It has been two years since I first installed the Ultradynamico MARS Race 27.5x2.22" on my bike. During a makeover project on my Surly Bridge Club, I beat my brains out trying to select tires. My idea was not only to make my bike a functional bikepacking rig but, above all, beautiful. So, I was happy to discover that Ultradynamico made the 27.5" MARS with gray color available in the market just before I finalized all the parts in 2021. I'm so psyched to review these tires designed by the infamous Ronnie (the Ultraromance) and Pat (the Ultratradition). Together Ron and Pat built Ultradynamico, a US-based small business with love and passion three years ago. Ron and Pat have been cycling beasts and besties since they were young. They believe that bicycle components should be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. They are bike nerds, bike components nerds, and every-thing-about-a-bike nerds! Unearthing more stories of the Ultradynamico duo, I found their talk with Path Less Pedaled that made me think of the legendary words from Master Yoda to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Episode V, "Do or do not. There is no try".
Tire choice can fundamentally dictate the aesthetics of your build. For me, this is a reflection of my personality, riding style, and soul. Ultradynamico tires earn points with their eye-catching, minimalist design and absence of a bulky logo on the side wall. Ron and Pat embarked on the project with the intention of creating a tire that not only performs well but also looks great. They began by designing tires from scratch before reaching out to Panaracer, the manufacturer of Ultradynamico. The tread and knob design is a culmination of their favorite tire designs, knob height, rider feedback, and desired qualities. After years of both risky and reasonable experimentation, Cava became the first tire to be launched in the market, followed by Rosé and MARS a year later.
There has been a change in the tire's packaging since the initial batch. When I received my tires two years ago, they were accompanied by a reusable organic cotton bag and a lovely postcard with a message encouraging us to "Enjoy the Rubber!". I adore that cotton bag and continue to use it as an essential part of my bikepacking gear, carrying my toiletries and some tools. It's minimal, lightweight, quick-drying, and features a charming Ultradynamico logo. Unfortunately, they no longer offer this cotton bag. It has been replaced with recycled paper packages wrapped with reusable rubber bands, presumably for cost-cutting purposes. Personally, I prefer the original cotton bag, and my cat feels the same way!
Immediately after installing the MARS Race tires, numerous cyclist friends reached out to me on Instagram, inquiring about the tires and whether they should consider purchasing them. At that time, I couldn't offer a detailed explanation as I had just recently mounted them on my bike. However, it has now been two years, and I can confidently describe these tires using three words: "Eye-catching, All-terrain, and Supple."
The Ultradynamico MARS tread design is incredibly creative, unique, and eye-catching. It features a distinctive triangle pattern that I have never seen on bicycle tires before. Ron and Pat have incorporated their original delta tread patterns into the MARS tire with some adjustments. The side knob is a deeper version of the Rosé knob, featuring double triangles that point towards the central tread line. Additionally, a higher triangle knob has been added to the center of the MARS tire. This tread design not only gives the tires a sleek and minimal appearance but also performs exceptionally well on all types of terrain.
The mid-triangular tread bites into the ground and excels at shredding mud without compromising speed. The continuous ramped center delta contributes to the tire's fast-rolling capabilities. In fact, it played a significant role in my victory in the women's category at the Dust Man Chiang Mai event in 2022. The Ultradynamico team emphasizes that triangles are among the strongest geometric shapes, particularly in the realms of architecture and construction. This strength translates to bicycle tires as well, as any weight placed on them is evenly distributed across all three sides. When the delta tread is fully engaged with the ground, the chances of damage are significantly reduced. From my observation, the center delta tread has remained unchanged and has not noticeably thinned even after two years of use.
These tires perform consistently well regardless of whether you're riding on paved, unpaved, or dirt roads, maintaining their speed throughout. However, I would not recommend them to avid hardcore mountain bikers, downhill enthusiasts, or riders who frequently encounter muddy conditions. While the MARS tires excel with their side knob and wide knob design, I did experience some slips on muddy, wet, or moss-covered trails. Nevertheless, I must applaud the tire's exceptional grip on dry surfaces. It's worth noting that the name "MARS" is fitting, as these tires seem perfectly suited for riding on Martian soil!
