A full line of Extra Leger tires

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The Grand Bois Extra Léger tires have been available for the better part of a year now, and the feedback has been entirely positive. Compared to the standard Grand Bois tires, the Extra Léger (Extralight) models use an even lighter and finer casing, but otherwise are identical to the standard models.

Riders rave about the Extra Légers’ supple ride, their great traction, and their amazing speed. With their tan sidewalls and classic tread patterns, they look nice and understated on any bike. Since the tread is the same as the standard Grand Bois tires, the Extra Légers last just as long, too.

These tires really have changed our expectations about high-end clincher tires. They really do ride like high-end tubular tires, but without the hassles and cost. For many years, I’ve dreamed of the hand-made clincher tires that French randonneurs used in the 1940s and 1950s. With these tires, we no longer need to dream!

Grand Bois has released additional models to offer a full line of Extra Léger (EL) tires. The following sizes are available:

  • 700C x 23 mm (Col de la Madeleine EL), 181 g.
  • 700C x 26 mm (Cerf Blue EL), 176 g.
  • 700C x 29 mm (Cerf Green EL), 221 g.
  • 700C x 32 mm (Cyprès 700 EL), 232 g.
  • 650B x 32 mm (Cyprès 650 EL), 261 g.
  • 650B x 42 mm (Hetre Black EL), 357 g.

By the way, the weights vary a bit from one tire to another and from one production run to the next. For example, the Cerf blues seem to have turned out extremely light, while the Cyprès 650 is a bit heavier than the Cyprès 700, despite being smaller in diameter. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter: A few grams more or less don’t change the amazing ride of these tires.

The Extra Léger tires are a limited-production item, so quantities are limited, but we try to keep them in stock all the time. All sizes are in stock now.

Click here for more information or to order.

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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39 Responses to A full line of Extra Leger tires

  1. Dax says:

    You do not mention the black side wall 32mm Extra Legers. When do you anticipate these? Are you planning to stock both versions equally or should I just make the switch to tan sidewalls?

  2. Josh C. says:

    Jan, how is the puncture resistance on the Extra Léger’s?

    • From my experience, it’s the same as that of the standard Grand Bois tires. They are high-performance tires optimized for speed and ride quality, and thus don’t have puncture-resistant belts and stiff sidewalls that make tires harsh and slow.

      I get about one flat per 2500 miles on the 32 mm-wide Grand Bois tires, and about one flat per 10,000 miles with 42 mm-wide Hetres. Wider tires have fewer flats, probably because their lower pressure allows them to roll over obstacles that otherwise would get hammered into the tire tread.

      As always, your mileage may vary – it all depends on where you ride and how you ride. We covered how to avoid flats in this post.

      • Frank says:

        I’m a new GB Hetre (normal tire, not EL) rider – they are mounted to my brand new Rawland Stag. The ride quality is highly addictive, but I’m disappointed by the puncture resistance. Two flats already after less than 300 km: one from a thorn, one from a razor sharp piece of metal. I guess, the metal piece would have punctured a Schwalbe commuter tire as well, but I would have expected even the Hetre to cope better with the small thorn. Probably the rubber is overwhelmed and have to surrender to the stuff, that litters on typical German cycle paths. Or maybe Seattle is just so much cleaner than Cologne? :-)

      • Sorry to hear about your bad luck with flat tires. Thorns will puncture any high-performance tire. One solution is to try and not ride over vegetation that may have thorns. Another is to mount tire wipers, which will wipe many thorns off the tire before they have a chance to work themselves into the tread.

    • Robert Hoehne says:

      Josh, I was using the 700C x 29mm which tended to get slashed very quickly riding country roads around Sydney. I added the tyre wipers and that solved my problem.
      BUT, I then ordered the 700C 32mm tyre and only inflated to 65PSI on the rear and 50PSI on the front, the ride is fantastic and after 900km (no tyre wiper installed) around Sydney and accidently running over many pieces of glass I saw to late there is not one mark on the tyres, they don’t look worn in any way.
      Jan’s belief in running tyres at low pressure is now also my belief.

  3. Jason says:

    Hi Jan – are you able to arrange a pair to be posted to Australia – if so how much? Kind regards
    Jason

  4. Those weights are amazing, though it is odd to see the 622X23 listed at 181 grams and the 26 at 176 grams: is this simply sample variation? Not that 5 grams matters a whit …

    How do the 622 X 29 and 32 compare in rolling performance with the flat-glued Parigii Roubaix? Forgive me if you included the Legeres in your Spring comparo; I don’t have that with me.

    And: what sort of miles could one expect from the 29 on moderately rough to good pavement, rider weight 175 with a habit of riding “light”, though often riding shortish distances with a rear load of 30 lb? (The bike in mind is ridden both unladen and for grocery gettiing.)

    One last remark: Living in goathead country, I suffered hugely from thorn flats with the Parigi Roubaix; a flat every few miles — literally (I went through more than 20 patches for the P-R alone in the first 100 miles of use). I inserted an oz of Stan’s in each tube and now, after several hundred more miles over the same roads, no flats at all (tho’ I also installed Tire Savers). So Stan’s seems to bridge the gap between goathead country and extremely lightweight tires.

    …Wish you made a 559 X 32 size.

    • Those are the actual weights – you are right, they are sample variations. The 23 mm tires generally aren’t much lighter than the 26 mm tires. With a tire that thin, much of the weight is in the beads and other parts that don’t scale with width…

      Rolling resistance: We have not yet tested the rolling resistance of the Extra Leger tires. We hope to do that soon. From the on-the-road experience, they seem to roll faster than the standard Grand Bois tires.

