If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may remember that I have swallowed the Kool-Aid concerning tubular cyclocross tires. I currently have 3 sets of tubs. While my Challenge Grifo’s are great all around tires, and my Dugast Pipistrellos are fast; I am most impressed with my Tufo Cubus 32’s.
The Cubus is a highly specialized tire. They are meant for deep mud and seriously greasy, sketchy courses. On pavement, you can hear the raised knobs robbing you of speed and momentum. But in a shit show like New Gloucester 2009 or Mercier Cup 2008, these tires will save your ass and keep you riding while others are slipping out and walking.
The super aggressive center tread pattern really bites into the ground and offers decent traction on deep, slippery, loose mud. At New Gloucester this year, I was able to ride many sections that my competitors ran. I attribute my 2 uncharacteristic Verge podiums at least partially to the grip offered by these tires on the slick climbs.
In corners, the side knobs dig in and offer stability and confidence. Since they are a mud tire, you will never feel like you are riding on rails, since every corner should be greasy if you are using these. But you will be able to push a little harder in corners knowing that your tires are gripping.
The tread pattern sheds mud as good as any other specialized mud tire. This is the constant trade off: aggressive tread vs. mud shedding ability (for instance Fangos shed mud, but aren’t aggressive enough when conditions truly deteriorate). Tufo has struck a good balance with the Cubus. They grip well, but don’t pack up terribly, though, as with any aggressive tread, if the mud is sticky enough, they can’t help but pack.
Many people object to Tufo tires because they are much less supple than fancier tubulars. The flip side of this is that Tufo tires are indestructible. You can whale on these tires all season, run them at ridiculously low pressure and bottom them out multiple times per race and not worry about hurting them. And if they puncture, they are easily resealed using Tufo’s sealant. Call me a philistine, but I like my mud tires to be able to handle the inevitable abuse that they will suffer: getting smashed into hidden rocks, roots and the like. I have noticed no downsides to the stiffness of the casing. They don’t conform to every little change in surface, but they conform enough in off cambers to allow the tread to do its job.
These tires were comparatively cheap. $50 on World Class Cycles. That’s cheaper than Challenge tubulars cost at wholesale.The bottom line: If you are looking for an inexpensive, durable tire that will help you improve your mud riding, this might be it. If you need a suppler casing, you can get the Flexus casing with the Cubus tread for about twice as much.