Clement’s Donn Kellogg has spent a good part of his life around tires, and after relaunching the Clement brand and bringing cyclocrossers the PDX and LAS cyclocross clinchers in 2010, he’s been focused on expanding his tire line-up with both additional treads and tubular versions of his existing PDX and LAS cyclocross tires.
The result of his efforts? Two new treads – the USH for dirt roads and touring, and the MXP for mixed cyclocross conditions – and a tubeless, seamless cyclocross tubular casing. The new tubulars eschew the handmade construction of cyclocross tubular tires like Dugast, FMB, Challenge and Vittoria, and instead adopt a Tufo-like technology. But Kellogg promises a more supple casing than the Czech tire manufacturer, comparable to he handmade offerings. Clement also plans to release tubeless cyclocross clinchers in 2012.
Kellogg says that the new Clement PDX and the LAS cyclocross tubulars have been tested extensively by the likes of Ryan Trebon and Peter Webber, and their input and feedback make him confident that he’s created a tire similar in ride to the handmade tubulars. Thanks to their construction, they should also offer better flat protection since there isn’t a tube to pinch, and because the tires are fully sealant compatible (with either Clement’s sealant or Tufo’s). To the touch (or squeeze?), the casing does feel different than a Tufo Flexus tubular tire, and at first glance looks different too, with more visible fibers. Another benefit of Clement’s construction that Kellogg touts is the rubber-coated sidewalls, eliminating the need for Aquaseal or similar sidewall treatments – a process that he says is far more toxic than people realize.Because Clement tubular tires aren’t being hand made, Kellogg explains, the tread is completely straight (and will not peel away), and the tire’s base tape lies completely flat and is securely bonded to the tire, even after removing a glued tire from the rim.
Tubeless tubular tires are nothing new. Tufo has been making its tubeless cyclocross tires for almost 20 years now. Without relying on an innertube, the tire avoids the pinch flats which can still occur in traditional tubulars. Tubeless tubulars can also be pre-filled with sealant for flat protection. This makes the tire a convenient choice for training and racing, as the danger of flatting the tire far from home, or just before a race, is significantly lower. Repairs are easier too, since the tire doesn’t have to be unstitched to patch or replace a tube.
Kellogg expects to have the PDX and LAS tubular tires in a few weeks. At a projected 375 grams and $129.99 MSRP, the tires should be competitive with other brands’ offerings. Coming soon is a slick tread version of his cyclocross tubular, for road or cyclocross riders looking for volume and cushion on the road.Two other Clement tires are also in the works. The USH clincher, named after the Islas Malvinas airport at the southern end of Argentina, is a 35c tire that aims to empower bicycle explorers, with a smooth-rolling center tread and small, semi-slick like knobs on the shoulder. Kellogg believes the tire is a good choice for the growing segment of dirt gran fondosand dirt road races. Clement’s soon-to-be-released MXP cyclocross tire, named after the Milan airport code, gets its inspiration from the dry and fast courses featured in the World Cups that have been hosted in that city. The MXP tread, based on the drawings we saw, looks to provide cyclocrossers with a versatile, all-conditions tire. A quick look at the center tread and it’s clear that Kellogg was aiming squarely at the venerable Challenge Grifo and the Vittoria XG tires, but with more aggressive side knobs and a segmented, three-piece chevron. The three-knob chevron is designed to flex and hug the ground better than one big stiff knob. The knob height will be 2.5mm, the same as the PDX. [Update: See the production Clement MXP cyclocross tire from Interbike 2012]
Of course, while all these tire attributes sound good on paper, the main question is how do these new Clement tires ride? Stay tuned as we test the new tubulars and treads from Clement.