I've been going through one of those stretches lately where I get a lot of flats, so having about 2500 miles on my Gatorskins, I decided to bump them to a beater bike and try something new. Since nobody around here seemed to have much to say about the Panaracer Ribmos, I decided to give them a try.
I got them about two weeks ago, and as of tonight I've put 191 miles on them.
Let me start with a link to what Panaracer says about the Protex technology:
All the pictures I'd seen of them either made them look fuzzy like felt or shiny like the plastic Tonka truck tires are made of, so I didn't really know what to expect when I ordered them. It turns out they look and feel like standard rubber. Being folding tires, they came all rolled up. Brand spankin' new, they smell a good bit like new car tires (which is a smell I happen to love).
The tire isn't quite round. I've heard it described as parabola-shaped, but I don't think that's quite right. It's almost pointed. Here's a view from above:
As dumb as the "acronym" is, I like the way it looks. Here's a side view:
I had heard that they're hard to mount, and they definitely lived up to that expectation. Even getting one side over the rim was tough, and then (perhaps this is characteristic of folding tires in general?) it was hard to get the first couple of inches of the second side to stay in the rim. Once I got that going, it went smoothly enough until the last couple of inches, which were a lot of work. My thumbs were sore for two days.
But here's a good guage of how hard it was: I put the front tire on backward (relative to the tread pattern) and put the back tire on with the logo off center from the valve stem. After reflecting on how hard it was to mount, I decided to fix the problem with the front tire, but not the back.
To my great surprise, it was easier to mount the tire the second time around. And after two weeks of use, when I finally took the rear tire off (more on that below), it was extremely easy both to mount and dismount. I can only guess that this has something to do with the rubber becoming accustomed to its new shape after having been rolled up in the warehouse.
The first day I rode with these tires on, I was convinced that they had considerably more rolling resistance than the Gatorskins. I considered that maybe I was just tired (it was a Friday), but the following Monday they still seemed slow. It took about 100 miles for me to convince myself that there wasn't really much difference. This also corresponded to the weather going from cold and windy to unseasonably warm. Make of that what you will. I should also say that my Gatorskins were 700x25 (which measures out closer to 23), while the Ribmos I got are 700x28 (and a true 28, at that).
Now, the flat protection.... I had been planning to write a preliminary review this week, and I was thinking I would make some witty comment about how I'd never had a flat with these tires. Well, I have. They made it exactly 191 miles. I ran over a construction staple that got completely embedded in the rear tire.
I'm trying to decide if this is just unfortunate timing for a nasty obstacle, or if they won't be as good as I had hoped. You can judge for yourself.
I started to pull this out before I decided it was worth taking a picture of. The staple was flush with the tire. Here's what it looked like mostly in there.
(Stupid camera phone focused on the wrong thing.)
Here's the staple out of the tire.
I couldn't bend it without cutting myself. It's a tough sucker.
So, that's my early impression of the Panaracer Ribmos. If I don't decide to return them, I'll post an update when they've got more miles.