Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Box-o-Goodness: Part II

Last week I received a nice package from Clement Pneumatics and inside were three sets of sweet Clement rubber products in the form of the USH Adventure, the X'Plor MSO, and the Strada LLG Road.

L-R: USH Adventure, X'Plor MSO, and Strada LLG Road
The Strada LLG tires will eventually see duty on my Lejeune, which I need to finish the wheel build on. The USH Adventure tires will likely go on a single speed gravel bike I have plans to hatch. It'll only take a bit of parts swapping to get there. The X'Plor MSO tires are already mounted and being ridden.

So, here are some stats that I have gathered so far. First, we have weights...
Strada LLG Road 28mm: 220gms/230gms pair
X-Plor MSO 40mm: 520gms each
USH Adventure 35mm: 440gms each

The MSO's went directly to my "Orange Crush" Black Mountain Cycles rig. The wheels are Velocity A-23's. The MSO tires measured out at 38.1mm initially upon installation at 50psi. The tires have stretched to an even 39mm after a few rides at the same pressure. (Note: Minimum rated pressure on the MSO is 50psi.) To me, that's acceptable. If I were to run at the higher pressure ranges for this tire, I would likely see more stretch and the advertised 40mm width easily. I am not that interested in running these at higher pressures though. I'll get back to the reasons for that in a minute.

Clement X'Plor MSO
The Clement tires feel like higher end tires in the hand. The beads are uniform and the casings look to be of high quality. Perhaps a bit stiff, but if memory serves, there is a puncture protection belt in the MSO. (These are so new, they are not even on the site yet, so I am running on memory here.) I do know that being an adventure tire, Clement wanted to have a beefier casing than a pavement only tire.

Okay, so I pulled off the IRC 42mm tires, weighed those, and they were 10 grams heavier a piece than the MSO tires. Then I mounted the MSO tires up to find a nice, tallish, "C" crowned shape to the casing profile. The knob pattern seems to be a mix of polygonal and hexagonal shapes with a tightly packed center tread area and outer knobs arranged in terraced rows. The outermost knobs are longer and bigger to handle extreme cornering angles, apparently.

The ride of the MSO tires changed a bit after a few rides to become simply heavenly on rougher surfaces. The MSO damps vibrations to a degree. For example, I rode a bit on some diamond ground pavement that was being prepped for asphalting, and the MSO made it seem like chip seal. Grassy areas, smother dirt, and cobby dried up mud were also noticeable smoother with this tire.

On paved surfaces, you do notice a slight bit of rolling resistance, but this isn't a pavement only tire. For what it is, the feel on pavement is totally acceptable. In fact, it corners really well on pavement, and the rougher the road, the better this tire becomes. Commuters and touring folk may want to check this tire out. That said, those going on multiple surfaces, on or off road, will appreciate this tire the most. It's on gravel, smooth dirt, and grassy two tracks where this tire just really comes into its own.

The Clement X'Plor MSO strikes me as a very well made, high performance tire for all surfaces short of true off road mountain biking. (Maybe even on some buff single track it would even be a star though.) The casing is straight and true, the tread is laid up perfectly on that casing, and the sum of these parts add up to a grippy, nicely damped ride on rougher surfaces, gravel, and smoother dirt.

Weight weenies may be turned off by the 500 plus gram figure of these big tires, but it does have quite a bit of tread being slung around on that casing, and those tread blocks do buy you some traction. You'll have to decide whether or not that is worth it to you and your riding. 

Well, so far, that is what I think. I'll be running these through their paces as the summer comes along, and then I will get back to ya'all on that. In the meantime, I have to work on a couple rigs to slip the rest of the Clement tire trio on. Stay tuned...

Note: Clement sent these tires for evaluation and review at no charge. I am not being bribed, nor paid to give my opinions and thoughts on these tires. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout this evaluation.


Andre said...

Thanks for the initial feedback on the MSO tire. What model name and nominal tire dimension was the 42mm IRC tire you mentioned that the MSO replaced?

Guitar Ted said...

The IRC tires were the 42mm Mythos semi-slick mtb-ish tires. They were 38mm at the casings and 42 at the widest part of the knob pattern across the tires. They also are very stiff casings!