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Deep section carbon fibre wheels have spurred something of a renaissance in tubular tyres; these Schwalbe Ultremo TT tyres only appeared in the German tyre company's catalogue a couple of years ago.
Like most tubulars, the Ultremo TTs are expensive compared to clinchers, and they're fiddly to fit and fix. On the flip side, carbon wheels for tubulars are cheaper, lighter and easier to make than carbon or carbon/aluminium clincher rims, which need a hook to hold the bead. So you could save money on your time trial wheels and tyres overall by choosing tubs.
What about saving time? Tubular fans will tell you that tubs are faster. Traditionally, they always were. Clinchers have been getting faster and faster, however, and I've yet to test any tyre that rolls noticeably better than a Continental GP Supersonic clincher with a latex innertube, weighing under 150g by itself and under 200g with the tube.
That's not to say such tyres don't exist. But I've been unimpressed by entry-level-to-mid-range tubulars that come with butyl innertubes sewn inside. More hassle than the best clinchers - and less speed.
You can get tubulars with latex tubes inside too, like these Ultremos (and, to be fair, plenty of others). A lighter, more elastic tube complements the supple casings that the best rolling tyres have, as a result of their finer-threaded carcass (i.e. a high threads-per-inch or TPI count).
Such high-TPI, latex-innered tubulars feel faster and smoother than even the best clinchers. I guess the sides of the tyre aren't partly boxed in by the rim like a clincher, so just as a clincher tyre with lighter, more pliable sidewalls rolls better than a clincher with stiff sidewalls, so a tubular ought to roll better than a clincher.
I'm not going to settle the 'which is fastest - tub or clincher' debate in one review. I will say that these Ultremo TT tyres, like other good tubs, are up there with the fastest clinchers. In fact, I've achieved faster times on them than I have even on Conti Supersonics.
In comparison with other tubs, these are noticeably quicker than the Continental Podiums and Tufo S3 Lites that I've been using more recently. They're the same weight and feel as Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tyres. Like them, they have a 300+ TPI casing, and like them they have a fine file pattern tread and different rubber compounds across the tyre, with softer grippier rubber on the shoulders.
Unlike the Vittorias, they don't come with a puncture resistant belt. They seem durable enough without; I've yet to puncture, even after riding over tiny fragments of glass to a start recently. Grip is excellent, dry or wet. On a night when a fellow racer fishtailed his back wheel on a greasy roundabout, I didn't have any problems.
Having PB'd on these tyres, I like them a lot. Over £70 quid is a lot for a tyre but changing your tyres is still one of the most cost effective upgrades you can make. Whether you upgrade to these Ultremo TT tyres or to even lighter tubs, such as Veloflex Record or Vittoria Crono Evo CS, will likely depend on where you want to compromise between speed, reliability and grip. These slightly heavier Ultremos, like the Vittoria Corsas, do everything well. As an average club rider, racing in any weather on sporadically maintained roads, that's good enough for me. Those in with a shout for the prize money may well want the efficiency gains of lighter tubular yet, at least for 'Sunday best'.
There's just one size available: 22mm. Valves are 40mm, so you'll probably want extenders.
Supple, grippy, not too fragile, and fast. A great all-conditions TT tyre
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Make and model: Schwalbe Ultremo TT
Size tested: 22-622
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?
Schwalbe say: 'Timetrial, Track, Triathlon? What does TT stand for. You decide! This version of our handmade tubular is even faster. No protection belt. With RaceStar Triple Compound and a latex tube, it is out and out "Race Ready".'
I say: TT stands for time trial, obviously.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
300tpi polyester casing, RaceStar Triple Compound rubber, latex tube
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I PB'd while riding these tyres.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Does everything well enough.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Like any tubs, they have to be glued or taped on. Hassle.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes - but online
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
All tyres are a compromise. These ones are a good compromise, in those things that matter to time triallists.
Age: 42 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Ridgeback Solo World fixed wheel My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track (with front brake)
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,