Grand Bois Extra Leger in All-Black


The black Cyprès Extra Léger 700C x 32 mm tires are in stock now.

Our first run of 700C x 32 mm Grand Bois Cyprès Extra Léger tires sold out within a month. The reason is not just higher-than-anticipated demand, but lower-than-ordered deliveries. The super-supple casings of the Extra Léger tires are difficult to make, and even more difficult to work into tires. When Panaracer made the Extra Léger tires for Grand Bois, the reject rate was higher than anticipated, and they couldn’t make as many tires as ordered…

The tan casing was made specially for Grand Bois, so they couldn’t just make more. However, Panaracer uses a black version of the same casing in their professional-grade tubular tires. We asked whether we could get more Extra Léger 700C x 32 mm tires with that all-black casing. While I understand Grand Bois’ preference for tan sidewalls (which also make it easier to find the causes of punctures on the inside of the tire), I do find the all-black quite attractive as well.

One question with a tire that light and supple is how durable it will be. The tread is the same material and thickness as that of the standard Grand Bois tires, so it should last as well. I have ridden a set of 700C prototypes for a year now, with no problems, and not even a flat tire. Flat tires are rare and random, so it’s impossible to say whether these tires are more or less flat-resistant than the standard model.

What is immediately obvious is the improved ride. I didn’t think that the standard Grand Bois tires could be greatly improved – they already were the nicest tires you could find. However, the Extra Léger model takes it a big step further: The pavement buzz disappears almost completely, and even expansion joints between concrete road panels are hardly noticeable any longer. The great ride of the 700C x 32 mm Cyprès Extra Léger had me even wonder whether there was any advantage to using 42 mm-wide 650B tires, until I rode my bike with the Hetre Extra Lègers again. They provided the magical feeling that you sometimes get when you find a road that just has been repaved, and is as smooth as a pool table – yet I was riding on Seattle’s crumbling streets as usual.

Click here for more information on the Grand Bois Extra Léger tires.

About Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

Spirited rides that zig-zag across mountain ranges. Bicycle Quarterly magazine and its sister company, Compass Cycles, that turns our research into high-performance components for real-world riders.
This entry was posted in Tires. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Grand Bois Extra Leger in All-Black

  1. Rolling Resistance says:

    If 25mm and/or 28mm version is introduced someday, i would be more than intrested. 32 are too wide for my frame and 23 perhaps too narrow for my rims.

  2. Steve P says:

    Given the popularity of the first run of Extra Leger tires, are you planning to produce these long term? Are there plans to produce a 26mm or 28mm version?

  3. I now have Extra Leger 23, 32, and 42 mm on my bikes, and I agree that they are the nicest tires made. Period.

    A 25/26 mm version would be really useful!

    • Greg says:

      I think the competition is fierce in the 700 x 23 size (think Veloflex and Deda Tre, both of which produce very fine handmade Italian tires with traditional gumwall sides), but I agree about the 700 x 32 and 650 x 42 sizes. I really, really wish they had made 700 x 26 ones instead of the 700 x 23 ones during those first runs. That would be a real ‘category-killer’ tire, I believe….

      • I have ridden the Veloflex, and I found it underwhelming. The old hand-glued Dedas were superb, but the current ones are totally different. You should try these…

        Concerning 25 mm tires, I really like the Vittoria Open CX Corsas. They are very supple and fast, but unfortunately don’t last very long.

      • As to the sizes, this project is a collaboration between Grand Bois, Cycles Alex Singer and Compass Bicycles. Each got to pick a size. Singer picked 700C x 23 mm, Grand Bois chose 700C x 32 mm, and we asked for 650B x 42 mm.

      • Greg says:

        So the Grand Bois’ treads are hand-glued?

      • No, but there are many other things that make them special.

