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review

Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge tyres

9
£89.00

VERDICT:

9
10
State-of-the-art fast, grippy, quiet and tough tyres for bikepacking over pretty much anything
Stupendous grip
Great cushioning
Quiet
Tough
Supple
Fast
Huge price
Weight: 
664g

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The Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge tyre, in this Endurance casing, redefines how to go fast and far off-road without compromising grip or feel. With a noise-cancelling knob design that works extremely well and a shoulderless cornering feel, it's like riding a slick on tarmac – it's that good. You're paying absolutely top whack for it, though, and it may not fit your frame.

Anyone into the gravel scene will know René Herse (pronounced reNAY AIRS) tyres. Ultra-endurance riders such as Lael Wilcox have been totting up huge miles on epic rides spanning continents. This Fleecer Ridge tyre came from a collaboration with Wilcox, in fact, aimed at winning the 2,750-mile Tour Divide.

> Buy these online here

As such, it's a strong, light, grippy and comfortable tyre that rolls fast on or off-road. It's offered in four casings (Standard, Endurance, Endurance Plus and Extralight), and the Endurance tested here is – for me in the Scottish Highlands – the Goldilocks version. It offers a higher thread count (and a puncture-protection strip) than the Extralight for better protection, but keeps the super-supple feel.

The Endurance Plus is for super-nasty environments, while the Standard and Extralight casings are designed for smoother trails and finer gravel. You get one choice of colour – the Dark Tan looks very natty, and the sidewalls stay clean.

2020 Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge tyre on bike.jpg

At 55mm (2.2in) it's the size of many cross-country mountain bike tyres, and in 700C that means many litres of low-pressure air suspending you from the trail surface. The maximum pressure of the Fleecer Ridge is 55psi, but you don't need anywhere near that for optimum performance.

The 665g per tyre might seem hefty if you're from a road background, but the weight disappears once up to speed, when the huge volume translates to rapid progress, reduced fatigue and supreme comfort.

Big and clever

There's no escaping the fact that this is big rubber, and few gravel frames will be able to accommodate it with room left for mud, let alone mudguards. They size up at 55.7mm on 23mm internal width rims. My Sonder Camino alloy frame takes them with a few millimetres spare (there's lots of room in the fork, as is usually the case nowadays).

2020 Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge tyre mounted.jpg

Setup is straightforward, and the Fleecer Ridges went on my Hunt carbon rims without tyre levers: 4oz of Orange Seal Endurance and 220PSI in the Birzman Pump Up Tubeless Tyre Pump saw them in place and sealed first time.

Two years back I reviewed the Compass Steilacoom, the knobbly that rewrote the fast-grippy-comfortable rulebook. The Fleecer Ridge sets fire to that book. It's the undisputed new king. It's that good.

It’s oh so quiet

It's actually hard to believe such a large, knobbly tyre can be so quiet and smooth on tarmac. Honestly, I've ridden noisier slicks. The knobs are offset so none is aligned with the leading edge of another, and the company's patent claims this design is noise cancelling. Whatever the reason, the Fleecer Ridge is very quiet.

As with the Steilacoom, the tread is designed so there's no feeling of a transition as the tyre rolls onto the shoulder in corners, and the result is confidence-inspiring both on and off road.

The Fleecer Ridge impresses over some very chunky gravel. Test sectors that require significant braking on 38mm Steilacooms were blasted in the smallest cog with hands off the levers, such was the confidence inspired.

Safe to say the tyre's capability far exceeds my own middle-aged willingness to discover the edge of my personal competence envelope. The ability to change lines mid-corner whilst transitioning between gravel, silt, mossy grass and mud can lead to a sense of control possibly at odds with the laws of physics.

Get on up

It's impressive uphill, too. The climb from Aberfeldy to the summit of Beinn Eagagach includes a long, loose, fist-size-rocks stretch near the top. The 20 per cent-plus gradient sees you constantly shifting back and forth to create drive grip and effective steering, yet at 25psi the Fleecer Ridge is like riding a Velcro strip.

On flatter or more rolling terrain, though, they're... still great. On one very pedally route where long stretches can be spent in top (if you have legs for it) I managed not just a PB but a Strava KOM, beating a Celtman Extreme Triathlon athlete by 46 seconds. This is testament, frankly, to the unfair-advantage nature of the Fleecer Ridge.

Strava stats are not the be-all and end-all, but what they do offer is empirical proof of speed, while the audible proof of quietness, the physical proof of reduced jarring, and the mental evidence of confidence further add up to on-bike happiness that is rare indeed.

Sit down for this bit

What price happiness? It's £89. Per wheel. That makes the Endurance-cased Fleecer Ridge one of the most expensive tyres on the market, period. To be clear, it's named after the toughest climb on the Tour Divide route, not what it does to your wallet...

WTB's 50mm Venture comes close to matching the Fleecer Ridge for width, and is less than half the price, though it's not a true knobbly. Schwalbe's 700C G-One Ultrabite maxes out at 50mm, and weighs pretty much the same – and is half the price at £42 – but Jamie found the Ultrabite rather heavy and slow-rolling, and it can't match the René Herse for suppleness.

