Donnelly Strada USH 700 X 40mm Tires: At The Finish – by Guitar Ted
The Donnelly Strada USH has been put through its paces here and now the time has come to bring my final verdict to the table on these classic treads. For my previous posts on these tires, please check the article below by clicking the title. Now following the featured article link, I will get on with my thoughts on this tire.
Ride Performance: Now with the chance to put the wheels and Strada USH tires on another bike here, I thought I would get a few rides in and see what, if anything, was different with the ride feel of the DonnellyStada USH’s. The bike I chose to go with is my steel frame/fork Black Mountain Cycles MCD.
The previous bike was the Noble Bikes GX5 which was reviewed on the site here. It is a carbon frame/fork bike, and although the frame materials ride very differently, I cannot say the tires felt at all different once they went on the BMC. The biggest influence on ride quality is still air pressure. The Donnelly Strada USH tires are a tire I run a tic lower air pressure on from other, more supple tires, to achieve similar ride qualities and all without any serious negatives to report. The difference being maybe 5psi less than normal.
As I have said previously, these are not the most supple tires, but they are not at all sub-par either. Ride quality is quite good, actually, and right in the pocket for what I would find acceptable. My issue with the Donnelly Strada USH comes from its rounded profile more than it does any perceived lack of smoothness.
The rounded profile, while a really great thing on smoother roads, becomes a bit of a liability on looser, chunky crushed rock. The tire tends to want to push through this sort of road surface and not roll up over the rock, or anything loose, for that matter. Had the tire realized a flatter crown when mounted this would have been a trait that was minimized. But even on a fairly wide, 24mm inner width rim, the tire “crowns up” a bit too much for my liking. Those with smoother dirt, crushed rock, and pavement surfaces need not concern yourself with this. However; if your surfaces tend toward the loose rock, sand, or loamy dirt, the Strada USH isn’t the best tire you could shoe on your rims. Especially so if the 700 X 40 USH goes on a more typical, narrower inner rim width.
Speaking of width, the Donnelly Strada USH ended up being about 42+mm on these wheels. So, if you are going to shoe these into a frame with minimal clearances, be aware that they stretch a tad from 40mm over time. Otherwise the tires are great at retaining air, and they seem to hold up well to abuses.
At The Finish: In a Fall season where road conditions varied wildly, sometimes within a single mile, from dead smooth, to normal gravel, to insanely rocky, chunky, deep loose gravel, and then to mud, I was able to get a good read on these tires. My earlier feelings on what the USH is good at have not been altered. They are the tire I would use on firmer, less rough rides, and I would choose to run them at a little lower pressure than I might use for some other tires. This scenario will suit the Strada USH best, giving you a smooth ride which will be fast and stable. Anything loose, deep, rocky, or muddy will not favor the use of this tire. It can hold its own at times, but there are much better tires to choose from, even from Donnelly’s own line. (The MSO and EMP come immediately to mind here.)
Put these tires on if you have a lot of paved road in your gravel loops, or if the bike you have needs to do double duty as a commuter, or touring bike. Give the Strada USH smooth, dry, dirt or finer crushed rock to run on and you won’t be disappointed. In these scenarios the USH is at home. Plus, with the choice of a tan sidewall, it can class up the look of just about any bike.
Note: Donnelly sent over the Strada USH 700c X 40mm tires for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review and will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.