Back in the spring when we visited with Merry Sales (Soma Fabrications) the conversation turned towards some projects that we would like to see come to fruition and possibly collaborate a bit on. They have been good to me as a wholesale account for the parts I need on complete bikes, and their expertise and sourcing relationships in Japan and Taiwan run deep. They see value in the fat tired road bikes, as well as the French inspired bicycle geometries, as do we. Things went well and our first project is coming to fruition.
There has been a bit of a hole in the market for a well made, light weight and wide 700c tire. I have been happy with their New Express 700×37, but having ridden both the NE and B-Line versions of this tire in the 650b size I knew that there could be more. Starting with everything good about the well-regarded Panaracer Pasela and New Express tires, the inquiry was made about the status of their 700x3xxmm molds. Apparently it had worn beyond use, they were in the process of making new molds and we were given a bit of a clean slate. Taking notes from the B-Line we asked for the tread width and pattern of the 35mm Pasela, the casing of the 37mm, No extra protective lining, a folding bead, and since we were going this far we asked for color options on such a relatively small run of tires. Panaracer said yes, and the wheels were rolling. I kept checking and persisting, then an email showed up confirming that the tires were done and shipping soon. Continuing to push for info, I requested photos. A bit of time passed, then this gift hit my inbox last week.
Coming in at 400g exceeded all my hopes. At that weight we got everything we asked for. This is in the same weight league as the well-regarded 650bx42 Grand Bois Hetre. Combine this with the favorable rolling resistance data that the 700×35 Panaracer Pasela received in the Spring 2013 issue of Bicycle quarterly and I am convinced we hit it out of the park with this one. This tire meets and exceeds everything that was good about the tire they reviewed and takes it a step further.
With delivery slated for early November I set up a Pre-Sale on out store front, the tires start at $49 each, buy two or more and you will qualify for free shipping.
I think this is just the start of some good projects with us and Merry. They deserve a huge thanks for backing projects like this, as well as Panaracer for their willingness to make tires in runs of hundreds when they generally do thousands of a model.