I labored over my opening line because I was anxious to establish cred right away–that I’m an experienced, observant rider and gravel influencer… um, what? I’m totally not! I realized that, as a newer gravel rider and gear geek myself, I’d rather read a review from someone who was like me. And maybe others would, too.
Two years ago I never would have imagined that my SunRace cassette review would eventually become GRAVELBIKE’s most popular article of all time. Since that first review, SunRace has expanded their lineup to include 11-46 and 11-50 versions of the company’s popular CSMX8 ($70-$85) eleven-speed cassette. So when it came time to build up my Jones 29-plus bike, I decided to give SunRace’s 11-46 cassette a try.
When SRAM released their CX1 components in 2014, the purpose-built group delighted gearing-nerds (including yours truly) who had previously cobbled together road and MTB parts to come up with road-worthy 1x drivetrains. The Chicago-based company followed up with the 1x™ Wonder (11-36) cassette, and in April of 2015, SRAM announced the Force 1 and Rival 1 component groups which offered even more gearing options.
Over the past nine months, I’ve logged nearly 2,000 miles on SRAM’s 1x (pronounced one-by) road components. Starting with the CX1 group in late 2014, I added the aforementioned 1x Wonder cassette to the mix, and then in May of 2015, I upgraded to the new Force 1 components. During this period, I tested four different X-SYNC™ chainrings (38t, 40t, 42t, 44t), three different cassettes (11-32t, 11-36t, 10-40t), and two X-Horizon™ rear derailleurs (medium- and long-cage). Braking duties were handled by Force hydraulic discs. Wheelsets tested included Rolf Prima’s VCX Disc and Zipp’s new 30 Course tubeless hoops.
When we reviewed the New Albion Cycles Privateer frameset last summer, the bike’s SOMA C-Line 700×38 tires really stood out–and not just because of the terracotta-colored tread. The tires’ mild tread and supple casings made it easy to transition between paved and unpaved surfaces. To help test the new Zipp 30 Course wheelset, we decided to give the C-Line tires a dedicated second look.
After analyzing three years of visitor stats for the GRAVELBIKE site, it’s pretty clear that people like reading about tires. This year alone, five of the top-ten articles have been tire reviews. One of the more popular pieces is last summer’s review of Hutchinson’s Sector 28 tires. With the increased interest in road tubeless setups, we decided to give the Sector 28s a second look.
When we first tested the Hutchinson Sector 28 tires, we paired them sans-tubes with Pacenti SL23 rims. That combination produced an extremely smooth ride, but the tires’ tight fit made us dread a roadside tube swap if the sealant failed to fix a puncture. So for this go-around, we opted to test the Sector 28 tires with and without inner tubes on rims of various widths.
Installed with inner tubes on both narrow and wide wheelsets, we were pleasantly surprised at just how lively the Sector 28 tires felt. Fitted with 80g Mavic tubes, the Hutchinson tires retained most, if not all of their supple tubeless feel. Despite a minor weight penalty, acceleration was on par with lighter tires of similar size such as the 700×28 Panaracer Gravelking (using identical rims and tubes). Interestingly enough, we ended up running the same pressure (70-75 front, 80-85 rear) with inner tubes and in tubeless mode.
For our tubeless testing, we used HED’s Ardennes Plus LT wheels and Caffelatex sealant. Mounting the Sector 28 tires was effortless with the 25mm-wide HED rims, and the beads seated at 50-60psi using a standard floor pump. As we stated in our original review, the Hutchinson tires can be run at lower pressures (in tubeless mode) without negatively affecting performance. This was even more apparent with the wider HED wheels, as the rims’ extra width gave the tire a more pronounced u-shaped profile.
Tire manufacturers may be slow to embrace tubeless technology for road use, but Hutchinson’s Sector 28 is a real bright spot in today’s market. The French company has succeeded in delivering the advantages of tubeless tires (puncture resistance, safety) without sacrificing the performance of lightweight clinchers. Riders looking to explore dirt and gravel roads without the worry of pinch-flats would be well served by the Sector 28 tires.
Disclosure: Caffelatex, HED, Hutchinson, and Mavic provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.