Hutchinson designed the Sector 28 for the pro teams they sponsor, for racing over the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. As such it's a big tyre that's tough as well as being light, but it's the comfort that really shines through here. Well, that and the fact that you don't get any punctures. They're not even that much of a pain to fit.
Why go tubeless? Well, the main reasons normally cited are less punctures, better comfort and lower rolling resistance.
You can't pinch flat the tube (where you compress the tyre against the rim and it cuts the tube) because there isn't one. And the sealant that you put into the tyre to make it airtight also does a good job of filling up any holes caused by the likes of thorns or glass.
The elimination of pinch flats means you can run the tyres at a lower pressure, making them more comfortable. And because there's not two layers of material (tyre and tube) pressing against each other the carcass can deform more easily, which the manufacturers will tell you makes for lower rolling resistance.
Sounds good? It is, generally, aside from the fact that you'll need a tubeless-ready wheelset and some other gubbins (rim strips, valves, sealant) that ups the overall price. The main other downside is that the tyres are much more labour-intensive to fit. Things are improving though. Tubeless tyres used to be so tight at the bead that it was a Herculean task to actually get them on the rim, requiring some serious tyre levers and swear words. But that's not the case with these Hutchinsons. They went onto a pair of Bontrager Affinity tubeless-ready wheels with a bit of thumb pressure and nothing more.
Once you have a tubeless tyre on the rim you need to inflate it to get the bead in position. Sometimes you can do this with a track pump but I had no joy at all with these, so I resorted to the tried-and-tested method of a C02 cannister to pop them on (you can also use a compressor). Once seated you can deflate them and inflate them with a track pump with no problems.
I had a few issues sealing the Sector 28s but in the end I think I was just being a bit stingy with the sealant. They take at least 40ml of sealant to do properly, more than the 30ml you'd normally assign to a road tyre; that's not surprising given that it's a bigger chamber. Now they're well sealed they're not losing much pressure. Although tubeless tyres do generally deflate quicker than a butyl tube, and it's worth checking them before a ride, these Sectors are better than many and I go weeks without topping them up.
They're really comfy tyres, that's maybe their best feature. Hutchinson recommend a rather high minimum pressure of 87psi; most of the time I ran them about 80 and went as low as 70 with no problems at all. The difference in comfort between these and a 25mm road tyre is immediately noticeable, and welcome. At 295g plus sealant these aren't the lightest tyres out there but you'll save yourself the ~70g of an inner tube, making them competitive, especially for a big tyre. They don't ever feel heavy or slow. Whether a particular tubeless tyre rolls empirically better than a tubed tyre is an argument for the lab, but those gains or losses are normally pretty marginal, whereas the comfort gain is immediately noticeable.
I haven't punctured them either, and that's with plenty of deliberate excursions into hedge clippings and other detritus, and lots of miles on unmade surfaces too. I have pulled a single solitary thorn out of the carcass, and the sealant (I used Effetto Mariposa's Caffelatex) plugged the hole just fine, a bit of fizzing and bubbling and then no more. That's at worst a top-up from the pump, rather than removing the wheel and tyre and replacing or mending the tube. If you manage to put a hole in the tyre big enough that the sealant won't fix it, Hutchinson do a repair kit but the roadside fix is the same as a normal tyre: stick a tyre boot over the inside of the hole and then bung a tube in; you'll still need to carry one, just in case.
Grip straight out of the box is average, but it improves markedly with riding. The harder central section is a bit slippy when it's new. You notice standing up on greasy back-road climbs and it's a bit too easy to lock up the rear under braking. Things improve after a few rides though, and after that they're a very competent all-rounder, with good levels of grip available and especially so when cornering on the softer shoulder sections. You might want to give the central ridge a light going over with the sandpaper before you ride them to accelerate the aging process. They're not always as tenacious as a summer race tyre, but they're better than most winter tyres I've tried, and largely very predictable. You get the benefit of a bigger contact patch, and the lower pressure and reasonably supple casing means they're great on broken-up back-road tarmac.
Overall these are a great set of tyres for most UK riding. They're comfortable, difficult to puncture, comfortable, quick and comfortable. I'm not sure they'd be my first choice for racing (although people do choose them - http://www.averagecyclist.com/2013/08/review-hutchinson-sector-28-tubele...) but for pretty much everything else they're spot on. At £70 (£50 online) an end they're expensive, no getting away from that, and that's assuming you have everything else you need to get them fitted and sealed. But if you've decided to make the switch to tubeless, and you can fit a 28mm tyre in your frame, these are an excellent choice.
Very good all-conditions tubeless tyre for UK riding, once you've worn them in (and got over the cost)
road.cc test report
Make and model: Hutchinson Sector 28c tubeless tyre
Size tested: 28c
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?
Sector 28 was developped for professional teams competing at the Paris-Roubaix Classic. This is a large section 28mm competition tire that excels on rough roads, cobblestones and gravel conditions. Weighing in at only 295 grams, it's efficient and has a low rolling resistance despite its 28mm profile. It does require sealant (Protect'Air Max) to be air-tight. The tread is a slick on top with slightly grooved sidewalls. The dual compound tread offers efficiency when on top of the tire and excellent grip when cornering. It's round profile makes for a very predictable handling tire.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* High-quality ride and performance
* 28mm section for the optimum rough condition ride
* Ride Lock beads for safety
* Dual compound tread performs well in all weather conditions
* 127 TPI supple yet resiliant casing
* Only 295 grams (without sealant)
* Puncture breaker under the tread helps prevent punctures without affecting performance
* Pinch flats eliminated
* Lower pressures for comfortable ride
* Self-repairing with Protect'Air Max Sealant (required)
* Patchable with a Hutchinson Rep'Air Patch Kit
* Quality Made in France
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well, a great all-rounder
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
SO comfortable, no punctures
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Grip not the best when new, fitting tubeless is a faff
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 190cm Weight: 100kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.