Monday, June 24, 2013

Pasela! Gesundheit!

Alas, a moment of silence for the late, great Michelin Dynamic, a low-budget tire that was much lauded around these parts (and whose review is consistently the most-visited bit of blather on this blog). The ol' girl's been replaced by the Dynamic Sport, which, while still being inexpensive, features much more logo-crap, and comes in a variety of fashionable (read: ugly) colors. Interweb rumor-mongers also claim that they don't run as wide, which was my favorite feature.

So, with one of my favorite tires gone, I've been forced to go to the old standby of retro riders, the Panaracer (and/or Panasonic) Pasela. I have a checkered past with these, for a number of reasons:
  • I was on Paselas when I broke my leg. Not the tire's fault, but the association sticks.
  • I've found them to ride a little "wooden" in the past, though I was always on the belted TourGuard version (and in retrospect, I was probably overinflating them).
  • I always associated the old Pasela (and it's prominent-center-ridge tread) with the cheap-and-crappy gumwalls that came on just about every 10-speed in the 80s.
  • I hate tires with tan sidewalls. Twee showbike eye-candy/wall-hangers? Sure. Real bikes that get wet and/or dirty and/or exposed to UV? No thank you.
So with all that yammering, why would I even try the Pasela again?
  • Like me, it's cheap. I found mine for something like $16 a tire (for the steel-bead, non-belted version).
  •  It comes in about a zillion sizes... something like 6 widths in 700c, not to mention a couple 26-inchers.
  • You can finally get it in blackwall. Cue chorus of angels, and derisive jeers from the retro guys who just kicked me out of the club. Also, the center-ridge tread has been rounded off to just a hint-o-ridge.
  • Paselas did quite well in Bicycle Quarterly's recent rolling resistance tests (you'll have to pick up a copy of Vol. 11, No. 3 for the deets). Granted, I'm not trying to go fast, but when a $16 tire tests better than the $25-$50 ones I've been riding, what's the downside?
Given all that, I ordered up a set of steel-bead, non-belted, blackwall 700x32s for my monster-road-converted Raleigh Clubman (the only unavailable combination, it seems, is non-belted folding bead, sadly). At 60 psi, mounted on Mavic Open Sport rims, and ridden long enough that I think they're done stretching, my calipers show a very respectable 31mm width. I know 60 psi seems laughably low for a road tire, but that darn Bicycle Quarterly (again) will tell you that we can (and should) be running our tires a lot lower than we do. At 60, I get no cornering squirm, no pinch flats (knock wood), seemingly limitless traction, and some serious plushness over rough stuff.

In fact, after a few hundred miles on these things, my only thoughts about the lamented Michelin Dynamic are, "The King is dead. Long live the King." On smooth surfaces, the Paselas are no slower than the undersized 700x28s they replaced, and they're markedly faster on the rough patches, floating rather than bouncing. It's especially noticeable in corners -- a choppy surface that would have knocked me off my line on the skinnies just gets eaten up by the fat Paselas. In general, the wider footprint gives me the confidence to take my "road" bike places where a road bike has no business going. I even think that the Clubman would now make a passable gravel-grinder bike, though I haven't put that to the test yet. It's certainly more gravel-worthy on paper than what my friends and I rode on gravel as kids (grumpy old man cue: We rode gravel because the roads around our houses were gravel, not because it was some trendy new thing.)

I keep waiting for the downside to show itself on these tires so I can write a balanced review, but I haven't found it so far. The Paselas will be getting their longest test yet (not to mention the Clubman's longest test) during Saturday's LimpStrong ride, so we'll have to see how they (and I) hold up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahh i like your tire choices much. Totally agree. Paselas wire bead were so light and fast and flat proof. I bought them now and they are fatter casing and not the light weight of old. Sad. The dynamic was great too. How funny some of the bet ever tires are the cheapest. I always felt the paselas in wire bead crushed the competition. People see the sides crack amd dont know it doesnt matter and is normal. Paselas are indeed King, you are right. There are a number of reasons as to why also. Its easy to feel. Z