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Freedom ThickSlick urban tyres are 700c slick rubber and part of WTB's wider foray into the urban cycling market. Claimed to be the most durable tyres of their kind, mid section 25 and 28mm profiles lend themselves handsomely to winter training, Audax and weekend touring thanks to phenomenal puncture resistance, relatively low drag and excellent manners. Comfort's not bad either, although their sportier sibling, the ThickSlick Sport, shaves 80g a set and roll marginally quicker without any noticeable loss in durability.
Heavier casings, reckoned to have twice the density of comparable rubber are impregnated with crushed Kevlar strips while a second, 'dura layer' safeguards the sidewalls from splits, tears and impact damage-helpful since they've an operating pressure range between eighty and 110psi. Reflectives obviously aren't cool, neither are dynamo tracks, which might deter traditionalists but didn't deter me from having a go with a dynamo. Slippage hasn't been an issue with a mid range bottle unit and bold white lettering seems to catch driver attention better than amber or plain black walls when passing junctions and other danger zones. Some folk are a bit snotty when it comes to wire beads but ours breezed aboard mid and deep sections without tools and without hydraulic thumbs. Better still, there's no danger of mounting them the wrong way.
Their absence of tread gives the ThickSlick and recipient machines a really sleek, round profile that appears wider than their sections suggest. Initial impressions were of a tenacious, yet dependable tyre, biting deep into the asphalt yet with nominal drag and this seems consistent despite subtle pressure tweaks. However, ride quality was distinctly harsher over dimpled surfaces common to B roads, but having tested the ThickSlick Sport (review coming soon) I'm convinced this is down to the belt and braces Kevlar banding.
Put the hammer down and they'll certainly deliver, whether sprinting for the lights, turning sharply to avoid opening car doors, pot-holes, errant pedestrians or cruising at 90 odd rpm through the urban/suburban nightscape. Shards of broken indicator lenses, beer bottles, tacks and other generic litter haven't so much as cajoled a nick in the casings and even five miles of fresh, thorny hedge clippings' couldn't rain on our parade... Talk of the devil, carving into wet descents inspired confidence and they'd go as low as you're cranks will allow without turning bandit. This wasn't the case over wet manhole covers/ similar ironworks though and one in particular peppered with diesel induced a heart in mouth shimmy and visions of Jean Claud Stablinski reading my last rites. Mercifully me and the ThickSlicks held it together but I continued with a larger spoonful of caution.
Ultra dependable, yet sprightly rubber for most types of road riding.
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Make and model: Freedom ThickSlick Urban Tyre
Size tested: Black - 700 x 25c
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?
"Twice the protection of a standard rubber casing tire. The ThickSlick is designed to withstand the harshest urban elements. Throw in versions with Urban Armor Casing and DuraStrip and the ThickSlick competes with the strongest urban tires in the market". No quibble here
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2x's the Puncture Protection of a standard rubber casing
Urban, Commuter, 700 x 25c, 700 x 28c. Crushed Kevlar belt, dura layer armoured sidewalls, wire beads.
A little hefty at 490g each but built to be ultra durable and tough. Bombproof? Not sure how they'd get on if you did actually explode a bomb next to one, but I am sure they would do considerably better than most other tyres
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Probably the most dependable narrow section road rubber I've used in years, the Urban rolls quickly and handle well enough for training and light touring too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ultra dependable, sprightly and generally well mannered.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's a slight weight penalty and a little extra caution's called for over wet manhole covers/similar iron works but these are very, very minor points.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 37 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)