Ultradynamico offers three rubber compound options: Race, JFF, and Robusto. Race, the initial compound released three years ago, prioritizes comfort and supple feelings without compromising speed. Ron and Pat claim it provides superior grip in all conditions, but I would suggest it performs best in dry or slightly wet conditions. The tires deliver fantastic and supple experiences on dirt, gravel, single track, double track, and buffalo tracks. They are tubeless-ready and perform optimally at low pressure, emphasizing the importance of running them at lower psi. The recommended tire pressure, indicated on the tire's side, ranges from 20 to 35 psi. In comparison, my previous Teravail Ehline 27.5x2.5" had a maximum recommended pressure of 45 psi. During my first tire trial adventure, I made the mistake of inflating them to around 40 psi, resulting in a bumpy ride but fast-rolling performance. Due to my imperfect route selection and unstable riding skills, I had an unfortunate fall in the jungle. I take full responsibility for this mishap and do not blame the tires. This incident serves as a cautionary tale: "Never exceed their recommended maximum psi!"
The Race compound offers flexibility, lightness, and suppleness, but it lacks extra protection, making the tires prone to flats and tears. Furthermore, while enjoying the benefits of low pressure in terms of flexibility and speed, it can negatively impact tubeless compatibility and tire durability. Nevertheless, after two years of use, I have encountered zero punctures with the Ultradynamico MARS Race tires, aside from some sidewall cracks signaling the need for replacement. You can see the tire's condition after two years in the attached photos.
The claimed weight of the 27.5" Ultradynamico MARS Race tire is 605 g. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to weigh the latest MARS tire, and it came in at a mere 580 g. Compared to other brands, these tires are exceptionally lightweight. The reduced weight significantly impacts bicycle handling and responsiveness, which is crucial when riding with a load on adventurous trails. For instance, the MARS Race weighs between 580 g to 605 g, while the Teravail Ehline weighs 685 g to 735 g, the Vittoria Mezcal weighs 670 g, and the Rene Herse Untanum Ridge in standard casing weighs 580 g. If weight is a priority for you, the MARS Race stands out among the available options.
However, for price-conscious riders, the MARS Race may be a secondary choice. It is priced at $85 USD per tire, whereas the Rene Herse Untanum offers a similar weight at $78 USD, and the Teravail Ehline is priced at only $65 USD. While the price of the MARS Race is higher than its competitors, choosing it allows you to support Ultradynamico, a lovely small business run by Ron and Pat, who contribute massively to the adventure cycling world.
Ultradynamico caters to the #26inchaintdead team with their 26x2.22" MARS Race tires, available in gray and red. They also offer an option for 29" tires. For gravel grinding, there are additional choices from Ultradynamico: The Cava and Rosé, named after famous wines. The Cava is designed as a high-volume slick tire, while the Rosé features higher triangular knobs on the sides and in the center. Cava comes in sizes 650bx47.99, 700cx33, 700cx42, and 27.5x2.22 (650bx55), while Rosé is available in sizes 650bx47.99 and 700cx42. Pat, who had a strong affinity for BMX in his youth, recommends using Rosé in the front and Cava in the rear for enhanced cornering and braking traction. My partner Py has tried this combination and enjoyed it.
For riders seeking durability with the Race compound and wanting to experience the positive vibes of Ultradynamico, Robusto is also an excellent option. Ron and Pat designed the Robusto with side-wall protection, making it well-suited for rugged terrain and perfect for touring or loaded touring. As for the most accessible and affordable option from Ultradynamico, that would be JFF (Just For Fun), priced at only $65. Despite the lower price, the JFF casing and rubber specifications meet industry standards, and the casing is claimed to be more durable than the Race compound.
The Ultradynamico MARS Race tire is an excellent choice for both paved and adventure cycling, offering a fast-rolling knobby design. If you're in search of versatile tires that perform well in various terrains (not excessively muddy or slick, with a pleasing aesthetic), the MARS Race is the perfect option. You can ride with speed, enjoy thrilling Type II fun adventures in the jungle with friends, add a splash of color to your bike, and even contribute to Pat's kid's college fund! Whether you're drawn to the Ultradynamico brand, appreciate the quality of Japanese Panaracer tires, or simply love the vibrant color options, these tires deserve serious consideration for your next purchase. For optimal performance and maximum suppleness, it is recommended to run these tires at around 20 to 30 psi. You can easily purchase the tires and other merchandise, showcasing your Ultradynamico fandom, from the Ultradynamico website.
Now, you may be wondering if I would choose these tires again. The answer is a resounding "Yes!" However, I'm currently considering a switch to the recommended combination of the MARS Race in the front and the newly released 27.5x2.22" Cava in the rear. It would be a juicy and yummy ride!
|Eye-catching tire design - sleek and minimalistic aesthetics|
|Distinctive and innovative tread pattern|
|Flexible and supple tire casing|
|Excellent balance of speed and traction|
|Good vibes from Ultradynamico - support small business|
|Higher price point compared to some alternatives|
|Limited protection features|
|Reduced tire durability when running low pressure for increased speed|
|Limited range of tire sizes available|