Since my first look back in February I’ve been giving the Tannus Aither 1.1 solid tyres a good workout on my road bike, so it's time for a more in-depth appraisal of their real world performance. Although these tyres are available in other formats, this review will focus mainly on their capability as a performance road bike tyre.
My first experience on the tyres was a gentle cycle to the Sunday club ride. It’s an easy 10 miles that I usually cover at a 16 mile an hour average. The tyres felt comfortable, soaked up the poor road surface and rolled just like you’d expect a road tyre to. They did feel slightly hard, Tannus claim they are set feel like a 100psi pneumatic tyre but I'd be more inclined to say 120psi. Nothing else stood out over those first few miles and I almost forgot I was riding solid lumps of rubber instead of a cushion of air. In fact, when simply rolling along they performed admirably. Great, right?
Well, yes. However I’m not one for just rolling along. It’s no secret that I like to ride hard and once the pace picks up, you notice the difference between the Aither 1.1 and a regular performance clincher. When putting the hammer down I could feel the tyres holding me back slightly. They just didn't want to roll as quickly or as smoothly compared to my GP 4 Season training tyres. Short, punchy out of the saddle efforts no longer felt quite so punchy and accelerating out of a corner took noticeably more effort.
Most of this is arguably down to the extra weight. Although the overall weight difference is minimal once you take into account the removal of spares (see my initial article) it’s where that weight is placed that matters. Extra weight at the furthest point of rotation (i.e. the tyres) will have a greater effect on the handling and feel than static weight.
In theory, over a perfectly flat course a heavier tyre could actually be faster due to the greater inertia of this rotating weight (the flywheel effect). In the real world however, this small benefit is completely outweighed by the extra force required to accelerate the added rotational mass up to speed.
A pair of solid tyres may only net you an extra 100g per wheel, but when sprinting out of the saddle or pushing hard up a long drag at threshold, the extra energy needed to spin that weight was evident.
It’s not all bad though. For anything less than “full gas” cycling the Tannus Aither 1.1’s are a perfectly capable tyre. The level of grip offered is acceptable and the ride is comfortable over all but the worst of road surfaces.
If you want to get out and explore the countryside without the worry of punctures you’d be more than happy with these tyres. For training through the depths of the puncture-prone British winter or for commuting to work in the city you’d be hard pressed to overlook the benefits of a solid tyre. All their faults aside, the “zero flat” and low maintenance advantages are a huge plus. They really are set and forget tyres!
As technology advances I’m sure Tannus will address the shortcomings. The Aither 1.1 is not the first incarnation and hopefully not the last. If they develop a newer version 50g lighter and comparable in rolling resistance to a Continental GP4000S, they’d be onto an absolute winner. I’d have them on my bikes in a flash.
At present, they’re just a little too weighty for a lightweight summer bike and certainly too slow for my TT bike. As we edge further into Spring I find myself not wanting to ride these tyres anymore. I want faster. Would I would consider using them again? I think so, but I’m not totally sold and will probably relegate them to my hybrid where outright speed isn't an issue. That said, as a hard working winter training tyre or an all-weather commuter the Tannus Aither 1.1 is certainly a worthy contender.
Buy them because...
Avoid them because...
The Tannus Aither 1.1 goes on sale in the UK from Monday 23 March 2015 and retail at £49.99 for a single tyre and £99.00 for a pair. They can be bought online at thesolidtyre.com and the Tannus website lists retailers across the country, where they can also be fitted.
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