Tan-wall tyres are back in a big way. For a few years, black rubber ruled the road, but light-coloured sidewalls are now ubiquitous in every cycling discipline, from gravel to downhill. Tell me, how does that make you feel?
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Also referred to as skin-walls (with inconsistent hyphenation and spacing), true tan-walls have little or no rubber on their sidewalls, meaning that the tyre’s casing is exposed.
This may make the tyre ever so slightly more supple (I’m sceptical) but more importantly, it provides a pleasing bit of contrast, which in my most humble opinion looks fantastic, particularly when combined with all-black (or all-grey) rims.
Don’t get me wrong, I happen to think that coloured tyre treads are an abomination.
With certain honourable exceptions (green Vittoria Pavés for Paris-Roubaix, green Michelin Muds for cyclocross…), I am of the sincere belief that the part of your tyre that grips the road or trail should always be black.
I don’t really have a good reason for this, I just think brightly coloured tyres look rubbish and attempts at colour-coordination — matching tyres to bar tape, for instance — invariably cheapen the overall look of a bike.
Tan sidewalls get a pass from me, however. They good on all sorts of bikes, and they make otherwise sombre machines pop.
So, are tan-walls the height of style or a cheesy throwback to a bygone era? Vote in our poll and share your best and worst photos in the comments...