pressures. And a bigger selection of tubeless ready road tires is making the jump an easier choice, as are cyclocross tires. Long time hold out Continental might even finally be offering tubeless ‘cross options by late next year (more on that in a separate post), and Tufo is making the switch, too.

It’s not just tire manufacturers that are helping this happen, either. Now that Mavic has drawn a line in the sand with their Road UST standard, other wheel brands are coming inline with tighter tolerances and some general agreements on where bead seat diameters should be. They may not all adhere to that UST measurement, but they’re at least getting closer. And when that happens, tire manufacturers can fine tune their bead diameters to match, creating a safer system that’s easier to set up for everyone.

29er & TUBELESS DH TIRES,  2.6″ EVERYTHING

It may seem crazy to think about, but there are still DH tires that aren’t tubeless ready. Many downhillers run tubes, so for Maxxis many of their DH tires were still running steel beads with non-sealant rated sidewalls. Moving forward, their Minion DHF, DHR, and Shorty will be available in full tubeless ready DH rated casings with a folding bead and sealant rated sidewalls. These three will also be offered in a new 29 x 2.5″ wide trail version as part of the coming wave of 29″ DH bikes.

Vee Tire Co. has just about every tire size you could imagine so their newest 29 x 2.6″ Flow Snap isn’t that surprising, but when Continental introduces a “plus” tire? You know it’s part of a bigger movement. As part of an all new mountain bike range for 2018, Continental has added the Der Baron 2.6 Projekt in 27.5″ only.

27.5″ FAT

Initially limited to mostly Trek fat bikes, we’re starting to see a lot more fat bikes running the 27.5 x 3.8″ standard, which means more tires as well. The Vee Crown Gem is the latest tire to come in the new size, but we’ve heard rumors about a few other manufacturers that have something in the works. Tires in this size are already offered by Bontrager and Maxxis to name a few, and Terrene says they’re working on something.

650B FOR THE ROAD

2018 Zipp 303 Firecrest 650B

WTB has been at the forefront of 650B for gravel and “road plus” with an ever growing assortment of 40mm+ wide tires. But when a brand the size of Zipp gets into a category, you know it’s for real. Look for road bikes with 650B wheels to start hitting stores. Not 650C, mind you, but 650B. What’s the difference? A 571mm (650C) bead seat diameter versus 584mm (650B). Word from Michael Hall, Advanced Development Director for Zipp, is that Canyon has committed to spec’ing their wheels, and Bombtrack is supposedly launching new bikes with that size very soon, too. More are expected.

Why? A couple reasons. When you get into the smaller sizes, the geometry gets a little funny with front-center and chainstays, so offering road bikes with the smaller wheels makes more sense than trying to modify a 700c bike’s geometry to work for shorter riders. That, and tires. Even though there’s an ecosystem for 650C, Hall says tire selection has dried up, and the unit volume of their 404 650C is very small. But thanks to the gravel and adventure road bike scene, there seems to be a lot of tire manufacturers getting molds ready for 650B.

CLINCHERS OVER TUBULARS

DT Swiss partnered with Swiss Side to develop wheels that maximize aerodynamics with clinchers, which is easier to do than with tubulars. Why? Because the tire’s sidewalls can be shaped to better match the rim’s wall, especially when pairing certain rim widths with certain tire widths. Tubulars, on the other hand, are always going to end up round, which means some sort of gap between the rim’s edge and the tire. And with tubeless-ready road tires getting better and more prevalent, and with brands like Schwalbe already saying they’re more efficient, we might be seeing more and more pro teams riding clinchers in the coming years.

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32 COMMENTS

  1. So will dedicated road tires be available in 650B, i.e. 28mm and under?
    I’ll have to check my wife’s bike for clearance (650C), but she’ll be excited if if a new wheelset will fit and it gives her more options than the small 650c choice, which are all 23c.

    As for the fit on smaller frames…I agree. But at least hold to the fire the OEM’s that said they “perfected” the geometry so 700c wheels had no downside in small frames.

    • I think you are missing the point. 650b is not intended for bikes with standard road tires as 700c geometry is fine enough for those even in small sizes. The purpose is to get larger 40c tires onto bikes while keeping the same road geometry we all know and love. The OD of a 650b x 40c tire is the same as a 700 x 23/25c.

      Fitting 700 x 40 tires in a frame means taller forks and longer rear end so 650b offers the advantages of squishy tires with the fit / Geo of a race bike.

      FYI i ride a tiny 42cm-44cm frame and have both road and gravel bikes.

    • If Canyon’s new WMN bikes are any indication, it’s YES. (And they announced these bikes around three months ago…your wife might be an ideal candidate for one.)

      I believe they worked with Schwalbe on this new narrower 650B rubber, since the 3XS- and 2XS-size frames are assigned the 650B wheel size…supposedly for better geometry and rider fit.

  2. Would really like to see this lame trend of skinwall-tanwall-brownwall-fleshwall tires end soon. So fckn sick of it! Sure would like some WTB Byways or Resolutes in just all black, but alas…fashion first.

  3. I’m all for clinchers for road racing, but its hard to argue with the substantial weight savings in tubulars over clinchers. A middle of the road carbon 45mm tubular wheelset weighs in around 1300 grams where a clincher is closer to 1500. Looking at wheelbuilder.com most rims are about 100 grams heavier or so in the clincher version. Dropping a half lb with tubulars is pretty hard to overlook.

