|Clement X'Plor USH: 35mm wide|
The Clement tire has a unique look compared to the MSO. The raised center section is flanked by groups of pyramid shaped micro-knobs that might be best described as a file tread on steroids.
|Tubed up look.|
On paved roads and commutes, the high crown and pronounced center section made for fast rolling, but a tendency to feel quick off center of the handle bar into turns, which could catch you by surprise. Cut resistance seems to be really good. I was able to run these through plenty of trash and broken up glass debris with no flatting issues, and no major damage to the tire casings at all.
Out on the gravel, the tubed set up on the narrower rims proved to be a handful. Only on the best, smoothest gravel roads would I have wanted these on my rig. The stiffness of the casings with tubes inside and the narrow, higher crowned profile conspired to make the USH feel skittish and required a bunch of corrective moves in the chunkier stuff which has typified the gravel around here of late.
|Switched wheels and went tubeless.|
The tires were now so different as to be almost like a different tire completely from before. The ride was super smooth, confidence inspiring, and stable on pavement. The "quick" feel off center going into turns was now completely gone. I suppose I should also point out that the wider rims probably help tremendously here as well. Finally- a technical data point- The USH ended up being 35.7mm wide set up tubeless on the A-23.
On gravel, the two personalities of the tire tubed to tubeless continued. I saw much less deflection issues, which made the tire far easier to keep pointed straight in the chunkier gravel. Cornering improved, and overall vibration damping was increased by a wide margin. The USH was a different tire tubeless than before, no doubt about it.
NOTE: The Clement USH is not a tubeless rated tire. Setting up the Clement X'Plor USH tires tubeless is done so at your own risk and voids all warranties.
All right- with that put out there, I can not fathom why I personally would not run the USH tubeless. The difference in performance is so great that the benefits can not be denied. I also would suggest that a rim of a similar width to the A-23 should strongly be considered for use with this tire, as it mitigates the high crowning effect narrow rims have on the USH, which I feel detracted from its potential performance.
|The X'Plor USH tires on the A-23 Velocity wheels|
However; once I took the risk to set it up tubeless on the tubeless rated A-23 rims, (again- not recommended by Clement), I found a different tire. A tire that was supple, stable, comfortable, and performed at a much higher level than before.
So, with the MSO and USH, which would I go with? That's a great question. Clement has come out with two versatile, intriguing tires for gravel aficionados. My answer would be this: "Where will you be riding next?" Rougher tracks, fresher gravel, or wetter conditions would call out for the wider, more voluminous MSO. Faster, smoother, drier conditions seem to be more in favor of the USH. Your weight, load on the bike, and riding style also play into the decision. But if you choose the USH, and stick it on a wider rim, I think you may find a tire that excels on a lot of gravel, and shines just as brightly on pavement. Plus- it will fit almost any cross bike with its 35mm width, which isn't the case with the MSO. (Until Clement widens the sizing choices, which they have indicated they may do in the future.)
Note: Clement sent these tires for evaluation and review at no charge. I am not being bribed, nor paid to give my opinions and thoughts on these tires. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout this evaluation.