Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rubena Rubber Review Part 1

The good folks at Rubena Australia asked me to try out their tyre range and provide feedback good or bad on what I thought. I’ll split this review into 3 sections. First the fit, second initial reactions to the tyre performance, and finally, a long term review to discuss longevity and reliability.

First Episode – The fit
When Ben first approached me to test and review these tyres, the first task was to review what tyres best suited my riding; the brief was pretty simple.
A tubeless cross country racing tyre for a 29er with a solid side wall, a tread pattern that is pretty grippy but still with a low rolling resistance, and hopefully something on the front with some extra side grip for cornering. On the back I prefer something with a more pronounced centre ridge for better rolling, more predictable braking and longer life. As such the tyre of choice (there’s a choice?) till now has been the ever present Racing Ralph (SnakeSkin). I did run a Crossmark on the back for a while but it soon ran out of traction. I’ve never had any issue with punctures when running tubeless so hopefully the new rubber would prove just as reliable.

When you first visit the Rubena web site, you are confronted with a myriad of choices in names, numbers, sizes, tread patterns, oh where to start? These tyres are made in the Czech republic, so if they make tyres anywhere as good as they make beer then these puppies will rock!
Thankfully I think Ben got it pretty right from the look of these tyres, I have a V96 Scylla for the back and a V98 Kratos on the front. Both are 29 x 2.25. The Scylla looks the goods with a nice low profile in the tread pattern and lots of rubber in the middle.

The Kratos is the more aggressive of the two and clearly suited to the front with the slanted side knobs.

The tyres feel solid and while the sidewalls feel a little thinner than the RR, they look like they have a pretty robust fabric like construction, obviously designed to repel cuts from rocks. We’ll see how it lasts after a few longer rocky rides.
Fitting them to my rims is a breeze. The rubber seems to have a little more give than I’m used to and it only needs one or two tweeks with a tyre lever to get the bead over the rim. With a bit of liquid, you could just about roll them over bare handed. Similarly, inflation with a track pump is no problem. I had the bucket of soapy water all ready to go, but didn’t need it in the end, and the tyres inflated onto the rim easily and beaded at bang on 30psi (I love that popping sound a tyre makes when it beads onto the rim!). This was fitting them to the stock rims on my Giant Anthem 29er.
They look good and the bag appears a fraction thinner than the RR. Measuring confirms they are 1-2mm thinner than the RR which I think is good, especially when you are picking lines between rocks and every millimetre counts when you are riding at your limits.
Weight is quoted a little heavier than the RR. The RR is quoted at 605g, the Scylla 640g and the Kratos 695g. At my level, what's a hundred odd grams between friends?!
On the positive the price looks very attractive, with the Rubena atleast 2/3 the cost of the RR, if not less.

Planning my first ride on them tonight so looking forward to seeing how they roll
Keep riding

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