Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Hutchinson Secteur Long Term Review

When I began my track and cross country journey as a pre-teen the coach held up the one shoe that existed and told everyone to go to the one store that carried the one shoe and buy it.  

The Hutchinson Secteur has had that kind of grip on a pretty large segment of the tubeless market.  Not pure road and not pure gravel.  Lots of rides are somewhere in between and the Secteur has proven to be the perfect tire.

On one end of the spectrum is road tires.  These are generally 23-25mm wide. These are good for nice tarmac and are light and grippy. The Schwalbe One is a leader there and new options are popping up monthly.

On the other end are hard core gravel/adventure tires.  Established players like the Stan’s Raven and Specialized Trigger 2bliss are joined by offerings from WTB, Kenda, Clement (finally) and others.  These tires range from 30 to 40+mm wide. This market too is expanding to the delight of off roaders.

In between those two extremes there are plenty of real world conditions.  A road ride with some dirt roads doesn’t justify a 38mm wide gravel eater but could shred a road only tubeless tire. Rough roads (think cobblestones) are more comfortable and safer on something between the road and gravel tires.  There are a lot of rides that fall into this category.  A route where you need something that is tough but has low rolling resistance is ideal.

The Hutchinson Secteur has owned this market to date.   There is a new offering from Schwalbe that may contest it but pending a proven track record the Sectour remains the winner.

El Chefe has ridden Secteurs on rough roads and even singletrack that seemed way beyond the capabilities of a road tire and has done so without incident. Several of our clan commute on the Secteurs.   They are well suited to rough city roads with potholes and a smattering of gravel, broken glass and cobbles.

While the performance has generally been excellent a few of us have flatted. As I have said in the past the sidewall is the Achilles heel of tubeless.  On really rough roads they are susceptible to sidewall cuts from sharp rocks.  It takes a pretty significant gash to cut the sidewalls and in examining the tires later it was clear that running them as clinchers would not have prevented the flat.  Since the result is the same (put in a tube and finish the ride) there is no penalty for going tubeless.

Traction has been impressive for a treadles tire. I believe that like Schwalbe they use some nice grippy rubber. In combination with the lower pressure this makes for an excellent ride with a larger contact patch and impressive traction. This is ironic because I have found the Hutchinson Fusion 3’s to ride harsh and have poor grip and crappy rolling resistance. 

Hutchinson was an early adopter of Tubeless and when they began many of the rims were clincher rims that had been converted to allow for tubeless installation. To address the variability of rims Hutchinson took a conservative approach and made the tires a bit tighter to prevent them coming off rims that are on the edge of the spectrum. The result of this tighter bead size is these tires are often a bear to wrestle onto the rim.  
Mixed terrain riding is all about finding the optimal compromise.  A wide tire with good bite is better in the rough stuff but is slow on the pave.  Conversely the slick tire that excels on the tarmac is sketchy when the pavement ends.   The Secteurs fill a wide spectrum and although they do nothing perfectly they handle a variety of conditions fairly well.  These tires roll well and resist all but the most horrific flats.  The wear is acceptable and the ride at lower pressure is both comfortable and confidence inspiring.

Five of five Evos.

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