        What I was commenting on was that the Challenge tires with the hand-glued tread really were special, despite being a bit heavy and having so-so quality control. The vulcanized ones have fewer quality problems, but lost much of what makes them special. I have ridden both, a hand-glued prototype they sent me during the development of the Parigi-Roubaix (which was a project of Challenge USA, Mike Kone of Boulder Bicycles, and us at Compass) and the production version, and I’d say the difference was about as large as that between the standard Grand Bois and the Extra Léger models. They are all great tires – which is why we sell them – but even at that level, there are significant differences.

  4. Steve Palincsar says:

    A tire with the flat resistance of the Grand Bois Cypres and the ride characteristics of the Challenge Parigi Roubaix would indeed be something special, and probably worth whatever it cost.

    • Everybody who has tried these says they ride much nicer yet than the Challenge. When we first worked with Challenge on the Parigi-Roubaix, they still used hand-glued tread, and those were something special indeed. However, the production tires now are vulcanized – they had too many problems with tread coming off the casing – and in a back-to-back test, I could not tell the difference between the standard Grand Bois and the Challenge. We sell both Grand Bois and Challenge, by the way.

      • Matt R says:

        The problem I had with the Parigi Roubaixs is that the casing would split in an amount that didn’t correspond with the blow to the tire. I’d ride over a small pebble and get a pinhole in the tread. But the casing would split apart on the inside and I’d eventually get a bubble in the tread. Happened twice with both Parigis and Triathlons.

  5. Paul Glassen says:

    Like others, I am now squeezing as large a section tire into my old bike frame(s) as possible. It would help to have some actual mounted and inflated width measurements for Grand Bois tires. For instance, I am interested in the Cypres 700c X 32mm. I have been riding Paselas that are labelled 32mm but an actual measurement with a machinist’s caliper is closer to 30mm. I don’t know if an actual 32mm would fit on that frame. There does not seem to be any pattern to the error in labelling. Paselas labelled 35mm on another of my bikes measure very close to an actual 35mm. (No, the difference is not from rim widths.)

    • The sizes we list are as close to the actual size as possible. So even if the tires are labeled something else, we use the sizing that we measure on a rim after a few weeks. Of course, your final size depends on your rim width, too.

      • ted kelly says:

        Speaking of width precision, what do you recommend as the minimum clearance between a tire and the frame (e.g. chain stay)?
        Also thanks for your contributions to the availability of supple clincher tires. Long long ago I bought my first pair of sew up wheels and changed from run of the mill stiff clinchers to hand made clement tires. The difference was quite a revelation. But, for one reason and another, I am riding clinchers these days and I appreciate the choices we now enjoy.

      • I recommend a minimum of 3 mm on the sides. At the top of the tire, a little more is useful… The tightest spot on a well-designed frame usually is at the chainstays, since you can’t splay the chainstays outward without encroaching on the cranks.

    • Greg says:

      Paselas have been notorious (in the past, anyways) for being much narrower than marked, in some cases. I have an old bike with 700 x 37 Paselas, on 22 mm rims, that run more like 31 actual width. For the 700C Grand Bois tires, I can tell you that in my experience (on 19-20 mm width rims) the 26 runs right at about 25 mm, or maybe a few tenths more, and the 28 runs at around 27 mm in width. Rim width is a huge factor, just like on cars, in my opinion, which is why there is no single answer to the ‘actual width’ question. I’ve not yet personally tried the GB 700 x 32 (née 30). The 26s are the max. that will reasonably fit on many ‘racing’ bikes, which is why we run them a lot in our fleet, and that is also what would make them very enticing in an EL version!

      • Another thing to remember is that high-end tires tend to grow over time as they are ridden and the casings “relax” a bit. You can easily gain 1-2 mm on a wide tire.

      • Greg says:

        In my experience, the widths that I quoted above are after the tire has ‘relaxed.’ I’ve not seen more than about five-tenths of a millimeter in width growth over one or two years’ time for the 26 and 28 (and by then the tires get replaced anyways, due to mileage). I just went and measured a well-seasoned 26, and it is 25.3 mm wide (on a 20 mm rim). We are now getting up to 2300 miles’ use out of a rear 700 x 26, and double that for a front, in many cases. Very good indeed, in my opinion….

