Donnelly MSO 50mm Tire: Checkpoint- by Guitar Ted
The Donnelly MSO 50mm tire has seen a fair amount of use on gravel roads now so it is time to give my update to this review. If you missed the “Getting Rolling” opening shot on these tires, click that title which will take you back to the post which has a lot of the background and technical data on the tires. Now let’s get into the ride performance of these big MSO’s to see how they have been for me.
Ride Performance: When I started out riding these tires I was immediately struck by how familiar the ride quality felt. It took me a moment or two to put my finger on why that was, but I realized that these MSO tires in a 50mm size rode very similarly to the Honali by Terrene which I tested here. So, I got the Fargo out which still is sporting those Terrene tires and rode it back to back with these MSO 50’s. Yes, I was correct, these are very much like the Honali tires. Smoother than you’d think for a tire with puncture protection, at this weight, and with such beefy sidewalls. This is definitely a surprise for me concerning the way the MSO 50 rides. I should mention that I did use a higher pressure on a gravel ride, 40psi, but it still performed well. I have since settled back to the upper 30’s for this tire, but I suspect heavier loaded bikes might call out for a higher pressure. As always, experimenting with tire pressures for yourself, your roads, and riding style is highly encouraged.
The gravel rides then were really nice on the MSO. It tracked over looser, deep gravel in a stable manner and anything rough was met with a slightly damped feel rather than a sharp jolt. On my single speed I never felt that the weight of the MSO 50mm tire was a detriment, but I also will say that I wasn’t feeling that it spun up fast or felt sprightly, like the Soma Cazadero does. No, this felt more like a sure footed beast which could handle a lot of punishment and keep your bicycle pointed in the right direction. At least it felt that way on loose gravel.
I was also able to ride a lot of miles on hard packed dirt and even a few miles of pavement. The harder the surface got, the more I felt that the Donnelly MSO was a bit slower than the Honali. I suspect it is those knobs versus the Honali’s smoother tread design. The difference is quite minimal though. Conversely, the MSO does have a noticeably better bite in the dirt on cornering than the Honali does, which should be obvious. Braking and climbing traction on loose soil and gravel is also better with the MSO due to the tread.
In my next and last update, I want to pitch the MSO against another, classic gravel/bike packing tire, the WTB Nanoraptor.
So Far……. The Donnelly MSO 50mm tires are an adventure tire with a bent towards the durability and reliable side with its thicker casing and puncture protection belt. It has a decidedly more toothy tread than other MSO variants and with its tubeless design, would make a good bike-packing tire. The weight is more than other tires in its class, but it seems to roll well in spite of that. The MSO is a true 50mm wide and does a bit better on dirt and semi-loose to hardpack than others in this class. Stay tuned for the “At The Finish” update coming in a few weeks.
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Note: The Donnelly (Clement) MSO 50mm tires were sent to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We are not being bribed nor paid for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.