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The IRC Formula Pro Tubeless X-Guard tyre is a high-performance model with the added benefit of impressive puncture protection. The tyres behave well on the road with great grip levels while also having a supple feel to them, though they can be a tight fit on modern rim widths.
As you no doubt can tell by their full name, the Formula Pros are tubeless, which will keep you rolling should the puncture fairy visit, but fitting them was a bit of a mixed bag as they come up quite narrow for a 25mm.
On a pair of rim brake Token DHuezz Zeniths with an 18mm internal rim width, they went on okay, just a bit of thumb work required. Anything above 19mm, though, rim-wise, and you might have a bit of a struggle on your hands. Over time they have stretched a bit, so at the end of testing I switched them onto another rim and, while still tight, they went on with less effort.
Once the sealant was inside, the IRCs pumped up quickly and sealed well, dropping just a bit of air overnight. Then, after a good ride to get all of the sealant into every nook and cranny, they required little more than a weekly top-up, much the same as with inner tubes.
This version of the Formula Pro tyre is fitted with IRC's X-Guard puncture protection: two layers of 40 TPI (threads per inch) ballistic nylon. IRC says that the X-Guard tyres have as much as 40 per cent more cut-resistance than conventional tyres. While I can't clarify that exactly, they certainly seem to be robust. Hacking around on the debris-strewn back lanes post-storm I have had no issues with punctures or damage to the tyre itself other than the odd scuff here and there.
Often, adding a puncture protection layer of this level to a tyre can deaden the feel a bit, but the IRCs still feel supple like a high-performance tyre. Great if you want to keep your summer tyre feel through into the winter months without having to worry too much about being caught at the side of the road with a flat.
Grip levels are impressive too. They aren't quite as tacky to the touch of some of the grippiest summer tyres, but the compound does a good job of keeping hold of the tarmac, in both the wet and dry.
The suppleness in the construction gives good levels of feedback, too, which helps you carry speed through the bends.
Priced at £55, they are at the upper end of the range while still being competitive.
The Goodyear Vector 4Seasons offer winter protection while still having the feel of a performance race tyre, and they have an rrp of £52.
Michelin's Power Road Tubeless offers great rolling resistance and grip levels, although the puncture protection might not be as impressive as that found on the IRCs, and the Michelins are also more expensive at £59.99.
Overall, the IRC Formula Pro Tubeless X-Guards are a great option for year-round performance riding without sacrifices.
Fast-rolling, grippy tyre whose performance is unaffected by the impressive levels of puncture protection
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road.cc test report
Make and model: IRC Formula Pro X-Guard TL tubeless tyre
Size tested: 700x25
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?
IRC says, "With an extra-wide tread and a new puncture-resistant belt, the Formula Pro Tubeless X-Guard is the toughest tire in the Formula Pro line. The X-Guard Belt++ covers the tire sidewall from bead to bead with a 40x40 TPI anti-puncture protection barrier.
"Unlike other puncture-resistant tires, the X-Guard sacrifices nothing when it comes to riding in dry and wet conditions. If road hazards are a concern, this is the tire for you."
It's a fast rolling tyre that has the durability for year round use.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From IRC distributor The Cycle Clinic's website:
Introducing the new IRC Formula Pro X Guard TL tyre. By covering the entire surface of the tire with a 40x40tpi mesh puncture-resistant guard, we have achieved amazing puncture-resistant performance. By adding a new RBCC to the strongest road tubeless tire that is also strong against side cuts, we achieved a dramatic improvement in grip from the previous work.
New RBCC installed in all FORMULA PRO series products
The RBCC, which has gained tremendous support for its firm grip in cornering and wet conditions, has been installed in all products in this series. While maintaining rolling resistance, grip, abrasion resistance, and significant weather resistance have been improved. The new tyre allows a wider setting range of air pressure due to improved grip.
Redesigned tread with a pattern that emphasizes controllability
Adopted tread & pattern to enhance controllability
Continuing from the previous work, which was renewed from the slick, this time the center has adopted the Sugime pattern. The behavior near the limit, such as the start of tire slippage, is easier to understand and the controllable character is strengthened. In addition, rolling resistance was reduced by adding four grooves in the circumferential direction.
Compatible with disc brakes and wide rims
The tubeless tyre, which has a structure in which the tire bead is pressed against the rim from the inside with air to retain air, is characterized by high safety due to the high degree of adhesion between the rim and the tire, but with the new FORMULA PRO series, the key is Further strengthening around the bead. We have succeeded in further improving safety so that it can withstand the stronger force applied by the disc brakes and pothole impacts. In accordance with the tubeless rim standards reviewed in 2019, it is also compatible with wide rims.
25mm tyre is 300g, 28mm tyre is 340g and 30mm tyre is 370g.
80psi is the suggested max pressure. IRC state a max pressure of the sidewalls which half the max pressure at which blow off occurs in tests. I.e 90 to 115 psi means blow occurs at 180 to 230 psi. Hense my max suggested pressure. You dont need higher.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Fast rolling and can cope with the debris found on winter roads.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A great balance between performance and durability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A struggle to fit when new on some rims.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are at the upper end of the marketplace, but are reasonably competitive against the likes of the Michelin and Goodyear offerings mentioned in the review.
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
They can be a little tricky to fit initially, but once in place their performance and grip levels are very good indeed.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!