Paris-Brest-Paris: Compass Tires and a New Book

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This year’s PBP saw a significant number of riders on Compass tires. Of course, we (Jan, Theo, Hahn) rode them, too, but it’s always nice to hear from others how our products are doing.

J. O. from Vancouver, B.C., and his wife rode a tandem. We gave them our samples of the Rat Trap Pass 26″ x 2.3″ tires, which were hand-delivered to the bike check the day before the start (above). Putting on new tires just before the big ride takes confidence, but these riders were not disappointed:

“The Compass Rat Trap Pass tires were an immediate upgrade in terms of comfort. Cobbles and chip seal went from being a jarring distraction and energy sink to a slightly noticeable background hum. My wife noticed and appreciated the extra comfort the Rat Trap Pass tires provided, and she doesn’t want to go back to other tires, either.”

melinda

It’s always fun to see old friends at PBP. I’ve known Melinda Lyon from Boston (above) for many years, and for this year’s PBP, she was on the new Elk Pass 26″ x 1.25″ tires. Her report:

“I loved the tires. They really feel smooth even on the chipseal roads of France. No flats, no problems. Incidentally I seemed to have less shoulder, back problems and less of a sore butt than previous years but there were some other variables to that. On downhills, I felt like I was flying and catching heavier riders just with the tires rolling so well.”

There were others who provided unsolicited feedback:

I’ve been riding Barlow Pass tires all summer. No flats! Put on a new set for PBP. No flats, no hand numbness, no saddle sores. I credit the tires more than anything. Thanks for making my bike ride so nice!

— J.K., Belgrade, MT

“I bought the Stampede Pass Extralight tires for P-B-P… Usually my hands hurt on brevets, and I have to shift hand position often. With these tires no pain at all, and only a little tingling in the little and ring fingers afterwards. It is probably the most noticeable performance-improving change I have ever made to my bicycles.”

— G.P.K., Slagelse, Denmark
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Whether you were able to participate in this year’s PBP or not, you may want to learn more about this fascinating event. Jacques Seray has updated his book on PBP with information about the latest edition, including Björn Lenhard’s incredible 600+ km breakaway.

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The text is in French, but the photos alone make this book a must-have. Seray has assembled a vast treasure trove from the 124-year history of PBP, going back to the very first “utilitarian race” of 1891. Hundreds of photos allow you tollow the early racers on their incredible rides, join the mid-century randonneurs as they battled with wind and rain unsupported, and relive recent editions of this great event. The new book just has been released, and we have it in stock now.

For more information about Compass tires, click here.

For more information about the PBP book, click here.

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.
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13 Responses to Paris-Brest-Paris: Compass Tires and a New Book

  1. ORiordan says:

    Any reports of punctures?😉

    Do the PBP roads have less puncture-causing debris and vegetation than you may find in other countries?

    The reason I’m asking is I’m currently planning a multi-week trip covering over 1000 miles in the US and I’d normally use a “touring” tyre like Schwalbe Marathon but the Compass tyres sound great. I am considering changing and was interested in their puncture resistance (I would always be on pavement)

    • None of the riders on Compass tires who provided feedback had punctures. Generally, wide tires have few punctures, since they run at low pressures and just roll over debris that would get hammered into narrower, harder tires.

      If you ride on backroads, you’ll also see little debris on the road, since you ride in the “traffic lane” that gets swept clean by the few cars that drive there. If you plan to ride on the shoulders of busy highways, you’ll encounter much debris, especially wires from exploded truck tires, and you may need a belted tire. However, riding on these busy highways isn’t much fun anyhow, so why not plot a route on backroads?

  2. Doug Lowrie says:

    Just a word about Compass tires PBP aside. Installed a pair of 700C Stampede Pass Extralight on my old road bike built with Reynolds tubes back in 1981. The difference between the Stampede pass 32mm and Continental 4 Season 25 mm is phenomenal. My bike has 48-36 chain rings with 13 -24 freewheel in back. I thought the gearing would be to high for riding gravel and paved trails with my grand niece and nephew but with these tires that was not the case. They fly over the usual trails with ease and confidence. Climbing is as good with the lighter tires and more stable to boot. Puncture resistance is excellent as I have had none. These tires are a welcome relief from the stiff recreational tires I used in the past. I going to put a pair of 35 or 38’s on my commuter.

