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Gravel - Compass Stampede Pass Tyre Review
Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

 

Compass Stampede Pass Tyre Review

 

James Raison

 

A review of the Compass Stampede Pass tyre. A 700x32mm fat road tyre, proving that fat can be fast.

 

The wider-tyres-are-better train has been gathering a lot of momentum recently, so I thought it was time to test something that could become a future standard: a colossal 32mm slick. Specifically, the Compass Bicycles Stampede Pass. I’ve been commuting, road riding, and gravel grinding on these drop dead gorgeous gumwalls. How do they stack up?

 

The Compass Stampede Pass is riding the fat tyre wave

The Compass Stampede Pass is riding the fat tyre wave

 

ABOUT COMPASS

 

Compass make a staggering array of bicycle components for a small manufacturer. Everything from frame tubes, to cassettes, to clothing. They’ve been gaining most attention for their tyres though. Founder Jan Heine has become a strong advocate for widening tyres and running them at lower pressures. According to his research, wider tyres at lower pressures roll faster than narrower tyres at higher pressure. Further, wider tyres at lower pressures let riders put out more watts because the body works better without fighting bumps and vibrations. That’s a massive cultural shift away from conventional wisdom. With that in mind, I was eager to test a set Compass tyres.

 

THE STAMPEDE PASS

 

The Stampede Pass is a 32mm folding clincher named after a road in Washington State. It’s surprisingly light too, my standard case version weighed only 285g per tyre. There’s an ultralight version too, at an impressive 254g claimed by Compass.

 

I fitted them to my Giant TCX cyclo-cross bike for the test period because they had no hope of fitting any of my roadies. The tyres popped onto my rims without too much hassle. These aren’t tubeless compatible so tightness wasn’t an issue. Initially I used some incredibly vague calculations on relative pressures on other wheel/tyre combos I use and decided to start at 60psi. The Giant PX-2 rims have a wide 20mm internal width, so the tyres spread nice and fat when inflated.

 

You may struggle to fit them onto a standard road frame

You may struggle to fit them onto a standard road frame

 

ON THE ROAD

 

Such a wide tyre at low pressure felt weird initially because tyres quietened down the road feedback that comes through the bike. It also felt a little squishy when dropping watts out of the saddle. Soon though the virtues became obvious. Bumps are significantly less noticeable, and vibrations almost disappeared. I’m already used to wide rims and low pressure with 25mm tyres on 20mm wide rims at 75psi. This was next level smoothness.

 

They felt great while climbing, although not as great as they could be while fitted to the 2.5kg cyclo-cross wheels. I did notice some deformation under efforts out of the saddle, but that’s to be expected. Descending was a total blast. With the tyres’ indifference to bumps, the bike felt so settled. A couple of times I noted that I was out-rolling guys on road bikes downhill.

 

I hit up some gravel for the next test, and dropped the pressure down to 50-55psi. Hammering across gravel back-roads was glorious on these tyres. They’re not as grippy as a gravel tyre when it gets loose, but their fat footprint still gave me plenty of control. The only puncture I had while testing the tyres was on gravel, but I don’t blame the tyre for that. I’ve shredded some pretty rugged tyres on gravel. The 50-55psi range is exceptionally good in wet weather too. You can ride with confidence when that much rubber is on the road.

 

The Stampede Pass proved to be fast and comfortable

The Stampede Pass proved to be fast and comfortable

 

Wrapping up

 

The experience of riding such a nice tyre at low pressure is joyous. It’s plush, grippy, and does feel like it rolls fast. The science says wider/lower pressure is faster and I have no reason to disagree. The reduced feedback through the bike can feel like you aren’t going as fast but the studies done by the boffins at Compass assure me it’s quite the opposite. Science aside, for those looking to improve their ride experience, increase comfort and roll faster, the Stampede Pass is an outstanding tyre. The only problem is finding a bike that will fit it.

 

Compass

 

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