- I put the Limus on my primary bike. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The race bikes, post power wash. Still a bit muddy. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The Limus performed flawlessly on the muddy Fort Collins USGP course.Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The Terra went on my "B" bike, a Van Dessel we are currently testing. Phenomenal bike, and the tires didn't let me down. Too bad my legs did. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The Limus' true 33mm poly casing is supple. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The knobs on the Terra are only 2.3mm tall, relying on their sharp edges to hook up. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- Nice wide knob spacing kept the Limus from packing up with mud. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The Terra has very sharp knobs, which grab at anything solid underneath the mud. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The knobs on the Limus are scoop-shaped, to grab as much earth as possible. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- Both are stamped 33mm, at the upper limit of the UCI tire width rule. The Terra is actually 31.5mm wide, though. We mounted them up to wide-rimmed Rolf Prima and Cole wheels (check back for reviews of both). Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The Terra, left, and the Limus, right are both capable mud tires. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The Terra is only 31.5mm wide, though it's stamped with 33mm. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
- The Limus uses massive 3.2mm tall knobs all over. The side knobs are 1.3cm long. Photo: Caley Fretz © VeloNews
Saturday’s New Belgium Cup started out gray and turned ghastly, with temperatures in Fort Collins, Colorado, dropping into the low 40’s and the sky opening up for a few solid hours of rain prior to the afternoon’s UCI Elite race. The formerly bumpy track quickly turned to a slick soup — perfect conditions for testing two pairs of mud tires.
I put Challenge’s brand new Limus tubular on my primary bike, and Specialized’s Terra tubular on my pit bike, confident that the conditions would require me to use both (I was right). Challenge is calling the Limus a “Rhino killer,” referring to the gold-standard Dugast Rhino mud tubular, while the Terra has already proven itself — Todd Wells rode a pair to a very sloppy national championship in Bend last year. I couldn’t go wrong (at least with tire choice — my poor working-man legs were a different story).
|Limus||$100||407g||3.2mm||true 33mm||latex||300TPI poly|
|Terra||$100||418g||2.3mm||true 31.5mm (33mm claimed)||latex||260TPI poly|
The Limus’ enormous 13mm long, 3.2mm tall side knobs bite into slick corners fantastically. Challenge’s brand manager Bill Marshall told me before the race that I’d “be able to do whatever I want out there,” despite the inches of goo. He was right.
Despite its smaller side knobs (even counting the two closely packed side knobs as one, they’re only 11mm long and 2.3mm tall), the Terra is no slouch in the corners. The narrower casing allowed it to dig in a bit deeper to find traction.
Straight-line traction (climbing in the mud)
The Fort Collins USGP course runs up and down a rather large hill. The start heads straight down before cutting straight back up. Getting power down to ground on this steep climb was a challenge in the mud.
In this instance, the Terra’s narrower profile shone. Since all the rain came in just a few hours before the race, there was still harder dirt under the first layer of mud. The Terra was better at cutting through and getting traction, despite its shorter and narrower center tread.
The Limus had a bit more difficulty in that section. Its wide and tall center tread (7mm by 3.2mm) was largely helpless against the slick top surface. However, in the deeper mud sections, where the Terra wasn’t able to dig down to solid footing, the Limus’ big, paddle-like knobs faired better. Much better.
Advantage: Terra, for this particular set of conditions. For deeper mud, I’d take the Limus.
Both tires have lots of space in between the knobs, and shed mud almost instantly upon hitting any hard surface. Neither packed up, even in the more peanut-buttery mud sections.
Advantage: neither, both are excellent.
Challenge recently moved both the Fango and Limus to larger 33mm casings, at the limit of the UCI tire width rule. They also bumped both tires’ thread count up to 300TPI from 260. As a result, the Limus is noticeably more supple than the narrower, 260TPI Terra.
The difference was most noticeable on off-camber, rut-filled corners. The Limus allowed line changes, the large casing grabbing the top of ruts and pulling the wheel out of them. The Terra would get sucked into a rut and there was little I could do to get out.
The Terra’s lower knobs take the cake here, allowing the tire to roll pretty quickly over harder surfaces. The Limus, in contrast, feels like it’s rolling through molasses on pavement.
For nasty, muddy conditions like we saw in Fort Collins on Saturday, the Limus was a clear winner. The much more expensive Dugast Rhino should worry indeed — as a mud-specific tire, the Limus is catching up. It doesn’t roll as quickly, but it’s equally capable in the slop. Sharper and slightly shorter center knobs would make the Limus lethal on Euro-style ‘cross courses with mixed mud and pavement.
The Limus’ enormous knobs hooked up far better than the Terra’s in the corners, and it climbed better in deep mud. The wider casing was more comfortable and helped tracking through ruts. It may have been slow on the road section, but staying off the brakes around corners certainly made up far more time.
The Terra certainly has its place, though. It’s a far better all-around tire, while still doing quite well in the mud. The lower, super sharp knobs roll quicker, and are confidence inspiring in dry to moderately muddy corners. The Limus has no place on a dry course, unless it’s obscenely technical. As a mixed-conditions tire, the Terra is an excellent option. Its straight-line traction would make it an excellent rear tire on muddy days as well — a good compromise between rolling resistance and traction.
The Terra is also available as a clincher. Challenge is developing a clincher version of the Limus, but don’t expect to see it until next fall.
Check back for a review of Specialized’s all-around Tracer tubular, which I raced on a much drier course on Sunday.