Most of us riding performance mountain bikes have made the switch to tubeless setups years ago, but some of the holdouts have been the elite pro cross country racers. They haven’t been racing on tubed clinchers, but rather handmade tubulars glued onto their rims, but with latex tubes inside. One of the premier tubular mountain bike tire makers has been A. Dugast who have been supplying the likes of World Champion Nino Schurter for many years. While Dugast tubulars have been ridden to numerous World Cup and Championship wins in recent years in XC and CX, Schurter’s win last fall in Andorra was in fact on a new prototype tubular made by Dugast with a new Ori casing that does away with that latex tube altogether. Just like with clinchers, the goal of creating the Ori was to further reduce the risk for flats…
Like the rest of Dugast’s tires, the new Ori still uses the ultra-fine 100% cotton casing that gives it the incredibly supple ride. They’ve been working with Schurter, Thomas Frischknecht, and their Scott-Odlo MTB team for more than a year to get rid of the tube.
While previous tubeless tubulars like those from Tufo had been vulcanized, which makes the casing durable but much stiffer, the new Ori does almost the opposite. Dropping a claimed 55g of tube out of the tires – down from the standard weights of 540-610g – makes a pretty big impact overall, and with less material comes more flexibility and lower rolling resistance, as you are not deforming both casing and latex tube. Dropping 10% of the tires weight can’t hurt making them feel quicker, too.
Of course the biggest plus is the reduced flatting. Tubular tires are XC race-only. Without a sharp clincher bead, pinch-flatting is pretty rare on XC tubulars, but when they do occur a victory is often on the line. More common are small punctures; if you do puncture that latex tube inside, you’ll end up running to a pit, making you think that cyclocross season has come early. Now with the Ori’s paint-on gray coating on the inside of the casing, you can add a special latex sealant just like riders of traditional tubeless clinchers. That may be a big enough shift in tech to see more and more XC racers back on tubulars, even beyond those at the World Cup level.
Having ironed out the kinks in 50mm mountain tires, Dugast has been testing the tubeless tubular casing on road and cyclocross tires as well. They’ve said not to expect tubeless road tires this year, apparently as the higher pressure and lower tire volume has proven harder to solve. Curiously they didn’t discount cyclocross at all. They’ve even said that some races were won last season on tubeless prototypes, so we expect to see Ori CX tires prominently show up to win some top-level races this fall.
Mountain bike tires are ready to get out to consumers now, though. Dugast hasn’t started to list the new tires, but says that they have put them into production. Since everything is handmade to order at Dugast, they can make the Ori tires in all of their treads – Fast Bird, Rhino XL, Pipisquallo MTB, and the new Ernst. They’ll be available in 26”, 27.5” & 29” options, just like their regular tubed tubulars which will carry on. So if you need the ultimate XC race tire, say in your own lead-in to the World Championships in Nové Město or the Olympics in Rio, then maybe now is the time to reach out to the Dutch tire masters.