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Veloflex Vlaanderen Tubular Tire
See the official Veloflex web site for the full range of tires.
Debuting in Spring 2015, the Veloflex Vlaanderen is a 27C tubular tire offering higher volume than the already robust Veloflex Roubaix.
A tubular realized with the intention to offer to the racers the best ever made to compete in races where the resistance of the pneumatic and the roadholding are paramount.
Thanks to its new graduated diamond tread design it is possible to have a low rolling resistance on straight roads, while the roadholding during cornering it's granted by a deeper groove of the diamond pattern on the sidewall.
Moreover Veloflex exclusive gum receipt will grant the roadholding on every kind of terrain. Even if the size of this pneumatic is of 27mm the casing still remains at 320TPI to offer an higher resistance and flexibility to be able to deformate under the worst terrain conditions.
Vlaanderen comes with gum coloured sidewalls to give a vintage look as its name suggests; a recall to the past but with the knowledge and the best raw materials available of today.
Construction of the Roubaix is the same as the other Veloflex tubulars, which are all remarkably puncture resistant and yet amazingly supple, fast riding and comfortable.
The Vlaanderen offers higher tire volume and gives the distinct impression of being more supple than the Veloflex Roubaix, the Roubaix having a thicker center tread. With its greater volume, this is one comfortable tire, but possibly less puncture resistant than the Roubaix. Time will tell an that count; lower pressures tend to reduce flatting.
On the road
Readers know that I’m a huge fan of Veloflex tubular tires; I’ve ridden probably 60K miles on them in the past 8 years, going through at least 60 tires (I’ve lost count), and I know how each model performs (Record, Sprinter, Criterium, Roubaix, and now Vlaanderen). So I was intrigued by the introduction of the new 700 X 27C Veloflex Vlaanderen. I requested some review samples, and Veloflex obliged.
First off, this is a beautifully made tire. All three samples were nearly flawless in symmetry, clean in design. The FMB Boyaux Paris Roubaix Pro feels less finsihed and elegant by comparison, and the Vlaanderen offers clearly superior handling and ride feel.
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Now I have some riding experience on smooth and rough pavement, both at home and in the Sierra Nevada. The Vlaanderen was mounted on the Lightweight Obermayer 16-spoke front wheel (my Moots Vamoots RSL seat tube cannot fit a 27C in the rear, and a 27C in the rear is not really needed for road riding anyway).
I’m stunned—the Veloflex Vlaanderen is probably the best riding tire I’ve yet ridden from Veloflex (which means of any brand). Definitely a step up from the FMB Boyaux Paris Roubaix Pro. While I’m a huge fan of the Veloflex Record and Veloflex Sprinter, the Vlaanderen on the front brings together a combination of features that are terrific:
- I inflated the Vlaanderen to 98 PS, which for a 27C tire is proportional to 120 PSI for a 22C tire. Dropping pressure to 90 PSI advised for lighter riders and more plushness (I weigh 172 pounds). Deliberately hitting nasty road divots hard is much less jarring compared to the Record (at 120 PSI, which is appropriate for a 22C). I’ve always been a big fan of the suppleness of the Record but the Vlaanderen is not only supple, its volume totally takes the edge off any rough hits, while still delivering superb road feel (so many tire brands deliver a dead-as-wood road feel that bore me to tears). So if one is tired and not paying attention (say a double century or century with fatigue coming to bear), the safety factor on that pothole or big crack or stick or whatever is upped considerably. And then there is that big fat contact patch.
- Clearance with Shimano DuraAce brakes is quite adequate—about 2mm. This is a real 27C, not a 27C that inflates larger and crowds to close to the brake arm (like the FMB Boyaux PRP).
- Rolling resistance seems very low. Not quite as good as the Record, but the tire feels very efficient and hits the same peak speeds on descents.
- Handling is incredible: the perfectly smooth/circular cross section has no transitional oddities when rolling over the bike on turns, just smooth handling at any angle with a big contact patch—outstanding. So there are no handling surprises, just consistent grip and feel no matter than angle of inclination of the bike.
