Compass Tires

Compass must know what it's like. Mike and I were reminiscing this morning about when we used to get virtually yelled at for pointing out that a rim's inner width was the only thing that mattered for tire ride interaction (yes we know aerodynamics is a separate issue), and that ideal inflation pressure for a given tire would vary with different rim inner widths. The funny thing is that the people who shouted us down the most have now become huge proponents of those facts. 

Compass has rolled to their own drummer for a long time. Early, if not the actual first, to notice and test (testing - what a crazy idea) that wide, supple tires at lower inflation are faster than narrow, hard tires at high pressure. They evolved to having their own tires made under contract by Panaracer in Japan. Their range extends from the gigantic Antelope Hill 700c x 55mm tire down to the Cayuse Pass 26mm tire, with CX and 650b and even 26" options. 

Because they were at the front of the tan wall tire trend, they're pretty easy to notice when someone's using them, and I've made a habit of bugging people I see using them to ask how they like them. Universally, it's love. Like the weird kind of enthusiasm of the true evangelical (in the very secular sense, please) convert. Having more things to test and try than we have to test and try them, it took a while to try them firsthand, but once we did it was "oh why didn't we do this a long time ago?" 

The first thing you notice is just that they're smooth. Within a few seconds, that's obvious. Then you go around some corners and the handling starts to become apparent. Then you go down a hill among other people and even though the people on the ride are killing you because you're not that fit and you've just taken a big pull and you want to hide in the back for a bit, you just coast right by everyone. Normally I'm a hardcore skeptic of things this order of magnitude, but it's hard not to notice. My first clue-in to that was on 26mm Cayuse Pass (set up with latex tubes, per my usual road setup, on Café Racer 46s), but then I went out on the parts bin 1x project with 35mm Bon Jon Pass (tubeless, on RCG36 wheels), and it was even more pronounced. Aero, I can most heartily assure you, is not everything. 

It's not ALL dandy and wonderful, though. For the dyed in the wool "tubeless is where it's at" set, the narrower road tires are tubed clincher only. Compass doesn't trust tubeless for narrow tire, higher pressure applications. And for the people like me who do use tubeless for lower pressure and higher volume applications (for me, if it's got knobs or is bigger than about 33mm, I go tubeless), it can take a bit of sealant to get the tires fully sealed. That's it.

Inflated widths are more true to size on the 19mm to 22mm inner width rims that we use, though they are a bit wider than stated (Cayuse Pass is 27.7mm on an RCG36, for example). Durability is the big question mark at this point, since we haven't got the mileage in to talk about that. We're using the heavier normal construction on our wheels, which feel pretty darn light and supple indeed - I don't see a ton of need to go lighter, certainly not on the roads around here. 

So it's good to have a kindred spirit brand out there, pursuing their own path and putting out really good stuff. We're happy to be able to supply them with any of our wheels (or just on their own if you like). 


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  • Dave on

    Jerry – Big picture, they’re (I’m using Cayuse Pass for this bc I’ve never ridden a huge Vittoria road tire) pretty similar. If you switched from one to the other immediately, you’d tell a difference, but if you hadn’t ridden for a couple of days and got on one or the other it wouldn’t be a stark difference. They are the two most supple tires I’ve used in this category. The Compass feels more supple. Both let me go around corners harder than my lizard brain wants to. Can’t tell you about long term durability. A friend borrowed my bike with Cayuse last week and had a tack go through the tire, which would have happened to any tire I’d want to use I think.

  • Jerry on

    How do the Compass compare to Vittoria Corsa G+. ?

  • Jeff on

    I’m running the Compass 28’s on my road bike. They measure 30.5mm on my 22C hookless wheels. I rotated them at 1800 miles and I’m now at 3200 miles, I’d say there is another 509 to 1000 miles in them. I weigh 185lbs and run them at 60psi. No issues with durability. Zero punctures so far.

    On my CX I’m running the 35C Bon Jon pass Extralite at 40psi, set up tubeless. I had a double sidewalk puncture on shafts gravel, but they sealed and I didn’t notice until I was cleaning the bike after. They feel so good, I’m now commuting on the 35’s all the time. I’m a convert, waiting for these to wear out to try the 44’s.

  • dave on

    BYcycles – 1500 miles isn’t great, but it’s almost 2x what a company selling Turbo Cotton tires told one of our customers was the life expectancy of said Turbo Cotton tires, after said customer’s tire’s sidewall blew out. Based on what I know from others, 1500 miles is short for a Compass. Rider weight plays a role, inflation pressure plays a role, terrain plays a role, etc. And if you can avoid the sometimes reported sidewall failures (which I’ve never had) then GP4000s seem to be the longest lasting “race type” tire. Corsa G+ have had good longevity for me as well. With Compass, we’ll see. Thanks!

  • BYcycles on

    re:Durability is the big question mark…
    It’s a sample size of one but I only got ~1500 miles out of a rear tire before it was shot. That was the standard weight one, not the extra-light. I guess “suppleness” comes at a cost. Of course, any bike I sit on is at least 230 lbs. so I’m sure that didn’t help. Still, I usually get ~3000 miles out of a Conti GP 4000. Also, I don’t like the gum walls. They get dirty and, at least on the set I got, there were noticeable variations in the width of the gum wall around the circumference of the tire.



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