Tire Review: Clement LAS Cyclocross Clinchers
Racing and Riding Impressions: Clement made its return to tires and cyclocross in 2010 with the new PDX and LAS cyclocross clinchers. PDX, of course, is the airport code for Portland, and LAS the code for Las Vegas. As one might guess, the LAS is designed for gamblers, and the PDX is designed for bike commuters. But if you also ride dry, power-sucking thick grass carpets at CrossVegas, or slippery mudfests in the Cross Crusade series, these two tires might also meet your needs. We’ve given the LAS cyclocross tire months of testing after our initial Issue 10 review, and here’s our updated impressions.
From our tests, Clement did two important things right with both of its cyclocross clinchers: it gave them a generous, close-to-listed width and a competitive weight. The LAS offers a diamond semi-slick tread, but this tread is different than the average semi-slick with small knobs. The LAS implements varied knob heights, the shortest being in the middle and increasing in height towards the edges, effectively reducing rolling resistance with the smaller knobs positioned right where most of the rider’s weight sits, where traction is highest, and larger knobs further from the center, where a stronger bite is required, especially in turns. Really railing your turns, or manage to ride with ultra-low pressure? The LAS has aggressive side knobs it shares with the PDX tire, and these knobs provide good bite, keeping you upright in the corners and engaging for traction when conditions get sloppy and your tires sinks in the muck.
Clement acknowledges the smaller knobs will wear faster, but says that’s a compromise that comes with a design that’s race-specific and optimized for top performance, not training durability. Although our initial tires were marked 700x32c, newer tires are listed at 700x33c. Clement has also added a white option for the LAS tire.
Initial impressions indicate the LAS offers competitive performance for a semi-slick — its tread performance is on par with other semi-slicks, but the generous volume adds an element of comfort and speed over narrower options on hardpack and bumpy terrain. It’s a top choice for tacky dirt, dry grass, or dry but not loose hardpack conditions. Find yourself in a really sandy course? They may just be the ticket, as the higher-than-average volume will give you some extra floatation.
With the lower weight and high volume, the LAS has a lot going for it. Although our initial tubeless tests on converted rims weren’t reliable, we’ve had great, initial success using these tires tubeless with sealant on Stan’s Iron Cross rims, but the tires seem to stretch quickly and have not proved reliable long-term as tubeless tires (which they were not designed to be anyway).
The LAS tubular is expected to be released later this year, and from the rumors we’ve heard, should boast some unique features for a cyclocross tubular. Stay tuned to Cyclocross Magazine as we give an early pair a test.
Width (listed / measured): 33mm / 32mm
Weight (listed / measured): 350g / 322g
Knob height: 0.5-2.0mm
Tubeless Compatibility: Excellent on Stan’s 29er rims. (See more tubeless tire options in our Going Tubeless for Cyclocross series)