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Old 04-14-07, 08:53 AM   #1
james_swift
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IRC Metro tire

Hey foldaholics...I'm back again with a new 20" tire review for you. This time, what I like to call, the most overlooked tire for 20" wheels: the IRC Metro.

First, some specs:

size: (406) 20x1.125
weight: 284gm
pressure: 100psi
actual measured diameter: 19in
actual measured width: 33mm

The 2 things I immediately noticed about these tires out of the box were their weight and construction. These tires are light...about the same weight as the Primo Comet Kevlar 1.35. The tread is also very soft, and the sidewall very flexible. They almost feel flimsy. The tires went on the rims without help from a tire wrench. My first pre-ride impression of these tires is that they weren't going to survive these city streets without a puncture.

Having replaced the Kenda Kwest 20x1.50 tires on my Swift, the IRC Metros made my bike feel a half pound lighter (they are 148gm lighter per tire than the Kendas). The Metros with their soft, almost pliable tread, made them feel sticky to the ground. Out of the saddle, the Metros sprinted quickly, just like the Comet 1.35.

I was anxious to see how puncture-resistant these tires are. My neighborhood in SF has 2 active construciton sites within a block of my location, so it wasn't hard to find stuff that could potentially flat these tires. I picked-out a couple of patches of broken glass, followed by some small-to-medium gravel and broken concrete. Nothing. I checked the tread for any imbedded objects. Nothing. Hmmm. I rolled through the section again. Still nothing. I was expecting the soft tread and flimsy sidewall of the Metro to sustain SOME kind of damage. This is all obviously premature, with the real proof being in the long-term, which I will update you on as I rack-up the mileage.

For the ride test, I chose a 1/4mile section of brick cobblestone surrounding a set of rails thru the Fisherman's Wharf area. I rode half of the section at low speed and the other at a higher speed. Surely a narrow 100psi tire like this would deliver a bone-jarring ride. Surprisingly, only the opposite. They actually rode quite well over the bricks, and very well over the rails. I was impressed. Although not nearly as cushy as the wider, squishier 65psi Kenda Kwests, the Metros were actually quite comfortable over the rough stuff, moreso than expected of a narrow 100psi tire. Nice!

My first impression of these tires is fairly positive. I still have my doubts about their durablilty, for as I mentioned, the tires appear very flimsy compared to the other tires I've tested. I'm very pleased with their comfort, perfomance, and handling. I liken then to a lighter, narrower, softer-riding incarnation of the 100psi Kenda Kwest, for that is exactly how they ride. And at $17, these tires are a real bargain. Now if these tires pass the long-term durability test, they could possibly be the best overlooked 20" tire value on the market.






Last edited by james_swift; 04-14-07 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 04-14-07, 10:46 AM   #2
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You weren't supposed to let out the secret, James. Retailers everywhere are now going to jack up the prices big time.
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Old 04-14-07, 03:42 PM   #3
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Is there a kevlar belt in the tire? From your description I don't think there is. I'm very interested to hear about the long term durability of these as well. They seem like a great, inexpensive option.
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Old 04-14-07, 04:18 PM   #4
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James,
Thanks so much for the fast review and the great photos. You are like lightning! I just had read that previous thread, and was looking at tires on the 'net when I went back to the forum and bam!!
You had already posted a quick review. Like the others, keep us posted on the durability issue.
Lyndon
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Old 04-14-07, 06:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by big boy phil
Is there a kevlar belt in the tire? From your description I don't think there is. I'm very interested to hear about the long term durability of these as well. They seem like a great, inexpensive option.
No kevlar belt in this one.
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Old 04-14-07, 06:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyLyndy
James,
Thanks so much for the fast review and the great photos. You are like lightning! I just had read that previous thread, and was looking at tires on the 'net when I went back to the forum and bam!!
You had already posted a quick review. Like the others, keep us posted on the durability issue.
Lyndon
My pleasure.
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Old 04-15-07, 03:55 AM   #7
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Totally agree! I have had them on my Speed 8 for a year now and they are great, also a lot more durable than stevelos.
Hard to beat this tire for bang for the buck. I run mine at 60 psi since they ride a lot smoother compared to 100 psi.
Rolling resistance comparisons on a slight grade were about the same at both pressures.
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Old 04-15-07, 07:39 PM   #8
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Strange, the IRC Metros I've seen in 26" were stiff, heavy things. That was a few years back, maybe they've been updated too. Mark, at Power-On is a good guy to do business with.
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Old 04-18-07, 02:32 PM   #9
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Mid-way into my weekly commute update:

