Ritchey ZEDs Prove All-Around can be OK|
Thursday, April 27, 2000
Ritchey's ZED tires are perfectly named. Evolved from the legendary Z-Max design, the ZEDs offer slight refinements that continue the lineage. ZED (Z-Max Evolved Design) tires make use of the same grippy side knobs as the Z-Max. The profile is a bit altered due to the multitude of paddle shaped knobs that ring the center of the tire. The "paddles" are so densely spaced that while inflated at their recommended max (60 psi, 45 on the low end) they resemble a semi-slick in feel on hardpack trails.
According to Ritchey, the center tread was designed to handle grinding up hills and braking. Likewise, the side-knobs help with cornering. There is a compromise one must consider with these tires. The ZEDs don't come in front and rear specific models. The result is a pretty good front and a pretty good rear but not a specialist. The upside is that performance is more consistant over a variety of terrain and conditions.
In the dirt the tires performed as you'd expect, solidly. The DirtWorld XC team has raced on them and ripped it up for fun on the trails. The rubber felt most at home on the hardpack singletrack in dry race conditions. Understand the ZEDs aren't semi-slicks, but their comparably low rolling resistance, versus other all around XC tires, offers a quick light feel. In the mud and slick roots the performance limits were tested. Running with lower pressure (40-45 psi) helped, but the ZEDs definitely like the dry hard stuff. In fact, they excel on those long dry twisty ribbons of dirt.
Overall the Ritchey ZEDs were more than up to the task for the price. The listed prices of $50 (WCS - carbon reinforced casings), $28 (kevlar) and $18 (wire) return dividens on a reasonable investment. Durable, light weight and predictable are characteristics that make the ZED a worthwile choice when looking for a versatile yet race worthy tire.
Who's it for?
Riders who need a solid pair of tires that worthy of racing or just rollin' along.
Who isn't it for?
Expert level racers who typically deal with slick course conditions. Downhillers need not apply either.