This is a follow-up to the earlier bike tire review where I gave my initial impressions of the Grand Bois Cerf tire.
Okay, I wasn’t sure about the switch to these tires. I am a bit of a fuddy duddy when it comes to tires. I tend to ultimately stick to tires I’ve used in the past even though I occasionally try (waste my money on) other tires. Most often, I end up on Continental Grand Prix 4000s or Ultra Races or Vredestein Fortezza Tri-Comps. Everything else that I’ve tried up to now feels slower or doesn’t corner well. There was the time where some Avocet FastGrips took me down on a slick road at 35 mph. Then there’s the sluggish ride of the Specialized Roubaix tires (unless you pump them up to ungodly pressures, but then what’s the point in riding a higher volume tire?). Anyway, you get the point.
Now, I’ve come to the Grand Bois Cerf Green Label (28C width). They are puffy, measuring slight wider than it’s stated size of 28C (28.2mm on my DT Swiss RR 1.1s), pumped up to about 95 psi. They roll quietly and comfortably, absorbing quite a bit of the road shock. They take the edge off expansion gaps and roads that have small rises in the pavement due to underground roots. This is great, but there’s always a trade-off in speed, right? Wrong.
On three separate rides when I first got them, they have proven to be faster. On my first commute on them, I easily managed a bit over 17mph round trip when I had been working pretty hard to go 16mph round trip. On a 32 mile ride over the weekend, I rode 18mph over a 32 mile course that I usually have to work hard to stay over 17.5mph. Then, this morning I just flew in to work, getting here about 5 minutes faster than average. Granted this is a small sample, but it indicates why I may have found a new “go-to” tire.
I now have completed a few years of riding on these tires. Lately, I have been mounting them up the HED Jet 4 rims or the HED Ardennes wheels. These rims are the newer 23mm width rims. When these tires are mounted on these rims, the wider rim allows the tire to “round out” , providing a nice round profile. Shown on the right is the GB Cerf mounted on the HED Jet 4. It’s difficult to see, but the tire is nice and round when mounted on this rim (See the picture on the right). The Ardennes imparts the same profile to the tire. I have completed multiple double centuries on these tires and have found them to perform well. Fast and comfortable!
For those who want to know about the actual width of these tires, you can see in the next picture, that the tire measures just over 29mm when mounted on the HED wheels.
It should be noted that most newer bikes will not accept tires this width unless specifically built to accept larger tires. For example, one of my racing bikes has an Easton EC90 fork. The Cerf Green Label does not fit into this fork, Fortunately, the Grand Bois Cerf Blue Label (26C) tire measures out at ~27mm wide on the HED rims and fits just fine, giving a nice round profile as well.
So, if you’ve read this far, you’re likely wondering why you’d want to try these. First, my experience with these tires indicates that they are actually faster than most other tires that I have tried. Second, they are higher volume tires. This means that tire pressures can be lowered without giving up speed. I weigh 185lbs and I typically ride mine at 85psi rear/80psi front, and this provides a very comfortable ride without any reduction in speed. Third, their nice, round profile when mounted seems to make them much more predictable in corners. This is a subjective thing, but I feel much more confident during hard cornering on these tires than I do on most other tires.
Okay, negatives? Well, some claim that these tires are prone to flats. While I have flatted on them, I have not noticed them to be especially flat-prone. Though, if you tend to ride on glass-strewn or thorn-covered roads, these might not be the tires for you. If you tend to be careful about what you ride over and check your tires for debris after ride, you will probably do fine on this tire.
You can buy them here on(http://www.compasscycle.com/tires.html). Please, note that I have no skin in this game. I don’t sell these tires and don’t get any money or freebies from Jan Heine or Compass Cycle.