bokken (木剣, bok(u), “wood”, and ken, “sword”). If you’re a martial arts fan you may have heard of boken. These are wooden practice swords used in some Japanese styles. So what’s that got to do with gravel? Well the new IRC Boken tyre is named after the practice sword and I thought I would elucidate on the etymology of the name. So now I have spread some light, let’s take a look at the rubber.
IRC’s new tyre comes in two sizes, 36 and 40mm, with claimed weights of 390g and 420g. The tread pattern is made up of the same tightly spaced pyramids as the IRC SERAC CX Sand tyre, with added lugs. These sit on the shoulder of the tyre, promising increased grip on softer surfaces.
The tyre is made from an “ultra gummy compound for insane bite on nasty obstacles”, which sounds perfect. IRC also say the Boken is aimed at “serious extreme gravel riding”. Well I have an upcoming event – the CX Century – that will fit the bill. A hundred miles of chalk and flint is just the kind of test a tyre needs to pass before calling itself a gravel tyre.
The IRC Boken is tubeless ready, of course! If you’re heading off-piste you need to be tubeless, unless you love fixing punctures. The Boken feels very soft and supple and seems to have the same butyl coating as their Serac CX MUD tyre I reviewed recently. This gives improved side-wall protection and in the event of a cut, you can fix it with a standard tyre patch. The butyl coating is also impervious to air, so they should stay up longer.
As I said I’ll be trying the Bokens out over the coming summer and I’ll report back to let you know how they fare.