The IRC Roadlite X-Guard is a training tyre that manages to combine a relatively lightweight construction with a good level of suppleness and impressive cut resistance – and the price is good too.
Very ordinary aesthetics
Japanese brand Inoue Rubber Co, aka IRC, is not too well known in the UK but based on our initial impressions of the IRC Roadlite X-Guard it deserves to be.
The Roadlite X-Guards have a no-nonsense aesthetic and are totally slick, suggesting that less is spent on marketing and, judging by the good-quality feel, more on materials and construction. IRC's tyres are also made in Japan.
Incidentally, you don’t need an aggressive tread pattern for winter tyres: on tarmac whether wet or dry a bicycle tyre relies on adhesion for its grip – i.e the compound – rather than mtb-style knobs. Tread pattern can affect the contact patch but it won't supply extra grip in the wet. Unless you're travelling at over 80kph you don't need a 'siping' pattern to channel water out from under the tread.
The tread does have a tacky feel and we have found grip to be excellent in both wet and dry.
In an era when getting a tyre on a rim can feel like Big Daddy v Giant Haystacks the IRC Roadlite X-Guards fitted beautifully using thumbs only but felt very secure once the bead was in.
IRC Roadlite X-Guard: ride
The IRC Roadlite X-Guards' 120TPI casing gives a nice, supple ride, and the X-Guard puncture resistance belt, which runs shoulder to shoulder, doesn’t appear to compromise this. It’s actually so lightweight it’s not easy to detect at all, and at 230g for the 25mm size they are lighter than the equivalent sized Continental Grand Prix 4 Season and the Vittoria Corsa Control. However, IRC does say this is its most puncture-resistant clincher.
As they’re fairly new to the UK and we haven't ridden anywhere near a whole winter on them, we can’t comment on durability but after some recent wet and dry riding in debris-strewn lanes they’ve come back in perfect condition, showing good cut resistance.
Since we reviewed the IRC Roadlite X-Guard for the November 11 issue of the magazine we've had a chance to put a few more miles on them fitted to a fixed-wheel training bike that only goes out when the weather is horrible. As any traditionalist will know, fixed-wheel bikes puncture their rear tyres infuriatingly easily: the wheel is driven harder into the road surface at high cadences and it's not feasible to loft a fixed wheel over potholes as you can a freehub-equipped wheel. Yet the IRCs are still immaculate with not a single cut to the tread so for this reason – although I've probably now jinxed them by doing this – I'm going to up the score from the 8/10 we gave them in the mag to a 9/10.
Of course the other attractive thing about them is that they’re relatively cheap compared to the Corsa Control and the GP 4 Season so if you do happen to experience a bad puncture you won't be too heartbroken.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor following an MA in online journalism.
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Mercian Classic fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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