Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyre  £41.99

8/10

Fast, lightweight tyres with good grip and puncture protection, but save them for competition use

Weight 190g   Contact  Available from all good retailers

by Mat Brett   March 18, 2012  

Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyre

Schwalbe's ZX versions of the popular Ultremo are competition tyres, they provide good grip and they're very, very fast.

Notice, though, that I described these as 'competition tyres', and Schwalbe do the same. The tread really isn't thick, hence a weight of just 190g per tyre on our test pair (even lower than Schwalbe's claimed 195g). The rubber doesn't wear away particularly fast, it's just that there's not much of it to start with, so if you're after longevity, these ain't the tyres for you.

What these tyres do best is roll fast. As well as the light weight, Schwalbe reckon that's largely down to their RaceStar Triple Compound which they say is their most advanced mix. They could be right, I couldn't say for sure, but what I can tell you is that these spin up to speed in no time and hold that speed effortlessly. These are right up there among the fastest clinchers I've ever used.

The carcass is made from 127 TPI (threads per inch) nylon and it's pretty supple. Schwalbe have added a little extra material to the tyre shoulders compared to earlier versions of the Ultremo, and that's added 15g to the weight but, as I said, there's still not a lot to these. Despite that slight weight gain, Schwalbe reckon these tyres have 15% lower rolling resistance than before.

The Ultremo ZX features Schwalbe's HD Speed Guard puncture prevention technology – the HD standing for 'high density'. It's surprisingly effective considering the low weight of these tyres. Using my highly sophisticated patented drawing pin test, I can tell you that the 10mm strip down the centre of the tyre – the bit between the silver stripes – is very resistant to sharp stuff.

Either side of that, in contrast, the tyre is pretty vulnerable, so if you're unlucky enough to hit something jagged while you're cornering, you might well be in for a bit or roadside tube changing. The sidewalls are very skinny too, so if anything flicks up there's a fairly good chance of it getting through... but that's the price you pay for the low weight.

The Ultremos are completely slick but don't let that put you off – a smooth tyre provides better grip on the road than one with a patterned tread because the area of contact is larger. I've never had a problem with the grip here. Even on damp roads, I've found these surprisingly sure-footed.

Verdict

Fast, lightweight tyres with good grip and puncture protection, but save them for competition use

road.cc test report

Make and model: Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyre

Size tested: 700x23C

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 say, "As tyre designers the Ultremo is the pinnacle of our ambition. We strived relentlessly to increase its speed and installed the ZX with HD Speed Guard and RaceStar Triple Compound. Both components are perfectly tuned to the requirements of an outstanding competition tyre. The result: Significant reduction in rolling resistance. Even so we used additional material to reinforce the tyre shoulders and to ensure a considerable increase in mileage. ZX - the best Ultremo ever! "

As Schwalbe say, this is a competition tyre: it's intended for going fast, not the ultimate in longevity.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

This is what Schwalbe say about their HD Speed Guard puncture prevention system:

"HD stands for High Density and this new version of the tried-and-tested Schwalbe, aramid HD Guard is completely tuned for speed. Effective protection is achieved by using a patented technology that Schwalbe developed together with the US firm Warwick Mills, which holds 14 international patents for its high density weaving processes and is a world leader in innovative, industrial textiles.

"It is the finest and densest fabric on the market. No other bicycle tire protection belt gets anywhere near its weave density," said Schwalbe technician, Markus Hachmeyer. By utilizing this innovative technology for the first time it has been possible to create an ultra-light, extremely puncture resistant tire and this latest Ultremo version with HD Speed Guard enjoys the same high-density protection as its predecessor, but with distinctly reduced rolling resistance."

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

The main point of this tyre is that it goes fast and it does that very successfully. Just remember that this is a competition tyre, not one that's intended for everyday use, so speed rather than longevity is its strength.

Rate the product for durability:
 
6/10

The lack of material means its not especially durable although it's fine for a race tyre

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well; it's super-fast.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The light weight/lack or rolling resistance.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Those sidewall are pretty susceptible to damage.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, and I have bought previous incarnations in the past

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,

 

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I can tell you from personal experience that it is best to stay away from theses Schwalbe Ultremo ZXs, at least the graphite ones. I read some great reviews on Bikeradar, and got them for sportives. I had two punctures on the first ride, and on the second, the rear side wall blew out on a quick descent that almost threw me off the bike. Since then I've changed to Conti GP4000S and have had no problems, with just as good rolling speed. The Reviewer is right on, these tyres have important faults and mine are collecting dust now in the garage.

posted by tyhsia [6 posts]
18th March 2012 - 20:46

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How much do you want for them?

