This week was the continuation of some warmer weather, and I finally got out to try the Panaracer Competition SX tires in 28mm that I bought last month.
I have always liked Panaracer tires, and probably have mounted as many Panaracer tires on my bikes as any other manufacturer. I have used Race A EVO tires many times on the road bikes, and they seldom disappoint. I have used Gravel King 28s on the road bike and always found them to be a nice clincher with a good mix of durability and performance, perfect for bad roads. On the cyclocross bike, I have used 32mm Gravel King SKs for gravel, and I have used the Gravel King 38mm (slicks) for commuting. I even have the super durable Paselas on my track bike/commuter.
I am a Panaracer fan boy, and I always keep an eye out for new releases. Could the Panaracer Competition SX clincher be something special?
I had high expectations for the Panaracer Competition SX tires after reading a thread on Velocipede Salon about them. They looked like a good performance-oriented tire. They had supple side walls that looked to me like the Specialized Turbo, a light almost tubular casing style of side wall. The light, supple casing would add to the ride feel.
The rubber looked to be a lot like the Race A EVOs which I had always liked. They were allegedly fast, and even though they weren’t flat proof, they were touted as more than durable enough. They came in 28s, and I was told they were more like a 30mm tire on a wide rim. The advertised weight was only about 185 grams, which is a super spec on any tire. The price, $28. Wow!
In person, all these expectations played out nicely. The Panaracer Competition SX 28mm tires mounted rather easily. I put them on my Aeolus Pro 3s, and the taped rim was a breeze to get the tire on. The other rim with the tubeless rim strip proved only a little harder to mount, as the grippy bead passed over the edge and into place. All in all, it was not tougher than any other tire to mount. So far so good.
Once inflated, they were a lot more like a 30mm tire and the extra volume really gives you a floating feel as you head over rougher roads. I got out twice already on largely urban rides, and the extra bit of volume really tamed the rough city streets. I ran the pressure down to about 65 psi yesterday, and they rolled fast. The "belt" not only rolls with very little resistance, but its rounded shape provides great grip when cornering. I used the Panaracer Competition SXs on my steel All-City Mr. Pink, and I had great command of the bike when bombing through turns in the drops.
The supple side walls really added to the overall charm of these tires, and you can really feel the changes in road surface as they provide feedback on the ride. This is not a negative at all, you just feel as though you are more tuned into the road as the carcass of the tire conforms to the tarmac. The casing also makes them look pretty amazing in person.
Now admittedly, I have only 50 or so miles in on these and I had two relatively easy days on the bike with them mounted. They still look new, but I do not suspect they will last thousands of miles. These are obviously a light performance tire with no great expectations of durability.
I am interested in trying them on the Trek and really going hard on them, but so far, I did not experience anything not to like about these tires until I came home. I posted some pics of a ride on Instagram and had several people ask where I got them. I went online to the Excel Sports site to grab a link to post, and my heart sank. I knew they were a limited run of tire, but I did not expect to see them out of stock. They’re no longer being sold.
At $28 a tire, I would have bought several pairs, and I regret not jumping on these while I had the chance. While I do not ride clinchers too often, I would have saved these for races and fair-weather rides with the hope that they would last. For now, I will have to enjoy these while they last and hope that they remain a great find and come back to the market for sale soon.