Okay, so when I do a product test, I usually like to ride the part I'm reviewing several times before offering an opinion. In this, however, one 90 minute ride was sufficient to deduce that I found something good.
What bits did I test this morning you ask? IRD Crossfire cyclocross tires! I've ridden and raced a LOT of cross tires, both clincher and tubular, and the tires I rode this morning are easily the best clinchers I've had under my fat rear end.
Okay, I'll admit, the white is a bit obscene (I was expecting black), but the weight and construction of the tire doesn't change with color, so what the hell.
Quick and dirty overview of the meats themselves...
120TPI (more than a lot of $$ road tires), very supple casing and tread, widely spaced deep lugs that extend pretty far down the sidewall. They went on easily by hand and roll straight and round when inflated to the proper pressure. IRD states that the tires are 32mm wide, but they measure out to just shy of 35mm.
I put them on my 32h IRD/White Industries wheels, put 50psi in the front and 55psi in the rear. Those pressures are higher than needed for a race situation, but I was riding on tarmac, gravel, dirt and grass this morning, so there had to be a trade-off. It seemed that the choice was correct. On the tarmac, they roll smoothly and quietly, and really didn't seem to be any slower than Michelin Jets or Kenda SB8s. Turn in was progressive and I could tell the tread was soft and the casing supple. Ride quality is softer than the two aforementioned tires at the same pressures.
Once into the trail/cross loop, they could do no wrong. Gravel passed under the tires with no harshness or drama. In the dirt, they just gripped and gripped. No sliding, period!
The wet grass really showed where IRD did it's homework. Considering these are based on the Panaracer Fire XC Pro MTB tires (and produced in Japan by Panaracer), it's not too surprising.
I did 4 race paced loops of the double secret course and made an honest effort to hit the turns hard to see if I could make the tire slide out. No such luck! They just grabbed the grass and turned. I could hear the grass tearing as the tread scrabbled for grip. The tires didn't even give up grip climbing the run-up, like the Jets/SB8s are wont to do.
I also hit a section of lumpy mud, which didn't get the chance to stick around, literally and figuratively. The Crossfires shed every speck of mud within 25m.
Overall, I can't really find a downside to the Crossfires. The color isn't a big deal, simply because the white actually didn't look terrible on the bike. It actually gives one the opportunity to color match things, if so inclined.
As for me, no racing in Greenville this weekend, as I am being forced to play the role of loving spouse, and accompany the H.O. the the Clemson game on Saturday. The upside? We aren't sitting in the stands with the unwashed masses of mulleted Clemson fans. We'll be in the SuperBox, enjoying free food and drink. It's a push...
My calf is also SORE today. I may have received a bit deeper bruise that I initially thought, but it's not enough to keep from riding.