Compass Tires in 26″ x 1.75″

Compass Bicycles is introducing our new Compass 26″ x 1.75″ tires (42 – 559 mm). Many readers and customers have asked for a 26″ version of the much-loved Grand Bois Hetre 650B tires. This would allow riders of mountain bikes, touring bikes, tandems and small frames to enjoy the speed and comfort of wide tires with supple sidewalls.

The Compass 26″ has the same casing construction and tread thickness as the Grand Bois Hetre. At 42 mm wide, the Compass 26″ tires are are a few millimeters wider than the Hetre (40 – 584 mm), and they fit smaller 26″ (559 mm) rims.

Panaracer makes the Compass tires for us. (They also make Grand Bois tires.) Panaracer’s Pasela uses the same mold as the Compass 26″ tires, but the Compass tire uses a different casing construction. The result is lower rolling resistance and a more comfortable ride. The tread rubber is different, too, offering better grip. Finally, the tread may be a little thinner, while still offering long life. The Compass tires use a folding Kevlar bead.

While the Pasela is a budget tire that offers very good performance for the money, the Compass is a high-end tire optimized for performance and comfort.

Wide 26″ tires do make a lot of sense. When we tested wheel sizes and bicycle handling for Bicycle Quarterly (Vol. 8, No. 3), we found that gyroscopic forces determines stability while cornering. To keep the gyroscopic forces the same when you want wider tire, the wheel should be smaller in diameter. Conversely, narrower tires handle best with larger wheel diameters.

In that study, we concluded that 700C wheel diameter is best for tires up to 32 mm width, 650B wheel diameter is best for tire widths between 35 and 42 mm, and even wider tires should use 26″ diameter rims. (Other riders may prefer different handling characteristics, and hence their wheel size preferences may be slightly different.)

Grand Bois offers 700C and 650B tires in the “optimal” sizes. However, no manufacturer was producing fast, supple, wide tires for 26″ rims. So we worked with Panaracer to develop the Compass 26″ tires. The new tires use existing tire molds, and they are made with the highest-quality casings and materials, like the Grand Bois tires. The result is a tire with excellent comfort and speed, and superior grip on dry and wet pavement.

I envision numerous applications for these tires. Many existing mountain bikes and tandems can be transformed with supple, fast and comfortable tires. Small frames can be designed for these tires with fewer compromises, while maintaining the stability of a large-wheeled bike. In addition to optimizing the handling, the smaller wheels make it easier to fit a wider tire between the chainstays. A bike designed for 26″ wheels could be used with the Compass 26″ tires on paved and gravel roads, and with knobbies in more technical terrain.

26″ tires also are ideal for bicycle tourists planning extended trips to foreign countries, where 26″ tires are most commonly available. On a round-the-world tour, you can enjoy the comfort and speed of these high-end tires. If a tire must be replaced prematurely, 26″ tires are the most common size used today around the globe.

Here are the specs for these tires:

  • Width: 40-42 mm
  • Weight: 440 g
  • Thickness (tread + casing): 3.8 mm
  • folding bead
  • Price: $ 60

The new tires are available from Compass Bicycles and many bike shops. In addition, Compass Bicycles now also sells the Pacenti Pari-Moto tires, which are wonderful event tires in 38-584 mm (650B).

Further reading:

  • Wheel Size and Bicycle Handling. Bicycle Quarterly Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 14.
  • Gyroscopic Forces and Optimum Wheel Sizes. Bicycle Quarterly Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 19.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

I love cycling and bicycles, especially those that take us off the beaten path. I edit Bicycle Quarterly magazine, and occasionally write for other publications. One of our companies, Bicycle Quarterly Press publishes cycling books, while Compass Bicycles Ltd. makes and distributes high-quality bicycle components for real-world riders.
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24 Responses to Compass Tires in 26″ x 1.75″

  1. ben kraft says:

    Looks nice! Any chance we can get a 650b version with this tread? I’m not a fan of the hetre’s road feel (until they wear, of course), or their grip off road (the pasela is better).

  2. Vincent Muoneke says:

    I think I will try the Compass 26 on my Mountain Trek (Guinevere)

  3. Colton says:

    Whoa! This is excellent news. You just made the wheel-size decision on my current restoration project much easier. It even has a sidewall-generator strip. Sweet!

  4. Russ says:

    What width rim is recommended for these? I’m putting together a small frame mixte for a friend and these would be perfect.

  5. ol'grumpy says:

    This looks very similar to a normal Pasela by Panaracer which also comes in 26×1.75. What is it that sets this tire apart? Higher TPI? Softer rubber on the tread/contact area? Stronger sidewall? Lower rolling resistance? It looks to be different than the Pasela TG due to the rounded tread (without the raised center section) and lack of an “Aramid Belt”
    It looks like a nice tire.

    • Panaracer makes the Compass tires for us. (They also make Grand Bois tires.) Panaracer’s Pasela uses the same mold, but the Compass tire uses a different casing construction. The result is lower rolling resistance and a more comfortable ride. The tread rubber is different, too, offering better grip. Finally, the tread may be a little thinner, while still offering long life. The Compass tires use a folding Kevlar bead.

      While the Pasela is a budget tire that offers very good performance for the money, the Compass is a high-end tire optimized for performance and comfort.

      • ol'grumpy says:

        Thanks. That is what I assumed the answer would be.

      • david says:

        I have problems with Pasela sidewall durability. They typically go bad on me before I go through the tread. Are these going to be even more delicate? I love the ideas of performance 559 tires, but maybe should be viewing these as event tires?

