Words: Paul Aston
Last week I was fortunate enough get a leg over a Scott Genius LT set up with the new Schwalbe ‘ProCore’ system, a product that is nearing production after six years in development. It’s a product that no doubt helped Nico Lau in his recent win in the grease and roots at the Tweedlove EWS and Emmeline Ragot win at Fort William, where some of her main rivals punctured.
Procore is a dual chamber tyre system, exactly what is inside continues to be a closely guarded secret, but this will be unveiled to the world at Eurobike later this year. The name comes from ‘Progressive Core’ and in the same way that suspension is progressive, the damping provided by this tyre is more than a conventional system. Procore is a joint developement with Syntace, and this collaboration came about after the two companies discovered that they were working on similar systems. It made sense to join forces.
The inner core takes a high pressure of between 55 and 85psi, locking the bead of the tyre in to the rim and providing a stable ride. Markus Hachmeyer, the man behind ProCore says it’s ‘impossible’ to push the bead away from the rim, eliminating the risk of tyre burping. This inner core also handily protects your rim from a good old rock smashing.
The outer chamber is a tubeless style system that can use latex fluid to reap your normal tubeless benefits. This chamber is all about grip, pressures as low as 14psi are recommended! In case of puncturing the outer tyre the inner core will hold the tyre to the rim, making it possible to finish your race run or ride with only a small decrease in performance compared to an Aaron Gwin style rim ride to the finish line. Puncturing the inner core results in the pressure moving into the outer chamber, leaving you with approximately 40psi across the whole tyre, but again the ability to finish your race run or ride. If you puncture both, well that’s game over, but Markus says if you manage to do this you probably wont have much of a wheel left, or frame.
If this all sounds too good to be true there may be some tiny negatives. We’re not sure how difficult it will be to mount as we weren’t allowed to see inside and could only ride the product accompanied by Michael from Schwalbe. We couldn’t even sneak the tyre off for a look (we did try in the lift but were caught red handed), but we were promised that the majority of the development process was aimed towards making the product user friendly, so it shouldn’t take much more than mounting a normal tubeless system.
Due to the extra valve you will need another hole in your rim, but seeing as you probably already have 33 holes it wont really make a difference to strength. Schwalbe were not actively encouraging anybody to take a drill to their rims, but I’m sure this will happen! They say they are working with many rim manufacturers to produce suitable rims, but basically it sounds like as long as the rim has an internal width of at least 23mm you should be fine. They couldn’t say whether it will be suitable for all carbon rims though due to the high internal chamber pressures. The other negative is that the system weighs around 200g, but you can run much lighter tyres and still enjoy the systems improved performance. So with a lighter tyre you are looking at similar net weights.
Back to the positives. The finished product will retail at approximately £150, this will be for front and rear systems, valves, rim tape and whatever other secrets are hidden inside. It should be on the shelves towards Christmas time. Procore isn’t a Schwalbe specific system either, it can be used on any Tubeless Ready or UST tyre. I think this opens up many more tyre choices as there are some great tyres on the market that don’t provide enough sidewall strength for Enduro or DH, but when used with this system they could well become an option. The final plus is that it’s reusable. It can be changed between tyres and wheels indefinitely.
I tested the ProCore on some Davos singletrack, steep, rocky and rutted. Instant life changer! The difference in all areas is huge, the bike held straight lines through the loose stuff like nothing else with much less deflection. Braking traction was massively increased too, and corner grip never ended. It almost feels like you have a puncture in some areas due to the low pressure, but I quickly adjusted to this as the sensation of grip overwhelms the flat feeling. I then changed back to the identical tyres and bike without the Procore and the comparison was shocking, the difference is vast.
So to sum it up, you get more grip, stability, tyre choice, and rolling speed, along with less chance of punctures, burping and rim damage, all for £150. I think Schwalbe have cracked it, a revolution maybe? More testing needs to be done but I’ll put money down now that this time next year everybody except XC racers will be on this, with other manufacturers desperately trying to play catch up, or copy cat.