For many years, Dugast tubular cyclocross tires have been the gold standard in the sport. They were long-coveted for their suppleness as well as world championship pedigree.
Yet for U.S. cyclocross racers, the Dutch cotton casing tires might as well have been made from unobtanium for much of the last three decades. While most of us had access to just Tufo and Vittoria tubular options in local shops and mail order catalogs, the best in the world hoarded their stash of Dugast. It was their competitive advantage.
For a few years, CyclocrossWorld imported Dugast tubulars, but that didn’t last. Now, the recently-retired cyclocross legend, Jonathan Page, is pumping new air into the heralded tire brand as the U.S. importer in the form of Dugast USA.
Suddenly in the U.S., it’s easy to ride the same tires as Marianne Vos, Wout van Aert, Toon Aerts and Mathieu van der Poel. In fact, you can even ride the exclusive prototype mud tires that Sven Nys and Van Aert were spotted riding on a few seasons ago.
We just landed a set of the Ernst prototype mud tires for testing, and while we wait for the glue to dry, we’re profiling the new aggressive tread that’s now available to consumers.
Page says the Ernst cyclocross tubular is made for sloppy conditions. The 3mm tall knobs and open pattern are designed for maximum grip and mud shedding. Sure, Dugast already has the Rhino mud tread, but its knobs are closer together for lower rolling resistance, making it a pretty versatile tire. The tradeoff is that the Rhino’s tighter spacing and hooked knobs aren’t as optimized for mud shedding as the Ernst.
The new Ernst cyclocross tubular is a downsized version of the Ernst mountain bike tubular, and uses the exact same rubber tread mold as the mountain version, only with the side knobs shaved off.
The tall knobs make for a durable tread that should last many seasons, but as one would expect, also add a few grams. Our test tires weighed 425g and 430g each, putting them in the same ballpark as other aggressive mud treads like the Challenge Limus.
Look closely and you’ll notice the knobs have “scoops” both on their sides and on the leading or trailing edge. Dugast does not print an arrow for the recommended direction, but Page assures us that the scoops should point forward (when viewing the top of the tire from above). This maximizes driving traction out back. But out front? Nys and Pauwels ran it with the scoops on the leading edge. Plus, with the tall, squared-off edge on the trailing side, it’s not like you’re making a big sacrifice in terms of braking traction.
We’re just getting started testing the new Dugast Ernst tread, and hope Mother Nature cooperates with some epic mud. However, we’ve long said in dry, very loose conditions, mud treads do well in terms of biting through to harder surfaces. We’ll be sure to put them to the test if that’s all we’ve got.
Find the Ernst looks too knobby for your needs? While we weren’t looking, Dugast built up its selection to a total of six cyclocross treads for any condition—more than any other cyclocross tubular manufacturer. Most models come in two casing options and often two different color options.
Study the sidewall of a Dugast tire and you might think the company went a bit overboard with its use of emojis. However, most of the small graphics have some significance. On our test tire below, the airplane designates the Flying Doctor casing, designed for better cornering, while the multi-pointed dot near the width indicates the sidewalls have been sealed with neoprene.
As for the bike graphic? That’s a simple reminder to put world championship-worthy tires to good use and go ride. We’re going to do just that.
Dugast Ernst Cyclocross Mud Tubular Specs:
MSRP: $115 Cotton, $125 flying Doctor
Knob Height: 3mm
Rim Size: 700c
Weight: 427g (average)
Casing/Color Options: Cotton: Tan, Black; Flying Doctor: Tan