American Classic Tires: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted
American Classic introduced a tire line this Fall and we have had a few models on test here at Riding Gravel. You can see the introduction to these tires here in case you missed it. In this update I’ll be focusing on the Wentworth in the 700 X 40 and 700 X 50 sizes, (more on the tire sizes in a minute), and the other two models we have will be talked about in our final review.
A Word About Tire Sizes: When we review tires, it often is the case that the way a particular tire sits on a particular inner rim width influences a tire’s width to some degree. We expect this and try to take that into consideration when we review a tire. Also, we note that most often a tire will end up being slightly wider than stated. Once in a while we observe a tire’s width being spot on with what is claimed. Rarely do we see tires not measure what is stated by the manufacturer/brand. While inner rim widths matter, we most often still see measured widths at, or wider than, claimed. Even if the rim inner width measurement is what we would term as ‘narrow’ for a gravel tire. (Nominally anywhere from just under 20mm to 23mm)
That is why when I measured the claimed 700 X 40mm Wentworth at just over 38mm and the 700 X 50mm claimed Wentworths at a little more than 46mm I was surprised. Especially so when the rims I mounted these tires to fall right in the sweet spot for inner rim width for gravel tires at 24mm-25mm. While I have noted a little bit of tire stretch since the initial mounting, I cannot say that these American Classic tires are the widths that are claimed. (It also should be noted that I have contacted my representative for the brand and have not heard any explanations for why I am seeing these measurements as of this posting. I’ll update this post if any information regarding this is provided to us.)
Ride Performance: Okay, with that stated, I will continue on with my review with an eye toward looking at the Wentworths as 38mm and 46mm/47mm tires instead of what was claimed. And yes- a couple millimeters makes a difference. For example, the narrower Wentworth lacks the casing volume that a true 40mm tire would have and you can feel that when the gravel gets loose and chunky. The narrower American Classic casing tends to feel stiff and the tire wants to plow through, rather than ride up over, looser gravel. This tends to make the handling a bit more of a chore with the narrower American Classic Wentworth.
I also noted that this narrower Wentworth lacked a little rolling speed on hard pack. I could consistently see slower speeds and less distance in roll down tests conducted on different days. The casing seemed a bit stiff and with the tread pattern in tandem with that, it seemed to give this model of the Wentworth a bit of a draggy feel compared to the tires I’ve ridden like the Wentworths. As an example, the Teravail 700 X 42 Rutlands, which seem a bit faster than these Wentworths in the sub-40mm width. I would also point to the Challenge Tires Getaway as a narrower tire with a much faster and better ride feel here. It should also be mentioned that the Getaway tires, with a puncture protection belt, weigh significantly less than these Wentworths but that the Rutlands actually were a bit heavier. But this is comparing apples to oranges, especially in terms of value. (See my conclusions “So Far…” below for why I feel this is so.)
Contrasted to the narrower Wentworth tires, the wider Wentworth tires were much more pleasant to ride in certain conditions and felt like they rolled freer than the narrower Wentworths did. Over the looser, deeper crushed rock, the wider Wentworth did roll up and over the gravel, avoiding that plowing characteristic, and therefore were much calmer handling on those types of surfaces. The ride feel of the wider Wentworth was much more pleasant as well, what with the larger volume, which allowed me to run this tire down into the lower 30’s for air pressures without negatively affecting rolling resistance.
Both widths of the Wentworth tires have held air very well for tubeless tires, but that is not a big surprise. Most full, bead-to-bead puncture protected tires I test seem to exhibit better air retention. At least these American Classic tires seem to hold with those observations.
So Far… The experience with the American Classic Wentworth tires has been a mixed bag so far. On the one hand we have tires which were disappointingly narrower than stated. The narrower Wentworth seemed to be harsher riding and slower than other tires in the 38mm-40mm size range I have tested. Then on the other hand the wider Wentworth seemed to roll okay and handled much better than I expected for a $35.00 tire.
And that is a good place to end this update. Remembering that these are $35.00 tires (each) means that we probably should not be looking at the American Classic offerings as being equal to, or better than, tires costing more, despite what “direct-to-consumer” marketing may seem to indicate here. Had I been handed these tires with no other knowledge about the company and its marketing other than the retail price, I would not be at all surprised by my findings here so far.
And in the end, that speaks to value for the money spent. In that light, I feel that the American Classic Wentworth models are not bad tires. They hold up well for what they cost. That they even are in the ballpark, in terms of performance, is telling. They seem to wear well, they seem to be decent riding tires, and they do alright out on the gravel in terms of traction and speed. The American Classics just are not up to the same level as more expensive tires in most categories. And then there is that width issue. So, ‘caveat emptor‘, and all that. Are you are just looking for a decent set of tires that don’t break the bank? Maybe you are looking for high performance tires that will bring a better ride feel and faster times on your routes? The way you answer those questions for yourself will help determine if the American Classic tires are for you or not.
I’ll have my final verdict on these tires coming up in a few weeks.
Editor’s Note: The Udden and Aggregate tires also measured up at around 38mm. We will add what we found out about their ride characteristics in our final review coming soon.
For more information on the American Classic tire range see their website here; https://www.amclassic.com/
Note: American Classic sent over the 700 X 50 Wentworth, 700 X 40 Uden and Aggregate tires for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel The 700 X 40 Wentworth tires were purchased at retail by Guitar Ted. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.