As my first year on H24 comes to a close, there are a couple pieces of gear that have really stood out for me on our beautiful team KTM Prestige bikes. As a competitive racer for over half my life now, I have ridden and raced a whole bunch of different gear (I am a total self-admitted gear snob) over the years. The first standout that I wanted to call out and give a little rundown on are the IRC tires. As a relatively small brand, I had never ridden them prior to this year and was unsure of what to expect.
My first impression just from looking at them was pretty neutral. I was disappointed from the lack of tread for water siping in wet weather, but the multiple width options and tubeless compatibility were interesting. And their red label tires have rice in them, so that sounded pretty cool. I had never really ridden tubeless road prior to this year. I did briefly years ago when it was just hitting the road scene, but I mean I really rode it this year, by putting in over 10,000 miles on them.
The setup: Honestly, it is a big pain in the butt to set up tubeless road tires. I don’t know if it was my Stan’s rim tape job, the tires, or the wheels, but I needed to use an air compressor probably 60% of the time to get them to seat and seal. I ran the IRC tires with Bontrager sealant all year as well.
The ride: I have used two different types of IRC tires this year. My go to race tire that I fell in love with is the 25mm RBCC Formula Pro-Tubeless. I would generally run 84-88 psi depending on the course (I weigh 170lbs). The tire profile with our wide Token rims was great. The sidewalls didn’t have that big lightbulb shape and I never had squirming issues even when I would drop the pressure into the high 50s for extra wet races (more on that soon!). The RBCC were great in the dry. Awesome traction, plenty of speed, and incredible flat resistance for a true race tire. I went through 3 (THREE) PAIRS of RBCC tires this year and NEVER GOT A SINGLE FLAT ON THEM. That is really saying something as a lot of the roads that I race on in foreign countries such as Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, China and Puerto Rico can be a bit ….. rough and unpredictable at times. I did probably 60-75 races on them plus a whole bunch of training miles and was pretty happy with their durability. After I would square them off from wearing the tires out, I used them for training until the threads were literally showing on the tread, then I finally would retire them. Still, no flats. My favorite part about them however, is their wet weather traction, which isn’t something they advertise and is black magic to me as I have always thought good wet weather tires need tread. During the Tour of America’s Dairyland in Wisconsin, we had a few rainy days and I started pushing the limits on the RBCC tires and they never let me down. It got to the point where I started praying for rain, as my best results started to come when it was pouring out as I could corner better than almost every other racer in the Pro/1 race with the RBCCs and generally around 60 psi in them! 305 grams for a 700c x 25mm tubeless.
The other IRC tire I used and am still using is the Roadlite Tubeless 25mm tire. This tire is a little heavier at 345 grams but is still completely comfortable in a dry crit or road race. I didn’t love these tires in wet races, but they are a very strong training tire that is fine to race on also. I got these just in time for the infamous Belgian Waffle Ride and they were perfect. No flats the whole ride and no flats 2000 miles later on them. I use the Roadlite for training and doing silly gravel rides on all the time and have been on the same set all season (mainly because I am too lazy to swap out the RBCCs when it’s full blown race season).
Thanks guys for making such a solid product. Check out the IRC road tubeless line folks. It’s pretty amazing and well worth the setup hassle.