The IRC Metros are holding up nicely! I rolled over a hunk of broken bottle, heard the bits of broken glass make crunching sounds under the tire, but no punctures, no cuts, no embedded stuff. I made several various-sized rocks ricochet from under the tire with no damage to the tread or sidewall. Tomorrow has rain in the forecast, so I'll get to see how the IRCs handle wet corners as well as wet road debris.
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Old 04-18-07, 03:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james_swift
size: (406) 20x1.125
I think that's a typo in the specs James posted--should be 20x1.25.

Thanks so much for researching and posting on these. I just ordered a pair. Still tempted to try the Racers, but given the price, the IRCs are hard to ignore. Looking forward to trying them out.

Jack
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Old 04-23-07, 10:10 AM   #11
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9 days and 144 miles later....

Well I've given up trying to intenionally puncture these tires. I took the bike out to an empty parking lot after a baseball game and rolled repeatedly through what looked like a blanket of broken bottle glass, this with the tires underinflated at 85psi. No punctures, no embedded glass. I guess all that's left is carpet tacks and nails. That should certainly do these tires in.

Wet weather review: the siping on the tread is generous and deepest near the sidewall, flinging water violently at speed (use fenders!), and making for very good wet cornering. Wet debris had no more affect on these tires as dry.

After riding both the Primo Comet 1.35 and 1.50, I'm used to plucking-out embedded debris from the tread. That has not been the case at all with the IRCs. Inspecting the tires now, I can't find a single cut in the tread anywhere.

My short-term testing results give the IRC Metros four out of five grins:
(They missed the perfect score of 5 because they didn't inflate themselves.)
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Old 04-24-07, 01:35 PM   #12
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Can you tell me where these are made? (there should be a country name somewhere on the sidewalls)
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Old 04-24-07, 03:25 PM   #13
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Great report. Thanks.
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Old 04-24-07, 05:29 PM   #14
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You're doing this all wrong James. Doesn't work to try and get punctures. You must be late for a meeting and desparately trying to avoid punctures. THAT will be the true test.
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Old 04-24-07, 08:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jur
You're doing this all wrong James. Doesn't work to try and get punctures. You must be late for a meeting and desparately trying to avoid punctures. THAT will be the true test.
Yeah...did that...I even tried to invoke the help of Murphy's law by riding a couple of days without a pump/patch kit.
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Old 04-24-07, 09:15 PM   #16
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well, the ringing endorsement from James was enough for me to order a set. I hope to give them a spin next week.
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Old 04-25-07, 12:39 PM   #17
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I just installed mine today, purchased from Niagara Cycle Works for $15.96 each w/ free shipping for orders over $75.

Having just switched from 25mm (Continental Ultra 2000 folding) to 32mm (Pasela, non Tour Guard) on one of my 700c bikes and having been underwhelmed by the comfort difference, I wasn't expecting a big difference over the Stelvios that are the only other tire I've had on my Swift. I was wrong. Despite only 1/8" extra width (nominal, I didn't measure, but it looks like about 1/8"), the IRC Metros are significantly more comfortable. I started out with 80 psi, which seems about right, though I'll experiment.

I'm very happy with these, particularly given the price. Thanks James!

Jack
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Old 04-25-07, 01:47 PM   #18
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Are they available in 451?
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Old 04-25-07, 02:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackJ
I just installed mine today, purchased from Niagara Cycle Works for $15.96 each w/ free shipping for orders over $75.

