Let’s face it, everyone loves Continental GP4000s tyres (tires if you will). And yes they are great. They grip well, last for 1000’s of km’s, don’t puncture easily and best yet, they are easy to mount. BUT… if you had to look for something different, what else is out there? Winter is approaching in Australia so it might be time check your rubber.
Well firstly you need to know that there are lots of specialist bicycle tyre manufacturers which may not have the budget to sponsor a World Tour team but deserve a chance. A lot of the World Tour and Pro-Continental teams are swapping to clincher tyres for ease of use and cost, making the options below as viable for you as them. But make sure you are buying a tyre to suit your needs – terrain, riding style, etc. Tyres cannot be super fast and light and be THE most durable tyre. There are trade-offs with every one so figure out what you want most from your bike and your tyres.
Below are just a sample but some of the best available for a variety of needs. Don’t believe all the marketing, sometimes you might just have to try them out!
It’s no secret these are my favourite tyre to buy. They are made in Japan and the company is owned by Panasonic (Panasonic is on the tyre wall – they make good tv’s right so the tyres have to be good?!). Panaracer has been making a name for itself in the MTB circles for years. The company started in 1953 and from 1978 exclusively made bicycle tyres. They simply make a good quality product without (too many) fancy acronyms and silly technology. Their Smoke and Dart XC tyres are popular to this day but I think their road tyres are the hidden gems.
Type D (formerly the Duro) $50-$60
– This tyre has twice the tread thickness of its big brother the Type A. It’s designed as the ultimate all-rounder with sufficient protection, grip and weight to do everything. It has Panaracers protection – PT under the tread but not much on the sides and features a dual compound which means grips in ALL conditions! I use to it train, race and commute on and will not use another tyre. Enough said.
Type A (formally the Extreme Evo3) $50-$60
– This is their flagship racing tyre. It’s light at 210g, has the PT protection from bead to bead and uses the dual compound ZSG for grip in all conditions. This WAS my tyre of choice until I cut open the Duro and saw the same compounds and protection with twice the tread thickness. But this tyre definately “feels” faster and is certainly a few grams lighter. Worth using on your race alloy clinchers or Sunday bike.
Closer PT $50-$60
– The Closer is your training tyre. It’s been designed to go the distance and not cause any hassle. I haven’t used it because the Type D will easily do 10,000kms but the Closer PT (with the PT puncture protection) is popular in many circles.
Challenge are Italian and are making a name for producing high quality road and CX tubulars and ‘open tubulars’ – simply a clincher tyre. The company was bought, re-sold, etc but effectively started as the Challenge we know in about 2000. As the tyres are made in Thailand, there is still a very ‘hands-on’ process in making every tyre.
Criterium Open $80-$90
– This tyre in a great choice for racing with it’s super fast tread pattern, high TPI and high quality casing. This tyre is designed to ride fast and grip tight.
Gara Open $60-$70
– The Gara is your high quality training tyre. Great weight at 250g, high rubber thread count at 240 TPI and tread pattern designed to work equally as well in the wet as dry. It’s one of the smoothest riding training tyres available.
Way too many good tyres to list here but below are some of best. Vittoria started making tyres more than 20 years ago and are produced in Thailand – like most tyres these days. Annual production is 7 million…. Vittoria sponsor the AIS, Cycling Australia, Drapac, Cofidis, Euskaltel, Rabobank, ok ok you get the picture……
Rubino Pro $50
– This tyre is value-for-money excellence. Chosen for it’s durability and comfortable grip, it’s a popular choice for amateur and racers alike. It’s good in the wet and comes in lots of colours if that’s your kind of thing. 225g and worth a look!
Open Corsa EVO CX $80-$110
– These babies are fast! At 210g they are light and the polycotton/kevlar casing means they ride smoother than almost anything else yet have the grip and durabilty in all conditions. If you want the best, this is for you. And yes you can get the World-Tour-conquering tubular version for your race wheels too.
Hutchinson are French. They have been making tyres since 1890 in France. Worth checking out because of this? Yes. Tour de France riders in the 50’s were winning Le Tour on Hutchinson and their list of revolutionary developments has gotten us to where we are today – fast, reliable bicycle tyres. In 2006 Hutchinson started making a real push for tubeless tyres in road which hasn’t taken off… yet. I’ve mounted some Hutchinson Fusion 2 tubeless to a new wheelset so I’ll review those soon.
Fusion 3 clincher $60-$70
– This is the do it all tyre. It’s classed as a competition tyre yet it has Protech anti-puncture and a triple compound tread for improved performance and grip. The simle fact that Hutchinson have been making tyres for so long has meant they know a thing or two about rubber compounds and durability. Bonus, it looks good to.
Atom Comp $70-$80
– At 195g this is light. Nearly 10% lighter than it’s competition yet it performs as well as the rest. It uses a single compound tread and simple puncture protection casing meaning you simply get an excellent light tyre. Maybe not the best option if you ride a lot of rough terrain but perfectly viable for most of us who tend to frequent flat well surfaced urban roads.
Veloflex are Italian and make race tyres. They are worth a mention because you get what you pay for. High quality materials and light casings = fast tyres. They call Clincher tyres ‘Open tubular’ so they are a little bit fancy and a little bit old fashioned. But if they are good enough for Thor Hushovd or Tom Boonen….
Corsa 23 $80-$90
– The Corsa 23 is basically the black version of the Master 23 ‘open tubular’. At 195g they are among the lightest racing clinchers you can buy and equally match the Vittoria Open Corsa EVO CX in rubber thread count at 320 TPI. This means the tyre is thinner, more flexible and tend to have a lower rolling resistance. But like all modern tyres, they feature a substantial anti-puncture layer to stop those rocks and glass bits finding their way through. This tyre probably won’t last as long BUT that’s to be expected from a high-end FAST tyre. You can’t be everything to everyone…
This company started making tyres in 1946 for cars, agriculture and industry. The company is as popular today for is high performance car tyres as it is for its high performance bicycle versions.
Fortezza Tricomp $80-$90
– This flagship model claims to do it all (I’ve never used one to prove this) but this is the best clincher Vredstein can muster. Very low rolling resistance, maximum grip and protection. Sounds good to me.
Schwalbe make tyres for bicycles, scooters, wheelchairs. They are a family run business that have made tyres since 1973. Having a team like RadioshackNissanTrek on board now means the tyres get pushed to the limits. As popular in the MTB circuts as road, these are a mechanics dream to mount and ride.
Ultremo ZX $70-$80
– Schwalbe claim this is the best Ultremo ever. Must be good as there are no less than 6 individual Ultremo models. This is the best all-rounder best known for it’s easy mounting, grip and speed.
– The Durano is the high-mileage Schwalbe tyre. It’s cheap, easy to mount and durable. At 235g it’s light and the dual compount tread offers confidence on those wet days.
Lots of options and really just the tip of the iceberg. But remember, just because your local bike shop stocks them or your mate says they are the best, opinions on bicycles tyres are varied and bias. Best bet is to try some out for yourself. If you “feel” faster then odds are you will go faster. Puncture protection will be debated for decades but bottom line, if you keep getting punctures try a better quality tyre (yes probably more expensive) next time. It’s hard to make the fastest, most durable and gripiest(?!) tyre but 2 out of 3 is, so take your pick.