If you’re after a lightweight clincher that really zings along the road, Schwalbe's Ultremo does the business – it’s been one of our favourite race tyres for a while now.
Our R.1 pair (that’s R for race, by the way) hit the road.cc scales at just 188g apiece – slightly higher than the manufacturer’s claimed 180g, but still extremely light. As the weight suggests, there isn’t a whole lot of material used here – the nylon carcass is fairly fine (127 TPI) and the smooth tread isn’t that deep at all. Schwalbe use their High Density Guard in these, which is a densely woven puncture protection belt, but in our experience these tyres don’t offer the best defence against flats – like a lot of skinny race tyres.
In terms of durability, the Ultremo is never going to be up there with a deeply treaded tyre but it does okay considering its lack of weight. The surface can cut up on gritty and gravelly roads so we wouldn’t fit them for everyday use but you’ll get enough miles out of them if used selectively for racing/sportives.
The Ultremo really performs when it comes to grip, though. If you think the ultra-smooth surface is going to slip all over the place as soon as the road gets wet, think again – that’s a myth. This tyre is surprisingly sure-footed in a whole variety of conditions. We used a set of Ultremos in the Bristol Belter sportive, for example, when it rained pretty much start to finish, and we felt confident enough to attack even the fastest, bendiest descents full on. They’re very impressive on that front, allowing you to push things just a bit more than normal.
Schwalbe reckon the grip is partly down to nano-sized polymer base and fillers in their Triple Nano Compound. Whereas the particles in previous compounds were 200 nanometers in size, they’re now 10 nanometers. Make sense? Basically, smaller particles make for a higher surface area in contact with the road and improved grip. The road.cc microscope isn’t quite powerful enough to tell, but what we do know for sure is that these tyres are good for keeping you rubber-side down even when road conditions are sketchy.
On top of that, the best thing about the Ultremo is its speed. This is a really fast tyre. It’s light, for a start, and that most definitely helps. Plus, that Triple Nano Compound reduces the internal friction within the rubber, lowering the rolling resistance. That’s what Schwalbe tell us anyway. They also say that the flexible fabric coating reduces rolling resistance by a further 10%.
We don’t know how much difference this technology makes, if truth be told, but these are certainly fast. You just know when you’ve got some quick tyres on… and these sail along. Combined with that grip we mentioned before, this is the reason why we keep coming back to the Ultremos for race day.
The Ultremo R.1 comes with a foldable Kevlar bead, it’s available in a variety of colours, and you can pump it up to 145psi. It is available in 25 and 28C widths too and the price is okay for a good quality clincher. Schwalbe also do an Aqua version specifically intended for use – you guessed it – in the wet, and a DD model which comes with a SnakeSkin fabric to provide protection against cuts.
We also hear that Schwalbe are increasing the amount of material used in each tyre for 2011, upping the weight slightly to 195g apiece, which should improve longevity.
Not the most durable clinchers out there, but grippy and very, very fast
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Schwalbe Ultremo R.1 folding tyre
Size tested: Black
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, "Created using new construction principles and with new high tech materials. Rolling resistance and weight have been radically reduced! Improve your personal best by a factor of R."
Essentially, it's a lightweight road tyre that's at its best for racing and/or sportives.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, I have done in the past
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, I use these all the time for races and sportives
About the tester
Age: 39 Height: 190cm Weight: 74kg
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, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.