Hutchinson Python Tubeless Ready 29"er Tires: First Impressions

Captain Bob's Salsa

Editors Note: This is the companion review to the Mavic C29ssMax wheel set review that Captain Bob wrote. He has these tires mounted to that wheel set. I have inserted some pertinent measurements and comments where necessary.

Another First For Captain Bob!

You may remember that just over a couple of weeks ago GT let you see the new Hutchinson Python tubeless ready 29ers tires. Since then I was asked to give them a go around. I was excited and a bit reluctant at the same time. You see, I have never ridden tubeless tires before. Heck, I have never even touched them before I was handed these. You see, I have always heard that they are, for the most part, more of a hassle than running tubes. So, combining the hearsay and my slight intimidation towards the whole system, I steered clear of them completely. Thankfully, GT already had the tires (with Hutchinsons Fast Air sealant) mounted and aired up for me. I will let GT comment on the initial mounting happenings. The tires didn’t fit as snugly as a Bontrager Tubeless Ready system does. I also couldn’t air up the tires without a compressor. The sealant comes out kind of like shaving cream, which was weird, and then turns to a liquid later on.

Upon seeing the tires for first time I thought to myself, “Where are the side knobs?” Really, it looked a little strange to me that the sidewall was a lot wider than the tread. I thought, “How am gonna rail my favorite corners at Cedar Bend and what about the off camber at the Camp? Oh crap, what about the gravel roads? Well, let’s just say that looks are deceiving.

I was a little worried about riding them and getting too far from home and have some kind of ride ending issue arrise. So, I ran the psi around 35 psi front and rear. Took off on a nice gravel ride. There is about a 1/4 mile gravel downhill right by my home that turns left at the bottom which takes you not just left, but almost back the same direction you were traveling. Not to mention off camber. I thought about slowing down but for some reason I didn’t. To my surprise the front end held it’s line like just fine. Carving the corner without anything unexpected. I was excited to say the least. They even cornered better on gravel than the Geax’s did, and they have more knobs on the side than the Hutch’s do. The rest of the gravel ride was the same. The second 1/3 of that ride was on a blacktop section that takes me to the Marsh. The tires seemed to roll like tires should on pavement. No problems there either. Once I reached the Marsh I hopped up on the dyke. It was a grassy double track. The grass was about 10 in. long but sort of packed down. Tires worked like one would have expected there also.

On the way back home I decided to drop the air pressure down a long ways. They were at 28 psi front and 26 psi rear (when I checked them after the ride). Once I made it back to the gravel I realized that the rear was way too low. The rear was squirming around below me way more than I wanted. I was climbing out of the saddle and seated but the feeling was the same. Squishy. Felt like the sidewall was just to soft. The treaded area felt firm when pressing it with your finger but the sides were not. So, I backed off a little since I was nervous about the tire rolling off the rim. About 5 miles from home I stepped up the effort again by sprinting, climbing, and bunny hopping over any given spot on the gravel road, and to my surprise I had no issues with the bead seating to the rim. In fact, the rolling resistance was still pretty good even with the too low of pressure. So, I made it back home safe and sound. Let the bike sit in the garage for two days and checked the air pressure again. Still 28 psi front and 26 psi rear. Sweet! So far, I have had no problems with traction. Works like it should while still being fast.

Then, I decided to make a really true complete test of these tires I would need to take them off and remount them myself. So, I took them off. They actually came off quite easily. I remounted the front, but was unable to get them to air up with a floor pump. Tried my underpowered compressor. Still nothing. Crap! Now, what do I do? I put the front aside and tried the rear one. Once the rear was remounted I tried the floor pump again. Pop! Pop Pop! By the time I reached 20 psi there were five pops from the bead seating. All right! I pumped it up to 40 psi and left it for a few minutes. Went back to the front tire. Still nothing. So, I dipped my finger into the sealant puddle and smeared it on the bead all the way around both sides of the tire. Still nothing. So, for some reason I started spinning the tire around the rim (like you would with a tubed setup to re-align the valve). Then, I ran the floor pump at the same time as I spun the tire and Pop! It started to seat. A few more pops and then I was at 20 psi again. So I pumped it up to 40 psi as well. I put them back on the bike and rode it up and down the driveway a bit. Loaded it in the van and went to bed. I was a little disappointed about the front tire giving me so much trouble but in the end it worked out. I could not have imagined doing this on the trail. There shouldn’t be as many trailside flat issues with tubeless though, right? I hope not.

My second really good ride on the tires was a better test of the terrain that most of you want to hear about. Singletrack! Okay, I went to Cedar Bend the other night. The trails there are unique to our area. The dirt appears to be the perfect mix of soil and sand and possibly some clay. Whatever it is made of it is great. I set the tire pressure at 30 psi front and 32 psi rear. Seemed to be perfect too as the squirm from the tires is gone. The trails there also have wooden bridges too that can get pretty slimy since there is that green mossy stuff growing on it. It had rained not long before my ride and usually it’s pretty slippery when wet. I did not take those bridges too fast but I think I could have gone a little faster. No problems there. I did take a few fast downhill corners and never once lost side traction. I was shocked. I put on around 12 miles that night. The tires packed up with mud but not much. Remember though, this is good soil and never packs up badly and I never felt a loss of traction in the muddier sections either. There are a few steep dirt climbs and I tackled those without any traction issues. There was one loose rocky climb that I had to walk. Partly a loss of traction issue and partly that it’s so steep that I coulnd’t pedal up it. I run a 36 t front chainring and a 12-34 cassette. The tires seem to grip well when braking too.

So, sorry to make this first impression so long but I like details. I am a detail kind of guy. I should be riding these for a few more weeks, possibly longer, and will provide a final review at that point.

Captain Bob

Editors Note: Captain Bob is riding these tires exclusively and indeed he will be making some more observations soon. Measurements that I took with my digital calipers with the tires mounted at 40 psi on the Mavic C29ssMax wheels: Casing width = 51.4mm Tread width (knob to knob on the outside edges) = 44.1mm Casing Height = 49.7mm


11 Responses to “Hutchinson Python Tubeless Ready 29"er Tires: First Impressions”

  1. R-Train Says:

    Capt B,

    Thanks for that. I just ordered a pair, and will put them on a set of dt 240’s w/stans arch rims. Looking forward to your final review.

    G.T., Have you tried any other sealants (not fast air) w/ the pythons?


  2. BlackBean Says:

    I have had Hutchinson Pythons on my Giant NRS-1. Absolute rubbish. I got about 10 flats in a period of 6 months and eventually tore the sidewall during a race. Was never really impressed by their grip either. don’t know if these are different or better, but just the name conjures up the image of a biker fixing flats all the time. Don’t know if these will be any better. I’ve switched to WTB’s and will never look back – I get about 2 flats a year riding much rougher/rockier terrain than I ever did with the Pythons.. Also tried a Panaracer Rampage (I believe) on my 29er this weekend. They were awesome in the mudd and would try them out once my current Exiwolfs nears retirment.

  3. JimE Says:

    Does anybody know when the next Crooked Cog podcast will be? Its been a long time and I wanna listen. Has pod casting jumped the shark?

  4. GreenLightGo Says:

    Thanks for the review. Do you know what compound is used? For example – I have the Python UST on the rear of my full squish – MRC Medium (under their Enduro line) tread compound. I’m running it reversed and it does well so far for my 26″ bike. Bob running the rear tire in the ‘speed’ or ‘traction’ direction?

  5. Guitar Ted Says:

    BlackBean: The sidewalls on our tubeless ready Hutchinsons seem to be a bit on the thin side as well.

    GreenLightGo: The Captain is running them as they are marked, so in traction mode I suppose. We are noticing some wear on the tread blocks. More so than with some other tires we have ran. Perhaps Hutchinson’s compounds run a bit on the soft side. These are the first Hutchinsons either of us have run, by the way.

  6. Captain Bob Says:

    GreenLightGo: These tires are not marked as “traction or speed” but they are marked “rear or front”. I started out running them backwards but have swithed to the correct direction. I have not noticed any traction changes but I have not had them in a “real” off road terrain. They roll faster when going in the correct direction.

    I’ll post more tonight…..have to get the kids off to school.

  7. Race29 Says:

    I raced the new Pythons this past weekend in a very wide variety of Colorado conditions including wet roots, gravel roads, rocky / technical descents, river crossings and technical climbs. I have them mounted to Stan’s 355’s and run Stan’s sealant. They are definitely fast and were surprisingly durable. I was a little worried about durability but they handled the nasty stuff just fine. (Some of the rocky descents were of the “just hang on and let it rip” variety.) The only shortcoming was the lack of prominent side knobs can make wet roots difficult unless the air pressure is really dialed-in, but they still cornered surprisingly well in all conditions.

  8. Thunderlump Says:

    Hey guys I am curious to see how these hold up especially in the side wall area. At 6’4″ and 205 that seems to be my Achellie’s heel, when it come to running tubeless tires. I have allready had fantastically bad luck with both of the new Bontrager “Tubeless Ready” tires. Im not sire what the difference is between Tubeless ready , and UST, I assume the UST sidewall is thicker/heavier. I have been able to use A maxxis crossmark UST at 35 psi with no sidewall blowouts. Im sure they are trying thinner sidewalls to keep weight down.

    Can some one give me clarification on the diference?

  9. Big Dave Says:

    Welcome to the 21st Century Bob. I’m sorry you’ve been “tubed” for so long and I hope you are here to stay. Even with “non-tubeless” tires, the system is MUCH better than tubes despite a tad bit of extra maintenance.

    How could you go 2 days without riding your bike?

    Thunderlump – The tubeless ready tires are supposed to be running beads that are specific to the mavic tubeless rims….the same beads that came on the original tubeless tires. Tubeless ready tires’ casing and lack of inner rubber coat are the same as a regular non-tubeless tire. UST tubeless tires use the special bead (aramid I think) and the casing has a bit more rubber vulcanized to the inside to seal things up.

    The idea behind tubeless ready is to have a lighter tire with the better bead. Since most people run sealant in ALL tires for back up protection, the extra weight of the UST tubeless tires just didn’t or doesn’t make sense.

    With a good sealant, most tires can be run tubeless.

  10. Vic Says:

    Like Blackbean, I had a pair of Pythons on an NRS, and had only one major complaint, but it was major.

    I found that there was no warning before they let go in a corner. They gripped pretty well and then they didn’t grip at all. My current Ignitors will slip a little before they slip a lot and it gives me a chance to change my line or back off before I am forced to bleed all over the trail. I had a couple of surprising crashes with the pythons that I don’t think I would have had on another tire.

    I am wondering if the 29er version suffers from the same phenomena, or if it is not an issue with the larger tire and or lower available pressures while run without tubes.

  11. GreenLightGo Says:

    Digging into the past to post my impressions of the Python after a racing season using one on the rear of my Sultan w/ Flow rims. First comment – it’s a great tire for what it’s designed to do – period. It rolls like a champ, handles hardpack great and hooks up in the corners (amazingly). It’s not a mud tire and it doesn’t handle the rocky loose over hard as well – but that’s not what it was designed for. Volume is not bad – though it’s narrow, it makes up for that in height. I ran 32 psi just like Capt Bob – perfect for South Florida. Second comment – easy to mount and install on a Flow. It sealed up well and was trouble free. I noticed some accelerated wear until about the 300 mile mark, then it slowed down and wore pretty well. This tire gave me a different experience than the 26×2.3 I ran on my 5×5 trail bike in 07. It performed well enough that I bought two more (for the rear) so I had some back ups. It works, it’s not too heavy and it’s not nearly as expensive as the Racing Ralph. Good things in my opinion.

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