With a grippy tread that clears rather well and the ability to run low pressures without burping the tyre, the Schwalbe X-One Bite CX Microskin TLE tyre is a really good choice for training and racing. The tightly packed central knobs keep rolling speeds high and the tall side knobs dig in to provide very good traction.
The king of grip when it comes to the mud of the CX course is undoubtedly low air pressure. The best way to achieve this is with tubular tyres, but they are expensive and not that practical for everyday use. The next best option is tubeless. It's a growing area across cycling; mountain bikers have had the luxury for years. The idea is you remove the innertube, pop some sealant in and you've got yourself an incredibly puncture resistant setup.
The X-One is an excellent example of why tubeless is great for cross. Removing the innertubes has allowed me to run these down to 22psi without issue. With 60ml of Stans sealant, I've also had no punctures. Mostly this is due to removing the possibility of pinch flats. I did, however, pull out one serious thorn, but the sealant took care of the hole with no loss of pressure.
Mounting the X-One was incredibly easy. Tubeless tyres can sometimes be rather tight and the last bead section is always a struggle. But these popped onto my Maddux rims without fuss. The trade-off to that is usually found when inflating the tyres. A looser tyre won't seat easily and can be a headache to inflate. Using my Bontrager TLR Flash Charger pump, I was able to seat and inflate both tyres without issue. It was a little harder using a standard pump, but with some vigorous pumping, they inflated.
Riding out to my usual CX loop meant a few miles of road riding before the muddy fun began. I therefore started with 60psi in the tyres, and was really impressed with how quick the tyres felt. I'd be happy to use these on my short commute, as it'd give me the option to head off road after work.
As soon as I got to the mud, I let the tyres down to 30psi. I was cautious with the pressure as I didn't want to fold the tyres when cornering. Happily, I was able to get these right down to 22psi for my 65kg weight with no issues.
Part of my loop consists of a steep, grassy climb. If it's been raining it'll cut up very easily. Standing up and stamping down brought the expected rear wheel spin, but while seated I could mash the pedals without any loss of traction.
One area that surprised me was in fast, dry corners. The fantastic grip in the mud comes from the side knobs being very supple. Out on the road, this worked against the X-One, with a few squirms from the tyre. As issues go, it's a minor one at most; I'd certainly rather have a tyre that's better in the mud, especially in the UK.
At £59.99 rrp, they are at the pricier end, but I believe the quality of the X-One warrants the investment. I haven't used these extensively on the road so wear hasn't been an issue. I have hit them into their fair share of rocks with no issues at the sidewalls. Durability at this price has to be top notch and these deliver for the riding they'll be subjected to.
Squeezing in at under 400g, the 396g is slightly over Schwalbe's claimed 390g. If weight is a concern, tubeless isn't the best system, but the X-One does slightly better than Bontrager's CX3 at 410g.
If you want a tyre for muddy conditions and occasional road use, the X-One Bite is a very good option. It's not the best for harder ground, but the suppleness and height of the outer knobs grip well in loose mud and clear effectively.
Strong yet supple, the X-One Bite TLE is a marvel in the mud
road.cc test report
Make and model: Schwalbe X-One Bite CX Tyre Microskin
Size tested: 33mm
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Schwalbe says: "The X-One is now available in a 'mud-version' with even coarser tread. The Cross specialist for the real muddy days."
You can tell this is designed for the mud. Tall, supple knobs make up the tread and give excellent grip in slippy corners.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Schwalbe says: "Tubeless is the tire technology of the future. Tubeless tires bring clear advantages in speed, comfort, grip and puncture protection. Our new patented Microskin construction means we can create tires that can be easily mounted tubeless, while providing some additional benefits:
Significantly lighter than previous tubeless tires. Additional improved rolling resistance. All around improved cut resistance. Unlimited high-pressure capability.
Tubeless Easy tires can also be used with a tube, but the best performance can only be achieved in tubeless mode."
It's very good, as expected at this price.
These are brilliant for grip in the mud.
The road riding I've done hasn't worn them down. They've coped well with rocky ground and the sidewalls are unblemished.
For a tubeless system, they're about right. They do better than Bontrager's CX3.
Hmmmm. They are rather expensive, but the performance is very good.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed. They're robust yet still supple. Results in great grip and no punctures.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The tall side knobs grip very well in the mud. They clear surprisingly well too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price is steep and close to tubulars. If you want to race and train on one tyre, they're worth it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I've yet to find better grip in the mud from a tubeless tyre. They're quite fast too. Expensive, mind.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.