> 26 of the best gravel bike tyres — get the right go-anywhere rubber

More recently, Matt rated the 50mm Maxxis Rambler as exceptional. What’s my logic in matching that rating for a tyre of similar width and weight but nearly twice the price? Well, I haven't ridden the Rambler, but looking at the tread pattern – close to slick spaced knobs in the centre – I’d be very surprised if the grip and feel matched the Fleecer Ridge.

Where a tyre needs close-spaced knobs to roll fast and has wider-spaced shoulder knobs for grip, my experience – and I’ve ridden many tyres of this design – is that it's a compromise both on the road and off: you either run out of grip while upright in soft stuff, or hit the squirmy knobs going fast into tarmac corners.

At the £50 price point the Rambler is possibly as good as it gets, but if you can stretch your budget to the Fleecer Ridge, you will, I believe, receive a very different experience.

So you're paying a premium of around £100 a pair over the logical competition. If you're into far and fast bikepacking, and happy to spend the money on the very best, the René Herse Fleecer Ridge Endurance offers speed, grip, comfort and quietness. Pick four, and enjoy.

Verdict

State-of-the-art fast, grippy, quiet and tough tyres for bikepacking over pretty much anything

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: René Herse Fleecer Ridge tyres

Size tested: 700C x 55mm

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?

It's focused on fast and far bikepacking off-road. René Herse says:

"The ultimate tire for bikepacking and gravel adventures! Developed together with bikepacking legend Lael Wilcox, the Fleecer Ridge measures 29'x 2.2'(or 700C x 55 mm), making it a perfect fit for bikepacking bikes."

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

All models feature:

Clincher, folding bead

Tubeless-compatible

Maximum pressure with tubes: 55 psi (3.8 bar)

Maximum recommended pressure – tubeless: 55 psi (3.8 bar)

Actual width on 21 mm rim (internal): approx. 56 mm

Actual width on 23 mm rim (internal): approx. 57 mm

Extralight casing: +1 mm width

Tubeless: +0.5 mm width

Recommended rim: 17 - 40 mm (inner width; hookless: +1 mm)

Endurance casing

Our Extralight casing in a denser, stronger weave

Protective belt under sidewalls and tread

Ideal for rough gravel and tough conditions

Dark tan sidewalls

665 g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Usual René Herse high quality.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

These tyres make you a better rider...

Rate the product for durability:
 
10/10

I've battered them up and down some exceptionally rough surfaces, and they look like new.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

Not the lightest, but for enhanced protection while retaining suppleness, well worth it.

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

So soft and supple, major surface irregularities just get soaked up.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Expensive, but you definitely get what you pay for.

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

Fabulous, far exceeds my capability to outride their specs.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The noise – it's so quiet.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Nothing.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Very expensive. It's twice the price of many competing tyres.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

Really the only negative is the price, though their equally high performance goes a long way to justify it. That's it. Everything else is awesome.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 183cm  Weight: 77kg

I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe  My best bike is: Nah bro that's it

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L

Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.

Add new comment

20 comments

Avatar
Skibum007 | 3 years ago
0 likes

I rode this tire for the first time yesterday on a 28 mile ride in the Texas countryside with 1,500' of climbing and a mix of pavement, rough gravel, smooth gravel, light sand and dirt. The tire performed extremely well. It was a very comfortable ride. The tire climbs like a mountain goat and handled the gravelly fast downhills quite nicely and confidently. Whatever surface I was on the tires felt stable and secure. I would say this tire lives up to the claims by Rene Herse!!! I am a very happy rider!

Avatar
wtjs replied to Skibum007 | 3 years ago
1 like

I rode this tire for the first time yesterday on a 28 mile ride in the Texas countryside

It appears we are being subjected to an organised advertising campaign disguised as legitimate comment.

Avatar
KiwiMike replied to wtjs | 3 years ago
1 like

Got proof? So someone's first post agreed with the review. Hardly the Watergate tapes, is it. 

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Skibum007 replied to KiwiMike | 2 years ago
0 likes

After 2 months I am even more in love with these Fleecer Ridge tires. I have been on wet choppy grass on top of the bayous here in Houston, bombing up steep dirt embankments and sandy trails and these tires have been fabulous! They have yet to slip on me like the Sparwood tires that came with my Cutthroat, even in the thick and wet bayou grass!!

 

Avatar
Biscuitfrisky | 3 years ago
0 likes

As a previous owner of Rene tyres i can say they are the most exspensive tyres based on cost to use, the tyres get ripped to pieces very quickly so don't expect that high price equals longevity, plus tubeless you will likely get a couple of rides out of them before they can only be used with tubes due to the sidewalls being made out of tissuepaper.

