There are but two patches of rubber – no more than a few square inches – between rider and road. Most of us are loyal to a brand and can talk passionately about our favourite tyres over coffee with riding buddies. With this in mind, inspired by a conversation we had at the café about our choice of tyre, we’ve put together a pick of our favourites.
Continental GP4000S II
First up, the Continental GP4000S II folding tyre. It’s the headliner in the vast Continental range and it’s at home in the club and at a race. Its lower rolling resistance is a result of the German company’s BlackChili compound.
The tyres also feature two other ideas exclusive to Continental. Vectran, which gives them strength and flexibility for greater traction and Duraskin, that has unsurpassed resistance to tearing and is incredibly light.
Recently, Continental introduced a 28mm version to sit alongside the ever-popular 23 and 25mm versions. Proof if there was any needed that wide tyres are here to stay.
Weight: 23c – 220g, 25c – 230g, 28c – 250g
Continental 4 Season
The Continental Grand Prix 4 Season is a stalwart for extreme conditions, such as the deepest darkest winter and roads that resemble the northern classics. Think of them as a big beefy brother to the GP4000S II. The tyres may not be as lean or as quick, but they can handle pretty much whatever passes beneath them.
They’re from the same stock, but the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season has extra puncture protection. Rather than a single layer, it has two layers of Vectran beneath the tread.
These also feature Continental’s Duraskin mesh that has fantastic strength to weight ratio, and a “Max Grip Silica” rubber compound. They also have a similar Vectran Breaker puncture protection to the GP4000S II. The material is said to be five times stronger than steel – tough tyres for tough conditions. Ride time is precious and no one wants to waste it changing inner tubes at the side of the road.
Weight: 23c – 220g, 25c – 230g, 28c – 250g
Challenge Criterium Open
Challenge tyres are handmade in Italy and are revered as world-beating, cyclocross knobblies. Zdenek Štybar was riding Challenge tyres when he won the World Cyclocross Championship in 2010, the year that Challenge launched their open tubular tyres, the Criterium Open, which has since collected a few victories of its own.
An open tubular tyre construction is slightly different to traditional clinchers. Although they fit just like normal clincher, the tyre is produced in the same way a tubular is. Instead of being sewed with an inner tube inside, beads are made by folding the casing around Aramid fibre threads. The result is that an open tubular gives very similar ride feel of that of a pricey (and far more difficult to live with) tubular tyre.
The Schwalbe One is a very popular tyre. It’s the quickest tube the German company has produced and they also claim it to be the most reliable. It certainly hasn’t caused too many problems for the IAM Pro Cycling Team that uses the tubular – and tubeless – version.
This tyre is produced in a different factory, purpose built to the rest of the Schwalbe range (they evidently take production of its flagship tyre very seriously). It uses something Schwalbe call V-Guard level five protection to guard against cuts and punctures, alongside Schwalbe’s SnakeSkin sidewall protection for “Double Defense Technology”.
Initially, the tyre range didn’t feature a 28mm version, but it does now to cater for the greater demand for wide rubber. The range is 23, 25 and 28mm.
Weights: 205g (23c), 225g (25c), 245g (28c)
Vittoria Open Pave
Whenever we see these tyres it reminds us of the Cervelo Test Team. We have no issue with this; the team was glittered with some of the sports classiest riders, such as Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler and Daniel Lloyd (we wonder whatever happened to him…).
The Open Pave CG is the open tubular/clincher version of the tubular Pave CG that has been ubiquitous as the cobbled classics. It’s designed for tough conditions and features PRB 2.0 breaker for puncture protection. Recently, the tyre has had an update. It now has a handmade 320 TPI casing along with a heavy duty wear resistant tread, that despite its muscle doesn’t hamper rolling resistance. It’s made from Vittoria’s Isogrip, so even in the wet the handling is always on point and predicable.
It’s available in green/black (the Cervelo Test Team colour) and now all black in either 25 or 27mm.
Weights: 240g (25c), 280g (27c)
Whether its Schwalbe One vs Continental gp4000s or its Vittoria vs Challenge Criterium, we hope this gives you an idea of some of the tyres that we’ve been using and abusing over the last few months.