Handbuilt Bicycle News


Bruce Gordon Cycles

Paul Skilbeck

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Bruce Gordon Cycles Rock n Road Tires 700x43c

This tire was designed by early mountain bike ace Joe Murray back in the 1980s and is produced by Petaluma-based Bruce Gordon Cycles. We welcome its return.

Bruce Gordon Cycles Rock n Road Tires 700x43c
Photo: Paul Skilbeck

A classic tire, highly recommended

This tire was designed by early mountain bike ace Joe Murray back in the 1980s and revived recently by Petaluma-based Bruce Gordon Cycles. We welcome its return.

Weight: 540g

Price: $55

Width: 43mm

Diameter: 700c

Bead: Kevlar

Threads Per Inch: NA

Purpose: Mixed-surface

As an all-round tire, Bruce Gordon's Rock n Road is hard to beat. Inflated to 40 psi (2.8 bar), on a 20lb bike with rider weight of 185lbs, the tire adheres well on both the loose and muddy surfaces, around the San Francisco Bay. It descents with the precision and control of a full mountain bike tire, and it rolls fast and quiet on the road. Many experienced cyclists love this tire, and rate it as one of the best all-rounders on the market.

test terrain

The Rock n Road tires are great in this kind of terrain, but sharp rocks protruding more than 3cm can easily cause pinch flats on rigid bikes with larger riders. Photo: Paul Skilbeck

A kevlar bead keeps tire weight down to around 540g per tire, and at $55 is priced mid-range for tires of this caliber.

The Rock 'n Road is a tire for many different types of rider. It has sufficient width to offer good ground conformation, and combined with the Ritchey Vector Evo seat/post setup offers high comfort for the duration of a 10-hour ride. Seriously! Those competing in endurance races should take a serious look, as the narrow profile and low weight could result in significant time gains over a 24-hour period. For a 1.75" tire it handles dazzlingly well. The only caveat is a rider weighing around 185lbs (84kg) has to run it at a slightly higher pressure to avoid pinch flats on rocky descents. We have not tested it in a tubeless configuration as yet, but look out for an upcoming report on that.

rocknroad tire

We did not ride it in deep mud, and the tread looks like it would might clog. But deep, sticky mud requires a very specialized tread and compound that is only good for that purpose, and for the sake of trail conservation is usually better avoided. So we do not count this as a negative. In deep sand it wallows a little, although for its width it does OK, so we don't take marks off there, either. In dry conditions, on both firm and loose surfaces it is outstanding, and on rocky trails it is as good as you're going to get.

Maybe the sweetest feature of the tire is the arc of its profile. Leaning deeper and deeper into a corner, whether on asphalt, gravel or cinders, the tire maintains a reassuring predictability. And when it finally starts to break loose, it does so gradually. It's one of the smoothest tires in a corner we've ridden.

After about six months and 1,000 miles, almost half on asphalt, the center tread is just about worn-out while the shoulders still look like they'd go another thousand. We would like to try a dual compound version of the tire, with a harder center tread. We understand that there might be some loss of adhesion in some conditions with this variation, or maybe the tire would lose some structural integrity, and these are things we would like to test. If the losses were not significant, the gains could make the tires even better.

Available direct from Bruce Gordon, bgcycles.com