Avatar
KiwiMike replied to Biscuitfrisky | 3 years ago
2 likes

Current owner of several sets of RH tyres here. I've had *one* sidewall cut in probably 5,000 miles of riding over very rough terrain. That cut would have killed any tyre. And I just patched it on the inside with a normal Rema Tip-Top patch and glue, it's now done probalby a year / 2,000 miles with no issues. 

I don't know what sealant you're using, or which sidewall you are talking about, but they've all sealed fine using their recommended Orange seal - with the exception of one set of extralights, which were a defect batch that RH repleaced without quibble. 

Anecdata eh? Where would the bottom half of the internet be without it...

Avatar
JF69 replied to KiwiMike | 3 years ago
0 likes

Which casing did you go for in the RH tyres please?
Eg: Standard, Endurance, Extralight?

Where I live "gravel" also means hard, rocky terrain; in fact other cyclists use fill-susers while I used a PX Tempest with 43mm Rock N Road tyres.
(I'm also curious how the RH tyres compre to the Rock N Roads, hence my question).

TIA

Avatar
Skibum007 replied to JF69 | 2 years ago
0 likes

I have the endurance casing. They have been bullet proof and really live up to the hype!

 

Avatar
mike the bike | 3 years ago
1 like

Noise cancelling knob design is nothing new.  I clearly remember, as a young man, leaning back against the headboard with the obligatory cigarette and thinking, "Well, that certainly stopped her talking."

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Dingaling replied to mike the bike | 3 years ago
2 likes

Hopefully cost less than $90 back then.

Avatar
adski71 | 3 years ago
2 likes

I had been wanting to try Rene Herse tyre's for a couple of years to see what all the fuss was about and if they really did live up to all the hype as nothing rarely does. Eventually I bit the bullet and bought a set of the slicks in 44mm width (Snoqualamie Pass). I can honestly say they ride unlike anything else I have ever ridden! The suppleness of these tyres leave you feeling like you're riding on a carpet of velvet and with a noticeable increase in speed. This sensation does dissipate the more you ride them and get used to how they feel though. Rarely does a product exceed my expectations but these tyres have for me! I now view them as good value for the performance they give and I am about to buy the knobby in 42mm or 47mm for winter!

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MattieKempy | 3 years ago
1 like

Fleecer would appear to be a singularly apt name for this tyre since, if you pay 90 bucks for it, you're clearly being fleeced!

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KiwiMike replied to MattieKempy | 3 years ago
2 likes

'Clearly'?

So you've ridden it, and can with authority compare and contrast with a tyre delivering the same performance at a significantly lower price? Genuinely interested, in case I've missed something in the review. 
 

Cheers, Mike

Avatar
Matt Page replied to KiwiMike | 3 years ago
0 likes
KiwiMike wrote:

'Clearly'?

So you've ridden it, and can with authority compare and contrast with a tyre delivering the same performance at a significantly lower price? Genuinely interested, in case I've missed something in the review. 
 

Cheers, Mike

Making judgement on a tyre you've never ridden. Who would do such a thing?

Avatar
KiwiMike replied to Matt Page | 3 years ago
0 likes

Not me. Hence saying so, agreeing that for the price the Rambler is most likely indeed a great tyre for the money, and that in my experience that tread design is an inherent compromise the Fleecer Ridge doesn't need to make, because it has tech and materials that means it doesn't have to. It clearly is apples with oranges, so claims that either tyre has more or less 'value' ***in respect of the other*** are rather pointless. It's in the eye of the beholder, but that's something some commenters won't allow because it doesn't fit their world view of exactly what a tyre should cost. Getting a bit philosophical for a Friday evening now. Cheers everyone! 

Avatar
Andrew Burrows | 3 years ago
0 likes

At this kind of tyre width, I figure, lots of people, myself included, would be looking at running a 650B wheel. Any idea how this tyre compares to Rene Herse's 650B offerings?

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fukawitribe replied to Andrew Burrows | 3 years ago
0 likes

The Juniper Ridge is the closest in 650b I think, Jan reckons that comes up a pretty tru-ish 50mm on most rims. For most folk i'd have thought that a slightly narrower 700c tyre or a 650b as you say, (often constrained by the frameset) but if you really need this sort of width you might also fancy a bit more roll-over; looks ideal for Tour Divide and similar, which is what it was developed for afterall.

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pavlo replied to fukawitribe | 3 years ago
1 like

I run the Juniper ridge, they come up slightly narrow at 46mm on my Mavic 24mm internal width hookless rims. They are however fantastic to ride on and so if I had the frame clearance to run some of these fleecers I would consider paying the very high price for them.

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Rapha Nadal | 3 years ago
0 likes

Srikes me as just being a bigger Steilacoom?

Avatar
jobro replied to Rapha Nadal | 3 years ago
2 likes
Rapha Nadal wrote:

Srikes me as just being a bigger Steilacoom?

Well of course thats excactly what it is! Look at the range, same tread and build as they extend the width of the tyre and the various names.

I currently ride Steilacooms on one bike and Fleecers on another. After getting on for a years worth of riding I would say the test review summary is about right. Just stay away from the ultralight casing if you go anywhere near pointy stuff!

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