Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless Tires - First Impressions and Install

It is no secret that we here at B&R have been interested in tubeless tire technology for some time. So when it came time to purchase a set of tires to go in a new set of tubeless capable wheels, it only made sense to take the opportunity to try some out. Luckily, my need coincided with the release of the latest and greatest of Schwalbe’s tubeless road tires: the “Pro One”.

 Microskin propaganda from Schwalbe...

Microskin propaganda from Schwalbe...

The “Pro One” tires are an evolution of the previous “One” series of tires. Schwalbe claims that the Pros are easier to mount, lighter, faster rolling, and have better cut resistance. What is not to like? They credit all of this advancement to their patented “Tubeless Easy Microskin” construction, whatever that means (grin).

Early in the season I ordered a pair of Pro One tires. While the trend is for wider tires (25mm or even 28mm), I opted for the 23mm size. There are a number of factors that went into this choice. Primarily, they had the best availability and lightest weight. In addition, I felt that my rim choice would provide me with much of the benefits that come from a wider tire (lower pressures and a more comfortable ride), without the added weight of more rubber.

 Features relative to V.1 rims

Features relative to V.1 rims

These tires are meant for a set of Pacenti SL 23 v.2 rims, which measure 24.5mm external, 20.3mm internal and 26mm deep. The wide internal width spreads the tire out, so the tire measures much wider than the stated width. For example, my HED wheels, which have a similar geometry to the SL23s, combined with Michelin Pro4 25mm tires have a measured width of 29mm (over a 30% increase in volume, due to rim geometry alone). As we have written about before, I like to run my tire pressure in accordance to the measured tire width, not the stated width (more information here)

Note: While Pros are using 25mm tires almost exclusively now, they use tubular tires which are not influenced by rim width in the same way that clinchers are. Wide tubular rims provide a wider bed to better support the tire, but does not actually change the shape or width of the tire (like a clincher rim can).

The claimed weight from the manufacturer for 23mm Pro Ones is 235g. The measured weight was 254g and 258g for the pair. A little disappointing, yes, but at least within 10% of the claimed weight. Some companies struggle mightily with this, for example: a certain popular saddle maker that recently got into handlebars has actual weights nearly 30% over their claimed totals. For shame!

As mentioned above, the new tires are supposed to be easier to install. In practice, I found this claim to be a mixed bag.

First the good: the tires were very easy to get on the rim. I was able to install the tire onto the rim using just my thumbs. In that sense, they were indistinguishable from regular clincher tires. However, this did seem to have negative consequences when it came to getting the tire seated.

With the tire bead being a little looser than your typical tubeless tires, it meant that getting enough pressure in the tire to pop it onto the bead shelf was a challenge. I was able to get them seated and inflated with my floor pump, but it was far from “easy”. I think that using an air compressor would have made this a very simple job, but that is not always available so I wanted to see if it could be done with a floor pump. So, while it can be done with a floor pump, I wouldn’t want to do it on a regular basis (or get one of these).

Once on the rim, and inflated to 90psi, the tires measure 27mm wide, which is right about what I expected on the SL23 rims. I am looking forward to putting some miles on these tires and see how they stand up long term. Check back in the fall for an update.