Monday, March 07, 2016

WW4M: Surly Extraterrestrial Tires

Fat "plus" sized 26 inch "urbantastic" tires from Surly
WW4M stands for "What Works For Me". This is a review of a product I found extremely useful, that lives up to its billing, and provides a good value. Your mileage may vary. 

 Okay, here we go. I can already hear you long time blog readers firing up your 26"er comments. Well, smaller wheels have their place too. One of those places is when it comes to fat, over-sized rubber for urban thrashing. There are probably other good places to use this tire, like over the road touring, or gravel, but I haven't done any of that, and so this is going to focus on what I have used these tires for.

So, the Extraterrestrial tires have been a revelation. Sure, they are heavy, but when set up tubeless, they roll really well. They are very comfortable set up at 20psi as well. I have set them as high as about 22psi, and I have gone as low as 15psi sometimes. They roll a little sluggishly down that low, but when it gets icy, they grip better then. Tubeless is fantastic for that sort of thing.

Those are great things, but that wasn't the revelatory thing about these tires. No, it was something that came as a complete surprise to me. To explain I have to reference my fat bike. The commute to work has been interrupted in one place along University Avenue where they have dug up certain places to work on utilities. The Winter weather stopped the progress on this and subsequently there is a place where this beige colored, clayish mud has been exposed. It is kind of all over the place and hard to avoid. I found out the hard way that if you do not avoid it, the evil beige mud sticks to my fat bike tires like a pile of steel shavings to a magnet. Well, I ran into that mud with the Extraterrestrials and......hey! The mud didn't stick! Not even a little bit, which is super weird. I have no explanation for that, but I like that this is the case, and it was really surprising.

These tires make the 1X1 ride like a Cadillac. 
The Extraterrestrials don't do too badly on packed up snow trails made by fat bikes, they work in the mud pretty okay, but slide a bit due to the lack of side knobs. They really cut down on chatter and bumps a ton. They ride super smooth. Pumping them up to 20 plus psi makes them speedy, and with a good set of hubs, you get those things rolling and they don't want to stop. Urban curb hopping and pot hole navigation is really good too.

Surly says these are 2.5" tires and on the Velocity Clffhanger rims, which are 30mm wide OD, they measure 64mm wide, so actually these are bigger tires, by a little bit, than Surly says. I wouldn't want them any bigger in that respect, but I could totally see these in a 650B format where a bigger diameter would get you closer to a fat, 700c-ish tire diameter with huge volume and the flotation/comfort that would bring.

Sometimes I gripe because these tires don't grip and they slide out, but then I remind myself I'm not riding fat mtb tires. It's hard to not think you are invincible when you ride these tires, they seem like they should steam roll anything in your path, but they do have their limitations. In some ways, they are overkill for their intended purposes. I guess that would be my only complaint here. It's a tire looking for a good reason to have you get it. It's fat, and cool looking, and you make it fit your intentions, even though it is a bit ridiculous. Oh well...... It makes my urban riding "urbantastic", so I like it. 

NOTE: I bought these tires with my own damn money and was not asked or paid to write this review. So there......


Aaron Olson said...

I put a set on my commuter/tourer/gravel rig. They've only seen short rides to work so far but they've been great. If they roll nice on gravel I'll probably ryn them for Odin's.

Rob said...

Would love to see this tire in other sizes (29" hint hint!)

R said...

i was on university in CF a few fridays ago with my brother on business, heading west... i pointed to a big orange jacket walking a 1x1 around a dig site... i said 'hey, i know that bike'...
whatever notoriety is right... (:

do you think the 29" versions will also be 2.5"?

Guitar Ted said...

@Rob & @R- The word Surly put out when these were announced was that they would do 29 X 2.5 or so and a 700 X 40-ish tire in this design.