After much prevarication and debate I’ve finally purchased a pair of Schwalbe Delta Cruisers in cream.
I’ll admit to being a compulsive tyre swapper and I confess to coveting the cream coloured Schwalbe’s for a while. I first saw them on the Pashley Guv’nor and the obsession was spawned. Then I saw a fine set of Grand Bois Hetres (in cream) on Lovely Bicycle! curator’s Rivendell Sam Hillbourne. Then a friend purchased a Pashley Poppy shod with aforementioned cream Schwalbe’s and the die was cast. I had to have them.
And so, after some online price comparison shopping and debit card skulduggery, a suspiciously tyre shaped package arrived in the post, containing a brand new pair of Cream DCs. Now, these tyres look good in photos – but boy, they look even better in the flesh. The cream colour is perfect – a light, natural, almost edible looking colour (H and S note: don’t eat them folks). A friend of mine compared them to python skin and not being a reptile expert, who am I to argue?
Whatever they look like, I think they give a bike an instant classic look. If you check out old photographs of early bikes, you’ll see that many of them don’t have the now ubiquitous black rubber – they have light coloured tyres in creams and browns. Indeed, it’s easy to forget that black isn’t rubber’s ‘natural’ colour – carbon based powder is added to the mix to achieve ‘standard’ black tyres.
I plumped for the 700 x 35mm model, 35mm being my optimum tyre width for all round usage. They’re available in a number of sizes, including 28 inch (635) and 26×1 3/8 for classic roadsters. Mounted up on the bike they look superb, especially against my black rims. For an inexpensive tyre (mine came in at an astonishing £22 for the pair!) they’re beautifully made (as are all of Scwalbe’s offerings) and come complete with puncture protection, a reflective stripe and a dynamo track. Tread wise, they’re similar to Schwalbe Marathon. However, for me, the big selling point has got to be that colour – the cream tones perfectly with the cream of my Resurrectio decals and the straps on my Carradice Camper. It also contrasts beautifully with a honey Brooks and my brown shellacked cotton tape. Pretty much any classically styled road bike or roadster will come alive with these tyres.
On the road, they’re quiet, quick rolling and grippy, even in the wet and, because of their round profile they corner well. I’ve swapped from a set of Panaracer Paselas, a tyre at the quick end of the touring range and in direct comparison, the Schwalbes don’t feel overly sluggish, despite having a much sturdier sidewall and more tread. I’ve ridden them on canal towpaths, gravel, hardpack and cobbles and they seem to cope well thus far.
My one concern was how the tyres will look after a few grotty wet weather commutes and, as if to answer my concerns, today Manchester was treated to a thunderstorm and downpour of truly biblical proportions, rendering the side streets and towpaths of my commute muddy and partially submerged. However, the silver lining is that the cream treads shed major dirt really well. Yet at the same time they’ve acquired a pleasing amount beausage – a bit like the soles of a pair of vintage trainers. How they’ll cope with brake sludge from aluminium rims is a different matter, but time will tell.
Obviously, this being early in our relationship, I can’t comment on durability and puncture resistance, but if they’re anything like as tough as my Schwalbe Land Cruisers (an off road cousin to the Deltas sharing the same type of puncture protection) I shouldn’t have any worries.
I’ll report back after a few months daily usage. But before I sign off, I must point out one thing. These tyres will slow you down on your commute, because you’ll find yourself getting off the bike every now and again just to stand back and admire them…