The Steilacoom’s key difference to other knobbies is that we didn’t look at each knob individually. We treated them as a system that interacts, not just as the tire is rolling forward, but also as it leans into a turn. We made sure that there always is the same amount of rubber on the road, not sudden changes as you transition from one row of knobs to… sometimes almost almost no rubber at all.
We also discussed knob sizes with Panaracer’s engineers. They have to be small enough to dig into the mud, but large enough that they don’t fold over during hard cornering. It’s not rocket science, but it requires visualizing what the tire will do as it rolls and corners.
On the Steilacoom, you don’t fall off one knob and then climb onto the next, so the tires roll more smoothly than most knobbies. And the knobs are big enough that they don’t squirm, which also helps with your speed and cornering. At the same time, we kept large open areas between the knobs, so that the tires don’t clog up with mud.
Available with standard or extralight casings. The extralight casing not only reduces the tire’s weight, but is also more supple, thus increasing the tire’s speed and comfort even further. The standard casing is more cut-resistant.
What about the UCI 33 mm limit for the width of ‘cross tires? Most of us don’t race in UCI-sanctioned categories. In the U.S., this rule appears to apply only to the national championships. For the rest of us, the UCI rule is irrelevant, yet most ‘cross tires are limited to a maximum width of 33 mm. If you ride clinchers, this is less than optimal. To obtain the ride of a tubular in a clincher, you have to increase the size by 10-15%. That makes the 38 mm Steilacoom clincher the equivalent of a 33 mm tubular.