Clement PDX Cyclocross Tyres
If you are serious about cyclocross, you ride tubular tyres; but as we’ve seen on the road, tyre technology is allowing clinchers to catch-up with tubulars in many areas. Can clinchers truly ever live with tubulars in ‘cross racing? Rob Allen is surprised when he reviews the Clement PDX clincher cyclo-cross tyres…
My time with the Clement PDX (sometimes known as the Crusade PDX after the Cross Crusade in Portland, Oregon) clinchers did not start well. I had intended to set them up tubeless on my FRM 29er rims, but when I tried to do it sealant leaked through ‘pores’ in the sidewalls and into a puddle on the workshop floor. Admittedly Clement does not market them as tubeless compatible but I know several people who run them tubeless successfully, leading me to conclude that the manufacturing process is either inconsistent, or has changed.
Anyway, through clenched teeth I cleaned them up, popped in a pair of Michelin Latex tubes and went for a ride. That’s when the real trouble started because, damn, these tyres are exceptional. Confused? Don’t be. Like many I’m a tubulars-for-cycloross zealot. Selecting treads, gluing, fixing, debating pressures; it’s all part of the ritual. Anything other than FMB or Dugast rubber frankly just isn’t up to scratch. I never race on clinchers and only need them so I don’t wear out my precious tubs in training. If it were possible for everyone to get the advantages of tubs without the hassle, part of the mystique of cyclocross would die…
So, what’s going on here? The Clement PDX comes in a 33mm width, the maximum now permitted by the UCI. Out of the box the immediate sensation is that they are supple – disregard the low 120TPI count, it’s meaningless. Inflated, they clearly come up pretty wide and on my 29er rims (wider than road rims) they are noticeably rounder than the average clincher.
Clement markets them as a mud tyre and the tread takes it’s cue from FMB’s super mud, Dugast’s Rhino and Challenge’s Limus in terms of the spacing and shape of the knobs. A major difference, however, is how the height of those knobs change over the section of the tyre – taller on the edges and shorter in the middle. This could result in a squared off profile which usually would be nervous in the corners, but here, due to the roundness of the casing, it doesn’t. What you get instead is a fast rolling tyre that bites in the corners.
Once riding, I found myself dropping the pressure again and again, far below levels that would be considered “safe” for other clinchers. I settled on 22psi in the front and 24 in the rear on my local muddy woodland circuit which has it’s share of exposed tree roots. I rarely felt the rim and only pinch flatted once when I finally dropped the pressure too far. Sure, I do protect my tyres a bit when I ride, but I do that for tubs too – I pinch flatted an FMB last week on the same track so I know I need to be careful.
Compared to my benchmark mud tyre, the FMB Super Mud, the feeling is very similar. The Clement PDX tyres hook up well and give great grip and feedback on the limit in the corners. They clear mud well, perhaps not quite as well as the FMB, but better than anything else I have ridden. Amazingly, at pressures down to 20.5 psi on my digital gauge, I could not get the casing to fold on a tight corner; even my tubs give up the ghost much under 23psi.
These are, by some margin, the best cyclocross clinchers I have ever run – but how do they compare to tubulars? Assuming that it’s muddy on Sunday (a fair bet in the UK this time of year) I’m going to run them in the final round of the London League. That’s the biggest vote of confidence that this confirmed tubular junkie can provide.
So, maybe no more long winter evenings within the shed gluing and taping tubs. The Clement PDX tyre’s have ruined cyclocross for me – or maybe not…
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