Alright dear readers, it’s time for another blog post on some of the wonderful equipment H24 has the privilege to train and race on. This write-up is on IRC Tire USA and the tires they’ve provided us. The tire division of the company has been a major player in Japan for a century or so and is making a big push for brand recognition in the US, especially in the local cycling scene. Their production in Japan and Vietnam is of significant scale.
I’ve been riding IRC tires on and off for four seasons, and I’m probably most excited to ride them in 2017 since our Token carbon race wheels will be tubeless. IRC is probably best known for being an early adopter of tubeless road technology, and they’ve had years more experience making tubeless road tires than much of the competition.
H24 has been on IRC’s Roadlite Tubeless in 25c and Aspite Pro in 24c and 26c this past season, and we’re looking forward to another year with them. While IRC has a comprehensive range of bicycle (and motorcycle!) tires, I’m focusing on the Roadlite and Aspite since those are the tires I’ve ridden most. IRC recently had some independent rolling resistance testing performed on their lineup by Bicycle Rolling Resistance (in December 2016, yet to be published), and allegedly the 25c Roadlite Tubeless is the ‘fastest’ tire they currently have on record, as measured by wattage lost due to rolling resistance. The 25c Roadlite Tubeless will be the tire to set up on our Token C38 tubeless carbon clincher race wheels. The combination of fast-rolling tires with tubeless flat protection and a lightweight, aero wheelset that can be ridden for group rides and races alike is an awesome intersection of leading-edge bike tech that so many riders and racers can benefit from, and I can’t wait to have our wheels and tires set up for race day in 2017.
The Aspite Pro 26c occupies an interesting space in IRC’s lineup, as it’s marketed as an aero, flat-resistant tire. According to the rolling resistance data it’s not a particularly ‘fast’ tire in terms of wattage, but it’s a robust and durable tire and its generous width pairs very well with a wide clincher rim (see Token C28, HED Belgium, etc.) for an everyday rider that can handle everything from ungroomed levee roads to muddy singletrack to creek crossings to Copperopolis Road Race. I raced on the Aspite for the entirety of the 2016 season and fully credit my one race win at Madera to this tire, as over half the field flatted at least once and some guys DNF’d because there literally weren’t enough spare wheels available to account for all the glass shards on the crit course. I was still picking out glass from the contact patch a week later, but my teammates and I were flat-free on our IRC tires and we were able to stay out of the wheel pit to control the pace and pick up a win.
Looking back at my tire choices for training and racing, I am very happy that I chose to go beyond the current paradigm of riding the thinnest, skinniest, and most fragile race tires (you know, the ones you buy on Ribble whose sidewalls slice open if you look at them funny) and picked up a pair of IRC tires. At the risk of making an obvious sponsorship plug, I will tell you with full honesty that after four years’ experience with IRC tires, it’d be a hard sell to convince me to ride any other clincher tires. I hope that you find yourself with an opportunity to fit them onto your favorite rims sometime soon; I think you will enjoy them.