VEE TIRE CO ZILENT MK2 TYRES
997g £39.99 (each)
The Vee Tire Co Zilent MK2 are a completely revised version, which arose from the discovery that riders were using the Zilent for long haul touring, which it wasn’t intended for.
Having tested the 42mm version a few months back and fallen for its fast-rolling, compliant charms, I can fully appreciate why riders whipped ‘em aboard their touring lorries and headed for the wide blue yonder. This time round, we’ve gone for the 38mm sections, which I reckon pose a serious challenge to some iconic favourites.
Pros: High spec for the money, low rolling resistance
Cons: Relatively portly and 32mm option would be welcomed.
700c options - 35,38 and 42mm caters for most modern touring, cross/adventure bikes but leaves more traditional cross/touring builds out in the cold - a missed opportunity by my reckoning. I was also heartened by the 26x1.75 option, since when their racing days are over, better quality mountain bikes make extremely versatile working bikes.
Vee Tire Co have kept the 72tpi Energetic compound but beefed up the sidewalls in favour of heavily laden durability. This probably explains why our 38mm sections, carried a 219g weight penalty over the 42mm MK1. Many of the features will be very familiar to fans of Schwalbe’s Marathon series. Not least the 5mm thick, puncture repelling centre strip.
This works to the same, capillary action, pushing out glass, tacks, thorns and similar invaders before they cause flats. Beneath this, an aramid belt provides a further defence and runs bead to bead. To date and 500 miles in, its proven completely dependable.
Operating pressures also bode well for the slippery season and are a fair bit lower - 35 to 65psi, rather than 45-80psi. In theory at least, this buys tuneable bite, when things turn icy but spiked tyres are OTT. Talking of which, the shoulders seem more aggressive than their predecessor. Otherwise, these share the same water channelling chevrons and low-profile centre-strip.
The portly wire beads mounted effortlessly to standard and deep section rims, such as these Halo without reaching for tyre levers. That said. I needed one to prize and scoop them away. However, this was an exercise in curiosity, rather than necessity - I had a bargain basement butyl tube fail at the seam, during the test period but those can strike, regardless of tyre choice.
I was coming straight from the Soma Shikoro , which are a markedly lighter, more responsive tyre. However, while the Zilent’s increased heft, was immediately apparent, their rolling resistance was reassuringly low. Coaxing my fixed gear winter trainer up to 18mph, even in congested, stop-go traffic was noticeably easier than 35mm Schwalbe Marathon, Vee Tire Co City Cruz and wasn’t far behind the 35mm Schwalbe Marathon GT . Maintaining this pace was no hardship either, although more concerted effort was necessary to maintain 21, or 22mph along the open roads, especially with sustained climbs.
Run between 60 and 65psi, they’ve felt extremely sure footed. Tarmac can turn bandit, as spent diesel/oils get flushed from the gutter, with the first rains, following a sustained hot, dry spell. Aside from the usual cautions - raised manhole covers, storm drains; railway crossings and impacted, mulchy leaves etc - they’ve never missed a beat.
Traction and moreover, feedback across lose surfaces, including loose stones and dry sand, was also better than I’d expected. On film on our Facebook page .
Even pushed to 35mph along my favourite 1in7 and carving into the bends, I couldn’t persuade them to misbehave. In common with their contemporaries, their off-road capabilities are limited to dry forest trails/towpath.
Dropping the pressure to around 55psi struck the best balance of speed, compliance and comfort, in these contexts. These, and less travelled backroads have seen the treads impacted with dung and mulch, turning them slick.
Nonetheless, they’ve still tracked dependably, and water channelling technology does its thing, competently, although not obviously superior to their peers, using water to flush muck and grit away.
Hustling through the concrete jungle, I wouldn’t go so far as to describe the ride as magic carpet like. However, those portly profiles take the sting from washboard tarmac and those nasty little holes. The ones we inevitably catch, whether we’re negotiating a tricky turn, avoiding more serious obstacles or when concentration’s fading at the end of a day’s riding.
Despite reasonable efforts - taking the direct route through shards of broken glass, flints and the odd thorn, I’ve failed to secure a flat during this test and 500 miles. Reassuring, yes, unexpected no. In my experience, this genre of rubber tends only to succumb when they’ve racked up miles and those casings are starting to wear thin. Cuts and similar superficial damage were also moot points.
All told, the Zilent MK2 are a tough, portly, though surprisingly quick rolling tyre that will serve well as a tough commuter/everyday tyre and tour with equal competence. Playing devils’ advocate, something like Schwalbe Marathon Plus are half the weight and still very reliable. Riders wanting something truly (almost literally) bombproof and with scope for unmade roads and forest tracks proper, should look to Schwalbe Marathon 365.