VEE TIRE CO ZILENT TYRES
700x42c Tyres 778g £39.99 each
The Vee Tire Co Zilent 700x42mm tyre are a very rugged, compliant and yet, relatively quick rolling model. Designed with city and e-bikes in mind, by my reckoning, they’re also worthy choices for road bound gravel/adventure bikes. Or, even tourers-provided there’s sufficient clearance. However, something like Continental Contact Plus are better bets, for go anywhere fun.
Pros: Dependable, rugged, nice ride quality.
Cons: Off road potential limited to dry trails/towpath.
The Zilent from the Vee Tire Co, is pretty much what we’d expect, given the price point and design brief, frankly. Despite the wire beads, our 700x42 tipped the scales at a moderate 778g each. They are also available in 26x1.75, which lends them nicely to older mtbs, serving as workhorse/tourers, through 700 x 35, 38 to our 42.
Beneath their energetic casing, they employ a two-layer, puncture repelling armour, that behaves in the same manner as that employed by Schwalbe Marathon’s range.
Talking of which, lets’ start with a quick word about their “energetic compound”. Belt 'n’ braces 72tpi casings and puncture resistant technology aside, this was conceived for optimal efficiency, conserving rider, or indeed, battery output.
Puncture repelling components are equally similar. A 5mm thick rubber centre strip works to the same capillary principle, pushing thorns, glass etc. out before they can penetrate. Beneath this, lies the familiar bead to bead aramid strip, should the first defence fail.
The semi-slick tread pattern features the usual water channelling groves along the shoulders and flat centre-strip with chevron pattern. Debate rages but consensus says these are employed, for visual/psychological reassurance. On a road bicycle, slick tyres offer optimum contact and traction.
A quick reckie round the sidewalls, reveals operating pressures between 45 and 80psi. Good scope for most contexts, from slippery winter backroads to open road cruising. Most of us run hub dynamos these days, hence no dynamo track, although the retro-reflective detailing is extremely effective and very welcome on an urban rubber.
No struggle, or agricultural language here. Just a single lever and stronger thumbs, even with deep section rims, such as this Shimano. I’ve only removed them once, in 500 miles - simply to test another set of tyres. Again, slide a lever beneath the bead and scoop free.
Rolling Resistance/Ride Quality
I started by running ours at their maximum pressures, which translated in a quick, although decidedly firm ride. Even then, pushed hard, down lumpy 1 in 7s, there was no hint of them turning bandit. The song remained the same, with Bob Yak homage and 15 kilos following, obediently behind.
Trimming a few psi made all the difference. 72psi seemed optimal for my 72 kilos. From the first few pedal strokes, the fat tyres deliver a magic carpet glide over inclement surfaces, which was particularly welcome round town, negotiating railway crossings, ramps and other raised ironworks.
Though I’d never describe them as sprightly, the Zilent are surprisingly nimble. Swerving to avoid opening car doors, unaccompanied dogs and jaywalking pedestrians, proved more fun than I was expecting. I’ve also caught a few unsuspecting riders, powering away from the lights, or winching up the climbs.
On the flip side, the contact plus, are far happier off road, which may make all the difference if you like to escape the maddening crowd. Run between 55 and 65psi, the Zilent seem perfectly competent along dry, hard-pack, canal paths and similar cut throughs. Otherwise, run at identical pressures both tyre compounds, seem extremely sure-footed along waterlogged tarmac.
As per testing protocol, I’ve deliberately whizzed through rural backwaters seemingly hidden beneath a thick layer of bovine dung, getting this impacted before riding through shards of broken glass, thorns and other sharps. The relatively deep groves collected a fair bit of crud but on the flip side, these were expelled, surprisingly efficiently along wet roads.
No flats to date, which is bodes well for cold, dark winter nights when reliability is key. Casings also remain completely unscathed too, suggesting this system, genuinely rivals Schwalbe’s.
The Vee Tire Co Zilent are another, very capable big section tyre. Designed for commuting and utility riding, I’m not sure about the “trekking” tag. That said; I’d be happy running them through winter, and throwing some weekend/lightweight touring into the mix.
Contexts where comfort and reliability trump outright speed. Shrewd pricing and decent spec, may be enough to entice some riders away from Schwalbe’s iconic, Marathon range. However, Continental Contact Plus get my vote, if you’re looking to mix road with some bridle path and other, moderate trail fun.
And now there's the Zilent Mk 2.