Pros: Durable; effective across a wide range of conditions, including snow
Cons: Pricey, at $130 a tire
The scoop: Tread compound, layout make for a do-everything, durable tire
Right about now most sane ‘crossers are getting their mud treads dialed in for the last, and most nasty, assault of the ‘cross season. Normally I would be doing the same, but after riding the new Clement MXP for the last month I’m rethinking my tire selection.
Clement in it’s current incarnation hasn’t been around long but this small company has already distinguished itself as an innovator and has produced several tires that bring the fight to the cyclocross tire establishment. Last year, Clement’s PDX attracted a lot of attention as an amazing mud tire, but I dare say the MXP comfortably spans a larger breadth of riding conditions.
As with the PDX and LAS tubulars that came before it, the MXP, which retails for $130, is named after an airport, Milan’s Malpensa. This acknowledges Milan’s dry and fast World Cup course and also gives a cheeky nod to Italy as Clement’s ancestral home.
The MXP is a tubeless tubular. That’s right, no inner tube. The casing is the pneumatic vessel. This makes Clement’s tires tough, light and durable. Tufo pioneered the tubeless tubular decades ago, so this is not a newsworthy moment, but Clement has refined the casing to be a lot more supple whilst retaining almost all of the outstanding durability. Because of their construction, all the Clement tubulars are a breeze to mount. They go on straight and don’t twist on the rim. Removable valve cores make adding extenders and sealant a snap.
Clement’s rubber compound is an attention grabber, too. It is not like the standard natural rubber compound that’s found on most ‘cross tubulars; it’s more spongy and pliable, not unlike neoprene. The compound makes for predictable traction because it adds grip at a micro-traction level on top of the work the tread pattern does.
So what of this tread pattern? At a glance, it looks a lot like many other “all conditions” tread patterns, but the subtleties are profound. The center track has flatter chevron style knobs that have a closer spacing for fast rolling, but these are a bit taller (2.3mm) than your usual all conditions tire. The chevrons are also split for more flexibility.
As the tire rolls into turns, it first hooks up on the second row of directional knobs and then transitions seamlessly into the side knobs. The side knobs take their cues from soccer cleats and are slightly staggered. The consistent profile and excellent knob spacing eliminate that vague transition moment when railing into turns and makes the MXP incredibly confident in a wide range of conditions.
I have been on the MXPs for over a month now and have ridden them as much as I can. The Colorado weather was bone dry and dusty early on and now we have had snow on the ground for nearly two weeks. I have raced them in everything: moon-dust dry dirt, deep sand, loose gravel, powder snow and in the last few days, hardpack snow. Last week I tested a number of different tires shootout style in the snow and the MXPs were stand-out performers. I kept trying other tires as our local track packed down and the MXPs still won out. I have found them to be confident and predictable and if the weather is anything like this in Madison, Wisconsin, and it’s looking that way, I’ll ride them there, too. In our recent cold, dry and snowy conditions they’ve outshone a mud tire and have been at least as good as file treads. If you have one set of race wheels and need to choose the tire that covers the broadest range of conditions, the MXP might just be the one.