I bought my first proper road bike for a while in response to my mate, a roadie, convincing me that I should join him on the roads and, reciprocally, he would buy an MTB to accompany me on the trails. Seemed like a decent suggestion at the time. 2 years later, I'm still waiting for him to get his wallet out......
My road bike came with a set of Vittoria Rubino's . Perfectly decent starter tyres, if a little prone to punctures. By chance, I've just had a look and even these have a Schwalbe logo printed on the inside. Why I keep old knackered tyres that I'll never use again is one for the psychologists.
When time came to replace them it was summer, so I chose these Schwalbe Ultremo ZX's. I'm a bit partial to a go-faster stripe, so ordered the set with white shoulders. Maybe I rationalised the purchase with the thought that white was more visible on a bike that is 'stealth-ninja' all black but mainly it was a vanity choice. The retail price was not what you would call cheap but a bit of a deal - someone's always got a deal on - with Wiggle and they were mine for £50 for the pair. That still might sound steep to some but I have never had cause to regret my decision.
Totally slick, they immediately added about 1 m.p.h to my average speed for any given ride and in the warmth of summer they provided excellent grip and levels of trust. I was a happy punter. In the 18 months that I've been using them I have had zero punctures; maybe that's just luck but given some of the Cornish lanes I have been tackling recently, frankly that's nothing short of amazing. Now I've commented on this phenomenon however, the next ride will probably see them explode.
What I should have done was replace them when winter came round but I just never got round to it. Cue a properly harsh winter in the UK..... The ZX's did not flinch from their duty. I remember one misguided commute after a late March heavy snow fall. I had no idea that my route might be 4-5 foot drifts in places; it wasn't that bad when I sent off from home. On slick skinny's it was more of a question of when, not if, I would take a tumble. Very sketchy indeed. Perhaps it was my growing skill-set, perhaps the Gods were smiling on me but I swear the damn things never put a foot wrong. The only time I fell on my arse was whilst walking through an impassable bit on (Shimano) road cleats, which, given the improbable size of them, shouldn't have come as a surprise - do they really have to be so bulky ?
If slicks could cope with that, what was the point in changing them ?
That attitude has endured up to this day. They are still on and have just completed the 100 mile Cornwall Tor Sportive. Again, I really should have changed them prior to the event because they are looking a little 'tired' now. Strava (and Rubitrack) tells they have got nearly 3000 miles on them. Impossibly long threads have started to spontaneously peel off them but circumstances meant I had no time to order fresh ones and fit them. I shouldn't have worried because the 23mm wonders dealt with everything a Cornish spring sportive could throw at them. I was right next to my mate when his tyres/wheels simply exploded over a cattle-grid (read about it here) ; yet I was unaffected. I'm now starting to wonder whether it's even worth carrying a gas cartridge/inflator on my road rides.
I can't describe to you how they feel really - that's tricky. You can read the technical tpi/protection stuff in the link at the top of the post. I just inflate them to 115 (rear) and 110 (front) and away we go. I will tell you that I have total faith in their longevity and total trust in the grip that they provide. They were, as my memory serves me, easy to fit and now that I have a bit of time I am just waiting on Parcel Force to bring me a new set. Why change a winning formula ?
The only thing I still don't know it whether you pronounce it 'Schwalb' or 'Schwalb-ee.