      • I haven’t ridden the Paselas much, but the Grand Bois tires have lasted me very well on all my bikes, including my “Urban Bike” that sees a lot of hard use. The wide tires run at low pressures and have remarkably few flats, too. So for me, these are everyday tires. For an event tire, I’d want thinner tread for even more speed, but at the expense of long wear. The Pari-Moto is an event tire… It’s still plenty durable, but you won’t get as many miles out of it.

  6. Jimmy says:

    Nice. I’ve got a couple of old frames where a 650b Hetre conversion would only barely work for issues of tire width, but I bet a 26″ conversion with this tire might do just fine. Also I’ve got a sweet set of 26″ wheels that need a home, and other nice 26″ wheels are easy to come by now that most folks have gone to discs on their mtbikes.

  7. Don’t get me wrong; I’m excited for these tires, but do they come in a variety of colors like the Hetres? I don’t especially go gaga over black and tan… Shallow point but figured I’d ask.

    • Right now, they only come in black/tan. It’s our first foray into 26″ tires. We’ll see whether there is demand, and may follow with other models later. I’d love to see a 48 mm tire for bikes that are mainly intended for unpaved roads, and which would do very well on washboard, but also can hold their own on pavement. 26″ is the logical size for such a tire…

  8. david says:

    This is great! I was just posting elsewhere how the 559 size needs a performance tire to match 650B! Lets get some of those MTBs converted over to speed machines!
    This would be great on the 559 tandems out there as well!

  9. rodneyAB says:

    …and great to see the Pari-Moto available as well!

  10. Willem says:

    This is great news. I think 559 is the perfect size for a loaded touring bike, and I like to tune my loaded tourer by matching the tyres top the ride. However, the choice in fast and comfortable 559 tyres is extremely limited. At the heavy duty end we are already well provided for, with tyres such as the Schwalbe Marathon Extreme or their Marathon Plus Tour for more remote destinations, or the amazing new Conti Topcontact WInter II for rides in the cold. The 50 mm Big Apple is great for less extreme conditions as it is pretty fast, quite robust, and comfortable. But what if you crave for something lighter and faster and your destination permits a more fragile tyre? Thus far I have used the 26×1.75 Pasela TG for that, and it has worked fine, even on trips with camping luggage, as long as the road is not too bad (so I used Extremes on my recent often off road camping tour in Norway). Something even better than the Pasela is very attractive indeed.
    I am a bit surprised about one thing, however, I understand that a new mold is a big investment, but why not use the slicker mold of the 26×1.75 Panaracer HIgh Road? I would have thought it had made for an even faster tyre.
    I also have one desideratum, and Jan already hints at the possibilities. I think a 559 tyre with a nominal size of 50 mm or some 45-48 mm in reality is the ideal width. Nearly all the heavier duty tyres that I have on the shelf to choose from are that size, so fender line would remain perfect irrespective of the tyre that one fits for a particular ride. I also think that even for a faster ride the extra comfort of a wider tyre is welcome.
    Congratulations, Jan, and thank you very much.

  11. Patrick says:

    I’ll be moving to Japan soon and was wondering if these tires will be available there or if need to buy them from you while I’m still here.

  12. Johan says:

    Great news! I’m planning a new bike, and I’d prefer 559 wheels, but the Hetre tire alone is so appealing that I’ve leaned towards 584 mm. The Schwalbe Kojak in 50 mm width (probably 46-48 on a standard rim) have been the only interesting option I’ve found for a 559 tire. Hopefully my wonderful dealer here in Sweden will get some more things from Compass Bicycles soon, he will for sure get some of these tires then.

    On a side note, I use a pair of Schwalbe Super Moto on an old MTB, and it seems to me they should be quite close to the old-time full ballon tires, such as those “Velocio” used at times and were an advocate for. On the quite wide rims I have they measure 57 mm. I don’t remember the exact outer diameter, but it should be somewhat smaller than a wheel with Hetres. They have no puncture protection belts of any kind, in practise they’re slicks with no tread, and they are thin and supple. As I understood it, there have been an interest in experiencing how the balloon tires of past days behaved, and these tires should be an viable option. Maybe something for Bicycle Quarterly to test? Of course, there should also be a frame with properties and geometry to match.

  13. stephen says:

    Jan,
    This is a great tire option and a very well planned out venture into 559 tires. The folding bead is especially keen. I appreciate the transparency with which you explain the difference between the new Compass tire and the Pasela. Great job in bringing in the Pari-Moto as well. I hope this venture is a success and you will be able to produce that second 559 tire in the 48mm range.

  14. Gus says:

    I second Johan’s idea of testing the Super Moto or an equivalent huge, smooth 559 tire. A tubeless setup would be especially interesting.

    While I very much enjoy these detailed posts about your products, there is an elephant in the room in your shop. What’s so good about the Grand Bois hubs? They seem like ordinary cassette hubs with ordinary cartridge bearings. They have a very nice looking shape and finish though.

    Why get these rather than Ultegra or Dura-Ace (if there’s room in your budget)?

    • You may have noticed that we don’t promote the Grand Bois hubs much. They are nice hubs, but no nicer than others, as you point out. Of course, Ultegra hubs retail for $ 140-150, which is roughly the same as Grand Bois hubs. I still would like to see a modern cassette version of the Maxi-Car hubs, but that is a project that involves many small parts…

  15. Willem says:

    For those who think they need the better puncture protection of the Pasela TG, I just realized you can use the Compass as a front tyre, and use a matching Pasela TG at the rear. This uses the Compass where the benefits are probably greatest, and the disadvantages matter less. This at least is what I will try, if only to use up my existing Pasela TG’s…..

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