Ritchey Shield WCS Cyclo-cross Tyre Preview
Ritchey Shield WCS Cyclo-cross Tyre
Words by Tim Granshaw
Preview of the Ritchey Shield WCS with its Vector Force Design tread
Ritchey is an established name in the world of cyclocross tyres. The Ritchey Excavader, an intermediate, and the Ritchey Speedmax, a low profile tyre that performs surprisingly well in sloppy conditions thanks to its aggressive sideknobs, have both been mainstays of the US cyclocross scene for a decade. This year, Ritchey introduced the Shield, a very different, very interesting new piece of rubber.
When you first open the box of a Ritchey Shield cyclocross tyre, you might think you’ve bought a lean 29er mountain tyre. It is the biggest tyre we’ve come across; it is even taller and wider than even the Clement PDX we tested last year. Ritchey claim a 700×35 size, 2 millimeters over UCI legal, but our calipers measured the Shield at an impressive 38mm on our 19mm rim. It’s a monster.
Despite this size, the tyre still weighs in at a very reasonable 375 grams. Although this is 70 grams more than the much thinner Continental Mountain King it’s comparable to competing tyres from Kenda and Schwalbe.
The casing, like it’s mountain bike brethren, is a 120TPI count. This is lower than that of some of our other test tyres, like the Conti Mountain King and the Challenge Grifo. It will be interesting to see whether the comparatively low thread count hurts this big tyre or if the clincher’s volume offsets its less supple casing.
The size of the casing is just one of a host of qualities that distinguish this tyre from other offerings. Ritchey uses Vector Force Design (VFA) as part of their tyre design. In layman’s terms the Shield’s tread design assures that whatever the tyre angle and the resultant directional force acting upon it, the tread forms a parabolic scoop-like curve of tread on the ground. This, according to Ritchey, results in not just superior absolute grip, but also a consistency of grip unmatched by other tyres.
Whatever the theory, the Shield tread will never be mistaken for anything else. The tread profile is round, with lower-profile arrow-shaped knobs in the center, slightly deeper medium side knobs split appropriately by Ritchey Shields, and quite deep edge knobs. All of these treads seem to be applied randomly around the casing. It will be interesting to see if the tyre is the dry weather and light intermediate appears to be.
The tread design is bolstered by a dual compound rubber combination. The centre of the tyre is a hard compound to ensure good wear and a fast roll, while the edges of the tyre use a much softer compound for better grip when cornering.
We’re excited to get this rubber on our cyclocross bikes; the combination of big volume and unusual tread design guarantee an interesting ride!
Ritchey Shield WCS Cyclocross RRP: £40.00.
For more information see the Ritchey Website
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