Cyclocross is all about cornering and cornering is all about traction (well, you gotta have some technique and good line selection, but without traction, you’re sunk). So in November, I glued up a set of FMB Super Muds – the tire with the ultimate traction and I couldn’t be happier.
The cyclocross season had been pretty dry up here in southeastern Wisconsin, but I had an inkling that might be changing as we headed into November, so I ripped off my old Grifos and glued up a set of the FMB Super Muds in the PRO casing. The PRO casing, besides being awesome looking in pink, adds a layer of protection to the sidewall. It makes the tire overall slightly less supple, but I figure if Katie Compton and Jeremy Powers run the PRO casing, then it’s probably good enough for me.
My first race on the tires was dry, but the thing I noticed was that I was able to push the speed through the corners way more than I had before – I think this was just from having some new found confidence because of the tires. They tracked super well and each corner I was braking less and less before, letting the tires stick to the ground as I carved through. I pushed it a little too much on a few corners and started to slide out, but BAM, an instant later I had traction again. A few more dry races built my confidence more, then came the mud.
The first truly muddy race was Kringle Kross on November 16. Conditions were very cyclocross-y with a few inches of snow on the ground and warm enough temperatures to yield a good bit of mud. During my race, conditions changed from sticky mud to icy mud and the tires were awesome through it all. Not only did they provide great traction, but they shed the mud so well that I didn’t have any trouble with mud building up like others had. Then the next muddy race was down in Chicago at Melas Racin’ Basin. The conditions were wet and muddy with rain on and off all day. Temps were in the low 50s and it was slick, but not deep. There was a ton of off-camber as the course zig-zagged and took you down the side of a basin, then back up it. I ran 18psi in both the front and rear and felt confident in the turns. It got pretty slick in some of the steep uphill bits, but with a little weight over the rear wheel, I was able to keep the Super Mud gripping all the way up.
For me, these FMB Super Muds not only gave me traction, but transformed the way I took corners. Trusting your equipment is a vital part of cyclocross, and up until this point I wasn’t pushing thru the corners like I should have been. I still have work to do with my cornering technique, but I feel like these tires fast-forwarded my learning curve. I would recommend them even in the dry for someone who’s a tentative in corners. More traction is wonderful, and granted they won’t roll quite as fast in a dry race as a less aggressive tire, but I’d rather gain confidence (and speed) through the corners than a little bit of speed in the straights.