The Spring Classics are the only time of year that tyre width and pressure becomes the sexiest tech topic. To celebrate this, I've spent some time testing the Compass Bicycles Stampede Pass.
This immense 32mm slick is a novelty in today's world of road riding but the gradual widening of tyres means this could be a standard in the near future.
Words and images - James Raison
About Compass Bicycles
Compass Bicycles, based in Washington State USA, makes almost everything you need to build an entire bike and then dress yourself to ride it away. Frame tubes, brakes, bottom brackets, rims, cranks, tyres, cassettes, pants (or 'knickers' as they call them), dyno hubs, lights, racks and much much more are available on their website.
I'm only concerned with one product today: the Stampede Pass. It's a 32mm clincher tyre named after a mountain pass in the Cascade Range on America's western seaboard.
Compass promises: "the amazing ride of high-end tubular tyres, but with the convenience of clinchers." It's a bold claim. How does it stack up?
Unwrapping the tyres I was struck by how light they were. My electronic scale showed a feathery 285gm per tyre, compared to 220gm for a 25mm Continental 4 Season. That's impressively light for such a wide tyre. There's an even lighter version of the Stampede Pass, at a claimed 254gm.
They popped onto my rims with relative ease, needing only one tyre lever. The tan sidewalls and black tread strip are a striking contrast. Add minimalist logos and this is a classy looking tyre.
Riding the Stamped Pass is an absolute pleasure, with outstanding grip and superb ride quality.
The entire width of the tread strip is grooved to better interlock with the road surface. The low pressure and tyre width maximises the contact patch of that clingy tread.
I found a sweet spot at 55psi where they were firm enough to handle powerful kicks without deforming too much, while still smoothing road bumps. Long rides on rough country roads have never felt so good. They completely change the riding style on rough descents. Bumps that unsettle narrower tyres are barely perceptible. Riders who prefer more road feedback through the bike can add more psi (90 maximum), and have the benefits of the large contact patch.
I dropped the pressures to 50psi for a rainy day and found excellent wet-weather confidence.
The Stampede Pass performed exceptionally when I decided to get more agricultural. Slick tyres have no business being this good on gravel. Their plump footprint gives them a sure-footedness well beyond narrower slicks. A smooth, slightly damp single track didn’t faze them either.
The only weakness I found was climbing. They’re heavier than normal tyres and you will feel it when the road gets tall. Riders solely concerned with rapid ascending best stick with narrower rubber. Everyone else can enjoy the many virtues offered by this sweet rubber.
The Stampede Pass is an outstanding tyre. Superb ride quality, good looks, and boatloads of grip are the reward for anyone willing to pay their $90 retail price.
The biggest problem is finding a bike to fit them. Very few road bikes have enough clearance for such a large tyre, meaning I tested them on my Giant TCX. The recently announced Trek Domane SLR showed a willingness to embrace wider tyres. As the slow march towards wider tyres continues, it's only a matter of time before more makers jump on the bandwagon. When they do, the Stampede Pass will be ready to offer riders a premium option for all-day riding pleasure.