      • With the trend toward wider tires, many of us are stuck with bikes that were designed for wider tires than what we run now, so every millimeter is important. My Alex Singer was designed for 25 mm tires, but I run 32s…

        When you run the tires for which your bike was designed, a millimeter or two don’t really make a difference. I once rode a lovely 1952 Herse that was designed for 38 mm tires, but 41 mm-wide Grand Bois Hetres fit with ample clearances.

  6. Eric says:

    Jan, Is there an upper weight limit for these tires? How would they fare under light touring loads?

    • There is no weight limit, but like any high-performance parts, they don’t work well for very heavy loads. If you were to use them on a tandem weighing 350 pounds or more, I’d caution you that cords can break, and the tires develop lumps after 1-2000 miles. Much depends on how you ride – some riders stress their equipment more, while others “ride light.”

      • Eric says:

        Thanks Jan. As there are no stupid questions… are they sold as a pair or single tire in the web store?

      • All tires are sold as single tires.

      • Tom Macleay says:

        Can you recommend a wide 700c GB tire for tandems. We are a 300 pound team plus bike and picnic, so about 350lbs. I want to upgrade the 35mm Michelins that came stock on my Peugeot. It’s time.

      • Grand Bois does not make 700C tires wider than 32 mm. These tires are mostly made for Grand Bois custom bikes. For tires wider than 32 mm, they use the 650B wheel size. This keeps the rotational inertia of the front wheel in the optimal range. Wide 700C tires have too much rotational inertia, which means that they are too stable and rob the bike of the nimble handling we enjoy.

        I understand that there are many existing 700C bikes and tandems that would benefit from wider tires. Our engineering and investment resources are limited, and each project has to compete for those limited R & D resources. We have been thinking about a wide 700C tire, but we cannot promise that it will happen.

  7. william says:

    Thanks for the all-black! I will be ordering as soon as I have some extra spending money.

  8. Kenetic Sam says:

    Just ordered a pair, thanks for making these available, can’t wait to try them out. BTW, every time I read “flats are rare”, I mentally insert “for those who don’t live in goathead country”! I’ve put a lot of miles on my compass 26×1.75 tires over the last year+, they are fantastic, but I’ve had enough of all the flats. In the fall, it’s almost every time I ride! I finally converted them to tubeless a few weeks ago, hopefully that will show the tribulus terrestris who’s the boss. We’ll see how this season goes. I think wide, supple, tubeless tires will be great, and hopefully goathead resistant.

  9. Ben Van Orsdol says:

    I want to try the standard grand bois cypres tyres first. I think a step up with room for improvement will be good for me, because I’m used to big, heavy, flat-free Schwalbes.
    This is unrelated but I hope there will be a a link to photos from the Rene Herse display from last weekend soon. I bet it was awesome!

  10. Gary Long says:

    Hi Jan, glad to see the number of tire choices increasing. What are the chances of seeing an “Extra Leger” version of the Compass 26×1.75 or 1.50 tire?

  11. mike says:

    Oh Geez! looks like you’re already out of stock. When do you expect more?

  12. mike says:

    Since we are on the subject of tires. Do you feel there are advantages for a light rider+bike (<170lb) to use a wide tire say a 42mm vs 32mm? Being a light rider myself, I already run my 700x32c tires at or slightly below the manufacturers recommended pressure to get 15% wheel drop. Are there advantages to a 650b tire aside from being able to decrease tire pressure for large size tires?

    • There are a number of advantages. The main one is that rough roads disappear. Where you slow down on chipseal on 32 mm tires, you just go over it on 42 mm ones. This opens up a lot of possibilities of where you can ride, since many scenic backroads with light traffic aren’t maintained regularly… You also gain safety on cracks in the road and railroad tracks.

      Compared to those advantages, there aren’t any downsides of the wider tires, assuming your bike is designed for them.

      • mike says:

        Hey Jan,
        Thanks for taking the time to answer some basic question that i’m sure you get asked more than a few times. It’s much appreciated!

Comments are closed.