Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Product Review - 27X1&1/4" Continental Ultra Sport Tires

I had been running 27X1&1/4” Continental Sport 1000 tires on my roadster-style bike for years. I loved them! They were durable and comfortable, and they seemed to roll nicely. So, I was quite sad when a sharp piece of metal debris got caught between my chainstay and my tire and shredded the sidewall. I looked and looked for a replacement Sport 1000, but I could not find one. This model has been discontinued, and I could not find an "New Old Stock" (NOS) replacement anywhere.

I decided to try another 27X1&1/4” Continental tire, the Ultra Sport. I ordered a pair and mounted them. They looked nice, and I was excited about testing them out with a load of groceries in the front basket and my son in his child seat on back. Unfortunately, the beauty of these tires is only skin deep.

I have been riding on the Ultra Sports for a couple weeks now, and I do not like them at all. The rubber on the tread is very sticky. I hear the constant "tink, tink, tink" of road debris getting tossed up against my steel fender with the Ultra Sports that I did not hear with my old Sport 1000s, which just rolled over such debris without grabbing it and flipping it up. I am very concerned that the Ultra Sports will grab something sharp and hold onto it until it punctures the tire. Many of the reviews I have read say these are very flat-prone tires, and I do not doubt it. For now, I am glad that I mounted Mr. Tuffy tire liners inside these tires. They should afford me some protection against the inevitable tire puncture.

The Ultra Sports are also very narrow. I checked mine with calipers, and they measured out at 1.13” (28.7mm) wide at their widest point when mounted on Velocity Synergy rims. They are 1.05”(26.7mm) high as measured from the top of the rim’s side wall to the top of the tire. I have already bottomed them out a few times while riding over uneven concrete sections with my son in the child seat and the tires inflated to 80 psi. Fortunately, I have not experienced any pinch flats, but it is just a matter of time before I do.

I'm going to keep riding the Ultra Sports for a while to see if the rubber loses some of its tackiness. I will run them at higher pressures and hope for the best, but if I had it to do all over again, I would not have bought them in the first place. On the other hand, I love my 700CX32mm Panaracer Pasela TG tires, so I would not hesitate to recommend those in their 27" form. Also, I am looking forward to mounting my cheapo 27X1&3/8" Kenda K40 tires on another bike. These look A LOT like the old “Specialized Commuter” tires used to look, and I think they will work well on bicycles used primarily for utilitarian cycling. I'll let you know how those work out.

27X1&1/4” Continental Ultra Sport Overall Grade: D+


Brian Park said...

This is a terrible review. Sorry, but its true. Tackiness of a tire can be a good thing, and nothing says ridiculous like a Mr. Tuffy strip.

I've never used Conti Ultra Sports, but seriously, you don't like the tires because they're tacky? You'll appreciate that tackiness once you don't have it.

That being said, if you want decent puncture-resistance with good grip, try Schwalbe Marathons. They come in a 27 x 1 1/4" and definitely aren't "tacky".

Forbes Black said...

Okay, Brian, what is it you do not like about Mr. Tuffies? I have been using them for decades, and I find that they are a very effective way of preventing flats. I am not at all concerned about wheel weight on the bicycle in question.

Brian Park said...

I see a lot of Tuffies on flats that come into the shop where the Tuffy strip has actually worn a hole in the tube where the strip overlaps. On top of that they're a pain to install and are unreasonably heavy (even on an already unreasonably heavy Dutch bike).

Forbes Black said...

I worked in bike shops for many years, and I have many thousands of miles on my own bikes running Mr. Tuffies, and never saw a Tuffy wear a hole in a tube. I wonder what caused that to happen when you saw it?

If you lay a tire on the floor and roll the Tuffy into it, then hold it in place with a tube that has a few PSI pumped into it, everything gets held together very nicely when you install the tire on the rim. It is really a snap once you get the hang of it.

As to the weight... I don't run Tuffies on my "gofast" bike, but I do run them on all my other bikes, and I really don't notice much of a difference, weight-wise. Having built up a few heavy roadsters in my day, I just have to giggle when you say that the weight would be significant on a Dutch bike. The weight of the tires on those bikes is probably 10X the weight of the Toughie.

But, to each his own. I know lots of serious riders who run Tuffies, and I remember being a racer who sneered at them. I'm glad I got over that phase, though. They have made my life much more enjoyable for a few decades now.

Brian Park said...

Hmmm, I've definitely seen 4 or 5 flats where there was a hole rubbed right where the tuffy strip overlapped. And I know how to install them, they're just a pain in the ass.

As for heavy Dutch bikes, I worked for a company that imported them into Canada, and MOST of them didn't need anything like a tuffy because they came with good, puncture-resistant tires in the first place.

Weight isn't a huge thing for me or anything, but given the choice between a Tuffy and a shitty tire, or some Marathon Supremes, I'll take the latter.

I still think that giving a tire a bad review because of their tackiness is pretty silly.

Forbes Black said...

There can be a difference between "grippy" and "tacky." I'm not too concerned about leaning deep into corners on this bike - I'm not going for maximum adhesion. But, even if I were, I would not accept the way these tires pick up road debris and hold onto it. I compare them to my Pasela TGs on my Wanta. The Paselas seem to grip really well, but they don't grab every little bit of debris on the road and hold onto it long enough to throw everything up into my fender.

The Ultra Sports remind me a bit of my racing slicks that I use on my Datsun for track days. They are GREAT on the track. I love 'em. But, the one day I drove them on the road for ~30 miles, I picked up a wood screw and put a hole in one of them. As I wrote, I've read lots of on-line reviews in which people complain about these tires picking up debris that causes punctures. If I am being silly here, at least I have plenty of company.

Anyway, thank you for your input. I hope that you continue to keep me honest in my future reviews.



rl said...

Excellent - I'd have to agree with both BP and FB as I've had the Conti UltraSports (700Cx28)on 2 of my roadbikes for a couple years now. I used to run Tuffies in my commuter because, yes, these tires do seem to pick up debris and get punctures... but after a while I started getting leaks at the spot where the Tuffy overlaps. I tried taping the Tuffy, using some heat to smooth the transition area even more all without too much success. So now I am waiting 'til I get my Surly LHT with 26" wheels, and I'll slap some Schwalbes on it! (Still use the Contis on my go-fast bike, sans Tuffies).

Hal said...

I'm coming very late to the party, but I love the Pasela TG (27x1-1/8) tires I have on my old touring bike. I've taken them on roads, paths and trails, and they roll smoothly with good cushion and traction. Highly recommended.