  3. I used the Compass Stampede Pass Extralight tires for PBP this year and I was very happy with them! I was able to achieve Charly Miller time! They feel very fast and comfortable. I have also used them for the San Francisco Randonnuers Adventure Series http://ridebike.org/sfr/adventure/ and they perform well on dirt roads too. I bought them as an ‘event tire’, but they have proven to be more durable than I expected. I did experience one puncture on PBP from a piece of glass in Brest, but otherwise they were flawless! It’s hard to go back to ‘regular’ tires now!

  4. Tom Howard says:

    I’ve been riding my Compass Slumgullion Pass tires for about a month now and I’m very pleased with them. They replaced a pair of Ritchey Tom Slicks, which were pretty good commuter tires in their own right. But I’m glad that I sprang for the Slumgullions. They have a wonderful cushy feel and I think they look super sharp on my vintage Bridgestone commuter.

  5. Kelly Smith says:

    I rode Barlow Pass 38s this year and had no problems whatever. The difference in road feel was amazing, no chipseal trouble at all. Even the broken surface going over the Roc Trevezal was improved. I’ve ridden them over 2500k with only 1 flat from hitting a large stone on a gravel ride. No damage to the tire. Thanks!

  6. Another recommendation for Jacques Seray’s book. I was doing some research on Charly Miller’s 1901 ride, and although M. Seray merely mentions Mr. Miller in passing, he does helpfully include interesting minor details that add some atmosphere, such as the fact that it rained at the Friday morning start, so instead of departing from the Parc des Princes velodrome, the riders started at a resort for cyclists near the bridge to Suresnes! If you don’t have a reading knowledge of French, you can just type the text into Google Translate and figure it out! You’ll want to start with the many photo captions.

  7. Lynne says:

    650Bx34, and I’d have Compass tires, too…

    • Lynne, I know you don’t like flats, and you ride a lot. So when the time comes to replace your bike, perhaps have the next one built for 650B x 38 mm tires. More comfort, fewer flats, and tires lasting longer, with the same speed – should be a win-win-win-win combination for you.

  8. Christophe says:

    I rode PBP with Hutchinson Sector tubeless 700Cx28 tires, which were fine, and switched to Compass Bon Jon Pass extra-léger as soon as I could find them (had they been available earlier, I would definitely have used these for PBP). The difference is not huge, but it is significant in termes of comfort, not really in terms of speed (hard to tell without real measurements). I am really happy with these tires, that are wider but not heavier than the Sectors.
    I suspect the difference in comfort is mainly in the size of the tires, as my commuter bike is equipped with Hutchinson Black Mamba 700Cx34 cyclocross tires (tubeless, intended for dry/frozen terrain, with small side knobs), that are not too heavy (340g per tire), and I find them about as comfy as the Bon Jon Pass tires (they do not seem to be as fast, yet they are fine for the cobblestones of Paris and the dirt paths in Bois de Vincennes).

  9. Ed B says:

    I almost always ride Compass 32 mm EL tires but opted for just a touch more speed on my successful Charly Miller ride. I made a conscious decision to gain a little speed at thee detriment to comfort. I regret. My hands have not yet recovered. I should have stuck to comfort as I “left” 2 hours in the bank. I will make the same very foolish mistake in 2019. Some people do not learn.

    • I am glad you were successful in achieving your goal.

      Which tire is faster than the Compass Extralights? We haven’t tested the Extralights against the clock yet, but they clearly are significantly faster than the standard model, which already is among the faster tires out there. Unless you used some old cotton-casing tires with their tread glued onto the inflated carcass, I doubt you’d find a significantly faster tire, clincher or tubular.

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