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Panaracer Ribmo PT Commuter Tire

by John Coe

Chrysler Rocky logoJohn Coe has been an everyday, four-season bike commuter in a four-season town for almost 20 years. He blogs, when he blogs, mostly about bikes and skis and stuff at rockychrysler.blogspot.com.


Panaracer Ribmo Commuter Tire I’ll be honest. As a bike commuter I am a bit of a renegade. I don’t like to ride on the road. With the cars. Hate ‘em. And I’ll do pretty much whatever it takes to avoid them.

Admittedly, my kind of commute can’t always be done in its purest form, completely road-free, but around here (and probably where you live too), with a little planning and a scoch of ingenuity, it’s quite possible to arrange such a nearly car-free commute heading in almost any direction. Trails, tracks, gaps, alleys, fields, dirt roads, vacant lots, loading docks, etc.

Give me an interstice that’s basically car-less and I’ll ride it. That’s how I roll. As in: always.

So, perhaps I’m not the ideal person to review the 700×32 Panaracer Ribmo Commuter Tire.

The Ribmo is obviously a road-commuter’s tire. As in its tread is mostly smooth and its shape is more-or-less roundish. On the pavement it rolls fast, corners with confidence, and hums along with a pleasantly audible note when you’re spinning in the pocket of a nice tailwind. Its Kevlar-belted PT Puncture Resistent Technology inspires confidence, too.

Panaracer Ribmo Commuter Tire What the Ribmo doesn’t do well is ride on dirt. Or snow. Or ice, or muck, or mud. I know: I rode it on all of these at one time or another.

Curiously however, what conspires against the tire’s performance isn’t it’s roadish design. In my opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with riding a skinny road tire on dirt. Over the years, I’ve ridden plenty of road-tires off-road with varying degrees of success. I am not averse to such an arrangement. To the contrary, in fact. I think it’s a heck of a lot of fun to ride road bikes off-road! Everyone should do it now and then. Just because.

Instead, what defeats the Ribmo is the tire’s odd, oblong-ish profile, which Panaracer calls its All Contact Tread Shape. Per their own product description, the unconventional design is intended to accomplish four key objectives:

1. Transition from center to side is smooth and predictable
2. Tread designed to maintain contact at all times
3. Unique shape supports all riders and riding styles.
4. Elongated sidewall surface reduces tread cuts.

But what it does in practice, on variable riding surfaces, is cause the tire to dive, sketch, surf, and wander unpredictably. Not a feature anyone likes in a tire.

Panaracer Ribmo Commuter TirePerhaps I’m being unfair. The Ribmo is, after all a road tire. But to me, a tire that bills itself as a commuter-specific tire, that builds in flat-protection and derives its name from the phrase Ride Bicycle More–which is written right on the sidewall–should be more capable over a variety of riding situations. I can’t be the only commuter in the world that mixes it up now and then, riding from road to trail to alleyway, as a means of getting around. Nor am I asking for an unreasonable degree of high-performance. Just predictability. On variable conditions, on varying terrain, under varying circumstances. Which is something the Ribmo lacks.

Prices for the Panaracer Ribmo Commuter Tire are all over the place, from $27 to $45 depending on the size and where you buy them.

 
Burley nomad 229

12 Responses to “Panaracer Ribmo PT Commuter Tire”

  1. Chuck says:

    Don’t know how much weight you lug around on a commute, but Years ago I’d “discovered” tamdam tires for commuting, they have a similar profile to the All Contact tread shape. I had a similar experiences with handling when I road the bike naked (w/o loaded panniers); but once the bike was loaded down, the handling corrected itself.

  2. Ted Johnson says:

    I saw in several product descriptions that these tires fold up nice and flat. Why would that be a selling point? Portability?

    If you’re commuting, I see the wisdom of maybe carrying an extra tube, but an extra tire?

  3. Dann Golden-Collum says:

    Good description; “dive, sketch, surf, and wander unpredictably.” Just switched tires. Used to have a Schwalbe Marathon on the back, and it was sketchy and surfy. It had a bit of a wander, but not quite as bad as your description of the Panaracer. Up front, I had a Vittoria Randoneur, which I really, really liked. Had a Vittoria on the back until is wore out at 4k to 5k miles.

    I’m now commuting in Anchorage, over a wide variety of surfaces – tarmac, trails both paved and not, sidewalks when necessary, glass and various other road hazards. Had to buy Michelin’s City tires because there weren’t any other options up here off the shelf. They are sketchy and surfy, and I’m nervous about their road adhesion. And at 700/32, they’re taller and fatter than any other tire I’ve rode, so they rub on the fenders. Irritating.

    Has anyone had experience riding Bontrager’s Race Lite Hardcase tires? They are a strange looking tire, without tread, which might take them off John Coe’s wish list (and mine). I’m also wondering about Schwalbe’s Marathon Plus and Supreme.

  4. thomas says:

    I ride 26″ Panaracer RiBMos myself… and I think your review is a bit unfair.

    Trying to make RiBMos anything but a road tire is like trying to put a BMX stunt rider in a Giro peleton. The RiBMo is inappropriate for mixed terrain, but by design. Why would you use them for mixed conditions? There are plenty of tires out there that are designed for that.

    When I commute in the snow, I change my tires out to a homemade studded set… I don’t pretend one set of tires can be great at everything!

  5. Chrehn says:

    I can’t speak for Panracer tires, but, I have used Specialized Armadillo tires for several years. I use them on my road, mountain and commuter bikes. They are relatively expensive, but, they are excellent tires and incredibly puncture proof. I live in an area that is covered with goat-head vine(puncture-vine) and I have not had a puncture on any of my Specialized Armadillo tires over the years. They are worth every penny, I would rather ride than repair flat tires on the side of the road.

  6. Doug says:

    I have used these tires for over a year, primarily on roads. I agree that the off-road performance is mediocre, but on-road I find that they have low rolling resistance and awesome flat protection. I don’t really understand your “unpredictable” feeling – they’re tires, and work fine on wet and dry roads; ice, snow and dirt are definitely trouble for them, agreed.

  7. damien keegan says:

    i have these tyres and travel 6 miles to work, on a proper cycle path i have had 4 punctures in 3 months,enough said

  8. Matt says:

    C’mon guys these are road tyres designed to flat less often. In my experience they do that well, use off road for off road… Love the bmx/peloton analogy.

  9. Fred says:

    I came here, hoping for a quality, and professional review of the Panaracer RibMo. I will be the one to say I am very disappointed.
    The reviewer is reviewing a tire that is intended for road/commuting use, but expects it to preform like an all-terrain/ cyclocross tire.
    Some reviewers are just not cut out for this kind of work.

  10. jlafitte says:

    Hey guys! Just want to share with you about this Italian restaurant I just ate at. Problem with this place was — I really like sushi, but they don’t have any!

    So, why don’t these Italians serve sushi??? Don’t they know anything? They can’t even offer a nice pot of green tea, or a decent seaweed salad.

    Stupid Italians!

  11. John Coe says:

    (true story) There is a Chinese restaurant in my hometown that serves sushi and the sushi they serve, well, it’s not very good.

  12. Pekka Astrom says:

    We need extra tires when riding in rural Asia on 700c wheels, since they can be very hard to find (most are either 27 or 26″). If you can bring along a foldable 700×32-35, it can could save your day and MONEY!

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