Vee Tire Co's Apache Chief tyres are a pleasure to ride on: grippy and comfortable, with a great pro look. They're not cheap, though, and are up against some well known and proven competitors from the likes of Schwalbe and Continental.
- Pros: Grippy in the wet and dry, puncture resistant, great lookers
- Cons: Need regular cleaning, a little expensive, not TL-ready
The Apache Chief is the top tyre in its road range, and straight out of the packaging makes its intentions clear: the rubber is sticky and supple to the touch, and doesn't seem like it will need much bedding in at all.
Despite being (only) 120tpi (threads per inch), they are exceptionally compliant without being super-thin, with an aramid belt covering the main section to aid with puncture protection and those stylish skinwall sidewalls adding to the pro look. Weight-wise, they sit at the competitive end for a folding clincher at 234g each.
Fitted to a standard set of modern wide rims, they go on easily without the need for tools and with little effort. They are directional – as is usual nowadays – so a double check to make sure they're the right way round at the rear is recommended.
Once up to pressure they round out nicely on wide rims – at 80psi front and 85 rear, my preferred setup for 25mm rubber.
First impressions were good. As expected from the feel, dry grip was excellent from the off, and a smooth ride from the compliant rubber and lower pressures was welcome on the roads we have to put up with at the moment.
Although dry, the poor surfaces and back-lane grit ensured they had a good first test. They were reassuringly stable in the corners, nippy and quiet on the faster sections.
In more mixed conditions, starting out dry but turning wet, they still felt nicely stable and inspired confidence in the corners. My self-preservation doesn't allow for extreme lean angles or speed on wet corners, but they never felt like they would let go or even slide out a little so they pass my test for that.
Any grit and debris failed to give them any trouble or leave me messing around at the side of the road. The only downside to forays onto muddy roads in poor weather is that the skinwalls show up the dirt and brake grime a lot, so if you're fussy about the look (I am), they need a good scrub when you're cleaning your bike. With little effort they do come up good as new, and that's the only extra attention they've needed.
With 600 miles down now, the wear has been impressive, with the front showing barely any signs and the rear wearing off the centre mould strip but no hint of squaring. They have been remarkably cut-resistant too, unexpected with such sticky rubber. No punctures so far either, and I'm fairly confident I can make it through the season (and beyond) without having to replace them.
One note of caution: Vee Tire's websites, both UK and worldwide, are still marketing these as tubeless ready, but after speaking to the UK reps they discontinued the TL version a while back, so bear that in mind if you are thinking of buying and have looked at the websites. Some retailers also carry this information too, which Vee Tire is sorting. It's a shame, as a bit of Google research brings up many positive comments about the tubeless version.
As for cost – the website shows an RRP of £59.99, which is squarely in the premium bracket, although having spoken to the UK guys, now the tyres aren't TL ready they think it will drop to £54.99, but still at the higher end. Continental's GP 4000S II, a similar premium tyre, retails for £49.95 rrp, while Schwalbe's tubeless-ready Pro One TL is £66.99, both available online for quite a bit less.
Overall, the Apache Chiefs are great tyres and I'm impressed by their qualities – if you can find them (they're not the easiest to track down), they're a great buy.
Great looking and super-sticky rubber that's comfortable and compliant while lasting the distance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vee Tire Co Apache Chief
Size tested: 25mm
Tell us what the product is for
25mm clincher tyre best suited for race or sportive use with skinwall sidewalls and aramid belt puncture protection.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Vee Tire Co:
Continuum Compound 66 A
Tire Pressure Recommended: 80-120 PSI (5.5-8.0 bar)
BPROOF - Aramid Belt
Tyres have to meet high standards to be anywhere near usable and so it stands here: no exposed threads or excess rubber.
The tyres were grippy out of the box, easy to fit and are wearing well.
After around 600 miles they are looking as good as new; the mould line is still prominent on the front while the rear is showing minimal wear with no obvious cuts or blemishes.
Not the lightest rubber on the market but they are by no means heavy at a very competitive 234g each, a touch more than the Continental GP 4000S II at 215g but much lighter than my go-to Schwalbe Pro One tubeless at 291g – a lightweight latex inner tube still weighs in at around 85g though.
They roll really well, and despite being on the heavy side at 90kg I've been running lower pressures for the last couple of seasons – 85psi rear and 80psi front. These tyres work well at those pressures and feel much more supple that the 120 TPI would suggest.
Tyres are a highly competitive market, and £59.99 (or maybe £54.99) puts them up against some well known and proven competitors.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Grippy and sticky feeling from new, and have stayed that way. Dry grip is superb, I'm a bit too risk averse to really push tyres in the wet but they felt stable and didn't let go at all during some appalling rain-soaked rides. The supple nature also seems to help with road holding and they felt surefooted at all times.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The performance and grip, plus the looks – skinwall tyres are the big thing in the pro peloton at the moment and personally I think they look great. They certainly garnered a lot of comments from clubmates – they did need a regular clean to keep them looking good though.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm struggling – other than the extra effort to keep the sidewalls clean, nothing.
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 overall score
Grippy and good looking (and so far puncture free), these tyres are a pleasure to ride on and add a pro touch to the look of your bike. They're not cheap, but the performance justifies the price.
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman AirPro Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives