Saturday, September 12, 2009
Grand Bois Cypres - Initial Impressions
To start, let's get this straight: My "handle" on the internets is just a play on words. I know it's not French. That's the point. Sort of like Mr. Sheldon Brown's "Derailer." You know what else isn't French? Grand Bois tires. They're from Japan and that's fine and good.
What also is kinda' a stretch of truthiness is the whole allusion to being a randonneur. 50 miles is about where I top a good ride out at. 30 is better. 70 can be done, but usually not very much enjoyment in it.
And did I mention that I'm pretty slow?
One of the things I am pretty good at is riding on trails on inappropriate bikes. Fire roads, double-track, Jeep-track, whatever you want to call it. I can mostly pick a good line and climb through the rutted stuff, and keep the front end from washing out on the downhills. Whenever I go for a ride, there is usually some dirt involved with it, and I love it.
Most of the time I ride Panaracer Paselas, either 32mm or more common now, 35mm. I also have a lot of miles on Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy tires. They're 28mm wide, last a long time, and are fairly puncture resistant. I've had problems with their tread cracking.
OK, so now you know where I'm coming from and my biases. Here's my quick-impression review of the 30mm wide Grand Bois Cypres: THEY'RE GREAT! Really, these tires just feel perfect. Nice and soft/supple, but plenty fast. Yes, that is anecdotal fast. They just seem that way and you can't tell me otherwise. Blissfully quiet, hardly any vibration transmitted, and they just roll, roll, roll down the street. That's kinda' the opposite of Ruffy Tuffies which have always felt kind of inert, and the Paselas are somewhere in the middle. Remember, this is anecdotal, just my impression of them.
So how 'bout their propensity that you've heard of to self-destruct due to a butterfly flapping it's wings in the Amazon? I purposely rode them on a fairly rutted, rocky-in-places and full-of- tumble-weed (no goat heads though) singletrack section to to find out how they would hold up.
If they couldn't handle that, what's the point, right? The verdict: see above (they're great!). They hold a line on the downhills, even on the center crown of rutted double track. Maintained traction on the few sections of technical climbing I did. Flew through the hard pack, whether uphill, downhill or level.
And they have that Ninja-silence to them on the asphalt. That has to translate into more efficiency over time. I won't turn that down in a product, but it wasn't the point in getting these tires. I wanted the fattest tire I could get that would fit my frame. 30mm actual is about it. The Cypres fit the bill and I'm quite happy with them right out of the gate. Remember, this was the first ride, and I haven't been out to the garage to see if I have any slow leaks from it. I'm hoping for the best, and hope these turn out to last a long time as I have to get my money out of them!