Many cyclists dream of a dual-purpose tire that rolls smoothly on paved roads, but has knobs that dig into the surface when it gets slippery. In the past, combining these two qualities in a single tire has been elusive. Usually, the knobs were too squirmy for good performance on pavement – especially when cornering hard – and yet the knobs were spaced too closely to shed mud when the going got rough.
When we designed our first knobby tire, the 700C x 38 mm Steilacoom, we made the knobs big enough so that they don’t squirm, but left enough space in between to clear mud. We distributed the knobs so that the tire always is supported by the same amount of rubber, whether it’s rolling forward or leaning into a turn. This gives you uniform grip at all times.
Does it work? Even we were surprised how well the Steilacoom rolls and how hard you can lean it into corners (above). If it weren’t for the (unavoidable) noise of the knobs, you’d soon forget that you were on knobby tires at all. I am aware that this sounds too good to be true, so I gave the Steilacooms to other riders to test. Mark’s initial comment was: “Why would I ride knobbies on a paved ride?” When he rode the tires, he was surprised how “un-knobby-like” they felt on pavement. And gravel racer Matt Surch found that he had no trouble keeping up with fast road pacelines on Compass knobbies. Both these riders confirmed that the Compass knob pattern works exceedingly well on pavement.
What about mud? After all, the whole point of a knobby isn’t just to ride on pavement, but to provide extra traction when conditions get slippery. A full season of cyclocross, including the single-speed world championships, have shown that the knobs have no trouble shedding mud. Your bike will get dirty, but your tire tread stays clean – as it should be. And the knobs are tall enough to dig into the surface and provide excellent traction.
With so many Allroad bikes running 650B wheels these days, it made sense to offer the same tread pattern in a 650B tire with a little more volume. Enter the Pumpkin Ridge 650B x 42 mm. We named it after Pumpkin Ridge, a quiet paved road near Portland, Oregon, that has a number of promising dirt spurs heading toward the Tualatin Mountains. Past explorations failed to reveal a connection, but filled our fenders with mud. We wished for knobby 650B tires that would not get bogged down in the mud, yet would also roll well on pavement. Imagine where you might go with these tires….
The Compass Pumpkin Ridge is designed for rides that mix pavement, gravel and muddy dirt. “Road” tires quickly reach their limits here, yet if you ride knobbies, the paved sections of the ride aren’t much fun. The Pumpkin Ridge performs equally well on all these surfaces. And of course, if you race cyclocross on 650B wheels, like BQ Team rider Steve Frey, there finally is a tire that offers the ultimate in performance in that wheel size.
The Pumpkin Ridge is now in stock, in Standard and Extralight casings. Click here for more information or to order.