Having just switched from 25mm (Continental Ultra 2000 folding) to 32mm (Pasela, non Tour Guard) on one of my 700c bikes and having been underwhelmed by the comfort difference, I wasn't expecting a big difference over the Stelvios that are the only other tire I've had on my Swift. I was wrong. Despite only 1/8" extra width (nominal, I didn't measure, but it looks like about 1/8"), the IRC Metros are significantly more comfortable. I started out with 80 psi, which seems about right, though I'll experiment.

I'm very happy with these, particularly given the price. Thanks James!

Jack
Yeah, I think 85psi is the best balance of extra comfort with only a slightly noticeable hit in rolling resistance.

That's an excellent price. Glad to hear.

Last edited by james_swift; 04-25-07 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 04-30-07, 02:07 PM   #20
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I finally got these tires to puncture. I found a street that had 3 patches of broken automobile glass (they looked fresh so they were probably night-time break-ins). I rolled my Swift through the succession of broken glass, then checked the tires. The front tire had sprung a tiny leak. It was a miniscule puncture, detectable only by the hissing sound from the leaking air. The back tire was fine. Strange....I usually never get front wheel punctures.

The good news is in how easy it was to unmount the tire and patch the tube. I easily peeled away just enough tire bead with the tire lever to expose the area of punctured tube, slapped on a Slime patch (these are really excellent patches, by the way), then re-mounted the tire bead by hand. Quick and effortless. My Primo Comets required a tire lever and a whole lot more effort.

Still not bad for a non-kevlar belted tire, considering most normal every day rides don't include a deliberate rolling through 3 blanketed patches of freshly broken automobile window in succession (they were pretty sizeable hunks of glass, too).
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Old 05-01-07, 12:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james_swift
I finally got these tires to puncture. I found a street that had 3 patches of broken automobile glass (they looked fresh so they were probably night-time break-ins). I rolled my Swift through the succession of broken glass, then checked the tires.
Your dedication to tire research is remarkable! (If a bit weird--no way you'll get me to consciously try to get a flat!)

How are the IRC's wearing? My rear seems to be wearing quite a bit quicker than the stelvio. I've got less than 100 miles (sorry--been riding the 700c bike lately), and the center mold line is completely gone. This isn't a complaint, just a point of interest.

Jack
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Old 05-02-07, 02:33 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackJ
Your dedication to tire research is remarkable! (If a bit weird--no way you'll get me to consciously try to get a flat!)

How are the IRC's wearing? My rear seems to be wearing quite a bit quicker than the stelvio. I've got less than 100 miles (sorry--been riding the 700c bike lately), and the center mold line is completely gone. This isn't a complaint, just a point of interest.

Jack
I do all the perilous testing, so you don't have to.

Yeah, I noticed my back tire is showing wear faster than I expected. It's probably because the tread uses a significantly softer compound than other 20" tires I've used.
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Old 05-04-07, 05:16 PM   #23
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It took actively searching for tire reviews to find this thread... usually I rely on the word "Swift" in the title! I was happy to read James thorough testing of the IRC Metros... only marred by the fact that I just received two new Schwalbe 406 x 1.5 Marathon Kevlars in the mail.

The Schwalbes came highly recommend by Gaerlan Bicycles, who sold me the spokes for the new wheelset I am building up. His custom cut spoke prices were less than 1/4 the cost of custom cut spokes elsewhere. And he was recommended by a couple of Swift owners who have had good luck with him. So I trusted that these might be great tires and not overpriced.

IIRC the Marathons cost me about $26 each. I realize a lot of folks think this is expensive, but assuming they repel punctures better and outlast a cheaper tire by 2x, then they are worth it?

I couldnt find a real review of the 20" Marathon Kevlars so if anyone has comments, I'd love to hear them.
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Old 05-04-07, 11:32 PM   #24
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Schwalbe's are good tires. I have the Marathon slicks (406 x 1.35) and I like them. Looking to go all the way up to stelvios for that 120psi torture.
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Old 07-13-07, 10:26 PM   #25
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i wonder if the IRC metros will fit on 24mm Deep V MTB rims... anyone know if the rim diagrams at Velocity's site (http://www.velocitywheels.com/default.asp?contentID=567) are displaying inner or outer rim width?
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