Another Tire

Schwalbe Marathon touring tire

A few months ago I wrote about Another Way to do my regular gravel/trail/pavement loop. That ride I did riding my Kona Dew shod in a used set of Schwalbe Marathon touring tires that I had hanging around the garage.  The Marathons worked good on the roads and gravel, even doing okay on the path’s.  Since then I rode the same set up on a couple of exploration rides in and around Galbraith, Padden and Whatcom Falls where they again did generally okay, but I failed when I hit a few spots of very wet mud.  I can’t fault the Marathon’s because they aren’t a mud tire, they really did well overall.

But still, it’ winter here which means you either ride the roads or you ride some mud, so I started searching for a tire that’d do the mud as well as respectably roll along the streets.  The Kona has 700C wheels so it was only a moment before my searching landed me in the cyclocross realm, a realm which I know nothing of so I let Google, Ebay and numerous forums choose my fate.

New and squeaky clean

My “fate” was a pair of Clement PDX tires which had a lot of good reviews regarding their mud and gravel performance and a few reviews that said they were good enough on road and hard pack trails.  I found a new pair of the Clement (now Donnelly) PDX tires on Ebay and a few days later they were on the bike.  The tread can only be described as aggressive mud tread; with the wide spacing between lugs I had no doubt the these tires would shed mud.  Streetability was dubious though, perhaps the internet had let me down.  New Years Day was made for football and biking but since I’ve given up on watching football the day had an open slot for riding.

My ride choice was one of convenience, I chose shorter and close to home since the forecast was for rain on top of all the other rain we’d been getting lately.  My ride also happened to be the same Ferndale loop that I first rode the Kona.

Gravel out of Hovander went great.  Damp trail along the Nooksack went great.  Sticky mud went great. And then came the real mud/swamp and true to the reviews these PDX tires were amazing.  I never lost traction, it was really about how much energy I had to keep powering through the ankle deep mess that is the temporary trail along the Nooksack near Marietta.

Hitting the pavement at Marietta and riding Rural Ave. back to Ferndale gave me a chance to see what the PDX’s were like away from mud…and they were better than I expected.  They have a line of lugs down the center of the tire which allow it to roll smooth and efficient in a straight line, so from that respect they are better than I expected.  And since I expected them to be miserable and dangerous corning on pavement, the fact that they were okay made them better than I expected.

I suppose that it won’t take too much pavement riding before the center lugs wears so I don’t see these tires being a good all around tire for my Kona Dew, however.we have a lot of rainy muddy time still to come this winter so I may leave them on until spring before I ask Google to recommend a more all around tire.