i blame my father. he was the one who introduced me to marx brothers movies (embarrassingly, i only recently realised that groucho's moustache was painted on), to the goons ("those are lovely white teeth. false? no perfectly true, they are lovely") and in similar fashion, bob hope, bing crosby and dorothy lamour. i confess i was too young at the time to be aware of ms lamour's less than subtle attractions, but the humour was most appealing.
i'd be fibbing if i said i could remember the name of the specific movie to which i am about to refer (it was a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away), but as per usual, bob hope had contrived to get himself into the inevitable sticky situation. but help was at hand in the shape of a charging cavalry, led from the front by a small mexican fellow with and appropriately mexican moustache. as the narrative progressed, the action would return to the cavalry riding hell for leather in order to assist the hapless mr hope.
ultimately, the situation resolved itself prior to the cavalry's arrival at which point, the chase ended with the words "well, we didn't make it in time. but exciting, wasn't it?", spoken by the aforementioned mexican chap. that's a reasonable simile to the situation that occurred with the arrival of this particular pair of challenge baby limus cyclocross tyres.
well, sort of.
if you were paying attention to my recent review of specialized's crux e5 x1 'cross bike, you would be aware that, apart from the bicycle's character being totally off the chuckability scale (which i've yet to properly invent), it was shod with rubber that scarcely distinguished itself over the course of my first weekend aboard. i am firmly of the opinion that when riding a 'cross bike over the terrain for which it was ostensibly designed, the tyres really ought to be of least concern.
anyhoo, the apposite delivery of challenge tyres' latest cyclocross rubber, not only revealed the very, very best that the specialized had to offer, but did themselves no end of credit in the process. currently sitting patiently in thewashingmachinepost bike shed are a pair of wheelsmith aero disc-equipped wheels cossetted by a pair of challenge limus tyres. those have distinguished themselves on several occasions, so you rather wonder what would be the point of appending the word baby to the sidewalls in the face of such success?
the tread patterns have one or two aspects in common, but the most obvious difference is in the size of those knobbly bits (if you'll pardon the phrase). the tread on the baby limus is considerably shallower than that of its big brother, still featuring knobblies on the edge of the carcass to aid offroad cornering at speed (more about that later), but the lower tread profile offers greater speed when not on the gravelly, grassy or muddy stuff. to that i can unquestionably attest.
though i would prefer to have you believe that my offroad skills and impeccable bike handling scared the brown stuff from their amber sidewalls, in point of fact it was probably precisely the opposite. there is a lengthy section of gravel and grass when speeding through ballygrant woods that relies greatly on a combination of good, sturdy traction and a high degree of rider nous. with the latter lacking almost completely, the former had need of working overtime. add to this a strobe-like flickering from a low sun, curated by intermittent tree-line to the right and even were my handling skills to be honed to perfection, a lack of consistent vision would always provide one more obstacle to avoid.
ballygrant woods is part of dunlossit estate, an organisation not reticent to travel the same route aboard the ubiquitous quad bike or occasional tractor. on less than pristine gravel, i had good cause to be thankful for the grip offered by those side knobblies. the baby limus tyres have been subjected to tarmac, mud, loose gravel, wet grass and what can only be described as rocky road. the rear tyre did give momentary pause for thought when occasionally losing traction climbing on loose gravel, but redeemed itself by providing every ounce of the rider's mediocre power across upward slopes populated by wet grass. additionally, the creative tread pattern has really no great desire to hang onto mud for any longer than absolutely necessary.
despite encouragement from both matt seaton and jeremy powers to place my faith in tubular tyres, that is a situation offroad that has yet to occur. however, it's not for nothing that challenge refer to their tyres as open tubulars, a reference to the fact that rubber such as the baby limus are made in exactly the same manner as the tubular version, but are simply not sewn together over an inner tube as part of the final process.
though the tyres and i have spent many a happy kilometre together, i have scarcely subjected them to the sort of unkempt distances that would have them gasping for breath. at present, were i to give them a good wash, they'd look as if they'd been removed from the boxes yesterday, but based on experience with several of their forebears, it'll be a satisfactorily long time before i'm even thinking of having to replace them.
as recommended by rufus t. firefly.
challenge tyres are distributed in the uk by paligap. the baby limus retail at £52 each | challenge baby limus cyclocross tyre
monday 21 march 2016..........................................................................................................................................................................................................