Goodyear County Tires: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted
The Goodyear name returns to bicycle tires after a long hiatus and- of course– there are gravel tires in the range. In 2022 you’d be kinda nuts not to offer something in the gravel category now. I introduced the tires on test here with this post. Check that link for details and technical specifications.
In this post, I want to get to what I found out about the County tires on gravel, how they rolled on pavement, and anything else noteworthy. I also want to touch upon that WTB Byway similarity that the County tires possess. So. with that, let’s dig in….
First, I noticed that I did not have a width measurement on these, so with several rides under my belt on this set of County tires, I measured them at a shade over 41mm in width at the casing. So, that seems fair as they are billed as 40mm tires. A little stretch is common, and I’d say that these tires are normal in that regard. Tubeless air retention was a characteristic touted by Goodyear for these tires, but in my experience so far, I’d say they retain air in an average sense compared to other tires I’ve tested.
Ride Performance: The County is a tire that falls in the ‘minimalist tread’ category, in my opinion. With that in mind, I expect to find any tire in this category to roll fast, not be very good in mud, deeper grounds, or to corner with much confidence in the looser gravel or sand. The County then is a tire that does not exceed expectations. The question that remains is one of how the tire rides in deeper, loose gravel and if the tire has a higher quality level in terms of ride feel. You’d expect a tire like this to exhibit some benefits there as it lacks performance in other areas.
I found the County tires to be a bit of a handful in loose gravel. Long, sweeping curves were made more exciting than I’d prefer when they had loose gravel on them. The reason, in my opinion, for this is that the County’s profile is a rather crowned “C” shape, and those types of tires typically plow through loose stones instead of riding up over them. (The Challenge Tires Getaway being a notable exception to that rule) In other words, this tire wants to ‘cut’ through to something harder, and on its way there, it can be a sketchy, uncontrolled ride. The same is true when you hit anything deeper and loose like ‘moondust’ or sand on a road.
Where the County shines best is on pavement. It rolls fast, and fairly quiet, with a good, damped feel. This is no surprise here. I would have been disappointed had the County not exhibited fast, smooth performance on pavement. However; one must be cognizant of any debris on the paved surfaces as that can suddenly cause you to lose traction, especially when cornering hard. But the County does do a decent job of damping broken up pavement and it rides pretty nicely for a puncture protected tire.
Okay, so how about that similarity to the WTB Byway? Is there anything to that? Well, while at first glance they look quite similar, there are some differences that do affect how one might choose between the two tires. They are not “the same“, they just look similar. For instance, the WTB Byway in the SG2 version is really a 39-ish-mm tire. The Byways I have are mounted on HED wheels featuring a 25mm inner rim width, so they are not going to be affected negatively by a narrow rim in this case. if anything, the County is at the disadvantage there being on the slightly narrower WTB rims. So, at 41mm on the County, it has the volume advantage over the WTB Byway.
However, in terms of weight, the Byway wins, but that should be no surprise as it is a slightly smaller tire. Still, at about 100 grams less per tire than the County tires, the Byway does hold a significant advantage here. Now the question is, “Which tire performs better?“
To help determine this, I did back-to-back roll down tests on pavement and gravel using the same bike, but different wheel sets. The County tires did slightly better than the Byways on the pavement test while the Byways juuust edged out the County tires on the gravel roll down. I attribute this difference to the Byway’s flatter, shallower “C” shaped profile which makes it roll up and over gravel better than the County tires do. That also is probably why the Byway feels a bit slower and did not fare as well on the paved roll down test. Ride feel goes to the County here, but only by the slimmest of margins.
Which would be better for you? Likely both brand’s tires would be satisfactory, in all honesty. The differences are minimal. Based on weight, if that is important to you, get the Byways. Otherwise, it is a toss-up.
So Far… What we have here is a nice tire. I do not find it to be exceptional in any one area it was designed for. This is a good choice for anyone who thinks of a ‘gravel bike’ as an ‘allroad’, go anywhere the map shows you type of bike. It isn’t for anyone that is trying to ‘under-bike’ on single track or fire roads. That’s not in this tire’s profile or job description. However; if you need your bike to be a pavement ‘mile-muncher’, and also be capable of doing the gravel group rides, well this may be a great choice.
I’ll have a final word on the County tires coming up in a month or so. Stay tuned.
For more on these and other Goodyear bicycle tires see their website here: https://www.goodyearbike.com/
Note: Riding Gravel sourced these Goodyear County tires on the retail market and we were not paid, nor bribed by Goodyear or anyone else for this review. We always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.