For most of my ‘cross racing I’ve been using Schwalbe’s X-One All Round tyre and have been very happy. However there have been a couple of times where I’ve needed a bit more grip. Like on short, muddy up-hills, where wheel-spin means a dismount. Time for something a little more aggressive, like the X One Bite.
Schwalbe’s X One range is made up of three tyres, the All Round, Speed and Bite. The All Round (reviewed here) comes in Evolution and Performance grade and two sizes, 33 and 35mm. The new for 2018 Speed, is for dry, hard-pack courses. It also comes in Evolution and Performance grade, but only one width, 33mm.
The X One Bite only comes in the Evolution line version, which according to Schwalbe is “the very best possible”! It uses the “highest grade materials” and “latest technology.” The carcass of the X One Bite is wrapped in Schwalbe’s Microskin. This material makes the tyre’s carcass airtight and improves cut resistance, very handy in an off-road tyre.
The tread is made from Schwalbe’s Triple Star Compound, this uses three different rubbers to fine tune grip and wear. A harder centre improves the tyre’s longevity, while softer shoulders are grippier, but wear quicker. This soft shoulder has a firmer base underneath it for support.
Looking at the tread and you can see when comparing it to its stable mates, that this is definitely a mud tyre. Schwalbe say the X One Bite is “the cross specialist for the really muddy days.” Well I can’t argue with that. Looking at the X One All Round, the Bite uses the same shapes to form the tread, with some tweaks.
First off they’ve beefed them up, to dig deeper into the muck. Those same cut off cones and lozenge shapes are also spread further apart, lessening the chance of the tyre clogging up in sticky mud. Looking at them, riders of a certain vintage will be reminded of Onza’s Porcupine tyres from back in the day.
Tyre width is 33mm and Schwalbe’s tyre guide says they’re UCI legitimate for 17-23mm wide rims. Not too important for me, I’ve yet to ride a UCI race! But nice to know if I ever do, I’ll be UCI compliant. And like all of Schwalbe’s top end tyres, it’s tubeless ready; perfect if you’re not running tubs. With tubeless you’ll be able to run lower pressures without the risk of pinching your inner tubes.
For ‘cross racing lower pressures mean improved performance. With lower pressures the tyre conforms to the ground and gives better grip. You also get a smoother ride on hard ground, as you’re not being bucked about by rock hard tyres. And if you’re running sealant in your tyres then ordinary punctures won’t mean a race ending run to the pits.
Setting up the X One Bites was simple on most rims, apart from the new Mavic Open Pro UST. These needed a lot more effort and care to install. However once on, as with other rims, they popped on without any drama. I’ve found my Schwalbe tyres to be very airtight and often leave them for a week or more without needing to top them up.
I’ve been running Schalbe’s X-One All Round for a couple of seasons (review here), although they were called the X-One back then. They are on my bike for most of the season, but I always have a second set of wheels fitted with X One Bite, just in case. When conditions get really sloppy, then they really come into their own. That deeper tread really bites in and gives you extra confidence when cornering and climbing.
With the X One Bite I could tackle off camber sections and short climbs in the mud with a lot more confidence. Where previously I would automatically run, I now find I am riding them much more. In muddy races being able to stay on the bike and not having to go through the faff of remounting and trying to get muddy shoes to engage with your pedals saves time every lap. For that reason alone they get a big thumbs up from me.
I managed to burp the X One Bite on the rear in one race – my fault due to rushed installation. They had started out at 27psi, but can’t say what they finished at. Despite that I still managed a top 10 finish, although there was some squirming in tight corners. Despite the reduced pressure they stayed on the rim and when I did add more air, there was no leaking.
I would definitely recommend having a set of X One Bite tyres in your cyclo-cross tubeless armoury. They will give you an advantage in really muddy races, allowing you to ride where others will struggle. Well done Schwalbe!