Hutchinson Python 29 Tubeless Ready Tire
There are few components on our bikes that we get as passionate about as our tire selection. Many folks find a good tire or combination of tires and stick with them, ‘til death do us part. Some people switch from tire to tire in a desperate attempt to find the perfect combination of traction and rolling efficiency. No matter what camp we’re in, tires play an important role in our offroad experience. For 26” riders, there are many choices. The 29er crowd has, so far, dealt with a fairly limited number of available tire designs. This year, another highly anticipated tire has been brought to market. The Hutchinson Python 29 Tubeless Ready has been forged on the success of its 26” cousin and promises to uphold the smaller tire’s performance standard.
Hutchinson designed the new Python 29 to be tubeless ready. It is the only 29er tire that we have in stock, designed for use without tubes. We recently had a chance to put a set through its paces. We mounted the Pythons on a new Mavic C29ssMax wheelset. The installation was a cinch -- well, er, mostly. While there was some initial difficulty with two cans of Hutchinson Fast’air, the third worked as directed and inflated our test tire without problems. For the second tire, we used another brand of latex sealant, which shall remain nameless, and a quick puff from the air compressor. Both tires seated equally well on the Mavic wheelset, and neither was subjected to any sort of physical manipulation in order to seal the bead contact. It just wasn’t necessary. We went so far as to unbead one of the tires, remount it, and inflate it with a floor pump. That was no problem whatsoever. Perhaps we were lucky, but we speculate that the flawless compatibility of the Hutchinson Python 29 Tubeless Ready tires with the Mavic C29ssMax wheelset was a direct result of the collaboration between the two companies to develop the 29er tubeless system.
Here in Little Rock, we have some great trails that we can ride to from anywhere in the city. What that means is this: we get a good feel for a tire’s rolling efficiency as we link our way to the singletrack on paved paths and roads. The Hutchinson Python 29 Tubeless Ready tires felt very much like the 26” version, exhibiting the same fast rolling, efficient feel. The profile and knob design are identical. Can you blame Hutchinson? It was a good tire and one of our all time best sellers. They claim the tire is best for fast, hardpack conditions. We agree.
The Python 29 Tubeless Ready tires are great on packed, smooth singletrack. There are few tires that can match its rolling efficiency. Even when we encountered large rocks or ledges, it provided the necessary traction to blast right over. The Python falls short on traction when the conditions become unstable. The closely spaced knobs hinder the tires in sandy washes or loamy conditions. The knobs themselves are short. While they're an asset on stable hardpack, they just don’t have enough bite on loose trails. Mud? Rain? Forget about it. Do yourself a favor and go for a trail run instead. Since there will never be one perfect all-conditions tire, we have to qualify our riding style and determine how we spend the majority of our ride time. If it’s speed you seek, and your trails are buff, then the Hutchinson Python 29 Tubeless Ready tire may be just the one.
The Python 29 Tubeless Ready tires never gave us any problems with air leakage. In fact, we were impressed with the air-tightness of the tires. We have experienced less than desirable results in the past with some rim and tire combinations in attempts to go tubeless with 29ers. In general, 29er tubeless conversions have been inconsistent at best. The Hutchinson Tubeless Ready Python 29 is a huge leap ahead in terms of airtightness of the tire casing itself, bead design, and sidewall stability. In the past, the problems we’ve seen with inconsistencies in bead diameter, bead shape, and sidewall stability have contributed to burping and/or sudden blowouts, where the sidewall flopped over the rim edge. Any or all of these issues could be bad or even worse than bad during a ride. The Pythons seem to be free of these issues. They never burped air, even with a 180 lb test pilot running the tires at 30-35psi. They damn sure didn’t blowout. Reassuring? Yes, very reassuring, thank you very much.
Hutchinson has done their homework and test time is here. We think they should get high marks for the job they’ve done with the Python 29 Tubeless Ready tire. It is a tire that consistently maintains a seal, a properly designed bead, and stable, tubeless ready sidewalls. It is not an experimental tread design, but a proven performer, and that only increased our instant appreciation for it. It is a fast tire that excels on smooth, non-technical trails. We loved how fast it felt on the paved path as we rode to the trails. When the weather softens the trails, or when we visit nastier terrain, a little more care is necessary to maintain traction at all times. So here we are -- converts to 29ers who cut our teeth on the 26” version, love the enhanced traction the Python 29 Tubeless Ready provides. The rest of us are still searching.