Eurobike 2012: Schwalbe launch Ultremo ZX tubeless tyres

The return of the road tubeless tyre. Is this their year?

by David Arthur   September 1, 2012  

German tyre company Schwalbe used Eurobike to to launch their Ultremo ZX road tubeless tyre - giving those road riders who want to go tubeless a greater choice; currently it's either Hutchinson, Kenda, or Maxiss. Ironically while we've seen a fair few new tubeless road rims - Schwalbe's Ultremo is the only new tyre.

Based on their top-end race tyre the Ultremo, the road tubeless version is claimed by the company to be the fastest tyre they've ever made. They've been three years in development as “it was technically quite challenging to produce a high-pressure tubeless racing bike tyre,” Christian Lademann, Schwalbe’s Product Manager tells us.

With the new tyre Schwalbe is confident they've overcome the high pressure and ease of fitment concerns with a new carbon bead. Fitting tubeless tyres can be a right pain, but Schwalbe reckon their design solves the problem.

The issue with tubeless road tyre development, Schwalbe tell us, has been designing a tyre that sits firmly on the rim with the high pressure a road tyre has to be run at. The tyre has to be absolutely air tight at these high pressures yet the tyre must be easy to fit, which places limits on how thick the bead core can be. Their solution is the use of carbon fibres in the bead core to give the tensile strength to avoid the tyre coming away from the rim.

Fitting solved, the next step involved vulcanising the tyre and tube to form one complete component, with additional reinforcing all round to increase puncture protection. This design, claims Schwalbe, leads to the low rolling resistance that makes the tyre faster than their lightweight Ultremo ZLX (which weighs 160g). The road tubeless version weighs 290g, which while sounding heavy you have to take into account there's no inner tube.

And with the inner tube vulcanised inside the tyre, there is no chance of sudden blow-outs. Instead air leaks very slowly when a puncture does occur which has obvious benefits when descending very fast and heat buildup is a concern.

If you're not sure of tubeless tyres and their suitability for racing, the company has been testing the new Ultremo with Fabian Cancellara Tirreno-Adriatico tour and some of the Radioshack Nissan Trek team. As such we could now start seeing a lot more tubeless tyres and wheels being offered and is perhaps one of the most exciting developments in tyre technology for a long time.

Tubeless road tyres have been around for a couple of years but so far only Hutchinson have been championing their benefits of reduced punctures and ride quality. Tubeless advocates claim they're faster than clinchers and as fast as tubulars even (they're far easier to mount than tubs as well). You can also run lower pressures so boosting ride comfort without the chance of puncturing, as there's no inner tube.

Availability is slated for September, so…er, now then.

7 user comments

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Maxxis do a tubeless road tyre called Padrone

posted by tomascjenkins [33 posts]
1st September 2012 - 9:39

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Yep, true about Maxxis, but it's so expensive (even compared with the quite pricey tubeless tires) its almost not worth including in the list!

posted by step-hent [644 posts]
1st September 2012 - 11:03

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Seem to be slowly gaining traction (sorry for the pun) Trek appear to be gently pushing tubeless as well. Their Bontrager rage carries tubeless tires (I do not know who manufactures them) and converter kits. The last time I spoke to continental there seemed to be no plans but Schwalbe have been on about this release for a bit.

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
1st September 2012 - 12:28

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Good point tomascjenkins - I'll add it to the list (should have remembered that when I added the others to David's story.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4129 posts]
1st September 2012 - 16:03

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I love tubeless on the XC bike - nice to see a proper high end road tubeless tyre - can't wait to try these out.

David Fong
Engineered Bicycles

posted by Roastie [25 posts]
2nd September 2012 - 21:25

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Just got my new tubeless Stans Alpha 340 rims with Hutchinson Fusion 3 tyres last week and I love the setup. Only had a couple of rides so far but no leaks and no punctures... though difficult to tell as they would seal up anyway! Running at 90psi and the extra comfort is noticable. It was a bit tricky getting the tyres seated on the rims with a track pump but not impossible, though I have now ordered a CO2 inflator. Great to see a wider choice of tyres available. If you're after some new wheels and fancy a change I'd recommend giving tubeless a go.

posted by Stefan M [8 posts]
4th September 2012 - 7:51

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IIRC both the Bontrager & Specialized tubeless road tyres are made by Hutchinson.

Andy

posted by ratherbeintobago [19 posts]
4th September 2012 - 10:42

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