Go faster and corner more confidently in your next triathlon with our performance tyre test.
Continental Grand Prix
Size 700x24c Weight 216g
Height 23mm Width 23.8mm
Watts @ 20mph 141W
This latest addition to the Conti Grand Prix family overlays race performance onto a proven tough training carcass
to build a superb value all-rounder.
While they’re not to be confused with the £40 Grand Prix 4000 or 4000S, the ‘basic’ Grand Prix still gets the same excellent carbon infused Black Chilli rubber compound. That means easy
road speed and confident grip in all weather conditions. It’s overlaid onto
the proven Gatorskin 24mm training carcass for very tough and durable back road performance. It feels smooth despite the extra protection and the long
lasting tread makes it even better value.
Fast, tough, surefooted, great value and only fractionally stiffer than the GP4000.
Size 700x23c Weight 202g
Height 22.6mm Width 23.4mm
Watts @ 20mph 146W
A big MTB tyre name back in the day, Onza now have Swiss owners and a full range of road and off-road rubber. The Preda delivers an impressive performance-for-price ratio too. At just over 200g with a quick rolling feel and reasonably quick wattage results, it ticks all the right performance boxes for race and training use. The relatively soft dual compound rubber makes it very grippy if you’re heavy on the brakes and cornering lean, so it’s well suited to aggressive riders. The dual-ply puncture breaker also shrugs off thorns/glass/road kill hedgehogs well so you don’t have to worry too much about your route choice from a rubber point of view. It does feel stiff on rougher roads and the tread wears pretty quickly, but for the money it’s still a fast bargain option.
Slightly stiff, but fast, grippy, puncture-proof and great value despite slightly quick wear.
Size 700x23c Weight 219g
Height 22.5mm Width 23.3mm
Watts @ 20mph 156W
Colombiere is a solid all-weather workhorse tyre from Maxxis but it
is definitely a steady rather than stellar performer. With its cut slick design and a fairly
stiff two-ply nylon protected carcass,
the Colombiere looks more like a training tyre at first. It’s relatively large for a 23c tyre so it shrugs off dark ride/flooded road pothole impacts well. The stiff feel is also balanced out by the larger carcass and it’s easy to slip on and off by hand if necessary. It’s relatively heavy to accelerate and slightly slow rolling though so better for sportives than any real racing sport.
Tough all-weather performance, but slightly slow and heavy.
Kenda Kaliente L3R
Size 700x23c Weight 196g
Height 20.9mm Width 22.7mm Watts @ 20mph 157W
Kenda’s Kaliente is a popular original equipment choice on complete mid-range bikes but our testing confirms our general riding experience that there are definitely better tyres to upgrade to. On the bright side the Kaliente are light and relatively easy to fit. The motor sport derived L3R tread compound is trustworthy in the dry and it rolls OK on very smooth roads. Unfortunately the carcass feels wooden and harsh when riding over rough surfaces. The Iron Cloak puncture protection that causes a lot of the stiffness doesn’t seem to do anything much in protection terms either, as this is one of the most flat-prone tyres we’ve ridden. It also felt nervous and lacked confidence in
Relatively light and affordable, but harsh, unconfident in the wet and flat-prone.
Specialized Turbo Pro
Size 700x23c Weight 194g
Height 21.3 Width 22.7
Watts @ 20mph 143W
Specialized’s Turbo Pro is an impressive all-round performer that wears well and is good value.
It’s light, at just under 200g, and the dual compound rubber means it rolls well too, particularly on smoother surfaces. It corners predictably in all weathers and on all our test road surfaces. The Black Belt flat protection doesn’t seem to offer much extra protection as our puncture count was slightly higher than average but it’s easy to fit and remove by hand. The 23c version is a little small and can feel stiff on rougher surfaces but there’s a 25c version that gives noticeably more cushioning and comfort without compromising performance. While acceleration is theoretically a fraction slower, with more and more pro riders choosing larger tyres to sync with wider rims, the Turbo Pro is an option worth looking at.
Well priced all-round lightweight and the 25c version is noticeably smoother.
