The Atom Comp X-Light tyre from French manufacturer Hutchinson is a clincher that's designed for racing and other duties where speed is more important than puncture protection. It's light, fast, and (for a tyre of this type) reasonably priced too.
For most cyclists, tyre choice is based on a number factors, including weight and puncture protection, along with durability and rolling resistance, plus of course colour. Generally speaking, lighter tyres help you go faster, but tend to be less resistant to thorns and other road debris. Conversely, puncture-resistant tyres tend to be heavy. The Hutchinson Atom Comp X-Light is firmly in the first camp: extreme light weight but precious little ability to ward off flats.
The tyre itself carries a picture of a feather beside the lettering on the sidewall, and the feather also appears on the packaging. And just in case the message isn't clear, the packaging also carries these words: 'High performance, lightweight, low puncture resistance' and another picture, this time a broken wine glass plus an exclamation mark warning triangle.
So this is a tyre for timetrialists or trithletes, riding on nice clean roads. It ain't for commuters.
The Atom's advertised weight is 160g and was only three grams more than this on the road.cc scales. Compare this to the 200-300g bracket where most clinchers fall. Run these tyres with lightweight inner tubes and you are definitely in tubular territory as far as weight goes.
Note that these Atom Comp X-Lights are clincher tyres, not to be confused with Hutchinson's similarly named tubeless tyres – which in turn are different to tubulars.
When it comes to ride quality, a pair of these Atom Comp X-Light tyres, fitted to my best wheels, with Mavic Open Pro rims, seemed to help me get my bike up to speed quickly and easily. Grip was good on the corners, and the overall 'feel' was responsive. For the record, I had the tyres pumped up to 110psi back, 105psi front, as recommended by the Hutchinson website. (I weigh about 70kg.)
The Atom Comp X-Lights are not the most supple tyres I've ever ridden, but they're pretty comfortable, and totally fine for racing on good roads. With 127 tpi (threads per inch) these tyres come – not surprisingly – about half-way along the scale between other tyres on other bikes: the Bontrager All Weather Hard Cases (60tpi) on my winter bike and the Vittoria Open Corsa Evos (320 tpi) on my sportive bike.
This is a folding tyre, and fitting was very straightforward. Easy to get on and off the rims.
Retail price for the Atom Comp X-Lights is £47, although you can get them for nearer £40 at the usual on-line stores. This puts them towards the upper end of the price band when compared against similar tyres such as the Schwalbe Ultremo ZLX (160g, 127 tpi), Continental GP Supersonic (150g, 330 tpi), Vittoria Diamante (195g, 220 tpi) or Michelin Pro 4 Comp (165g, 150 tpi) that all retail for around £30 to £40, making the Hutchinson Atom Comp X-Lights fair value, but not a bargain.
Very light tyre designed for speed, so no puncture protection. Fast, comfortable and fair value.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Hutchinson Atom Comp X-Light tyre
Size tested: n/a
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?
This is a clincher (tube-type) tyre designed for racing. The Hutchinson website says this about it: "Atom X-Light is the lightest tyre on the market weighing in at just 160g ... Atom X-Light favours performance, sudden spurts and a lightweight effect over durability and puncture resistance, with no loss of grip. The tread is fitted with optimised rubber to improve performance. Its 127 TPI casing and its ultra-light weight make this an exceptionally high-performance tyre."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The website goes on to say: "This Tubetype tyre is designed for competition. Atom X-Light is more fragile than other tyres in the range, given its lightness and low resistance to onward motion. When speed is more important than anything else, this is the tyre for you."
Construction seems very good. There is no sign of manufacturing faults or blemishes.
Performance is very good. This is a light tyre. A pair fitted to my bike seems to help me get up to speed quickly and easily. Grip was good, and the overall 'feel' was responsive.
Too early to say for sure - I've only done about 150 miles on these tyres so far - but durability is unlikely to be good. Mainly because the manufacturers emphasise the "lightweight effect over durability and puncture resistance".
If you're looking for a very light clincher tyre, at 165g this is about as light as you can get. Paired with a very light inner tube you're looking at around 240g for the lot.
Comfort is very good, certainly good enough the racing.
Similar tyres are a bit cheaper, making the Hutchinson Atom Comp X-Lights fair value but not a bargain.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The main purpose of this tyre is to be light and fast - and on that basis its performance is very good indeed.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Light. Fast. Comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Puncture protection is limited (in that there's no extra kevlar strip or similar), but this is made clear by the manufacturer, and a fair pay-off if low weight is your priority.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Only for summer time trialling.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes - on the same proviso: only for summer time trialling.
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Overall, these tyres achieve their main aim - to be light and fast - and on that basis they score a 9. The price is a bit on the high side though, meaning one point docked, giving an overall score of 8.
About the tester
Age: 51 Height: 5ft 10 / 178cm Weight: 11 stone / 70kg
I usually ride: an old Marin Alp, or an old steel classic My best bike is: an old Giant Cadex (can you see a theme here?)
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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,