Soma Cazadero 50mm Tire: Quick Review- by Guitar Ted
The very first RidingGravel.com review I wrote back in 2015 was on the Soma Cazadero 700 X 42mm tires. Those were the days when gravel specific tires were not common and tubeless ready ones were super rare. Now things are quite different, of course, and any tire introduced for gravel travel these days had better be tubeless ready or very inexpensive. The Cazadero kind of went off the radar due to the lack of a tubeless ready variant, which still seems to be the case for the 42mm tire. However; they saw fit to release a 50mm wide version of the Cazadero, and that tire is tubeless rated. I recently tested these tires on one of my drop bar 29″ers. Let’s check it out……
What It Is: Obviously this is a widened version of the 42mm Cazadero we tested two years ago. That said, Soma has had Panaracer make a few improvements to this Japanese made tire. the casing is now rated for tubeless use (Huzzah!) and they even managed to keep the classy looking skin wall as well. Panaracer is known for their lightweight, supple, high quality casings and the 50mm Cazadero is benefiting from that. Our 42mm samples weighed just north of 500 grams two years ago, but these 50mm tires only weighed 530 grams each. Very impressive! The tread is obviously just an expanded version of the 42mm’s tread with the same center ridge flanked by ramped rectangular knobs and having the “Z” shaped outer blocks along each side. In the hand, the tires feel incredibly supple and remind me somewhat of Challenge Tire’s “Open Tubular” casings which are really sweet riding tires.
Tubeless Performance: Mounting the Cazadero on my Stan’s bead seat style Sun Ringle’ wheels was…….a chore! These are definitely the hardest tires to mount that I have tried in a long, long time, and I am a professional bike mechanic that works in a shop. I see a lot of tire and rim combinations, so I do not say this lightly. I would suspect that a non-Stan’s tubeless rim would be a much easier fit. To give you somewhat of an idea how tough it was to mount these, I had to lever on both beads and the rear tire took well over a half an hour alone to mount. Yes……they fit Stan’s rims tight!
That said, it was easy-peasy to air up the tires and the Cazaderos did not weep sealant or display any weird traits at all. I would say that they bleed air off a bit faster than some other tubeless tires do, so maintaining air pressure is a bit more of a chore until the sealant develops a seal across the inner casing.
Ride Performance: The lightweight casings really spin up fast, as one would expect. The really impressive thing for me was how well the Cazadero rides. I have had the opportunity to ride two sets of these tires and both displayed a feel that was so smooth that I thought the frame was more compliant than it really was. On rough pavement, the Cazadero 50mm tire just erases road buzz. You would think the tires had no tread, they are that smooth rolling. That is great, obviously, but gravel travel is a different animal. I was happy to find out that the gravel rides I have done with this tire were also very smooth. The casing suppleness really pays dividends.
I was a bit concerned that the Cazadero in the 50mm width might not turn out to be very stable though. The tread blocks seem to be in distinct rows, with each row looking somewhat lower in height from the next one as you work your way from the outer tread blocks to the higher, center ridge. This lends a speedy roll on harder surfaces, but other tires with this sort of rounded casing tend to knife into gravel and feel squirrely. Once again, the supple casing comes to the rescue, keeping your tire rolling forward instead of hunting side to side as it plows through the marbles, as some other tires do. Air pressure has a lot to do with this working, and I ran close to 40psi in these tires, but being a big guy at 240lbs, I would suspect others would be able to run these at lower psi’s.
At The Finish: The Cazadero is a wonderful tire from the standpoint of smoothness. It just does what you would hope a fatter tire would do, and that is to act as a bit of “suspension” for your bike. This does a good job of reducing vibrations, which is a big benefit to the rider. That also helps lower rolling resistance as well, which has been demonstrated in tests by various publications and other sources. So, it would seem that the Cazadero would be a slam dunk choice for a bike with enough clearance for it, like say, a 29″er, or perhaps a Fargo.
The thing is, not all is roses with this tire. For instance, those light casings are going to be susceptible to cuts. There just isn’t a lot there to ward off the nasties. The other thing is that this tire doesn’t seem to be as big as advertised. My samples measure out at 47mm each, for example, and that is after several weeks of use. That makes sense when the tire comes out to such a light weight, there just isn’t enough material to spread over that big a volume. The narrower width puts the tire in a kind of “no man’s land” where it won’t fit in many gravel/adventure frames and is slightly too small for the wants and desires of folks with 29″ers. That said, many will be pleased with the weight and ride quality of the tire, which does a lot for making up for these shortcomings. Of course, there is the 42mm Cazadero, but that tire isn’t blessed with a “tubeless ready” designation. While it has been used that way by many, buyer beware……
If the 50mm Cazadero fits your bike, (it really seems to be slightly narrower than 50mm), and you need a smooth rolling, multi-purpose tire for gravel and dirt, then this tire should be on your radar. Riders with 29″ers looking to convert their bikes to a gravel road machine should take a look at the Cazadero. It is definitely a tighter fitting tire and Stan’s rim owners should be aware that it may be too tight for use on those rims. Otherwise, tubeless performance is very good. I have to reiterate, it rides super smoothly. Probably the best riding tire in this size range I have tested. It is very light for an almost 50mm wide tire, but it may not be as durable as heavier tires, so those with sharper rocks and nastier terrain may want to look elsewhere for a tougher tire. The tread seems long lasting and the tire performs wonderfully on loose gravel and hard packed dirt roads.
The Cazadero is available in black wall or skin wall for about $75.99 direct from Soma online, from online bike shops, or from your local bike shop. You can check it out on Soma’s site HERE.
Note- These tires were purchased for use by Guitar Ted and this review was not paid for or done with any assistance at all from Soma Fabrications. We strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.