The pioneers of road bike tubeless tires do know the works to create a great set of tires.
With Hutchinson’s new compound name drawing inspiration from the Beaufort Scale, (a scale used to measure the maximum power of a storm), an 11 STORM sits right below the force of a hurricane. This naming is not without a purpose as this concept outlines the compound’s ability to offer extreme and ultimate performance.
The concept of the Fusion 5 is also an interesting one. It is based on 6 main factors of tire performance: Grip, Weight, Comfort, Mileage, Rolling Resistance and Puncture Resistance. And for this review, we will judge this tire based on the above 6 factors.
With the use of a 5-point Radar chart, the tires come in 3 different variants to achieve different purposes: the race-oriented Galactik, the all-rounded Performance, and the All Season winter tire. All the three variants come in clincher, tubeless and tubeless ready versions, so in total you have 9 tires to choose from.
I have received a pair of 25mm Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance 11 Storm, which is their all rounder tire. I have ridden 1400km for the past 6 weeks of testing. This includes training rides, group rides, intervals, hill repeats & descents, and long rides into Malaysia. Throughout this testing period, I have settled for 90 psi.
Opening the box, you’ll be greeted with the familiar scent of fresh rubber. The rubber ‘hairs’ found on the sides of the tire do prove to be an interesting sight for a bicycle tire, but it probably does not influence the performance at all.
Fitting the tires was surprisingly a breeze onto my Zipp 101 wheels, it just took two levers and the beads slot into the 17mm wide rim easily. This is a positive attribute as tube changes can be done quick and rather painless whilst riding out and exposed to the elements.
Pumping it up to 90 psi, the tires sits at 26mm on the 17mm rims. They bulb out slightly from the rims and it seemed rather unusual to me at first as I’ve been using 23mm tires that sits flushed.
On my first ride out, it was a fast Saturday ride starting in Yew Tee towards Bartley Viaduct Eastbound and heading back via Seletar and Mandai. The route has a good mixture of flats and rolling hills with minimal traffic lights and varying road conditions from the well paved Upper Bukit Timah Road to the rough and sandy tarmac of Seletar.
I immediately noticed the dampened road buzz compared to my previous tires. It is not easy to quantify this change but I could say the road buzz and bumps have a more ‘dampened and rounded’ feel as compared to the ‘sharp and spiky’ feedback to my hands that I’ve always been used to.
Accelerations from a standstill were noticeably sluggish and require a marginal increase in effort but once the speed starts getting higher, I was able to maintain speed much better than previous tires I’ve used. The ride involved numerous surges and bridging breakaways, and this characteristic did not hold me back, in fact, I didn’t notice it in the heat of the moment.
I enjoy switchback descents. And I like to take them fast. I purposely took extra risks during the descents at Rifle Range Road (RRR); late braking, late corner entry, and crossing into the incoming lane whilst leaning at pedal strike angles. It was simply exciting and these tires did a great job of putting the rubber side down. I did not feel the rear tire getting loose or skittish.
Corner entry felt quick with increasingly assuring grip as your bike leans more into the apex. As cliché as it sounds, I could flick this bike into a corner and not have a second thought. I looked forward to the descents whilst biting my teeth up the hills and the confidence these tires give allows me to get the thrill I seek. I’d also be glad to announce that this qualities will surely compliment a fast handling bike. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), I did not get caught in the rain mid-ride to test wet weather grip.
At a claimed weight of 205 grams, it is excellent weight for an all-rounded focused tire. It is only 20g heavier than the Galactik and I don’t think this additional weight will cost you precious seconds in a long or steep climb at all. Keeping your hands off the cookie jar will gain you more seconds up a climb than 205 grams of rubber.
Comfort is very subjective to a rider’s perception. It is a result of a combination of components and factors ranging from the frame material and geometry, wheels, handlebars and even the road conditions itself. On Singapore tarmac, the ride feel is sufficiently muted but provide a low volume of road buzz feedback to tell you that you’re rubber side down.
However, on rough, patched up roads like in Johor, you’ll be greeted with a lot of vibration and road buzz. I believe that no road bicycle tire can fully save you from teeth clattering road vibrations but you’ll be glad to know that these tires are a good contributor to make your ride just a little more comfortable. With my previous tires, I tend to get numb feet during prolonged riding in rough terrain but with these tires, the problem did not occur again.
Having clocked 1400km for the past 6 weeks, it’s good to know that the rear tire still stays rounded and there are no signs of squaring any time soon. The front tire still has the centre indicator too. I tend to prefer tires that have a high mileage so as to keep the bike maintenance costs down. And these tires do a very good job at that.
#5. Puncture Resistance
I found this piece of wire approximately 3mm long embedded into the tire. About 1mm of it is inside the tire. The interesting part comes when I start wondering, ‘how long has it been there?’ and it’s amazing (or lucky) that it did not pierce through the tire and into the inner tube. I’m also glad to see that it does not eat up small, sharp stones and glass.
Small, sharp objects embedded into the tires will slowly dig through the tire and cause a puncture at unexpected moments. It can take days, weeks or months to cut through the protective layers so I recommend diligently checking for anything embedded into the rubber for your bike wash/ maintenance regimes.
In my most recent Malaysia ride to Kota Tinggi, I was riding rather aggressively and taking on the patched up bumps at ~40kmh. It surely made me worry about getting a pinch flat or riding through sharp edges but fortunately, the puncture fairy did not pay me a visit.
For an all-rounded tire, the puncture resistance qualities are excellent. These will keep you rolling and keeps you focused on putting the hammer down, regardless the road condition.
#6. Rolling Resistance
For riders who want every marginal gain, this may be where the tire falls short. It does feel ever so slightly sluggish to accelerate from zero. However, it is not to the point where it feels like you’re dragging extra baggage on your bike. Surely it does not accelerate as quick as a race tire but as an all rounder tire, it works decently, if not better than the past ‘all-rounder’ or endurance tires that I have used.
At (cost of tire) per tire, these perform excellently in all of the 6 aspects.Surely it has a higher rolling resistance than a lightweight race tire but it performs very well in making sure that you can put numerous training miles without interruption. The high levels of grip are a welcomed characteristic. When the excitement kicks in, you’ll definitely want to push the limits of your bike and these will keep you confident in taking corners fast. However, do not expect a magic carpet ride when the terrain gets really rough but the tires do help in making your ride just a little more comfortable.
These tires are of great value for training & sportive rides thanks to it’s durability, fairly light weight and excellent puncture resistance. I mean, how many of us have found a piece of metal embedded onto the tires and still have a properly aired tube?
Hutchinson 11Storm Fusion 5 Performance = S$67
Hutchinson 11Storm Fusion 5 All Season = S$65
Hutchinson 11Storm Fusion 5 Galactik = S$80
Hutchinson 11Storm Fusion 5 Tubeless Ready Performance = S$75
Hutchinson 11Storm Fusion 5 Tubeless Ready All Season = S$69
Hutchinson 11Storm Fusion 5 Tubeless Ready Galactik = S$88
You can get your hands on these Hutchinson tires from Entro Cycles (50 Serangoon North Avenue 4, First Centre #01-13, Singapore 555856).
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