Size 700x23c Weight 203g
Height 22.3mm Width 22.8mm
Watts @ 20mph 157W
Giant’s P-SLR2 adds extra puncture protection to the excellent SLR1 at a minimal weight penalty but it is noticeably slower and less supple.
The softer dual compound grip up front and harder compound at the rear has a proven advantage and this is demonstrated by the very secure and sure-footed performance in all weathers. The carcass has been really well made and its toughness means it wears well and shrugs off the lumps and bumps of country lanes with comparative ease. We didn’t suffer any punctures during testing which is a positive sign for high-mileage users. However, Giant’s P-SLR1 tyre was trouble-free right through winter and it’s noticeably faster and more fluid to ride, so that remains our premium race choice from the Giant range.
Very tough yet still light, with a slightly slow, stiff feel.
Mavic Yksion Griplink/Powerlink
Size 700x23c Weight 201g
Height 22.1mm Width 23.4mm
Watts @ 20mph 137W
Wheel legends Mavic introduced their tyre range a couple of years ago and they’ve proved to be a top performance option for any rim. The Yksion pairing features a softer dual compound for increased cornering confidence on the Griplink front and a harder compound for better lifespan and good rolling speed on the Powerlink rear. Front/rear sets always seem to increase psychosomatic trust when slinging round corners and these are no exception. The impressively sticky front and a predictable rear slide when really pushed to the limit makes them a confident partnership in all weathers. They are easy to fit and the relatively large carcass means they ride smoothly and shrug off potholes well. They last OK if not outstandingly well, with matched wear both ends proving the compound balance is pretty much spot on.
Very good all-round performance pairing, though not the longest lasting on test.
Vredestein Fortezza Tri-Comp Slick
Size 700x23c Weight 186g
Height 22.2mm Width 23.2mm
Watts @ 20mph 135W
The Tri in the name refers to triple compound rather than multi-sport use to make it fast, smooth and remarkably light. Those attributes make this tyre make a top Ironman race contender. The TriComp triple compound is faster than most on the rollers, but the supple carcass makes it feel even quicker on the road. This is particularly obvious on rougher surfaces that slow stiffer tyres down. It accelerates really quickly and
it’s grippy enough to really chuck into corners hard without worrying. Despite relatively modest claims on wear and puncture proofing it’s actually a lot tougher than many of the tyres with hyped up claims when ridden in real-world conditions.
Very fast, super-light, comfortable yet surprisingly tough tyre for long-course use.
Michelin Pro 4 Service Course
Size 700x23c Weight 205g
Height 21.6mm Width 22.9mm
Watts @ 20mph 141W
Michelin’s Pro 4 SC is a light, lovely feeling, top performance tyre that handles well and is also resistant to wear. The carcass of the Pro 4 SC has a really durable centre compound. Michelin claim the Pro 4 SC will last 30-50% longer than the out-going Pro 3. It’s definitely not a wise choice for roller/turbo trainer use though as the extra heat softens the compound too much and leaves big dollops of tread on the rollers very quickly. It rolls well and a new pointed profile drops you into corners faster and more confidently for an infectiously aggressive feel in all weathers.
Light, decent rolling, excellent grip but increased longevity isn’t proven.
Panaracer Race Type A
Size 700x23c Weight 221g
Height 20.6mm Width 22.4mm Watts @ 20mph 154W
Panaracer’s race all-rounder is grippy and durable, although the under-sized carcass makes it feel harsh and stiff. The Type A sits between the 35g lighter, less protected Type L and the heavier duty, extra-protected Type D. Panaracer’s long serving ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) rubber certainly lives up to its name with tenacious traction increasing deep lean and hard braking confidence even in the wet. Extra weight and stiffness does mean it feels a bit sluggish in a straight line or when sprinting. The puncture-proofing layer seems to work really well and extends further round than most tyres. However, the under-sized carcass makes it a total nightmare to get on and off without snapping levers or trapping tubes, which left us in a state of permanent puncture paranoia during testing.
Very good traction and well protected, but slow, undersized, and a nightmare to fit.
