Tire manufacturers often seem to fall into one of two camps–either they offer a dizzying array of models and variations, or they concentrate on a small number of core designs for specific use cases. With just six models in its current lineup, Terrene Tires finds itself ensconced in the latter camp. While initially making a name for themselves with knobby and mixed-terrain designs, Terrene recently added a dedicated touring model–the Honali–to its collection.
What differentiates Terrene’s Honali ($60.00 MSRP) from other touring tires? Tubeless compatibility, for one. While tubeless technology is a given in the MTB universe, true tubeless-compatible touring tires are relatively rare. And unlike most of Terrene’s other tires, the Honali forgoes the company’s Light (120 TPI casing) option in favor of Tough (60 TPI, TekShield) and DuraTough versions (60 TPI, TekShield+). Available in 700 x 40 and 700 x 50 (tested) sizes, both versions feature black sidewalls with reflective strips for added visibility.
Reviewing tires over the past six years has taught me that tubeless compatibility is often open to interpretation. With some tires, a compressor is an absolute requirement for seating the beads. That might be OK in the comfort of one’s garage, but it’s a deal breaker if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere due to a stubborn tire. Having installed Terrene’s Chunk and McFly knobbies using only a floor pump, I was hopeful that the Honali would follow suit. Mounting the Honali tires on SRAM Roam 50 wheels proved absurdly easy without the aid of tire levers, soapy water, or special shenanigans. Grabbing the nearest floor pump (a Blackburn), I attached the chuck (with the valve core still installed) and began pumping. At 15 PSI I heard the familiar pop of the first bead seating, and before I hit 30 PSI, the tire was completely seated.
Between its 705-gram (actual) weight, thick tread and beefy sidewalls, there’s no mistaking the Honali for a rebadged road or gran fondo tire. But if you’re touring (or exploring remote areas), ultralight tires with fragile sidewalls probably aren’t the smartest choice (unless you enjoy pushing your bike). Conversely, a tire that’s overbuilt can be a real chore to ride. Taking Terrene’s recommended maximum 75 PSI pressure with a huge grain of salt (especially on hookless rims), I inflated both tires to 40 PSI. The result was, to be honest, uninspiring. The tires felt dead, and every bump and jolt was transmitted directly to my hands and backside. Dropping the tires’ pressure, however, improved the ride dramatically. After a few rounds of experimentation, I found my personal sweet spot to be 22-25 PSI front and 27-30 PSI rear (w/o tubes). At those lower pressures, the Honalis did an excellent job of reducing road and trail chatter.
On pavement, the Honali delivers a smooth and surprisingly nimble ride (at the right pressure). While you wouldn’t mistake the Terrene’s performance for that of a comparably sized Compass tire, the Honali rolls much nicer than many urban/touring tires of similar weight and construction. Terrene’s tread pattern is very quiet, and I didn’t notice any unwanted squirm during hard cornering. When pavement turns to dirt or gravel, the low-profile tread elements offer noticeably more traction and braking power than the ribbed or herringbone treads commonly found competitors’ all-road tires. Loose dirt and deep gravel, however, tended to overwhelm the Honalis’ tightly spaced tread.
As roughly half of my testing occurred before dawn or after sunset, that made avoiding glass and debris far more challenging. In other words: perfect conditions for testing the Honalis’ puncture resistance. After several hundred miles, I experienced only one puncture. That puncture went undetected until my evening commute, and rather than install an inner tube, I aired the tire up to 30 PSI with a mini-pump, and gave the wheel a good spin to distribute the sealant. Since then, the tire hasn’t required topping off any more frequently than before the puncture.
If you’re looking for a high-volume touring tire but don’t want–or need–an overly aggressive knobby, check out the Terrene Honali. The tire’s minimalist tread pattern offers enough traction for dirt road exploration, but won’t bog you down on paved roads. And thanks to its reliable tubeless construction, you’ll save some rotating weight by ditching inner tubes (but be sure to carry a spare tube as cheap insurance).
Disclosure: Terrene provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.