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Eurobike 2012: Schwalbe launch Ultremo ZX tubeless tyres

The return of the road tubeless tyre. Is this their year?

German tyre company Schwalbe used Eurobike to to launch their Ultremo ZX road tubeless tyre - giving those road riders who want to go tubeless a greater choice; currently it's either Hutchinson, Kenda, or Maxiss. Ironically while we've seen a fair few new tubeless road rims - Schwalbe's Ultremo is the only new tyre.

Based on their top-end race tyre the Ultremo, the road tubeless version is claimed by the company to be the fastest tyre they've ever made. They've been three years in development as “it was technically quite challenging to produce a high-pressure tubeless racing bike tyre,” Christian Lademann, Schwalbe’s Product Manager tells us.

With the new tyre Schwalbe is confident they've overcome the high pressure and ease of fitment concerns with a new carbon bead. Fitting tubeless tyres can be a right pain, but Schwalbe reckon their design solves the problem.

The issue with tubeless road tyre development, Schwalbe tell us, has been designing a tyre that sits firmly on the rim with the high pressure a road tyre has to be run at. The tyre has to be absolutely air tight at these high pressures yet the tyre must be easy to fit, which places limits on how thick the bead core can be. Their solution is the use of carbon fibres in the bead core to give the tensile strength to avoid the tyre coming away from the rim.

Fitting solved, the next step involved vulcanising the tyre and tube to form one complete component, with additional reinforcing all round to increase puncture protection. This design, claims Schwalbe, leads to the low rolling resistance that makes the tyre faster than their lightweight Ultremo ZLX (which weighs 160g). The road tubeless version weighs 290g, which while sounding heavy you have to take into account there's no inner tube.

And with the inner tube vulcanised inside the tyre, there is no chance of sudden blow-outs. Instead air leaks very slowly when a puncture does occur which has obvious benefits when descending very fast and heat buildup is a concern.

If you're not sure of tubeless tyres and their suitability for racing, the company has been testing the new Ultremo with Fabian Cancellara Tirreno-Adriatico tour and some of the Radioshack Nissan Trek team. As such we could now start seeing a lot more tubeless tyres and wheels being offered and is perhaps one of the most exciting developments in tyre technology for a long time.

Tubeless road tyres have been around for a couple of years but so far only Hutchinson have been championing their benefits of reduced punctures and ride quality. Tubeless advocates claim they're faster than clinchers and as fast as tubulars even (they're far easier to mount than tubs as well). You can also run lower pressures so boosting ride comfort without the chance of puncturing, as there's no inner tube.

Availability is slated for September, so…er, now then.

David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

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CanAmSteve | 9 years ago

I've had Hutchinson's for a couple of years. They are a godsend in the winter where I live - roads full of flints. Not perfect but much better than road tubed tyres. My other option is heavy armoured tyres.

Schwlabe says “it was technically quite challenging to produce a high-pressure tubeless racing bike tyre,”. I bet - they claimed to have one (in fact, I recall that's what it was called) a couple of years ago but I could never buy it. Then at this year's Excel show they had one pair of this new Ultremo. One. Pair. Maybe not quite ready for prime time yet? Not sure why Schwalbe is in this game - seems more a Conti or Michelin priority.

And can I complain again about manufacturers using the same name (Ultremo, Intensive) for tyres that are both tubed and tubeless? I've even had bike shops send the wrong item because they have almost the same ID and packaging.

My Trek came with "tubeless ready" wheels. What that means is "almost ready for tubeless, you just have to find these special rim strips which only we sell and order them and then install them and the valves and then, THEN you are tubeless ready"). Ready my *rse.

Stefan M | 11 years ago

Just got my new tubeless Stans Alpha 340 rims with Hutchinson Fusion 3 tyres last week and I love the setup. Only had a couple of rides so far but no leaks and no punctures... though difficult to tell as they would seal up anyway! Running at 90psi and the extra comfort is noticable. It was a bit tricky getting the tyres seated on the rims with a track pump but not impossible, though I have now ordered a CO2 inflator. Great to see a wider choice of tyres available. If you're after some new wheels and fancy a change I'd recommend giving tubeless a go.

Roastie | 11 years ago

I love tubeless on the XC bike - nice to see a proper high end road tubeless tyre - can't wait to try these out.

Tony Farrelly | 11 years ago

Good point tomascjenkins - I'll add it to the list (should have remembered that when I added the others to David's story.

lushmiester | 11 years ago

Seem to be slowly gaining traction (sorry for the pun) Trek appear to be gently pushing tubeless as well. Their Bontrager rage carries tubeless tires (I do not know who manufactures them) and converter kits. The last time I spoke to continental there seemed to be no plans but Schwalbe have been on about this release for a bit.

ratherbeintobago replied to lushmiester | 11 years ago

IIRC both the Bontrager & Specialized tubeless road tyres are made by Hutchinson.


step-hent | 11 years ago

Yep, true about Maxxis, but it's so expensive (even compared with the quite pricey tubeless tires) its almost not worth including in the list!

tomascjenkins | 11 years ago

Maxxis do a tubeless road tyre called Padrone

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