LIFELINE ESSENTIAL ARMOUR COMMUTER TYRE
601g 32x700c (as tested) £16.49 (each)
The LifeLine Essential Armour Commuter Tyres are a robust set of rubber for whatever your commuting mount might be, so long as it takes either 32 or 35x700c tyres, that is. Commuting rubber may not be especially exciting, but these have some nice, even surprising touches at this price point, that I’ve found engaging.
Pros: Nice price, some good touches.
Cons: Limited range of sizes.
32x700c and 35x700c sizes both tend toward comfort, however a TPI of 120 suggests a livelier ride than might be expected, but less durability. Having said that, the blurb states that the compound measures 70a on the Durmoter. Fundamentally, this is a measure of hardness of the rubber. Many riders prefer 60a – softer, grippier, but less durable – but 70a is not unusual.
Tread pattern is reminiscent of some Schwalbe tyres, and extends well over the shoulder of the tyre. Beneath it lies a 5 mm band of puncture protection – deeper than some other commuting tyres. This is described as a “breaker”, distributing pressure to prevent penetration of the tube.
An aramid strip is very much the norm on folding tyres. And, importantly for commuter models in my opinion, there’s a reflective strip on the side-wall. Bottle dynamo track? Well, there’s texture, but no traditional track.
Pressure wise, the range is 50-85 psi.
On my Mavic 217 and Ryde Sputnik rims, fitting was as big a piece of cake as I have ever seen. Fingers and thumbs only needed. They’ve lifted off with equal ease.
So, these are designated as road tyres. Mind you, not all commutes are urban and not all urban commutes are on road. So, setting off down the muddy and wet country lanes, I was surprised by how skittish things were to start with. However, this was a baptism of fire – or rather water – and I reached the conclusion that the 120 TPI meant that these were more fun than “commuter” leads one to anticipate.
I’d started off at max 85psi. going down to around 80psi, made things grippier. I’m a pretty hefty rider, so going down to 50psi was out of the question. Mid seventies might have been useful with ice about - but that will have to wait until next winter.
When the road dried out and on more urban drags there was a hard, but pleasantly lively ride. No worries on raised metal or when quickly manoeuvring to avoid pot-holes. They don’t have the suppleness of Schwalbe’s Road Cruiser Green Compound tyres. Even so, when hitting the canal towpath and a section of forest track, they certainly coped well at around 12-15mph.
Frankly, most commuting tyres I have used will do that, but the Essential Armour probably offer a greater prospect of after-work frolics than some.
Although the tread looks deep, apart from the odd fragment accumulation of debris has not been anything a quick post-ride brush over can’t deal with. Of course, if you ride through a patch of shattered glass, it is a good precaution to remove it as soon as you can.
Durability is hard to judge. Decent commuting tyres will give you many miles. Whilst 200 miles in, there’s no obvious signs of damage, that’s true of most. The 70a Durometer rating should compensate for the 120 TPI, to some extent.
Puncture Protection 3.5/5
5mm is pretty chunky for puncture protection, and has been effective post January hedge-slashing and cutting-back the undergrowth along the canal. Whilst it adds to the weigh, my personal opinion is that a puncture is the last thing you want on the commute – especially the one home – or when cycling between business appointments (if you are lucky enough to do that).
As ever, you can find these discounted on-line. Even when not, you’ve got a number of features that generally come at a higher price.
More expensive, are Schwalbe’s Road Cruiser, but they are lighter and suppler with, in my opinion, a wider range of applications, especially on firm and solid surfaces.
Oxford’s Mojo Stamina tyres are very much commuting/leisure tyres. Whilst the rrp is higher, you can also find them discounted on line.
Vee Tire Co’s Easy Street, has greater general and mixed surface riding potential than the Mojo Stamina. The difference is less pronounced and, in my opinion, comparing the former to the Essential Armour, too. The Easy Street come in at £8.50 more, each.
The Essential Armour from LifeLine is described as a road commuting tyre. It will do more – crushed lime, packed-mud, too. A decent choice at a decent price for commuters or leisure riders who want a bit more life in their ride.