Saturday, September 12, 2009

Grand Bois Cypres - Initial Impressions

upside down
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.
linear line lined up in a line
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!

13 comments:

Christopher Johnson said...

Thanks for the review. My rides are extremely similar (road bikes on roads and trails). I'm using 650B CDVs now but am considering the Hetre. I'm looking forward to your follow-up report.

What pressure were you using so far?

cyclotourist said...

Great, glad it was helpful. Really hoping these work out as they "seem" great. The bike + me total weight is about 200lbs/91Klg. I had the rear @ 80psi and front @ 65.

FWIW, I rode a lot w/ CdlVs when I had a Bleriot and loved them. I punctured a lot due to goatheads though. I wish Panaracer would make a 35mm Pasela Tourguard in 650B!

leaf slayer said...

Thanks for the review. I value your opinion a lot. But man, did you mess me up. I had just consigned myself to using Ruffy Tuffys for the foreseeable future on my Rambouillet but now you have me thinking I'll need to try some of these. Maybe I'll try Rolly Pollys next and wait to put these on next summer as I don't think they'll work with my Berthoud fenders.

I'll have to look in on this blog more often.

cyclotourist said...

Sorry to contribute to the confusion :-)
I have a love/hate relationship w/ RTs. They never flat and really take me wherever I want to go, buuuuut they are kind of dead feeling and transmit road shock. Not dead as in Armadillo dead, just kind of neutral. And they have that whole cracking issue with me. I needed/wanted wider tires and 30mm seems just about right. About 10% wider than RTs, but still a little bit of wiggle room under the brakes. If these don't work out I'll try some Paselas. I don't think I've ever tired Rolly Pollies, but probably wouldn't now as I want wider tires than that.

Oh, and I have to deflate the tires to clear the brake pads when taking wheel on/off. Not the biggest deal in the world, but it should be mentioned.

Aaron Thomas said...

In my experience, the Roll-y Pol-y rides considerably faster and more lively than the Ruffy Tuffy, which I agree feels dead and slow. I vastly prefer the RP to the RT, though I don't know that I'd feel comfortable taking either on trails.

For another tire in that general width, check out the Challenge Parigi-Roubaix. It's really expensive, but no more so than the Grand Bois. I find that it rolls very fast and is quite flat resistant. Labeled 27c, it is slightly plumper; maybe a 28 or 29.

cyclotourist said...

Yes, I remember you saying the RPs are a lot nicer during the "Cracked tire" conversation. I wanted the extra bit of width though. On old/broken roads and trails I think it makes a difference. Plus I can run them about 5psi lower.

I was able to pick these up used so saved about $40 on the set shipped. As they are an experiment, it would be hard to justify full retail. But if they work out as I'm hoping, I would probably get another set. Paselas are probably 90% as good at 50% the price though...

leaf slayer said...

RFs definitely have a dead feeling, as do Jack Brown Blues. Paselas really feel good, even the TG models but I've had problems with the sidewalls. The T-Serves seem to be the solution. Next year I'll maybe try RPs on the Rambouillet and JB Greens on the Hilsen. This sure is better than when my main road bike was a road bike that maxed out at 700x25.

cyclotourist said...

Isn't it cool to have a bike/bikes that let you have options! The only problem with my Riv Road is that it maxes out at (only) 30mm.

For the record, I'm watching the sidewalls on my Paselas. They've developed a "ring" all the way around where the top layer of sidewall is cracked.

Bill said...

Random comments:

My '95 Riv Road has 32 mm Pasela TG's on it. They measure 31 mm on my rims. No room for fenders, of course.

I tried a set of 650b Cypress. The casing of one tire developed a weak spot, and bulged out into a scary lump. I've heard of this happening to others. Had to scrap that tire. Tried commuting on Maxy Fastys (AFAICT, basically a 584 Jack Brown Green), but flatted two rides in a row. Switched to CdlV's, three flats in three rides. I may have to go to Marathons, if they'll fit under my fenders.

One tire to look at might be the Vittoria Randonneur Pro. I have them in 700c x 35, they have good flat protection and reflective sidewalls. Maybe slightly heavier than a Pasela, but I think they ride nicely. Definitely sturdier than a GB, and the black sidewall won't rot like the Pasela skinwall. The 32 should run 30-31 mm actual. I'd love a set of 650b x 35's, but I don't expect Vittoria to jump on 650b.

Bill

cyclotourist said...

I'm posting on these tires because so many people have had negative experiences with them. Many more love them, but I think at the price point, riders expect perfection. I'm guessing they're building them so close to the edge, trying to maximize performance that it gets real hard to control for durability.

I've heard good things about the Randonneur Pro. Those and the Pasela T-Serve. Hopefully won't need to get any for a while!

Phil Bickford said...

So what's the verdict after riding these for two weeks?

I'm going around for my 2nd try with the 650B X 33mm Gran Bois, but only in the winter when I need clearance for fenders.

I've also recently purchased a hardly used 700c X 30mm GB, that I'm using to replace some worn out Jack Brown Greens. Those are working out well, it seemed like the Jack's got slower as they became older, but in fact I just overhauled my hubs, so forget that theory. GB's are comfy and quick for a 30mm tire.

ALL my tires sport kevlar Flataway strips. Ya I know, I should own stock in that company. They've saved me from having to go with the stiffer, reinforced versions of various models.

What flat protection, if any, are you using?

Phil B

cyclotourist said...

Hey Phil, I'm liking them a lot. Went out for a short 15 miler this a.m. and had a smile the whole time! Of course I get giddy at riding any bike, so don't put too much weight on that...

I've used Mr. Tuffy strips maybe 20 years ago and didn't really like them. Has the technology improved since then?

cyclotourist said...

Well Chris, Mike, Aaron, Bill & Phil, I have some bad news... the dreaded Cypres casing blow out happened: http://cyclotourist.blogspot.com/2009/12/grand-bois-cypres-follow-up-to-follow.html
I still really like the tires, but having to add to the criticism of their being problems with them...