In the days of handcrafted cheese, artisanal ice, and ‘craft-made everything’, it’s hard to tell the real deal from some johnny-come-latley fakery. Everyone seems to be making everything by hand these days. Maybe I should freeze up some tap water, cut it with a saw and charge a dollar a cube…
The Challenge – to make better tires
Enter Challenge Tires. Owing its roots to the legacy of some of the original handmade tires in modern bicycle racing, Challenge is one of the few tire makers out there still making their product the old fashioned way. In fact, they have been involved in hand-making tires, in one incarnation or another, for decades. A small, family owned business, working with sustainable rubber plantations, the brand’s expertise is in the creation and assembly of some of the last truly craft-made latex rubber tires on the market.
So, why hang on to this decades old tradition of laying up and sewing tires by hand? Don’t these guys know about modern vulcanizing techniques? Are they simply just retro-grouches posing as hipsters? Or do they know a thing or two about building the most supple bicycle tire possible?
The Challenge difference
Challenge lays up their tubular and “open-tubular” ( that’s “clincher” for all you kids out there..) tires with either silk, cotton or polyester casing. Glued and sewn together by the hands of skilled craftsmen, the thread count tips up to 1000tpi on silk cased models, like the Criterium and even 260tpi on poly-cased tires, like Strada Bianca. Using hand-layed natural latex gives the tires an almost unreal suppleness when compared to harder, vulcanized rubber tires. The result is a more comfortable ride, less fatigue and a better connection to the ground. It’s a bit like comparing regular old liquor store ice to the stuff cut by a bearded guy named Clementine, wielding a Japanese Bow Saw and taking his task very, very seriously. The difference is in the details.
Which Challenge Tire is for you?
That’s a tough question to answer. So much depends on you, your riding style, terrain, body size and general willingness to glue tubulars or learn the subtle art of mounting open tubulars onto a clincher rim. Challenge has created a pretty sweet tire application chart for your reference or you can always call us. We’ve got the full line up in the house. We’re pretty nice, and we love to talk tires. If you’re hankering for the most supple ride of your life, get over to your local Cyclone dealer and get some of these beauties. One thing for sure, once you ride them, you’ll never want to go back.