Hutchinson Fusion 3
Size 700x23c Weight 212g
Height 21.8mm Width 22.9mm
Watts @ 20mph 161W
Hutchinson’s new competition tyre is impressively grippy and feels really smooth on the road. It’s relatively slow though and the slippery silicone moulding residue can cause traction and confidence issues. It’s nervously slippery at first, but once the shiny silicone coating left from the moulding has worn off, the triple compound tread (hard centre, medium shoulder, soft edge) gives impressively confident cornering grip in all weathers. Typically for Hutchinson, it feels really smooth and buoyant with a Kevlar proofing layer giving confidence; it will survive even the most unforgiving B-road. It’s not particularly fast though and the slippery finish makes clean and careful fitting essential to avoid blow offs.
Smooth ride and confident cornering. Not that fast though and silicone can cause issues.
Schwalbe Ultremo ZX HD
Size 700x23c Weight 189g
Height 21mm Width 23.8mm
Watts @ 20mph 127W
Schwalbe’s top tyre is still our favourite blend of blistering speed, tenacious grip and reliable day-to-day use. The Ultremo always seems to deliver a slight tailwind effect on the road and our roller testing backs this up with seriously low wattage readings. At well under 200g it lights up very quickly on climbs and out of corners and this allows for an inspiring, responsive ride. A very wide carcass for its size makes it super smooth and helps it to maintain speed even over rough surfaces. The PaceStar triple compound lets you push for maximum speed through the tightest corners or most technical descents without worry as well. Despite all this
it’s impressively tough and given the
multi-faceted performance it’s relatively well priced.
Ultra-light, responsive, super quick, tough all-rounder that’s well worth the extra money.
Vittoria Open Corsa Evo CX
Size 700x23c Weight 197g
Height 22mm Width 23.5mm
Watts @ 20mph 121W
A genuinely legendary tyre amongst road racers, the latest version of the Open Corsa is an extremely quick, supple and confident feeling tyre. The handmade, Kevlar reinforced polycotton 320tpi carcass has a large volume bearing in mind the tyre size. As a result it delivers a deliciously floated and super fast ride on the road. It carries speed and holds a line in the rough particularly well and the silica-enhanced SiO2 tread gives it the lowest rolling resistance on test. It corners very confidently in the dry and in the wet, making it a fantastic all-round race tyre. The Open Corsa Evo CX is not that well puncture protected though and it wears fast which makes the high price even more expensive in relative terms.
Exceptionally fast, smooth and grippy, but fast wear accentuates the high price.
Challenge Criterium Open 320
Size 700x23c Weight 212g
Height 21mm Width 23.2mm
Watts @ 20mph 122W
We first got turned onto the blisteringly quick performance of Challenge tyres when some of their tubs were fitted to a Planet X on a bike test a few months ago. Turns out the clinchers are extremely quick as well, but they’re not cheap or trouble free. The handmade 320tpi carcass comes in retro white-wall or stealthy all-black versions and feels very buoyant, despite a wide and flat (rather than tall/deep) profile. That fine-weave carcass coupled with thin rubber makes the whole tyre compliant and quick. You need to back off slightly in wet corners but they rail well in the rough because of their suppleness. The high price is also compounded by a higher than average puncture count, but they are crazy quick.
Exceptionally quick yet fluid feeling tyre, but expensive and slightly puncture-prone.
Tufo C Elite Pulse
Size 700x22c Weight 299g
Height 20.8 Width 21.6
Watts @ 20mph 136W
This unique tubular/clincher hybrid from the Czech glue-on specialists is very quick on the road but living with them is definitely a love/hate issue.
The Pulse is basically a top quality tubular tyre on a flanged plinth that locks into a conventional clincher rim when inflated. Despite our worries it’s totally secure when installed properly and Tufo say it runs OK, even when flat, just like a full tub. It feels really smooth and quick when out on the road and despite the low, narrow carcass it shrugs off potholes well. The downside is having to carry a complete £60/300g spare tyre (rather than a £5/50-90g inner tube) in case of punctures without any of the weight loss advantages of being able to use a full tubular rim/wheel.
Very fast and smooth. Impact resistant but heavy compared to ‘proper’ tubs.
This review was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Zinio or Apple Newsstand.
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