With big tire companies entering the bike market I’ve been curious to see if they could really add anything to what has been available. The question to me, has not been whether they might add a size no one else was doing, but whether they might be able to give us a worthwhile variation on stuff we think we know well enough.
Lately, I’ve been doing some rides on the Goodyear Eagle All-Season tire. The one I’ve been riding has been the 32mm width because of last weekend’s Grasshopper. There were some significant potholes and not all of them were easy to see due to standing water. And due to the number of people I saw roadside fixing flats, I had ample information confirming that there were plenty of sources for flats.
Back in the late 1980s, I rode 32mm tires on my Specialized Expedition for several years. It was about the narrowest tire I could run on the Super Champion rims. And I rode them pumped up to 100 psi, sometimes more. I note this because with a tire rolling on a quality casing, if you’ve overinflated a tire you will feel a bounce, a slight reverberation through the tire, letting you know there’s too much pressure. Of course, on a lesser tire rolling on a lesser casing, that feeling gets buried in the tire’s lack of compliance. There ends up being little difference in feel between 100 psi and 120 psi.
The Goodyear All-Season comes in four widths: 25mm, 28mm, 30mm and 32mm. The 25 and 28 are both measured on rims with an inner width of 19mm, while the 30 and 32 are measured on rims that are 21mm wide. Weight ranges from 300 grams for the 25 to 377g for the 32 and my 32 was bang on the money. And speaking of money, they all go for $70.
The 30 and 32 can be pumped up to a range of between 50 and 80 psi. I’ve been running the front at exactly 50 psi while the rear has been more like 54 psi.
Here’s the amazing part: when I hit bumps or concrete seams, the tire bounces just enough that I can’t help bu wonder if I should be pumping it up to a lower pressure. To me, the message is that this is a surprisingly supple casing, despite all the company has included. The tire includes Goodyear’s Dynamic:Silica4 compound, which they say offers both low rolling resistance while maintaining excellent grip in wet conditions. On that point, I can agree.
There’s a section of descent off of Sweetwater Springs Road where the switchbacks come in quick succession and because the road is steep, I’m hard on the brakes into and through the turn, then back off before getting on them hard again at the next switchback. Water ran down the entirety of the road, mostly because it was raining. Conditions like these are why I really do love disc brakes. I’d been on the same road the week before and while I got down it fine with rim calipers, I have greater confidence with discs. But here’s the thing: confidence only lasts as long as traction does. I never once broke the rear tire free with too much braking, which honestly surprises me.
The tires have some directional siping as well as a very faint herringbone on the shoulders. Those features may have helped direct water away from the slick tread, but I’m betting that the supple casing and the grippy compound did all the heavy lifting.
I shot these photos following the ‘Hopper because I wanted to show the tires after a full day of nasty roads, a muddy climb and no kinder treatment than a post-race hose.
Also, I’ve never had a tubeless tire this narrow set up so easily. I added two ounces of Finish Line sealant (which has proven to be a bit fussy) to each tire and have yet to pump them up a second time.
The bottom of Willow Creek Road, for which I have an unnatural love, had enough standing water to hide potholes. I rode carefully, but still managed to center-punch some asphalt lips that would have gashed a lesser tire. One such tire was being held aloft by a disappointed rider to my right just as I hit one of those potholes. I sailed through.
Final thought: If I were looking for a road tire to run on a gravel bike, I’d get these, STAT.