Review: Compass Naches Pass 26 x 1.8" tyre

Compass Naches Pass 26 x 1.8" tyre
Fast but fragile: the Naches Pass 26 x 1.8" tyre from Compass
Richard Hallett, Cycle magazine’s technical editor, gives the Compass Naches Pass 26 x 1.8" tyre a whirl

Compass Naches Pass 26 x 1.8" tyre £54

Offered in Standard and Extralight formats, weighing 350g and 300g respectively, the Naches Pass is one of a wide range of tyres from a US brand that has recently led the trend for exceptionally light, wider-section road – or, as Compass would put it, ‘all-road’ – tyres. The range includes tyres to fit 26-inch, 650B and 700C rims (ISO 559, 584 and 622).

Two decades ago, I commissioned an audax/touring bike built to take 26-inch mountain bike wheels, with the aim of investigating the benefits of wide, slick tyres.

Theory said that the slicks should be faster rolling than the 700×23C rubber almost universal on lightweight road bikes of the time, but the tyres then available proved too inflexible to roll as hoped and too heavy (at 550g) for group riding. Had a tyre like the Compass Naches Pass been available, the result would have been very different.

At 350g, even the Standard model is very light for a 44mm section tyre. This can only be achieved by using a very fine, supple casing and a thin tread cap, either slick or wearing a fine tread pattern.

The construction of the Extralight is on a par with that of a 700C road race tyre weighing around 200g. The result is a fat tyre that exhibits the advantages over a narrow tyre of similar construction expected in theory: superior comfort, rolling resistance, and grip.

Experience with similar tyres from rival brand Grand Bois suggests that tread life will be significantly greater than on a narrow tyre. Fat tyres are, of course, much better suited to riding on unsurfaced or ‘gravel’ roads.

The downside to such lightweight rubber is its fragility, not only through vulnerability to puncture by flint or thorn, but insensitive handling such as skidding. Nevertheless, wide lightweight tyres perform well on rough roads where the main hazards are stones, ruts and potholes. Furthermore, the Naches Pass is tubeless-ready and can be used with sealant to minimise the likelihood of a puncture.

I tested the tyre with a Stan’s No Tubes kit (Cycle Feb-Mar 17). The tubeless-ready bead makes the tyre tight to fit but able to hold a greater pressure running tubeless than a regular tyre. In fact, the Naches Pass seated more easily with the Stan’s kit than with an innertube. Going tubeless saved 100g, as well as enhancing puncture protection.

The tyre’s theoretical benefits are entirely realised on the road, where the riding impression is plush, ridiculously zippy, and very reassuring thanks to the traditional fine herringbone tread pattern. Ace.

Other options

Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick 26 x 1.5" £22

Slightly narrower and heavier at 385g. Should offer usefully enhanced durability.

Schwalbe Kojak 26 x 2" £22

Fast-rolling but weighty at 460g, the Kojak should suit laden road touring.

First published in Cycle magazine, February/March 2018 issue. All information correct at time of publishing.

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Pros and cons

+ Incredibly fast and comfortable  
+ Tubeless ready  
– Limited longevity  
– Fragile (esp Extralight version)