Gravel tires don’t have it easy. Whether wet or dry, gravel, hard pack, mud or asphalt, they’ve always got to perform. At first glance, the René Herse Steilacoom TC Endurance looks much too aggressive for an all-rounder. Do appearances deceive?
Jan Heine, founder of René Herse Cycles, formerly Compass Cycles, has deeply rooted the brand in the sport of randonneuring with a focus on creating high-quality and lightweight no-nonsense components. Long before wide road bike tires entered the mainstream, René Herse Cycles were convinced of their superior performance and have an extensive range of road tires of various diameters, widths and casings. They also have gravel and cross specific models in all the common dimensions with a tread profile that you could describe as retro.
At 38 mm, the René Herse Steilacoom TC is the skinniest 700C model available. We opted for the Endurance version with thicker sidewalls for added puncture protection and we wanted to find out how supple the reinforced casing is. René Herse’s Extralight casing is known for its suppleness, but also for its sensitivity to sharp objects. All René Herse tires with the TC designation can be set up with or without a tube; however, we always recommend going tubeless. Doing so was super easy with the Steilacoom TC on our Stan’s Grail CB7 test rims, sealing immediately and staying sealed for a long time. Regarding dimensions, the tire pairs excellently with an inner rim width of around 22 mm. It inflates to 39 mm at 35 psi, just 1 mm more than specified.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful gravel tire on the market! However, you can’t choose the colour of the sidewall as it’s specific to the casing and the Endurance version always comes with dark tan sidewalls. The small, single-sided René Herse logo and model name is beautifully understated. Thanks to the non-directional tread, you can choose to have it either on the left or right side, depending on whether you want it in the photo or not. 😉
The René Herse Steilacoom TC performs excellently all around. The tread profile looks very retro at first glance, but it’s really quite sophisticated and works extremely well in practice. The knobs are almost identical in size and evenly distributed up to the edge, with a somewhat closer arrangement in the centre for less rolling resistance. This ensures that the tires rolling characteristics and grip remain almost the same regardless of how far you’re leaning over, whether on hard, soft or loose ground. Due to their wide shape, the knobs do not fold even when you’re pushing the limits and there are no surprises. They easily cut through mud and they also offer excellent self-cleaning properties due to the square profile of the knobs and generous spacing between them. Off-road damping and compliance are among the best on the market despite the thicker Endurance sidewalls. Since we didn’t suffer any punctures with this model, we’re very curious to find out how the even more supple Extralight casing will perform. Once we’ve reviewed them, we’ll report back to you immediately!
Of course, the René Herse Steilacoom TC isn’t the fastest on asphalt, but the rolling resistance is pleasantly low considering its comparatively aggressive profile and off-road performance. We’ve definitely encountered significantly slower rolling tires with less aggressive profiles. With these tires, you won’t find any of the classic by-products of knobby tires on asphalt, such as vibrations or vague handling through corners. Only the noise they make at higher speeds is reminiscent of a descending TIE fighter…
The René Herse Steilacoom TC is an incredibly good all-rounder for gravel bikes. Seemingly endless grip, whether it’s dusty hard-pack, loose gravel, deep mud or damp asphalt. They also offer excellent damping and always remain predictable! At higher speeds on asphalt, they can get a bit loud, but they never produce vibrations or feel vague. The rolling resistance is surprisingly low for such aggressive knobs. As is so often the case, all those benefits come at a price but it’s money well spent.
- excellent performance and lots of grip in all situations
- little rolling resistance despite aggressive tread profile
- excellent cushioning
- understated looks
- relatively noisy on asphalt at high speed
- performance has its price
Price: € 92 (Endurance, per tire)
Weight: 457/443 g
Dimensions: 700 x 38C (39 mm with 22 mm inner width)
Max. air pressure: 60 psi tubeless
For more info, visit renehersecycles.com
You need more information about gravel tires? To help you find out which is the best gravel tire (click for review), we alternated between putting on our lab coats and putting in the miles on gravel roads, forest highways and flowing trails.
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