We now offer the Compass 26″ (559 mm) tires in a slightly narrower 1.5″ (37 mm) width, in addition to the popular 1.75″ (44 mm) model. These tires are great for an existing mountain bike, touring bike, or 26″-wheeled tandem. Compared to all other improvements you can make to your bike, great tires will make the biggest difference in the feel and performance. The wider 26″ tires also are a great choice for a new custom bicycle that is designed to handle really rough gravel roads.
Both Compass 26″ tires are made by Panaracer using their Pasela molds. However, what goes into the mold is very different from a Pasela: We use a high-end casing and ultra-grippy tread rubber – in fact, the same materials as for the Grand Bois tires. The result is a 26″ tire that offers the ride and feel of a high-end tire, which is very different from the common 26-inch “slick” tires that are made with sturdy casings and mediocre rubber.
If I were to travel around the world, I probably would chose a bike equipped with the 1.75″ Compass tires. I would enjoy the speed, comfort and road feel of a great tire, and if I ever needed a replacement, I would find one easily, since 26″ is by far the most common bicycle tire size in the world today.
Even if you don’t travel around the world, the 26″ wheel size makes a lot of sense. Whereas a 41 mm-wide Grand Bois Hetre is about the widest 650B tire you can fit on a performance bicycle with fenders, reducing the wheel diameter gives you clearance for even wider tires.
Our testing found that for optimum handling, wheel size should correlate with tire width, to keep the rotational inertia of the wheel constant. It is no coincidence that French constructeurs used 700C wheels for narrow tires (up to 32 mm) and 650B wheels for wider tires. Our testing showed that beyond 42 mm, 26″ wheels result in the best handling. For serious gravel-road riding, 44 mm-wide 26″ tires would be an excellent choice.
Click here for more information about these tires.
Further reading: Wheel Size and Bicycle Handling, Bicycle Quarterly Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 14.