      The first production model of the Parigi-Roubaix had the same resistance as the standard Grand Bois. Since then, it appears that Challenge has added another anti-puncture belt…

  5. Duran says:

    Would you recommend 650b Grand Hetres Extra Legre for light touring? I have a 700c touring bike with wide Marathons, but much prefer riding my cyclocross bike with 650bx42mm Hetres. I’m planning a 1300 mile ride down the West Coast and am torn between whether to go with proven durability or ride quality and comfort.

  6. Max Sievers says:

    I’m still waiting for a 42-622 Grand Bois tire.

    • rodneyAB says:

      Bruce Gordon has a tire with supple casing and big treads, the rock and road, made by Panaracer, comes in black or tan casing 700×43, the subtle label so reminiscent of a Grand Bois label. I was thinking how cool would a Hetre tread be on these casings.

      • I haven’t ridden the Bruce Gordon tire, but I don’t think it uses the same high-end casing as the standard Grand Bois tires, much less the Extra Leger. Yes, it would be nice to have other sizes, but each size requires its own mold, which is very expensive.

  7. jason says:

    Hi
    I remember reading that a wider 700c may be in development. Is this true?
    If so, what width?
    thank you

  8. Ed says:

    Jan,
    Please consider a 650b x 38 version of extra leger tires.

  9. Bob says:

    Do you have any thoughts on tubeless conversion? I’ve noticed riders doing it with GB tires- though obviously they’re not designed for it- and it seems like it would further improve ride quality and rolling resistance.

  10. Thank you Jan for facilitating this. I have the Extra Leger 23s, 32s, and 42s and they are far and away the nicest tires available, clincher or tubular (well, maybe not better than my FMBs!). I’ve already ordered some 26s, which will be replacing Veloflex “25 mm” tires on my road bike.

    • The FMB tubulars are awesome. Unfortunately, they don’t make clinchers at this time. We’ve discussed clinchers with FMB, but hand-made clinchers are much more difficult to make than hand-made tubulars. The clincher bead must be positioned with great precision, whereas the diameter of a tubular has a little more leeway, since the tire is glued onto the tread.

  11. I meant to ask–are the 26s true to size, or do they run a little bigger or smaller? Smaller isn’t problem, but bigger would be.

  12. Jan Majuri says:

    I too vote for a 700C x 35-38 mm Grand Bois EL. The lighter weight of the extra leger casing could make for a wide 700C tyre that still handles great (I recall JH mentioning that according to him and the other testers at BQ, a 700C tyre ideally shouldn’t be wider than 32 mm). What are your thoughts on this?

    • For my taste in bike handling, a 38 mm should be 650B, even with a lightweight casing. However, as you point out, the lightweight casing would remove some of the excess stability that you get with a wide 700C tire. Most of all, there are 700C bikes that can handle wide tires, and they are crying out for better tires than those available today.

      As always, we don’t comment on projects that are in development… but I can say that there will be more options for wide 700C tires in the future.

      • Robert Hoehne says:

        I have the 700C 38mm Schwalbe Marathon Racer on my ‘can take wider tyres’ bike at a nice low 40PSI, love to put a 35 or 38 GB on it even if it was not the EL version. But that is just 2 customers so far.

  13. thebvo says:

    Until the extra leger tires are given a proper roll-down test we don’t know if they are significantly faster than the regular GB tires. If that is the case, what makes them inherently better? You’ve always been good at pointing out feels faster vs. is faster among bikes and parts, so I assume you’ll get to the bottom of it sooner or later.

    • We’ll test them as soon as we can get good conditions for testing. However, we also know which gears we use on certain roads and in certain conditions, and it seems like we are actually going faster on these tires. What we can say with certainty is that they are much more supple and comfortable. Switching back and forth between regular Grand Bois tires – which already offer a very nice ride – and the EL tires shows a marked improvement.

    • I can provide independent confirmation that the EL tires are more comfortable than the regular version, which I had been using almost exclusively since Jan first made them available. I don’t have the data to claim that they are faster, but they are smoother, and substantially so.

  14. Dax says:

    Jan, what is the casing material and tpi on the EL tires?

    • Grand Bois does not list the TPI (threads per inch) of its tires, because it’s not a useful measure of anything. The maker of the highest-grade tubulars, FMB, also does not list TPI, for the same reasons. We once tested two sets of prototype tires, one with twice the TPI, and they performed identically on the track with a power meter.

      People like simple metrics (Bike A is 100 g lighter than Bike B, hence performs better), but in the real world, what makes a bike or a tire perform is much more complex. Otherwise, anybody could make a great bike or a great tire!

      The casing material of all Grand Bois tires is synthetic (not cotton or silk like high-end tubulars in the old days). The exact composition is proprietary to Panaracer. (They use the same casings on their very best tubulars.)

  15. Gert says:

    Testing would be interesting. I spent some of my summer vacation when not riding or watching the Tour on television reading “Das kleingedruckte beim Radfahren”. In general I find the book well-documented. But I have had trouble understanding why he is against wide tyres at low pressure, due to aerodynamics, and at the same time (another chapter) is arguing that carbon fibre is the best frame material because of the damping effect it has in regards to rough roads. In an earlier post You wrote about the test on the “rumble strips”.
    I have previously understood that 95% of all damping is in the tyres.

    • I just read parts of “Das Kleingedruckte.” The author’s point of view is interesting. He believes that the current racing bike is the optimum that can be achieved. So he is in favor of 23 mm tires, against disc brakes, for carbon fibre, etc… Most of all, he appears to be unaware of some of the research that has revolutionized our understanding of tires. He does mention suspension losses somewhere (not in the tire section), but he doesn’t accord it the importance that it really has. And of course, it’s the reduced suspension losses that make wider tires, at lower pressures, as fast as narrower tires at higher pressures.

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