Great budget tyre, but not available in the UK
Founded around 40 years ago in the infancy of our sport, American Classic has been around a good while. Initially making frames and lightweight components, its reputation in this country is as a wheel brand whose high-end products came with some clever detailing and features.
The brand disappeared a few years ago, but is now back; not with the wheels you might expect, but a closely-related component that also spins around the hubs and is made out of rubber.
Yep, American Classic now offers a well-priced range of MTB tyres spanning XC to DH intentions. Using its own factory and designs, rather than outsourcing to vendors, the brand currently sells online and hopes to keep prices very competitive compared to rivals.
One of two enduro-targeting models, this Tectonite is the brand’s front end-specific option. At first glance, it’s tread isn’t a million miles from the Maxxis Assegai’s continuous toothy pattern and it also has a Double Down-style 2x120tpi ply casing.
The Tectonite uses rectangular central lugs and Specialized Butcher-like ‘stepped’ square-ish shoulder blocks. There are smaller tread blocks across the transition zone and plenty of siping, but most of the cuts remain inside the tread blocks to make sucker shapes, rather than full lengthways cuts.
American Classic’s rubber blend for this category sees a triple compound mix with softer shoulders for extra leant-over grip, slower rebound and enhanced damping. There’s plenty of friction and grip, even in the wet, but the brand doesn’t publish claimed durometer numbers.
With an extra Apex bead protection layer to prevent snake bites, it’s a pretty weighty and robust tyre. The brand claims 1,200g in 29in, but we measured almost a hundred grams more; more in line with full-on dual ply DH tyres than the Double Down or 1.5 ply-style enduro tyres here usually around 1,100g in 29in size.
Stability and composure on roots and dirt is good, so this is yet another new tyre with enough security and grip to hold its own on many UK trails without feeling sketchy. When riding really hard and smashing through broken ground, the casing (and/or tread blocks) is a bit springy and bouncy though.
Under high loads, this means you can deform the casing easier than equivalent weight tyres, so we pumped it up around 3-5psi more than a Maxxis to get the same level of support and resistance to twisting. This then amplifies the vague sense of being a bit less damped and a little less firmly planted on terrain.
Initial wear life and Tectonite rolling speed appears fine; there’s equivalent rollover speed to rivals and definitely no sense of being an absolute drag like heavy-duty Michelin tyres or, to a lesser extent, the Vee tyres here. The tread doesn’t scrub away too easily either.
American Classic understands that unless you can beat the biggest tyre names on price, there’s little chance a consumer is going to gamble with such a vital bit of kit and on this evidence, its grippiest enduro tyre is a decent (if not compelling) option. If a UK distribution deal brings these in with killer prices, the American Classic range and this Tectonite might be well worth a closer look.