    If a tubeless wheelset can get pretty close to a standard tubular set for equal height rims without costing $2000 a set, I’d be much more willing to take the plunge. Glueing and regluing is a pain in the butt.

    However the other thing that tubulars still beat clinchers at is once you get a flat. The last time I got a flat on my tubulars, it was mid corner in a crit, I was able to keep it upright, then make 2 more turns (albeit super easy) and ride into the pits for a new wheel. With clinchers there’s no way you can ride it in.

    • Couple of counter-points:

      1) The data is pretty conclusive that aero > lightweight. Especially in the pro-ranks, where the weight restriction is pretty… restrictive… the difference can easily be made up elsewhere and even if not, the aero advantages will save more time. Of course, if you’re just going for a super-light build for fun, tubs are still going to be the way to go.

      2) If the Mavic UST standard – or really any kind of precise standard – takes off for tubeless, the odds or rolling a flat tire off the rim is pretty minimal. Certainly not as secure as a glued tire, but WAAAAY better than old-school clinchers.

    • I don’t see the weight advantage of tubulars going away. As for flats and tubeless, the intent would be you wouldn’t get one because of the sealant, but you can use that same sealant in tubulars. That said, one can still get a flat if the tire is significantly cut, in which case tubulars remain on top for those with concerns like yours.

      • Yeah, you can use sealant in tubulars and then have it dry out in there. That does wonders for tire balance. I’ve stopped using sealant in tubulars for this very reason.

        • I race a lot, and even then, I tend to be able to use a set of tubulars for up to two years (even longer with cross) assuming no cuts/punctures. For mountain, I get “stans monsters” after about 6 months. With my tubulars sitting in my wheel bag from about now until early April, any type of sealant would be a nasty snot ball come spring.

  4. Hopefully not whatever Minaar was riding…

    I would be seriously grateful if someone could come up with a reasonably light tire with nice stiff sidewalls and puncture protection. Maxxis EXOs aren’t stiff or durable enough for high speed riding, but double downs are heavy. Out of all the widgets and gadgets, it’s kinda amazing that what I really want is a decent tire.

    • What is interesting to me is that rumor has it, maxxis has a new casing coming that’s supposed to be, “twice as strong at DD but lighter than EXO.” I believe it’s going to be called silkworm. And, the new enve rim inserts were supposed to really cut down on flats. And then all we saw was Minnaar flatting left and right and center. No thanks Maxxis and Enve. No thanks.

      • They’ve had a casing tech called “Silkworm” for a number of years. Maybe the one that you heard about is a new and improved version, but tires featuring a “Silkworm” casing, per se, aren’t new.

  5. @Klaster_1 WTB Riddlers, you can see the sameness in the photo below showcasing the skin wall look. Good tire, I use the 45c version and run them @ 35 psi or so on i25 rims.

    • Joes from (now) Joe’s No Flats used to be the original Israeli Stan’s Notubes distributor. Draw your own conclusions from there….

  6. Personally, outside of cruiser bikes, I’ve always disliked the gumwall sidewalls on ‘real’ bike tires. I’m also so very over the whole ‘B’ tire thing on road and adventure bikes. My takeaway from the whole geometry comment was that women and/or shorter folks, apparently, don’t buy enough bikes to justify changing the geometry for wider 700c tires so it’s easier to just put baby wheels on a 700c bike? No thanks… I’ll stick with my 700c Kona Sutra with 2.25’s. Thanks to Kona for doing it right.

    • Michael you couldn’t be more wrong. The problem is that 700c wheels are literally too big to have both proper handling geometry AND good bike fit below roughly 48cm. It’s no wonder short people don’t buy as many bikes, because it’s harder to find proper ones, especially since shops can’t be arsed to stock them either. If shops don’t stock them manufacturers see smaller demand for next season, means they make fewer. 650b is so so necessary and entirely overdue in the smaller sizes.

  7. Can one still stick a tube in the road tubeless once the stans doesnt work or too many cuts or cuts that are too long and wide preclude sealant from sealing an otherwise new tire?
    This has been my exp w mtb and wound up dealing w tubes again i found the advantages of tubeless did not outwiegh the pain in the arse after a couple of messy years….lower pressure be damned. I dont see this really helping road at all, ive never gotten a pinch flat even at 90 lbs in my experience on road. Its annoying to me this is the direction its all headed in. Give it a few years and well be back to tubes or something else

    • I’ve gotten tons of pinch flats on the road, and I run about 105psi (I weight about 170). Mostly group rides or racing where you get a pothole or rock that you can’t see coming or avoid because of other bodies. That said, I still run tubes, not tubeless on the road. For mountain biking… tubes are for crazy people, smooth flat trails, and emergencies. Low pressure is boss.

  8. I’ve been enjoying the look of tan/gum/brown wall tires for over a decade, but now that they are in vogue, all i want is black tires! :-/

  9. Can someone tell me the correct parlance for ski walk/gumwall tires. I have Vittoria Corsas on my race wheels with a cotton tan side all which I love the looks of. I ordered some clement Strava LGGs in for my rain bike and ordered the skinwall version which appeared to look like the Corsas when in reality it was just rubber in a different color and looked awful.

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