Hutchinson’s Sector 28 tubeless tires are one of those products that almost didn’t make it to the consumer market. The tires were originally developed for the Francais des Jeux (FDJ) team as an alternative to tubulars for use in the harsh conditions of the European classics such as Paris-Roubaix. It was the expansion of the road tubeless market, and the demand for wider tires gave Hutchinson the incentive to bring the Sector 28 tubeless tires to market.
Handmade in France, Sector 28 tires feature 127tpi casings, bead-to-bead nylon breakers, and dual-durometer tread compounds. The tires are held in place with carbon fiber beads that are surrounded by an MTB-style tubeless bead. Like Hutchinson’s tubeless-ready MTB tires, the Sector 28 requires the company’s Protect’Air Max Sealant to seal the tire. Our samples weighed 298g and 300g, and measured 28.5mm when mounted on Pacenti SL23 rims.
Tubeless road tires, with their higher pressures, fit much tighter than tubeless MTB tires. To make installing the Hutchinsons easier, I employed all the tubeless-mounting tricks that I knew–applying soapy water to the beads and rims, warming the tires in the sun (to make them more pliable), and wearing full-finger gloves for extra grip. The first tire went on without much difficulty, but the second tire (the rear), took a few attempts to get both beads onto the rim. Once the tires were mounted, however, I was able to seat both tires’ beads using only a standard floor pump.
After adding Hutchinson’s sealant and waiting the requisite 24 hours for everything to fully seal, I took the Sector 28 tires out for a spin. As luck would have it, recent heavy rain had left Boulder’s back roads littered with debris. About eight miles into that ride, I heard a tick-tick-tick sound coming from the front tire. Looking down (while riding 18-20 mph), I noticed something stuck to the tire. The noise went away after approximately 30 seconds, and I promptly forgot about it. I rode for another hour, and then stopped to refill my water bottles. Checking both tires for tread cuts, etc, I noticed a tiny latex “booger” on the tread of the front tire–a sign that the Protect’Air Max Sealant had sealed a puncture (which explains the aforementioned ticking sound).
Since then, I’ve logged many puncture-free miles on the Hutchinsons. After experimenting with various pressure settings, I found that 70-72 psi (front) and 80-82 psi (rear) worked best for (195-pound) me on paved roads. For really bad roads (such has frost-heaved asphalt), I dropped both tires’ pressure by 5 psi. Even at those low pressures, the Sector 28s never felt squirmy, or unstable. On dirt and gravel, I was able to run pressures in the low-to-mid 40 psi range without worry of pinch-flatting.
The Hutchinsons’ ride is comfortable, but the feel and handling is different than conventional (tubed) tires of similar weights and widths. With the latter, there’s a tipping point where the ride changes from comfortable to slow, or dead feeling. That’s certainly not the case with the Sector 28s, though. Even at lower pressures, you can definitely tell that you’re riding a high-performance tire (that also happens to be extremely comfortable)
Sector 28 Road Tubeless Protect’Air Max tires are compatible with road tubeless wheels and rims including those from Shimano, Campagnolo, American Classic, DT Swiss, Easton, and Corima. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $109.95/each.
Disclosure: Hutchinson provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.