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The Pontus wet-weather tyres from Ere Research offer a good ride quality, but the rain grooves pick up a lot of grit which can penetrate the tyres' double-aramid layer easily. They're expensive too, though they do come in nice boxes.
If there's one thing we can rely on in the UK, it's that the summer will provide excellent test conditions for a wet-weather tyre, eh readers? Not in 2018! I had to wait until August Bank Holiday for roads wet enough to test the Ere Research Pontuses (Ponti?) in their intended conditions.
We've already reviewed Ere Research's 'pro' level Genus tyre, which Stu found grippy in both wet and dry. The Pontus uses the same compound and I, too, found the grip excellent in both wet and dry. On an early test ride a lamb launched itself onto a collision trajectory with my front wheel, just as I dived right into a tight, steep bend. A reflex tug on the brakes stepped out the back wheel about six inches but the front tyre held tight and I lived to tell the tale.
The question would have to be whether the grooved tread of the Pontus adds anything to the mix in wet conditions. There's a lot of debate around this. Car tyres need grooves to disperse the water to prevent aquaplaning, but the argument goes that there's little evidence to suggest this is ever an issue for cyclists. We don't ride fast enough, and even if we did, the narrow tyre profile and high road pressures are more than enough to disperse the water. Read more about it here. However, my own experience is that treaded road tyres are prone to picking up stones and flints, and that's what happened with the Pontus, as I shall relate in a minute.
Stu liked the ease of fitting of the Genus. I was the other way round! No amount of soapy water or blasts from the compressor would get the beads to seat on the tubeless-ready Halo test wheelset. I resorted to fitting an inner tube, then deflating it and carefully easing it out to leave one bead in place. After this the Pontus inflated at the first attempt. It's not a major investment of time but it's not going to endear these tyres to tubeless beginners.
The boxes included the tubeless valves (surely one of the most overpriced accessories in cycling) and a 2oz bottle of Stan's sealant for each tyre. I sloshed this around in the Stan's recommended manner and left them overnight, only to find the tyres had lost about 20lb pressure by the morning.
It seems that the supplied fluid wasn't enough to really secure the seal around the bead. Little wonder there wasn't much left over for puncture protection duties, which is how I discovered that the Pontus punctures like mad. I took these to Skye for a week's riding. Surely this would induce some rain? No chance – blue skies and temperatures in the 20s all week. It meant a lot of grit and dust on the single track roads and, the day after a 75-miler out-and-back over Ratagan Pass to Shiel Bridge, I found the front tyre completely flat.
A bucket of soapy water soon revealed the cause – a series of micro-punctures all the way around the central rain groove, which was studded with little flecks of grit. What of the '2 Armis' puncture proofing, then? Ere Research says there's 'an extra layer at the tread for added debris resistance'. Back to the drawing board, I'm afraid, chaps. Of course, if I'd added more sealant I might never have noticed the problem, but the sealant should be a last line of defence against punctures and not a panacea for poor penetration resistance.
After I'd topped up the sealant the front tyre stayed inflated, although as the summer wore on the rear tyre became prone to deflating and a soapy water test revealed the same series of little punctures around the water channel.
It's all a bit of a shame because I like the ride quality and the assured grip. The tyres are fast-rolling, too, with a satisfactory selection of Strava PRs popping up. On smooth, rolling roads the bike fair flew along.
Nice tyres to ride, not so fun to fit, and puncture protection is rather lacking
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Ere Research Pontus tubeless tyres
Size tested: 700c x 24
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?
Ere Research says, "Wet roads reduce traction and increase the risk of tire skid, especially in aggressive cornering situations. The Pontus tread is designed to force water away from the tire to road contact patch to provide optimal grip and confidence through rain and wet roads. All Pontus tires feature bead to bead Armis 2 flat protection to stave off road debris and avoid standing roadside in the rain.
"Especially in wet weather where traction is already compromised, quality tires can be the difference between finishing strong and not finishing at all. The Pontus features deep channels to move water aside and keep rolling through the storm."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Ere Research:
size weight tpi
700c x 24 255g 120
700c x 26 276g 120
Tubeless tires include 48mm valve and sealant.
Clincher tires include Tubus innertube and 40mm valve extender.
These tyres look well made, in pure manufacturing terms, though it's hard to separate the product's faults from its construction properties. The 120tpi casing is middling rather than highest quality. Seating and making airtight were both a problem – this can be down to irregularity in the bead, though I'm no engineer. If the "Aramis 2" puncture layer is meant to be a benchmark, it needs looking at.
In ride terms, I like the Pontus. Grip was assured across the whole tyre. I found them agreeably compliant (admittedly, my bike gives a very smooth ride anyway). It was the puncture proofing and general problems of keeping the air in the tyres that disappointed.
As I enlarge on in the review, the tyres suffered numerous punctures as small pieces of grit were picked up in the rain grooves and worked their way into the casing. As these are meant to be used with sealant, you might never notice, but sealant should be the last line of defence.
The tyres came up lighter than claimed by Pontus, at 457g for a pair of this 24mm tubeless; that's closer to the weight claimed for its clincher version. Add 50g for sealant.
I enjoyed the ride, even at 100psi, and at 90 they were very smooth.
Even with the sealant and valve included it's a dear do, and with the issues I experienced I can't score the Pontus highly for value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Grip was excellent in both wet and dry weather, though we found the same with the Ere Research Genus tyre, which shares the same compound but lacks the tread. They offered a good ride, but with the issues of seating, sealing and frequent penetration of the casing by grit, it was a disappointing experience overall.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good ride quality and excellent grip.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Troublesome to seat, puncture prone and expensive.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
A few quid more than Schwalbe's excellent G-One Speed microskin TL tyres, but they look quite cheap next to Zipp's Tangente Speeds.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
At £66.99 per tyre, even with the sealant and valve, this is top-end money. While the ride was good and the tyres grippy, those rain grooves picked up a lot of grit and that penetrated the supposed double aramid puncture layer, meaning it was the Stan's sealant that did the work, not the tyre.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking