After putting 38mm tires (Compass Barlow Pass) and new fenders (VO Zeppelins) on my Hilsen, and riding them for a month or so, I have the following observations.
- They are cushy and ride well
- They are light (I have the Extra Lights) and don’t slow my pace down
- They increase stand over height by a half cm or so (it is noticeable)
- The bike handles about the same
- The tread is very grippy – I like the sure-footedness
- There is now quite a bit of toe overlap, and I have bounced the fender several times during slow maneuvers
- The difference between my 31mm Cypress and these 38mm Barlows is much less evident than jumping to a 42mm Hetre
I am slowly coming to the realization that I like smaller, fatter wheels on road bikes, but if I’m on a 700c, 33.3mm is the most I need. On both the Hunqapillar and my Hilsen the favorite tires for pure road riding have been either Gran Bois Cypres or Rivendell Jack Brown (Greens). Both combos make the bikes feel fast, agile, and just “right”. They also do a good enough job to absorb road bumps that I don’t feel beat up even after a long (200k/300k) ride. When I have a bigger tire (35mm+) on a 700c wheel, the bike feels a bit ponderous.
I really want to like the Barlows – but they are just not Hetres, and they aren’t feeling significantly better or more comfortable than the Cypres/JBs. I don’t know if the added volume makes the toe overlap worth the bother. I also like the hammered Honjo fenders I had on this bike. They added a touch of class…