Saturday, September 1, 2012

TIRES! Reviews of Four Budget Friendly Forte' Brand Tires from Performance Bike

Again, I have to apologize for not keeping up with my blog. This used to be a place for me to post pictures and give ride reports, but with the advent of Instagram, I've pretty much left my picture posting for there. If you want to follow me, please look me up as "dionridesbikes" - I totally appreciate the follows and especially the comments.

Today I'm going to give you a long overdue review of the Performance brand "Forte'" tires: The Dartmoor, Pisgah, Tsali and Metro. With the exception of the Metro, I've used these in a variety of situations, from racing Sea Otter to pavement use to my local trail jaunts. The Metro is a recent addition, so I'm going to offer my first ride impressions.

Performance Bike re-brands components and accessories under the Forte' name, but from speaking with the employees from the local shop, they say the source of these parts are from a variety of major manufacturers (Kenda was mentioned as being a manufacturer of many of their tires). All of these tires are under $20, which is a great value during these rough economic times.

The Dartmoor

I was initially turned on to the Dartmoor for it's tread pattern. When I was looking at a tire to be used as a rear for Sea Otter, I liked the idea of a fast rolling rear with low treads that would handle well on a hard-packed XC course. Looking closer at the tread pattern, it resembles the Schwalbe Furious Fred tire, claimed by Schwalbe to be the fastest rolling tire they offer; however, the Dartmoor is just 1/5 of the price of a Furious Fred. Unfortunately, after test riding the Sea Otter course, I swapped this out for the Tsali, which are reviewed furthered down.

As suspected, the Dartmoor handles well for the hard-packed situations where the ground is stable; loose pebbles and such will render this tire useless. It rolls fast, and does well at low tire pressures, such as 25PSI. With raised knobs on the side, it corners surprisingly well, but only when the loose gravel is nonexistent. The folding bead version comes in at a wonderfully light 524g (claimed weight), so you weight-weenies out there can sleep well at night.

Currently, these tires are on my vintage KHS Montana Pro. Since I baby my vintage ride a bit, I stick to fire roads and these tires work extremely well for those days on the dirty hills. For anything aggressive, such as all-mountain riding, I would recommend looking for something else. They roll fast with the compromise of no knobby traction.

For a commuter or adventure tire, I would highly recommend this as a choice to consider. For dirt paths and exploration, the Dartmoor offers a great alternative to pavement-specific tires that are difficult to navigate through the dirty stuff.

The Pisgah

I have chosen the Pisgah as a front tire on my On-One 456 Single Speed. It rolls great for a front tire and traction is very good. Coming hard into corners is done with confidence and it is wearing quite well given the conditions have been dry and scratchy; I ride pavement to the trails which probably wears them a bit faster. I have run this tire as low as 23PSI without any pinch flats; claimed weight is at 740g. For a 26 X 2.3 tire, I don't think 740g is too much of a weight disadvantage.

As a rear, I think I would choose something else unless the conditions warrant a heavier knobbied tire. The larger knobs are somewhat resistant to faster rolling, but they are ramped to offer some roll-ability.

The Tsali

For Sea Otter, I ran these both front and back. I am now using this as a rear on my SingleSpeed, and, unfortunately, it has worn very fast. The tread pattern reminds me of an off-road/dirt bike trials tire: knobby enough for some traction, but low, ramped tread for speed. I have mounted these ghetto tubeless without issue, and with inner tubes, I've gone down to lower air pressures without issue.

I like how fast this tire rolls, but the compromise of wear is bothersome. I would love this tread pattern in a compound that lasted a bit longer.

The Metro

I recently installed the 700X35c versions of these tires on a set of 29'er wheels and squeezed onto my Leader 510H frame (26'er frame). My first impressions of these tires have been positive: great feeling compound, light at 430g, rolls fast, comfy, and supple. These are a much better tire than the cheap hybrid tires I had on before. They provide a much better cushion than my previous tires, but roll much better.

I look forward to seeing how well these wear over time. I would recommend these for touring and commuting.

I wanted to offer my impression of these tires in case you had your doubts. These are simply re-branded tires from an array of major manufacturers, and I have trusted them on my local jaunts and even my modest stint at the Sea Otter Classic.

If you are looking for sub-$20 tires that provide great performance, the value of the Forte' line will be hard to beat.

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