American Classic Reborn as a Value-Driven Road and Gravel Tire Brand


Almost 40 years after the brand’s inception – and nearly four years after its closure – American Classic has emerged from its ashes as a direct-to-consumer brand. While the original AC focused on the wheels, this news focuses on the tires, with eight models aimed at the road, urban and gravel markets.

Interestingly enough, American Classic’s claim to fame this time around may well have some value. The retail price of all tires is only US $ 30-35 each, and there is even an extremely aggressive “road hazard replacement policy” where a customer can get a one-time 50% discount on a new tire. if it damages a tire while driving. – clearly an effort to keep people on American Classic tires for the long haul.

Each of the tires is made in Taiwan in a new factory directly owned by American Classic (this is how the brand is able to offer the tires at such low prices). Tubeless models are approved for use with the latest hooked (TC) and hookless (TSS) tubeless rims.

At least for now, American Classic’s new tires will only be offered to US buyers, either directly from the brand’s website or through a dedicated Amazon store.

Decomposition of the model

Timekeeper is the brand’s “first road racing tire”, featuring a single synthetic rubber compound, tubeless ready 120 TPI nylon and a lightweight puncture-proof belt just below the tread to minimize any impact on tire resistance. rolling. It is offered in only 700 × 25 mm and 700 × 28 mm, but in tube and tubeless ready mountings, as well as black, beige and brown sidewalls depending on the version. The weights vary from 210 to 300 grams.

Torchbearer is more of an off-road model, with the same rubber compound and case constructions as the Timekeeper, but with a slightly more pronounced tread on the shoulders, and bead-to-bead puncture protection instead of just something under the tread cap, and larger sizes available: 700 × 25mm, 700 × 28mm, and 700 × 32mm, all in black wall only. The claimed weights range from 270 to 415 g.

The more urban Lamplighter complements American Classic’s tarmac-specific tire selection. Offered in larger sizes of 700 × 40mm, 700 × 50mm and 650 × 47mm with a 60 TPI tube-type nylon housing, Lamplighter puts more emphasis on durability with a pearl puncture resistant belt at bead and a 3mm rubber under the tread cap. The claimed weights range from 580 to 670 g.

Kimberlite is the first mixed model in the new American Classic tire line. Aimed at softer conditions like poor pavements or hard dirt roads – or riders who simply prioritize ride speed over absolute grip – Kimberlite features a central file pattern and progressively more studs as you move downhill. ‘shoulder. The puncture protection consists of a “specially designed microfiber composite tread compound” and an additional belt under the tread cap. Sizes available include 700 × 40mm, 700 × 50mm and 650 × 47mm, all exclusively in black wall with tubeless ready 120 TPI nylon housings. The claimed weights range from 565-660 g.

The Aggregate is more of a true mixed-condition tread with its range of small, low-profile hex knobs featuring the same tread compound, puncture protection, available sizes and carcass construction as Kimberlite (but with an additional beige sidewall option). The claimed weights range from 565-680 g.

The Udden is further off the beaten track with a center ‘micro chevron’ tread, a dense array of mini buttons in the transition area, and relatively sturdy looking blocks further into the housing. Sizes, color options, and case construction are the same as the Aggregate, with claimed weights of 565-680g.

Wentworth goes even knottier, with bigger tread blocks, more open spacing, and an even more rugged shoulder design. According to American Classic, it’s “suitable for long days of aimless exploration and queuing on rainy race days where anything could be found at the next turn.” Sizes, color options, and case constructions are the same as the Aggregate and Udden, with claimed weights of 550-740g.

To top it off, the Krumbein, intended for loose gravel and singletracks, with its strong mountain bike-like shoulder buttons and more pronounced center and transition pattern. The center knobs are still angled to help reduce rolling resistance, however. Sizes, color options, and case construction are the same as the Aggregate, Udden and Wentworth, and claimed weights range from 585g to 735g.

Already seen?

While longtime fans of the American Classic brand will no doubt be delighted to see the company return to business, it’s also hard not to notice how familiar many of these tread patterns are, in particular. some of the gravel patterns.

At least to me this Udden looks a lot like a Donnelly MSO. The Aggregate is a dead ringtone for the Schwalbe G-One Allround. Kimberlite? Definitely an air of WTB Byway over there. And the Krombein looks like a WTB Resolute derivative. Heck, even the decorative patterns on the Timekeeper are reminiscent of how Continental dresses its GP5000.

Are these tires exact copies? Well no. Looking at the Aggregate, for example, American Classic points out that it has polygonal knobs as opposed to the round ones on the Schwalbe G-One, which supposedly improve braking performance. The center buttons also have a larger diameter and shorter height which American Classic says increases stability and reduces rolling resistance, and more open spacing on the shoulder buttons produces “better bite and clearance.” waste”.

Even casual observers will say they’re still very close, but in fairness to American Classic, if you want to emulate the design of other tires, the company has at least picked out a bunch of good ones to emulate.

I’ve spent the last few weeks on the 700 × 40mm Wentworth, for example, and honestly it’s pretty impressive. The carcass isn’t as flexible as I usually prefer, but those thicker sidewalls will likely resist abrasion and cuts better, which for some riders will be more important. Grip has also been good in my notoriously tough local conditions of loose on hard ground, and at least so far the tread is wearing well.

Of course, American Classic’s extremely aggressive pricing structure cannot be ignored here. Viewed strictly through a performance lens, these tires are no different from the best offerings from Schwalbe, Continental, WTB, Maxxis and others. However, the price difference is simply huge, especially in terms of percentages. I can’t find anything else on the market that comes close to offering this kind of performance at this price point, and certainly not without such an intriguing replacement policy. In this context, American Classic could really be on to something here.

Wheels in development

As interesting as the return of American Classic is, there are two glaring absences. American Classic has long been primarily a brand of wheels, not tires, and there is little evidence of the influence of the brand’s original founder, Bill Shook. A quick survey of American Classic’s public relations agency, however, provides information on both of these.

“Bill is being hired as an external design and engineering consultant,” said Logan VonBokel of Hot Route Media. “Bill didn’t have much to do with tire engineering other than test driving. Given his experience and expertise in off the beaten track engineering, the American Classic team is fortunate to have him on the engineering and product development team as the brand grows.

As for the other clue, visitors to the American Classic website might notice a little teaser. Under the Product tab is a section on tires, but there is also a placeholder for wheels. If you’ve been disappointed with losing American Classic wheels to the market, it looks like you won’t have to wait too long for Shook’s innovative ideas to return – and if they have anything similar to the value of these awards. . tires, that will definitely be something to watch out for.

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