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Panaracer Aliso HO and Romero HO tyre review

How do Panaracer’s sticky new Aliso and Romero Enduro/Trail tyres stack up against the opposition?

Panaracer Romero HO
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Not as sticky as they sound, but lively and surprisingly quick all-rounders at a decent price

For

  • Lively feel for fat tyres, even in a mullet combo
  • Predictable grip
  • Relatively fast rolling
  • Easy fit and excellent puncture protection

Against

  • Don’t believe the super grippy softness claims
  • Bouncy rather than damped when worked hard

Panaracer has had great success on gravel recently and now it's aiming to get stuck back into the aggro MTB scene. The new Aliso and Romero double act is underpinned by existing tech but they’ve also learned lessons from Panaracer’s last Pandura enduro tyre.

Construction and fit

Aliso and Romero come in two versions. ST (Super Tough) uses the heavy-duty rubber sidewall belt and full nylon taffeta ‘Anti-Flat Plus’ casing edge-to-edge wrap introduced on the PanDura. It’s well protected from pinches and slashes and stable even at super-low pressures but with weights from 1100-1300g depending on the tyre size, it’s a vibe killer if gravity isn’t on your side.

That’s why we tested the new HO (High Output) option which uses the same taffeta protection but only on the sidewall and doesn’t have the thick rubber rim-protecting wall either. The result is a much more pliable and lighter tyre similar to Maxxis Exo, Continental ProTection or Schwalbe Snakeskin carcasses. It’s an easy tyre-lever-free fit even on normally stubborn rims too but sits in the well and seals comprehensively enough that it’ll creep up to chubbiness with minimal leaking and then lock into place just with casual track pump use. Sizing obviously depends on the rim used but at 60mm on a 29mm internal rim and 64.5mm on a 35mm rim, they’re on the slim side of average.

The HO and ST both use triple compound ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) rubber mix, but there are significant differences. Not so much on the 'Extremely Soft' shoulders which are 43 Duro on the ST and 45 on the HO  but the 'Super Soft' centres are 45 and 60 Duro respectively which is a big difference. The tread patterns are more conventional than Panaracer normally uses with a Maxxis DHF style 2 x 2 alternating ramped-and-sipped pattern on the Romero and a more Maxxis DHR, broader, split-knob design for Aliso which is designed for softer and looser conditions. Thankfully both tyres get bigger, better-supported shoulder knobs than the small stepped knobs of the Pandura. 

Panaracer Aliso HO

A classically grippy 2 x 2 knob pattern is ramped for better rolling speeds (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance

With all the talk of Super and Extremely Soft compounds and a well-spaced tread we were expecting the Panaracers to be a trudge on the trail. Especially as we were running them as a ‘mullet’ set up with the 29in Aliso on the front and the 27.5 Romero on the rear. However, with weights under a kilo and a supple, sprung feeling carcass they actually accelerate pretty well. Pronounced sloping and 60 Duro centre rubber compound means rolling speed is relatively rapid too. 

The more directional Aliso front and Romero rear generally work well in mechanical, traction digging terms as a front and rear team. The wide spacing means they clear mud quickly and the firm under rubber gives you something to press against up to a point. While there’s a leap of faith across the centre-to-shoulder gap on the Romero the slightly larger side knobs definitely dig in better than the Pandura. 

The springy carcass has a habit of loading up and then releasing rather than absorbing energy. That’s great for pep and float on hardtails but can also translate to occasional ‘nearly made it’ moments when we’d expect a properly grippy tyre to hang in for another metre or last pedal stroke but the Panaracers slipped instead. The lack of damping in the carcass was bouncy enough to need an extra click of fork and shock rebound at both ends to compensate if we were hitting stuff hard. There’s very little knob projection overboard of the carcass, which means that taffeta sidewall reinforcement has to earn its living fending off more scuffs and rock rubs than normal. 

Panaracer Romero HO

Spaced centre knobs of the Romero clears mud and digs into the dirt for good breaking performance (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

If you’re looking for a relatively fast-rolling, reasonably grippy pair of tyres that add plump, buoyant comfort and shrug off cuts and punctures particularly well then Aliso and Romero HO are worth a look alongside other proven mid-price tyres. You’ll want the much heavier, slower ST versions if you’re after aggressive grip and control-boosting damping for properly pushing the limits though. 

Tech Specs: Panaracer Aliso HO and Romero HO tyres

  • Price: £54.99
  • Weight Aliso: 29x2.6in (987g) Romero: 27.5x2.6in (944g)
  • Width Aliso: 29x2.6in (on 29mm internal rim) 60mm. Romero: 27.5x2.6in (on 35mm internal rim) 64.5mm
  • Sizes: (both tyres) 27.5-29in, 2.4-2.6in width