Charge's Splashback tyres hark back to the golden era of mountain biking when every other bike had tyres with skinwall (or amber) sidewalls. Happily they ride better than most tyres from that era, so you can get the retro look without sacrificing ride performance.
I had a pair of Panaracer Smoke and Dart tyres when I was a kid. They had amber sidewalls. So when these new tyres from Charge landed on my desk I was super keen to see if they would bring back memories of those halcyon days.
They did, to an extent. They look fantastic on the bike, but they definitely look better on certain bikes. Steel hardtails with their skinny tubes seem to be the best fit. No surprise there really.
The tread pattern consists of an arrangement of circular knobs along the middle which gives decent rolling speed. Smaller circle knobs form a transition row onto the heavily lugged shoulders. A dual compound construction puts softer rubber where you want it more, on the shoulders, and harder in the centre. A 120 tpi construction helps keep the weight to a reasonable 450g for a 1.8in.
With the tyres fitted – I put a 2.1in on the front and a 1.8in on the rear – I'm happy to report the tyres did work reasonably well on the trail.
Tyre design has advanced rapidly in the last ten years and for outright performance, the Splashback's weren't as impressive as I had hoped. Grip is good when the trails are dry and over roots and rocks they're just fine, but throw in some moisture and they struggle to offer the bite I would expect from a modern tyre.
Save them for dry sunny days and enjoy the classic looks.
If you really must have retro-inspired tyres, the Splashback's are capable, if somewhat lacking in coping with a range of typical UK conditions.. There are much better performing tyres for the money though.
Good in the dry
Not great in moist conditions
More information: Charge Splashback tyres page.
Here's what Charge has to say about the Splashback
This tyre was designed for performance in long distance mountain bike events, where weather, conditions and terrain are inevitably variable. This makes it adept at coping with a variety of conditions and lengths of ride. It features: Low profile and tapered center knobs for speed and god mud shedding. Concave walled side knobs provide plenty of cornering bite. Can be used front or rear.
120 TPI Kevlar Casing. Dual Tread Compound.
Lightweight and fast rolling.
Size: 26x1.8/ 26x2.1