Compass Tires

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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Chris – We will, and c’mon you know we’re not weight weenies!

Joe C – They do black wall as well.

Tom – Thanks for the input.

Colin – .5- to .75 psi per hour, generally. You wouldn’t have to use lower pressure, but the Compass tubeless sizes start at 35mm so it’s a moot point there.


I use Schwalbe Pro Ones. In the 28 size I can run 60PSI without even remotely feeling like I’m pushing any envelope (I’m 185lbs), but the tyres have a minimum recommended pressure of 70PSI. That’s surely a cock up, but whatever.

If Compass tyres are more supple, maybe I would have to run a higher pressure which could rule out using tubeless according to their recommendations.

I like the ride of with latex tubes. I’m Ok with them losing air. I’m not OK with using a track pump at 5:20am in the morning. That’s likely to see me punched in the face when I get home.

Have you done anything cunning like working out how quickly latex tubes lose pressure so you could over inflate them the night before so they are at the “right” pressure in the morning?


If you want to try something in the 26-28c width that are better than the Compass casings, and as durable (or more), pick up a pair of the 28c Specialized Turbo Cotton “Hell of the North” tires. Hard to beat an “open tubular” style construction. Also, I’ve found the 36c Challenge Strada Bianca Pro (also poly-cotton casing) to outperform the Bon Jon Pass tires. Faster and more durable (double puncture belt to Compass’ none). The only thing is you need to run latex tubes and can’t run them tubeless. I’ve got big hopes for the new Challenge tubeless Race models (120tpi vulcanized casing) though. On paper, the should actually end up faster rolling than the Pro models. Just my 2 centavos…

Tom A.

I don’t get the whole tan wall fascination. They were great on my 1972 Schwinn Continental, but…..

Joe C

Try to extra light version…it’s not about weight, it’s about suppleness and rolling resistance. You can practically feel the tire conforming around tiny debris.


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