[BIKING] Freedom THICKSLICK Review

So, when I bought my SE Bikes Lager, it came with a tire I wasn’t familiar with: Freedom THICKSLICK. I kinda figured that this would be a point where they could get away with skimping a little bit: it’s a wear item, you’re going to replace it eventually anyway, and it definitely helps complete the look of the bike. I figured, basically, form over function.

Now, if there’s one thing I know from buying car tires, it’s that you don’t judge a tire in the early miles of its life. Any protectant needs to be worn off, and the rubber needs to break-in a little bit. With car tires, it’s generally around 400-800km that you start seeing what the tire is really capable of. With bikes, it’s obviously a lot faster. In fact, I find, within 50km or so, you’re getting a real feel for what the tire can do. I do about 50km in a week, and, lets face it, I was getting used to a new bike, too.

Since then, I’ve been watching what this tire is like.

And basically, it’s really, really good.

Now, when you see a picture of it, you’ll notice a few things right away:

It’s, unsurprisingly, if you paid attention to the name, a slick: no tread. And, it looks and feels a lot wider than the 700x28c sizing. In fact, one could even call it “thick”. Truth in advertising? HOLD ME, I’M SCARED TOO.

Given the type of bike, it’s the perfect fit: understated, smooth, black sidewall with white lettering. Kinda wish the manufacturer name wasn’t so prominent, and the “THICKSLICK” script was doubled where the manufacturer name is, instead, but that’s the muscle car guy in me who likes the look of old Mickey Thompson tires.

So, the form is fantastic: it looks good on the bike. How’s the function?

Great, in a word.

After getting used to the bike, and getting the tire broken in, I’ve started pushing the boundaries of my commute: in the morning, I tear around corners I can see far through. I’m leaning pretty much as far as the pedals will let me, and the tires hold on for dear life. They get upset a little bit by larger breaks in the road (like expansion joints), but under normal conditions? Fantastic. I was concerned, with the slick, smooth non-tread, that they’d be a problem in the rain. Well, it’s been spring in Ottawa, and that means runoff from the snow melting, a quarter inch of dust, dirt, gravel, and detritous at the edge of the road, and yes, regular rainfall. And again: I wouldn’t want to throw it into a sharp corner leaning over with the pedal almost on the ground, but they’re definitely confidence inspiring, even in the rain.

And speaking of that post-winter roadside crap: the rubble, the sand and salt, the broken car parts, and glass, broken bottles, and the like?

Yeah, so far, these tires are bullet proof* The manufacturer claims that they’re twice the puncture resistance of other tires, and I believe it.

In the past, my beloved Devinci Stockholm has worn a number of tires. The Michelin Transworld City that came stock with it in 2003 (and is now discontinued), various generic, sub-ten-dollar-each 700x32c tires when I was trying to save money, and finally the Bontrager ‘s that I broke down and spent real money on ($44 each) in the last two years of its life. Of those, the Bontrager was the best, the Michelin next, and the generics? Well, lets just say that for what I spent in time and replacement tubes for all the flats I got? I shoulda just bought good tires. It would have cost the same, and saved me a ton of aggravation and wear on my shoes walking home.

So far, the ThickSlicks are better than all of them. They’re a little stiffer and sharper over the road, but for me, that’s a feature, not a bug: I want to feel the road, and I want to know what the bike is doing and where its limits are. I didn’t like the Michelin’s at all in the rain: I couldn’t feel what the bike, the front wheel, especially, was going to do at any given moment in a corner. The limit on the ThickSlicks may not be quite as high, but you can tell when you’re approaching it, and that’s worth more than more grip, to me. And, honestly, I look for the same characteristics in a car tire, as well: predictability will make me forgive a lower performance limit.

With all that said, the Thickslick is also not particularly lower in performance: in the dry, it’s definitely better than every single one of those tires. In the wet, it’s better than the Michelins, and probably equal to any of the generics, and not quite as good as the Bontragers. The Bontragers were a complete indulgence, however, at a time when I’d just gotten sick of buying shitty tires. I’m not sure I’d spend that much money again ($45 each, remember, on sale) when I can get ThickSlicks for twenty to thirty bucks.

If it matters to you (I’m not a pro, I’m a “butt-dyno” kinda guy), the reviews seem to agree with what I’ve found, too: Road.cc, UrbanVelo.com

*I have NOT SHOT THESE TIRES WITH BULLETS. It’s just a turn of phrase!

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3 Responses to [BIKING] Freedom THICKSLICK Review

  1. Jason says:

    Awesome review! I’m SOLD!

    Also from Ottawa, so the mention of the early spring helps a lot with my decision.

    Thanks!

    • markramsden says:

      No problem!

      I was seriously surprised, and pleased and continue to be now that I’ve got a year on ’em. Gonna have to replace the rear this coming season, but that’s more my riding style than a problem with the tire. 😀

      (sorry, mobile app had marked this as spam, totally not, and finxed now)

  2. bought the tires before reading your article. I agree it’s a good tire. (and i think it’s a match too with my weight.) rode it first with 80km so far and no punctures at all.

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