Goodyear County Tires: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
Goodyear. Just the name imparts an image of a winged foot and rubber. Specifically racing rubber. Goodyear has been synonymous with motorsports for years now, and we also might think about footwear, where Goodyear is a player in sole construction. But rubber is Goodyear and Goodyear is rubber, well……except maybe in cycling. But in 2018, Goodyear decided to change all that in a partnership with a company called Rubber Kinetics LLC.
Some of you may know that Goodyear used to make bicycle tires up until about 40 years ago. Tubes as well, but the name fell out of cycling circles for decades until Kent International struck a deal to license the Goodyear name for some low-end, mass-market tires and tubes in 2015. In 2018 Goodyear and Rubber Kinetics LLC made the jump to cycling’s high performance ranks with tires for road racing, mountain biking, and- of course– gravel cycling.
I saw this last year and tried to source some tires to review, but I came up with dead ends until recently. Supply chain issues have eased somewhat, and now I have a set of Goodyear County model tires in the 700c X 40mm size to test and review. Let’s take a closer look….
What It Is: The County is the second in the range of gravel tires from Goodyear. The Connector being the other model which has a more detailed tread pattern. The County, on the other hand, has a smoother, file type tread in the center of its casing with some tiny knobs and blocks lining the edges.
Goodyear describes the County on the webpage for this model as a tire ,“For road and beyond. Open tarmac to single-track, the County is fast rolling when you need it and highly tractable when called upon.” While the County doesn’t look like a tire which could be described as having “tractable” in its list of adjectives, Goodyear claims that its proprietary Dynamic Silica4 compound for this tire lends the County more traction than you might think it would have. We’ll see about that….
The casing is made with a 120TPI construction along with an under-the-tread puncture protection belt and Goodyear’s “R:Wall” sidewalls and Tubeless Complete features which Goodyear claims will give the County a more durable quality and better air retention qualities as well. Tubeless Ready, of course, and with that multi-layer compound, it has the promise of lower maintenance in regard to air pressure and sealant life.
Offered in a 700c X 40mm or 650B X 50mm in a black or tan sidewall. The County tires sell for $64.00 USD.
First Impressions: Upon opening the package I felt that these tires were more supple in the hand than many I have had in of late. Could be that 120TPI casing. The tire had a familiar look to me, but at first, I couldn’t put my finger on it. The tread had a fast look to it, and the tan side walls are maybe a bit browner than some other company’s tan walls are.
I popped these on my digital scale and came up with 522/525 grams. Goodyear claims a weight of 515 grams each. Okay, okay….. Not bad there, if a little over the claim. Pretty close and certainly well within manufacturing tolerances.
The tubeless set up was a bit finicky. I am not surprised since this tire features an under-the-tread cap puncture protection belt. Those always are tougher to mount tubeless than a tire with a full puncture protection belt, or no puncture protection belt at all. I mounted these on the recently reviewed WTB CZR carbon wheels. They popped on with loud snapping noises and have held air well enough so far.
Upon looking at the tires when mounted, I noted that the tan side wall transition to black tread cap is a pretty wobbly line. Not the crisp, straight transition we have come to expect with high end tires. While this is probably just an aesthetic issue, and will not affect performance, it is a bit of a letdown and leaves me feeling that the tire maybe is a lesser quality tire than it is. Hopefully the riding will convince me otherwise.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen this tire before, and suddenly I recalled what it was that was making me feel that way. It was the WTB Byway 700 X 40mm tire, and it just so happened that I have a set on a pair of wheels yet. Holding up a Byway to this County tire showed me that they are pretty close to being the same in terms of tread design. Well, you look at the image and decide!
Obviously, looks are one thing, riding is quite another. I will be doing a back-to-back test with the Byways to see what, if any, differences there are between these two very similar looking and similarly constructed tires.
Riding revealed the expected fast rolling feelings and a bit of a sketchy cornering trait. The width and that minimal tread are not going to hook up real well in many cases, but that is to be expected. On pavement the County rails corners, and they feel pretty smooth. Again, the 120TPI casing, perhaps, or maybe it is that special compound Goodyear talks about. At any rate, I cannot fault the ride feel here, especially for a puncture protected tire.
So Far… Okay, so we have a tire from a brand you know well, but not for bicycle tires. It looks a heck of a lot like a competitor’s tire, which we just so happen to have, and so we will be comparing the two. The County tires feel fast, feel smooth, but the presentation of the skin wall left me a bit disappointed.
They might be a bit porky for a 40mm size tire, but maybe some other characteristics of the County will make up for that. So, not really a racing tire here, but if you ride a fair amount of pavement, and some gravel, this tire might just be the ticket to your kind of adventures. We will be finding out soon. 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.