No longer present from my previous review is my confusion between a blackcurrant based cordial and a Czech based tyre manufacturer, Rubena (alongside Ribena) has now become a recognised brand, not only in my house but also wider within the Hadleigh Mountain Bike club stable of riders.
My first review was of the Neptune tyres which, although, on their website are touted for dry loose conditions, stood up well and in-fact excelled in the muddy, slippery, sloppy conditions that have plagued our local trails during this wet and cold winter.
With spring however a new set of Rubena tyres landed at HMTBC Towers and along came the sun……… The last part of that sentence is clearly a falsehood, unless of course you live somewhere other than the UK. This being the case, I had to stick with the Neptunes for a few more weeks.
Last week however the sun did come and on to my newly built hard tail went a pair of Rubena’s Scylla racing tyres. There are 2 compound options for this tyre, the grey striped dual compound ones that I had on the Bamboo bike I reviewed recently (check there for a mini review, although it was horribly muddy) and the all black ‘Top Design’ Racing Compound ones now attached to my bike. There are also a number of sizes available from 2.1 to 2.25 as well as both 26 and 29er variants.
Although the sun had come our the first few outings on these tyres were ‘fun’ to say the least. Definitely inappropriate for the large amount of mud that was still around, I found myself slipping about like Bambi on ice. On a few occasions, the front would wash out causing me to have to react in milliseconds to release my clipped foot and save an embarrassing off, the more fun slips saw my back wheel trying to overtake the front after loosing rear traction mid corner. Opposite lock on a bike is kinda cool, that however is not really helping this review.
It did start to dry out however, the muddy patches became either avoidable or dismissed with a quick manual and rear wheel squelch, and the tyres started to work. We are fortunate to have some amazing variations in riding conditions, technical difficulty and surfaces along our local trails and the Rubenas worked well in most situations. The relatively shallow tread pattern on the contact surface of the tyre make for swift progress when the surface is hard packed and saw me easily riding away from my mud tyre shod mates on anything flat or uphill. The shoulders of the tyres have a deeper tread which certainly helps with confidence whilst cornering and I felt happy pushing on on most of the dryer parts of the trails.
Over the last week the trails have dried out more, and the dryer they get, the better these tyres become. The soft (ish) compound provides good grip over the dry exposed roots that now litter our trails having been washed clean by the incessant rain over the winter and there is enough tread depth and traction to tackle steep technical climbs on the now almost dry clay type surface that see me in at least a 1:1 low spinny gear.
In the last 2 rides out on these tyres, I have punctured the rear both times. Interestingly however and luckily I guess, on the way home so it did not affect my ride. On inspection it was actually a pinch puncture caused by pinching of the tube at the spoke head inside the rim. Although I am guilty of running cloth rim tape and weight weenie tubes, this did not happen on my previous tyres so I put it down to the side walls of the Rubenas being a little too flexible and moving the tube about inside, It could also of course have been me possibly running a bit lower than optimum pressures or just plain bad luck. I have now switched my tubes and rim tape out and will report back if it happens again.
Rubena have definitely started gaining a following within the club and last weekends Mud Sweat and Gears race saw at least 4 club members using them as race tyres (race report coming soon) with overall good results. Personally I think for the money, especially with the discounts provided to Hadleigh Mountain Bike Club members, you will be hard pressed to find anything as good. There will always be those who want to spend their money on Schwalbe, Maxxis, Continental etc. but spare a thought for the manufacturer you have never heard of who actually have been making tyres since 1928.
Unfortunately for Rubena, something that has been mentioned to me by several club members, their websites are diabolical and do nothing to help you see what the tyre options are, what they look like or what (British) conditions they are suited to. I hope my reviews may in some way help with that but to help a little more you can download their latest catalog in PDF format from our forum pages. **EDIT: Rubena have updated their UK website http://www.rubenacycle.co.uk/ which now features a natty interactive catalog which helps with tyre choice and has a good level of detail on all of their tyres. I still don’t like the website but the catalog is pretty cool. You can find it here http://erez.show-360.cz/erez/fsi/html/rubena_katalog_velo_2011.htm (may not work in all browsers, certainly won’t work well on mobile)
Rubena have a compete range of tyres for Road, MTB and Motorbikes and if your saving up for some new sunglasses or body hugging lycra as spring finally seems to be coming, why not save a few extra quid on your next set of tyres and give them a try.