review

Vee Tire Trax CX

6
£23.99

VERDICT:

6
10
A versatile and fast tyre best suited for dry and gravelly conditions; run them tubeless if you can
Weight: 
420g

The Vee Tire Trax CX is a tubeless-ready cyclo-cross tyre that's a handy tread if you venture over a variety of terrains and conditions, but it's best behaved in hard-packed dirt and gravelly situations where it likes to be ridden fast.

Its tubeless-ready status means the sidewalls are thick and sturdy enough for the tyre to hold its shape off the wheel, which has its pluses and minuses. If you're running the tyre with a tube, that extra sidewall rigidity makes the Trax CX an unsupple tyre, and without running low pressures it's hard to get any feel through the tyre. This may or may not bother you, but at higher pressure the tyre can feel rigid, dull and lifeless with minimal feedback over rough terrain.

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The plus side is that you can actually run pretty low tube pressures without fear of pinch punctures, as those sidewalls are stout enough to resist thumps and bumps quite well. Doing this does give you a little more conversation through the tyre, but it still feels a bit divorced from the terrain, so if you like a lot of tyre feedback then you're probably looking away already. But those robust sidewalls mean the tyre will hold its shape well if run tubeless, and not go all sloppy at the lower pressures you can get away with using fluid rather than tubes.

That sturdy sidewall also elevates the weight of the Trax CX and at 420-ish grams (the tested pair were 420g and 426g) they're noticeably on the big-boned side. This pretty much puts these tyres in the general mucking about bit-of-everything cyclo-cross category rather than lining up to race if you're a bit serious, but that's okay because they're pretty good at that.

As well as this 700 x 33 cyclo-cross size, the Trax CX is also available in 700 x 40, and 650B x 2.10 for more gravel-bikey and further reaching demands.

The tread on the Trax CX is Dual Compound, which means the body of the tread is made of a firm rubber while the outer is a softer and stickier compound. For you technical types that's a hardness of 56 A in the centre and a lower 48 A on the sides, which supposedly allows the tyres to maintain a fast rolling resistance with excellent cornering capabilities. It's this firmer body to the tread that also helps towards the slightly rigid feeling, but you do get a longer lasting tyre. Swings and roundabouts.

On tarmac, hardpacked off-road and gravelly stuff, the Trax CX roll well and are pleasingly fast. The pairing of rectangular-ish blocks down the middle of the tyre forms a pretty solid line, keeping things sprightly on the road and nippy as you like on firm dirt. Compared to the thick fat lugs down the centre, the tread to the sides looks rather sparse. Small diamonds of rubber line the hips of the tyre and pyramids of tread offer grip to the very edges, and all of these are linked together with a surface web of rubber to offer a little bit of stability to the tread.

> Buyer's Guide: Gravel and adventure bikes

The tread on the sides isn't that much to rely on really; it's okay in the dry, but as soon as the dirt gets greasy or there's a fairy whisper of dew on the grass, then sideways and off-camber grip becomes limited and you're counting on the width of those big central lugs for lateral traction, which isn't ideal.

When it comes to mud, the Trax performs less well – as you might imagine just by looking at the tread – although it shouldn't be written off entirely. If it's the tacky plasticine stuff then it does okay; it grips and clears well enough. But if the mud gets any deeper or more fluid then those large and flat central knobs get into trouble pretty quickly, fail to dig in and are unable to find any kind of useful grip. If you're riding on the slick mud that's layered over harder earth then you're in for a fun and Bambi-On-Ice time, where the tyre will disappear from underneath you in less than a heartbeat.

But that's pushing them beyond their designed intentions just to see what happens. If you ride your CX bike on a mix of drier terrains, and prefer gravel-riding, bridleway-bashing or general playing about to racing on your drop-barred off-road bike, then the Trax CX is a sturdy and versatile tyre.

Verdict

A versatile and fast tyre best suited for dry and gravelly conditions; run them tubeless if you can

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Vee Tire Trax CX

Size tested: 700 x 33

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?

Vee says: "This tire is ideal for a mixture of conditions but excels in hard-packed dirt and gravelly conditions. The T-CX uses a smaller version of the well-loved twin block tread pattern which forms a consistent rolling feel while offering a lot of working edges for high levels of traction. The central side-by-side tread blocks are siped, and between those and the angled squared intermediate knobs are three lower V treads. The intermediate and edge treads are connected with small tie-bars to ensure the transition to the edges under hard cornering is a smooth, predictable and enjoyable experience."

I'd go along with that, they're best suited to hard-packed and gravelly paths – and you'll soon find out when it's too muddy for them.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Cyclocross & Gravel Tyre

Tubeless Ready

Dual Control Compound

TPI 120 TPI

Weight 400g

Folding Bead

Recommended Pressure 22.5-50 PSI

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Well made if sturdy tyre, resisting the wear and tear of general mucking about off-road riding well.

Rate the product for performance:
 
7/10

For what it's designed for, it's a good tyre, but can become a handful in standard issue CX mud.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

Wearing very well.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
4/10

A bit on the dense side.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
4/10

Unless run tubeless it's not a supple tyre.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Very good price that.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The Trax CX does best in hard-packed dirt and gravelly conditions, which is pretty much what it's meant for, so that's ok. It can cope with a certain amount of mud too, depending on the viscosity.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Fast in dry and gravelly terrain, tubeless ready. Nice price.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

A little hefty, a bit dead feeling when run with tubes.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes. For mucking about riding for the sunnier half of the year they're pretty good fun.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

The Trax CX isn't going to win any prizes, either on the CX race course or off. It's a heavy tyre and the sturdy sidewalls make it feel dull and unresponsive if run with tubes; for a nippier and more receptive tyre you're going to have to spend more on something lighter and more supple. But it's a reasonable price, tubeless ready, and a fast and robust tyre for drier and more manmade surfaces.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 180cm  Weight: 73kg

I usually ride: It varies as to the season.  My best bike is: The one I'm on at the time

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo-cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, fun

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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