by Jamie Mack

Cyclocross tires are expected to perform under extreme conditions, but a tire that’s tested on an ice rink is going to the next level. Dugast recently tested a limited edition prototype under the wheels of Sven Nys on an ice rink in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. According to Matt Pachoca of BikeRadar.com, Nys took the tires to over 40kph on the pure ice and performed a series of turns and braking maneuvers most wouldn’t attempt on such a surface.

The tread design is the same as the Dugast Rhino, but that’s not the most striking feature. The tire, named Diavolo, features a metal spike in each of the knobs along the sidewalls of the tire. The spikes provided an obvious benefit in increasing traction and improving handling of the bike on slick surfaces. Added grip also allows the rider to apply significantly more power on ice and snow as the spikes bite into the terrain.

Nys demonstrated the grip on the ice rink (see the above video), needing close to 1,000 watts to break the tire loose, according to BikeRadar. The spikes are held in place by a system developed by Dugast owner Richard Nieuwhuis and a Dutch nail manufacturer that was designed to give the studs a bit of movement in their positions on the tire, and this movement, which is less than a millimeter, is important according to Nieuwhuis, because it moves the spikes away from the UCI definition of a stud, Bike Radar reports.  Nieuwhuis believes the movement of the spikes puts the tires in a gray area in respect to UCI regulations, an area that Dugast hoped to ride through on the way to a World Championship with it’s new tire. Rather than risk the disqualification of a rider in such an important event, the tires were presented to the UCI, which promptly banned the tire.

According to UCI rules, “Wheels of the bicycle may vary in diameter between 70 cm maximum and 55 cm minimum, including the tyre. For the cyclo-cross bicycle the width of the tyre shall not exceed 35 mm and it may not incorporate any form of a spike or stud.”

Reading the rule, it’s obvious that Dugast was taking a risk in developing a tire that rode a fine line between competition and violation. But that’s in-line with Dugast’s history of developing tires that pushed the boundaries of current design and technology. The Diavolo should not be considered an exception to the rule, but a continuation of Dugast’s legacy of working to bring the most cutting edge tires to market.

Dugast has a history of developing event- and venue-specific tires that goes back to Richard Groenendaal riding a pair of Dugast casings with Michelin Mud green treads adhered to them. The tradition of experimentation has resulted in more than one-off tires, adding to the legend of Dugast. The Flying Doctor tread, one of Dugast’s regular designs today, began as an experiment for a recent World’s in France.

Dugast certainly took a gamble with providing this tire to riders in Tabor, and it’s doubtful anyone would be surprised by the reaction, given the UCI’s history. But the UCI decision begs the question, if these tires were banned because they provide additional benefits in traction and handling, what was the logic behind spreading sand on the course in Tabor? And if the tires were banned because of the danger of the spikes in a crash, how many riders would they have kept from hitting the ground in the first place?