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
18th March 2012 - 20:56

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I disagree with the durability rating

I got a 28mm set of ZXs and used them on PBP

PBP is 1200km and I also was riding around Paris before/after
Since then I've used them on the spare bike for going up the pub on horrible lanes

I agree they are light and fast and probably not the best tyres for durability ever but they seem as good as something like a Michelin Pro

vorsprung's picture

posted by vorsprung [285 posts]
18th March 2012 - 21:03

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vorsprung wrote:
I disagree with the durability rating

I got a 28mm set of ZXs and used them on PBP

PBP is 1200km and I also was riding around Paris before/after
Since then I've used them on the spare bike for going up the pub on horrible lanes

I agree they are light and fast and probably not the best tyres for durability ever but they seem as good as something like a Michelin Pro

good to know. thanks for that

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
18th March 2012 - 21:13

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vorsprung wrote:
I disagree with the durability rating

I got a 28mm set of ZXs and used them on PBP

PBP is 1200km and I also was riding around Paris before/after
Since then I've used them on the spare bike for going up the pub on horrible lanes

I agree they are light and fast and probably not the best tyres for durability ever but they seem as good as something like a Michelin Pro

Thanks for your comment but getting 750 miles plus some more riding around out of a set of tyres doesn't constitute high durability. I've used several sets of Schwalbe Ultremos and love them for racing, but durability isn't their strongest point. It's decent but not amazing because so little material is used.

posted by Mat Brett [1817 posts]
19th March 2012 - 0:45

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How good is the rolling resistance compared to vittoria corsa cx?

posted by 37monkey [143 posts]
19th March 2012 - 18:00

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Love them for racing - fastest standard clincher tyre around - especially if you team them up with latex tubes. Right about the sidewall though... very easy to get slashed if you are unlucky. The other cool thing about them is that you never need to use tyre levers Smile

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posted by drewj [3 posts]
20th March 2012 - 6:47

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I bought these to replace a pair of ageing Rubino pros after reading the all too positive reviews in C+. 4 rides later and 3 punctures and one ripped sidewall leading to another puncture.I was running them at 110 at the front and 115 at the rear, i only weigh 66k and i ride quite conservatively, avoiding potholes and the like. Very dissapointed not least because the punctures occurred on long solo rides one of which was in the rain. Swapped to gators just to avoid the fear, faff and mess of repairing puncures a long way from home.

bobinski

posted by bobinski [106 posts]
20th March 2012 - 8:53

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I used these for all of last summer (commuting, training and sportives) and they were fine as long as it was dry. As soon as it rained - punctured.

They're definitely fast tyres, and pretty robust given the light weight. I rode over a fair amount of debris with them and didn't have any problems with punctures. Until it rained.

posted by TheSpaniard [42 posts]
20th March 2012 - 10:57

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i have used these and r1's since since early 2010 and have covered 1000's of miles mainly across dartmoor so hardly slick new roads. wet or dry all fine and i wont jinx my self but i have never had one of those things where you need to pull over get those lever things out of the saddle bag and that rolled up black piece of butyl and combine them...

best tyres i have ever used. fast as f==k

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
20th March 2012 - 13:11

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If I could afford to, I would run these all the time, but they wear hellishly fast. I've switched to the Durano S's for training and they last a lot longer without too massive a penalty - but even those have iffy sidewalls. Obviously something has to give when making light tyres at a reasonable cost.

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posted by mr-andrew [294 posts]
20th March 2012 - 17:42

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bobinski try them with less air. I had a similar experience to you running 115psi front and back. I got fed up and took them off but I have recently given them a second chance running 95psi and they have been trouble free for about 600km. Before I was getting a flat every 80 to 100km!

posted by carlgrz [51 posts]
21st March 2012 - 19:41

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Actually...I looked at the tyres at the weekend and the front one has two sidewall rips. The tyre didn't puncture as a result of this but I don't like it one bit.

The tyres now, after only approx 2000km have not punctured at all but gained two sidewall nicks during PBP, which I superglued and moved the front to the back and now two more!

So perhaps your rating of 6/10 isn't so unfair

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posted by vorsprung [285 posts]
26th March 2012 - 13:02

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For what it's worth, I'm just coming up to 3000 miles on my ZX's (Ribble Stealth)so it's highly likely that I'll be replacing like for like when they finally do die on me. I usually run then at about 110psi and although I'm no featherweight, I've had nobbut a normal number of punctures and on the rural routes around North Yorkshire, that's pretty good going.

posted by Jacko [9 posts]
10th April 2013 - 17:01

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I use Ultremos for crits, road races and any event when I want to get a fast time as they are astonishingly fast - perhaps quicker than my GP4000S tubs, but I need to do some testing to prove that. The downside as others have said is sidewall durability. I've lost 2 to sidewall splits but the current pair seem to be surviving well at around 1500 miles. The rear is now the 'Evo' version though and I'd certainly recommend this over the regular ZX; sturdier sidewalls for very little weight penalty.

posted by 5th [28 posts]
8th August 2013 - 23:46

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