Thursday, 16 April 2015

REVIEW: Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre

Front tyre showing bald centre line
REVIEW: Schwalbe Durano Plus tyre, 700x23c Road, folding
This review is a 'whole life time test,' not what you normally get from Bike Radar et al. I noticed lots of confusion and gallows humour on forums about the acceptable life of a tyre. Unlike cars, there is no legal minimum with bike tyres. On one forum, the first advice was: keep going until you can see the inner tubes. Someone replied: if you're fifty miles from home at that moment, good luck!
Here's my experience.
I fitted these Durano Pluses on my commute/winter Enigma in December, 2013. They have lasted 8,500 kms. I hasten to add that they could have done more, at least a bit more. Let's say 10,000kms - maybe. But I decided to call it a day. Here's why. (1) I noticed that a new 'centre line' had become visible when it had never been before, a sign that the main tread is almost gone through. Don't be fooled by the crosses down the side - that's not where all the work is being done. Secondly, both tyres, but especially the rear, had 'squared off'. I commute all over London with heavy Ortlieb's, every day, and have also used the bike for long distances in all weathers over two winters. The rear tyre took an absolute battering. London is an incredibly abrasive environment, as these photos show. But hey: not one single puncture throughout the test, which is a remarkable testimony to how tough the Pluses are.
The final photo shows you what keeps the glass and flints at bay, the blue latex layer that lies beneath. I did that on the final day, when I knew I'd change them over to new ones. I locked up on Highgate Hill and held the tyre in one position for a thirty metre skid.

Why Change? I could have carried on. But these comparatively slow tyres had gone 'slack'. Without panniers, on a 125km ride last week, the back tyre in particular felt draggy and 'flat', no doubt a result of the squaring off. It felt baggy. Had I been on a world tour, I might have just kept plodding along, but I enjoy my riding. There are limits between parsimony and pragmatism.

These are the best tyres I have ever used for industrial, non-sporting use. In 700x23 guise they weighed 300g, 40g LESS than the claimed weight of 340g. When I demounted them, the rear weighed 250g, the front 270g, the amount of lost rubber! OK, they are rubbery feeling, compared to the beautiful feel you get from a Conti 4 Seasons or Durano S. But it means you can commute fast, with laden panniers, and not worry. I'd also add, perhaps above all else, that the wet weather grip is far, far better than you'd imagine. I once mounted a Marathon Plus. Now that's a wired tyre, and will go 20,000kms, but the penalty in wet conditions and rolling resistance is a stiff one. Woe betide you if you corner on a wet drain cover. That's not the case with the Durano Plus. It grips far beyond what you'd expect from a 'hard' compound. As the Velominarti chaps point out in The Rules, a motorbike tyre for racing will last one race. If you get anywhere near 10k kms out of a bike tyre, count yourself lucky. For race tyres (sub-200g), I reckon on one season maximum, which might only be 2-3000kms.

Pock marks no object but show how abrasive it is

More of the same: front tyre

Profile significantly squared off, rear tyre

The latex under the skin. The tyre could have gone on.

Richard Lofthouse

Richard Lofthouse