- Acceleration is naturally less quick due to the +100 grams over the Record and +80 grams over the Sprinter. On the other hand, stability is superior, particularly in cross winds and unstable conditions. This was always an issue with the super light Obermayer 16-spoke for me with the Record or Sprinter (I push right up to the designated weight limit for the wheel); the extra volume and mass of the Vlaanderen seems to be a match made in heaven for that wheel; it soaks up some of the harshness so that the wheel flexes less.
- Stability downhill at high speed (40+ mph) is outstanding, so much so that I let 'er rip on sections where I have in the past reduced speed with the Record or Sprinter—the extra mass and contact patch just inspire confidence. The stability seems to be a combination of the additional rotating mass plus larger contact patch.
I like the Vlaanderen enough that it will probably completely replace the Criterium and Roubaix models for the front wheel. Not yet known: propensity to flats; it is a very supple tire and in spite of its volume it is not yet clear to me how well it will deal with flats. Still, at lower PSI it may do very well.
The lower pressure of the 27C Veloflex Vlaanderen should improve even further upon the resistance to punctures. See comments on the 25C Veloflex Roubaix. However, the Vlaanderen is not a robust tire in the sense of lots of rubber to resist glass and cuts. It is a very high perrformance tire, which one might say is like a scaled-up Record:
Expected to be similar to the Veloflex Roubaix but there is an apparent difference: the widewall of the Vlaanderen is very supple and has only a thin coating of rubber over the casing, so it can be easily scuffed off.
As a 27C tire, the use of ~75-110 PSI for the 27C Vlaanderen seems appropriate, depending on total riding weight (72 to 116 PSI / 5 to 8 bar is the official range). For your author with ~15 pound bike + 4-5 pounds of water + gear and body weight of 172 pounds:s
- Record: 120 PSI
- Sprinter: 118 PSI
- Criterium: 115 PSI
- Roubaix: 108 PSI
- Vlaanderen: 98 PSI
Quoted tire pressures are on a particular pump (pumps might vary in their accuracy). Appropriate pressures should reflect total riding weight: body weight of your author ranges from 170-180 pounds, total riding weight 190 to 205 pounds, depending on season, clothing, lights, water, etc.
Road feel should render the final judgment, but the Vlaanderen is so supple that 98 PSI is fine even on harsh pressure cracks (3 inches / 8 cm) wide on some Sierra Nevada roads.
There is always variation and different batches can be slightly lighter or heavier.
Two samples weighed to the gram: 300, 302, 303 grams.
|Use||rough pavement, cobbles, etc (“Pavé Racing”)|
|Size||700 X 27C|
|Weight||300 grams, ±10%|
|TPI||320 Threads Per Inch (120/cm)|
|Pressure||5/8 bar (75/115 psi)|
|Protection belt||Calicot puncture resistant layer|
|Casing||Compressed Pes/Co corespun|
|Rubber tread||Natural rubber exclusive compound|
|Inner tube||Latex low rolling resistance|
|Valve||Presta 42mm with changeable core|
|Mileage||Front 6.000 km - Rear 3,000 km|
Long term use
I’ve grown to adore the Veloflex Vlaanderen: ride quality and handling are unmatched by any other tire in the line, and then there is durability.
This is the tire that will not quit (at least on the front wheel): never in 10 ten years of riding tubulars (5000 - 10000 miles per year) has any tire delivered half this lifespan. And it’s still going strong here in mid-December 2015.
I glued on the Veloflex Vlaanderen onto a front Lightweight Obermayer way back in June, riding it almost exclusively. It shows mild wear now after thousands of miles. I’ve run over plenty of glass and debris and yet it just doesn’t flat. And its ride quality and handling are unbeatable.
Either I’ve been exceptionally lucky (unprecedented in a decade with respect to bike tires) or the Vlaanderen has an unusual ability to shrug off materials that would normally puncture a tire. Perhaps because of its volume and running it at 100 PSI vs my usual 120 PSI for a front tire it shrugs off punctures better?
There was one slow pinhole leak thousands of miles ago (probably a tiny wire), but Stan’s No Tubes sealed that up and it never troubled me again. I love this tire. It is now my #1 choice for a front tire. If I could run it on the rear, I would.