Unless you’re in the business of making bicycles tires, you’ve probably never heard the name Wolfgang Arenz. But, you’ve probably ridden his stuff. He developed the acclaimed Black Chili Compound for Continental before he was recruited by Specialized.
At the Big S, Wolfgang developed a number of rubber compounds, including Gripton. Both the Black Chili and Gripton compounds have been widely recognized in the road segment as the fastest rubber money can buy.
If you’re trying to produce the best tires in the world, Wolfgang is the guy you want on your team. About two years ago, he was hired by Schwalbe and today, they’re unveiling his newest creation.
Every rubber compound consists of the same basic materials. What makes them special is the raw materials that go in, the formula, and the mixxer.
For the all new ADDIX rubber, Schwalbe developed an all new formula. The recipe is obviously top secret, but the key is said to increase the filler content for silica. In general, Silica is a popular filler because it can help reduce rolling resistance, while also enhancing grip, and keep durability constant.
The last piece was the mixer. If you’ve ever baked, you know how important it is to follow the directions exactly. Mixing ingredients at the wrong time or not adding the proper quantities can yield disastrous results. The same applies for tires. To ensure precision, Schwalbe built all new mixing hardware. They claim their new machines are the most precise in the cycling industry.
The new ADDIX rubber is available in four different compounds: Speed, Speed-Grip, Soft, and Ultra Soft. The names refer to the specific characteristic of each compound. Each of these compounds are easily identified by the label on the sidewall and the colored stripe down the tread.
The ADDIX Speed is specifically defined for XC racing. It has lower rolling resistance than the previous PaceStar compound, but offers better grip and durability.
The speed grip is perhaps the most versatile in the line and will be available in virtually every model Schwalbe offers. It’s sort of what the PaceStar was, except it offers significantly improved grip and durability.
The TrailStar compound was Schwalbe’s stickiest rubber. It wasn’t terribly durable, so it was best used in race applications. The new ADDIX Soft shares similar grip characteristics, but drastically increases durability and rolling speed. Tires that will use this compound are designed for Enduro/DH applications, such as the Magic Marry and Rock Razor.
For pure Enduro/DH pursuits, Schwalbe recommends the ADDIX Ultra Soft. It replaces the VertStar compound and is designed to literally claw for traction. The grip, rolling resistance, and damping properties are relatively the same as before, but durability and all-weather performance have both increased. The germans claim they’ve significantly improved the low-temperature properties, so the tire will still perform in adverse conditions.
On the trail
We recently the got the opportunity to test the new ADDIX SpeedGrip compound on the updated Ibis Ripley LS on our home trails. The bike was sporting 29×2.6” rubber and we were able to ride a loop that included everything from punchy technical climbs, to wet and rocky descents, and some steep and fast bits.
To be entirely honest, trail conditions were perfect. It had rained a few days before so the ground was all kinds of tacky. When the dirt is that good, it doesn’t matter what tires you’re running. You’re going to grip. Without being able to test the tires in a myriad of different conditions, or at least do back to back runs with different tire compounds, it’s hard to say anything meaningful.
In the past, we’ve had durability issues with Schwalbe’s TrailStar compound. The super soft knobs offered impressive traction in blown out conditions, but they wore out quickly. For race day applications, that’s fine. But it is a bummer considering the $100 retail. The harder Pacestar compound lasted a bit longer but didn’t offer the same grip. In rocky terrain, even their hardest Schwalbe compounds wouldn’t last.
Schwalbe claims the new ADDIX Speed Grip compound delivers TrailStar levels of performance while rolling as fast (and lasting considerably longer) than the Pacestar tires. Having ridden several of the tire compounds Wolfgang has produced in the past, we’re tempted to believe them.
As a testimonial, Schwalbe held their media launch event in Santa Barbara, CA. The venue is famous for its rocky terrain, so many media hacks were a bit apprehensive going in. After spending a day on the tires, everyone came away impressed.
On our test ride in Santa Cruz, the biggest thing we noticed was the volume of the tire. This was one of our first rides on the new 29×2.6” Nobby Nic, which Schwalbe introduced at Eurobike last year. For riders who love the extra traction of high volume plus tires, but didn’t like the lack of precision, this could be the answer. These 2.6” tires seem to offer a lot of the same benefits, without any of the negatives. We look forward to getting samples in for further testing.
For more info, visit www.schwalbe.com.
This article is part of Mtbr’s coverage of the 2017 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.