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review

Rene Herse Umtanum Ridge 650b tyre

9
£82.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Fat, supple tyre for all manner of off-road use, and fast and quiet on-road – expensive, though
Supple
Grippy
Quiet
Fast
Various casing options
Very expensive
Narrower than claimed
Weight: 
580g

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The René Herse Umtanum Ridge 650b tyres are a ridiculously fast yet grippy upgrade to any bike that can fit them in. They're quiet, supple and very confidence inspiring. The (apparently randomly) smaller than advertised width and high price are negatives, but the performance is outstanding and goes a long way to offset that.

Full disclosure – I'm rather partial to a René Herse (previously known as Compass) tyre. I've previously tested the slick 35mm 700c Bon Jon Pass Extralight, the knobby 38mm 700c Steilacoom, the slick 38mm 700c Barlow Pass, and most recently the awesome 55mm, 700c Fleecer Ridge knobby. In my opinion, they're all fabulous.

> Buy these online here

But it's not just me. Three years back Stu liked the 48mm 650b Juniper Ridge enough to give it 8/10, saying 'Grip isn't as high as a full slick but it isn't far off, and with so much feedback coming through, you certainly know when you've reached the crossover point to loss of traction.'

That Juniper Ridge used an old tread design – the latest one is 'noise cancelling,' where the knobs don't quite line up with each other, and I found both the Fleecer and Umtanum Ridges very, very quiet for a knobby tyre.

Really the difference between the Fleecer and the Umtanum is the size – 700c versus 650b here. That translates into less weight in the same standard casing; 580g compared to 664g in the 700c. Obviously with smaller rims you're saving even more weight (roughly 100g per wheel for Hunt's 650b alloy wheels over the 700c versions). So going from 700c to 650b with this combo here saves around 370g; not a huge amount, but not nothing if you're counting the grams.

Width

The Umtanum Ridges come up small, though, measuring 52mm on a wide 25mm rim. René Herse advertise them at 57mm on a 23mm rim, so to have lost 5mm on a 2mm-wider rim is quite a thing. That's at my go-to 25psi, and even going up to a ridiculous 40psi only takes them to 53mm.

Rene Herse Umtanum Ridge 2022 width.jpg

We asked Jan Heine – founder of René Herse Tyres and all-round fat tyre evangelist – about it. Heine says that due to the nature of hand-made tyres using natural rubber, the size can vary batch to batch, but they err on the side of smaller as larger could mean tyres rubbing. Perhaps that explanation and a width range, rather than an exact number, would be better for the official spec list.

On a pair of Mason X Hunt Adventure Sport Alloy wheels (25mm internal width) the Umtanum's beads popped on easy enough with fingers and seated first time with a compressor – no extra tape needed. As ever, your faff may vary. Using Orange Seal standard they sealed quickly too, and I had no issues with weeping sidewalls or losing any more air than a tubed tyre would.

Rene Herse Umtanum Ridge 2022 on bike.jpg

On road the rolling is every bit as good as the Fleecer Ridge – you forget it's a knobbly and enjoy the isolation from small bumps and surface cracks. With the uniform tread across the tyre, as you lean into corners there's no transition point from slick to shoulder knobs, as you get with centre slick/shoulder knob designs. They roll far quieter than a knobbly tyre should too, and at 25psi I found the comfort sublime and the grip diving into corners god-like.

Rene Herse Umtanum Ridge 2022 tread.jpg

On the few occasions the laws of physics decreed some slippage, it was in a predictable and recoverable manner.

> 29 of the best gravel bike tyres for 2021 – get the right go-anywhere rubber

I suspect the main reason people will be looking at the Umtanum Ridge is to maximise tyre volume for the lowest possible pressures given their frame/fork clearances. If big 700c knoblies work out too big, going to a 650b wheel and maxing out the tyre size is a well-proven path. Anna Marie covered the ins and outs of 650b versus 700c in her guide to how to choose.

Value

In my mind, the Umtanum Ridges only have one competitor: other Rene Herse knobbly tyres. And as the prices are aligned, it's not that they are better or worse – you just pick the casing you need and the size that fits your bike.

Outside my mind, however, there are other options that cost much less. Our tester found the £55, 50mm Maxxis Rambler 'fantastic', for instance, saying it 'rolls well, grips well' and 'gives big confidence downhill.' The widest 650b version is a bit narrower at 47mm, but it's lighter too at a claimed 510g.

The IRC Boken Plus also did really well a while back, scoring 9/10, and at 590g in its 47mm guise it's only 10g heavier than the Umtanum Ridge. Like most gravel tyres, The Boken is solidly in the £50-£60 range at £55.

Overall

The Umtanum Ridge isn't a better or worse tyre than the Fleecer Ridge – it's the same tyre, just in a different size and range of casings. If you're after a wide tyre for the worst gravel conditions imaginable, one that still rolls stupidly fast and quiet on hard surfaces, the Umtanum Ridge should be high on your list.

Verdict

Fat, supple tyre for all manner of off-road use, and fast and quiet on-road – expensive, though

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Rene Herse Umtanum Ridge 650B Tyre

Size tested: 650B

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?

René Herse says: "The ultimate 650B bikepacking tire is designed for rides where you don't know what lies ahead. The Umtanum Ridge's large and widely spaced knobs grip tenaciously when conditions get tough. On pavement, it rolls and corners like a slick thanks to its large and strategically placed knobs that don't squirm and always put the same amount of rubber on the road. The Umtanum Ridge features our noise cancellation technology: The staggered tread blocks create overlapping noise frequencies that partially cancel each other. This means that on most surfaces, the Umtanum Ridge doesn't just roll as fast as a slick – it's also as quiet as a slick."

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

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)

Standard casing

Supple casing

Tan sidewalls

580 g

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

No cuts or obvioius wear after a few months riding.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
10/10
Rate the product for value:
 
4/10

It's a ton of cash for a tyre.

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

Like all other RH tyres. Fabulously.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Speed. I like rolling fast.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

They're smaller than advertised.

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

They're very expensive – the majority of gravel tyres sit in the £50-£60 range.

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

These are a ridiculously fast yet grippy upgrade to any bike that can fit them in. They're quiet, supple and very confidence inspiring. The (apparently randomly) smaller than advertised width and high price are negatives, but the performance is outstanding and goes a long way to offset that.

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

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