Earlier this week I met with Sean Hayhow from Tannus Tyres to find out more about their latest product, the Tannus Aither 1.1 solid tyre. A press release from Tannus caught my attention late last year so when Wheelsuckers asked if I’d like to test a pair, they didn’t have to ask me twice!
Why solid tyres you may ask? The obvious benefit is that you will never puncture! There’s no inner tube so you can ride over broken glass, rusty nails and thorn strewn roads without ever experiencing that demoralising deflation. In addition, this latest version is billed as being more forgiving and slightly faster than their previous models.
Out of the packaging I was surprised to find that the tyre is much more flexible that I had imagined. It can be twisted up into loops for postage and springs right back into shape once you let go.
According the Sean, the Aither 1.1 has 50% more air space within the polymer compound, giving the tyre a more forgiving ride and extra suppleness. The tyre itself feels very hard, much like a clincher pumped to 120psi feels when you squeeze it. Each tyre came supplied with an instruction sheet, a mounting tool and three different sized plastic clips (more on these later).
Installing the tyres
This is where the fun starts. Mounting these tyres is not as easy as a regular clincher. Sean recommended setting aside a free hour and just taking your time. Firstly you need to match the inner width of your rim to the correct size of colour coded clip. The right size is a few millimetres wider than your rims.
Once you’ve determined the correct size of clip, you will need to push each of the clips into slots around the inner circumference of the tyre taking care to ensure they’re the correct way up. This is started by hand and finished off with the supplied tool. While we’re on the subject of the tool, it can only be described as a “prison shank” comprising of a sharp plastic chisel with a flat handle on the other end!
Once all the clips are in place it’s time to get the tyre onto the rim. This was the most difficult part. It took two of us working in co-operation to persuade the tyre onto the rim, but I’m assured it can be done single-handedly (probably by someone with more upper body strength than myself).
The final step is to use the prison shank to push each of the plastic clips under the lip of the rim, this firmly secures the tyre in place. Like the rest of the process it takes a bit of effort, but if you get the technique nailed it’s actually quite simple. Once I’d been shown, I managed it without any problems. Each clip “clicks” into place under the lip. Here's a short video of me demonstrating the technique:
With the two of us (mostly Sean) between lots of talk we got both tyres completed in around 45 minutes. Not bad considering it’s a job you only ever have to do once.
A question of weight
There’s no denying it, these are not featherweight tyres. With all the clips installed my 23mm Aither 1.1 weighed 410 grams. Now before you tune out that’s not as heavy as it first seems. Remember you don’t need an inner tube or any spares. Let’s compare that to a pair of Continental GP 4-Seasons plus the bare minimum spares:
Two Conti 4-Seasons: 450g
Two inner tubes: 200g
Spare inner tube: 100g
Tyre levers: 40g
CO2 canister plus inflator: 85g
You’re looking at 810 grams for the Tannus tyres compared to 875 grams for a pair of Continentals plus your puncture repair spares!
My first impressions have been highly positive. I was dubious at first, but seeing the tyres in the flesh, installing one myself and chatting to Sean about the science has increased my confidence in the product. The theory is there and it feels like a high quality product.
Of course the real proof will be in how they perform out on the road. As you all know I love my speed so they’re going to need to perform well in order to convert me. Once I’ve put a decent amount of testing miles on the pair I’ll be posting a more in-depth ride review.
Stay tuned, it could be exciting times in the world of performance tyres!
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