Donnelly Strada USH 700 X 40mm Tires: Checkpoint

Donnelly Strada USH 700 X 40mm Tires: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted

The Fall season has finally kicked into high gear here in the Mid-West and time to review product in the field during 2019 is running short. I had been waiting on a specific wheel set to mount the Strada USH tires to, but when they didn’t show up, I decided to get a move on here and went with the set of Irwin Aon Carbon Wheels I have on hand. Now that several rides have been put in, I can get on with the review of these tires. If you missed the introductory post, a link and preview can be seen below. Otherwise move past the jump for the latest on the Strada USH 700 X 40mm tires.

Tubeless Performance: The Irwin Aon Carbon wheels were fitted with the Donnelly Strada USH 700 X 40mm tires and the fit was quite snug. Tight enough that levering the last bit of bead over the rim edge was needed to get the tires on. Pumping them up with our Muc Off No Hassle Puncture Protection sealant inside was, well… hassle at all. Easy-peazy. The tires held air and retain air quite nicely. So far, so good on that point.

Donnelly Strada USH 700 X 40mm tires mounted to Irwin Aon Carbon wheels
The skin wall Donnelly Strada USH 700 X 40mm tires compliment the look of the Noble Bikes GX5.

Ride quality is average. I would not place these in the “supple” category. So not as smooth feeling as the recently reviewed Boken tires from IRC. If you’ve ridden any of several tires with a puncture protection belt, like the USH has, then you know the drill. In fact, they ride like a Donnelly MSO, which is a very common OE (Original Equipment) tire on many gravel bikes.

Close up of the USH tread
Those herringbone side tread areas really pick up small stones and mud well.

Pavement riding is nice on these tires and while they don’t have the super-smoothness of some treads, the Strada USH does roll fast and handles debris like sticks and leaves on pavement or bicycle trails with aplomb. Getting off on gravel, the USH rolls similarly, that is, until things get wet and mucky. In a bit of a surprise, the herringbone tread pattern on the shoulders of the USH was prone to latching on to mud and slung it around into the air as I rode. Obviously, not everyone’s gravel/dirt will react the same, but it is a surprise coming from a tire that seems to have more in common with a slick than a treaded tire.

I also noted that these tires can fling small stones pretty well too with those herringbone side tread areas. No harm, no foul, but I found it a bit distracting while riding at night when this small spray of tiny stones would be flinging up into my beam of light.

Those same herringbone tread strips do give you a bit of security on hard packed, dry dirt in corners, but anything loose is no dice. You may as well assume these tires will react like a slick, no tread tire from a gravel rider’s viewpoint. Similarly, wet mud riding does not impart a secure feeling when using the Strada USH. But then again, if you even think that is a good idea, well…..good luck to you. The obvious point here is that the Strada USH is best on dry dirt and gravel and is absolutely at home on rough, broken up pavement.

A front wheel set up with a Donnelly Strada USH
Here is one place you’ll find the Strada USH is at home. A dry, hard packed dirt path.

When hitting the poor paved sections and on paved bicycle paths, the Strada USH sings. The volume here set up with a proper, not too high for your weight/load, air pressure setting is a recipe for smooth riding. Again, the Strada USH is not the most supple tire I’ve ridden, but it is decently compliant, given that it has puncture protection, and therefore it does do pretty well when set up correctly. Venturing off pavement into gravel is a natural transition for the Strada USH. So, if you have a fair share of pavement to get to gravel, or if your gravel loops have some paved sections, this tire is a great option to have.

So Far….. The Donnelly Strada USH is predictably good on poor pavement, gravel, and any surface that is hard and dry. As things get looser, deeper, and wetter, the performance of the Strada USH falls off dramatically. While short stretches of loose, or wet and muddy road can be managed, this isn’t the tire for an all-day ride in severe conditions which will see you in sand, loose rock, or loamy soils.

Ride quality is what one should expect from a tire with a puncture protection belt. It isn’t a bad ride though, and given the option, I’d rather have puncture protection on many of my rides than go without. Your mileage may vary. Otherwise this is a decently fast rolling tire that gobbles up poor pavement, crosses over to dry gravel riding well, and seems to be pretty fast to boot.

Stay tuned for the “At The Finish” post coming in a few weeks.

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.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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3 thoughts on “Donnelly Strada USH 700 X 40mm Tires: Checkpoint

    1. @Doug- Let’s whittle that down to “tires available today”, because I’ve ridden a lot of tires that are out of production.

      So….. That’s probably going to be IRC Boken, as far as most recently released tires go. Several tires made by Panaracer, (both branded and made for others) would be up there. The Terrene Elwood Light casing was pretty smooth…..I’d say those would be the top ones.

  1. @Doug – if you want supple, look at the Rene Herse tires. File treads (shallower than the USH here) but they roll great and on anything dry the traction is amazing. Run the fattest one that fits!

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