Ride Review: Tannus Aither 1.1 Solid Tyres

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...

  • No punctures, obviously!
  • You never need to check your tyre pressures.
  • No more carrying spare tubes, pump, repair kit, etc.
  • They come in a large range of fancy colours.
  • A great winter training tyre.
  • Arguably the ultimate commuting tyre.

Avoid them because...

  • Much harder to install and remove (especially if you want to reuse them).
  • Extra rotational weight is noticeable.
  • Rolling resistance at higher speeds is poor compared to a “racier” tyre.
  • Expensive initial outlay.

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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Comment by Andrew_Culture on July 14, 2015 at 11:45

Ha, yes, I wouldn't fancy doing that myself!

Comment by Middle Ringer on July 13, 2015 at 20:10

What I really want to do is take the tyres off the rims they are on and mount them on a different set to test again, but that looks like quite a mammoth task! Might have to call in a favour with a Tannus rep.

Comment by Andrew_Culture on July 13, 2015 at 18:25

They definitely get better, either that or I've got fitter, which I very much doubt!

I've started using the bike for more short errands since fitting solid tyres; I love not having to check the tyres!

Comment by Middle Ringer on July 13, 2015 at 18:14

Thanks for the link Andrew, you have some good thoughts on the tyres. To be honest since my review I haven't ridden a single mile on the TANNUS tyres, but I may have to start cycle commuting to work more soon so they could be resurrected as the ultimate commuter's tyre. I believe that (and the single speeders) should still be their main target market.

Comment by Andrew_Culture on July 13, 2015 at 12:08

I've not found many people who out and out hate Tannus tyres, but I do wonder if a part of the reason for that is once you've forked out for them then I guess there's the potential to convince yourself they're great!  

I've been riding Tannus on my SingleSpeed for just over six months now, and the problem I have is that it's looking like my tyres are going to outlast my rims!

I don't know if it's poor form (as I'm new here) but I thought you might find the review (and video) I published on VeloBalls intersting - http://veloballs.com/tannus-solid-tyres-review/

Comment by Middle Ringer on March 20, 2015 at 18:25

In that case Dave, you'll be glad to know that Tannus are planning on having tyre fitting stations at local bike shops and stockists across the country!

Comment by Dave Rowe on March 20, 2015 at 17:44

Haha Giles, you found me out!!!! I don't know the slightest thing about the 'mechanics' of my bike - nasty, dirty things that chip your nail varnish other than, of course, an almost OCD tendency to clean my magnificent bike at the merest hint of dust descending upon it! For everything else, I have a mobile phone, friends that owe me favours and the very wonderful Cytronex LBS that do all the grubby finger/nail cippy stuff that I avoid. Naturally, given all of the above, MR, I like the sound of the Tannus tyres and should my Schwalbe Marathon Plus ever wear out (I take great pride in walking alongside my bike wherever possible) I shall invest, somebody else will fit them, obviously.....

Comment by Giles Pargiter on March 19, 2015 at 20:28

great review, thankyou. When these become a little cheaper I can see them becoming really good equipment for single speed riders (who don't know how to keep dérailleurs adjusted and haven't learnt to change gear) commuter/shopping bikes and for the ever popular inappropriately used urban MTB's. that casual users take up. I have noticed one of the biggest things that seems to stop such users is pumping up tyres/fixing punctures and generally adjusting their bikes. 

The more of them out there the better.

BTW I'm not suggesting that there are many on here that use single speeds because they can't keep their gears adjusted. Just that from my observation that is why quite some few "non-enthusiasts" do.

Comment by Middle Ringer on March 19, 2015 at 18:42

The tyres CAN be fitted at home, but it's not easy. With the help of Sean (a Tannus rep) I fitted most of a tyre back in February, It was hard work so I let him finish it off! With the help of the internet, a bit of muscle and some swearing I think I could have done it at home by myself. My advice would be to set aside an hour and take your time.

Comment by Charlie Woodall on March 19, 2015 at 17:23

have got a pair of these on my single speed commuter bike and they are absolutely perfect for that.

noticeably slower to get up to speed and extra effort needed at the top end as you mentioned, but well worth it for puncture and worry-free commuting year round. 

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