In the world of bicycle tires, there is rarely such a thing as a “free lunch.” Puncture resistance often comes at the expense of ride quality and light weight. Faster-rolling tires usually don’t last as long, and can sometimes be more prone to flats or cuts. For riders who want a blend of performance and durability and reliability, SOMA Fabrications offers the New Xpress tire.
Made in Japan by Panaracer, the New Xpress utilizes the same micro-tread as the company’s popular Pasela tire. The New Xpress comes in steel- and folding-bead versions, and is available 26″, 650B, and 700C sizes. The 700×32 (folding) samples that I received measured 30.5mm wide (mounted on 23mm rims) and weighed 420g each. Suggested retail for the blackwall, folding-bead model is $44.99/each.
To help reduce punctures and cuts, New Xpress tires feature a HyperTex-reinforced casing. SOMA claims that HyperTex is more flexible than Kevlar (for a smoother ride), but still strong enough to improve durability and reliability. In my testing I found that the HyperTexvcasing felt stiffer than a plain skinwall, but didn’t have the harsh ride found on more heavily-armored tires. I noticed that the reinforced casings enabled the use of lower pressures without resulting in a squirmy feel (which was especially welcome when riding off-road and in snow).
Over the past several weeks, I’ve ridden the SOMAs on pavement, dirt roads and trails, and yes, gravel. Transitioning between the different surfaces proved to be no problem. A few of those rides included snow and ice, and the tires performed surprisingly well–especially when I dropped the pressure to 40psi front and 50psi rear. And while it’s hard to predict how long the tires will last, the high-carbon rubber shows very little wear thus far.
The New Xpress tires do a fine job of balancing performance and reliability. I found the latter especially reassuring when commuting in sub-freezing temps before and after dark (but I would opt for the version with reflective sidewalls for increased visibility).
Disclosure: SOMA Fabrications provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.