Road bike tyres might all look a bit the same to the untrained eye, but they can have a drastic effect on the feel and performance of a bike.
They were traditionally divided into racing and training, winter or commuting offerings – with varying amounts of rubber, puncture protection and weight according to their intended purpose.
However the advent of wider rims and tyres in road cycling has shaken things up a bit.
Whereas punctures were a fairly regular experience if you were riding 23mm tyres through the summer, let alone the winter, I’ve noticed that they’ve become very rare since I’ve broadened out to 25mm tyres.
I know 2mm might not sound like a lot, but the extra volume compared to 23mm tyres is quite significant and – for me – provides a good dose of extra comfort and insurance against minor road blemishes and debris.
Continental’s Grand Prix GT tyre only comes in 25mm flavour – which is a fine by me for the reasons I just mentioned – and is touted as an all-rounder suitable for sportive riders and general riding.
You’ll notice the tyres have the coveted “Handmade in Germany” lettering on the sidewall, which is usually the tell-tale sign that you’ve got one of Continental’s top-quality offerings as opposed to the harder-compound OE tyres that come on many mid-range bikes.
I usually choose lightweight race tyres for my “good” bike, with a weight of around 200g – and the GTs tip the scales at 250g. The trade-off for that extra 50g is apparently 50 per cent more sidewall material compared to the standard Grand Prix – and a puncture-resistant membrane under the rubber.
Can I really feel the extra weight on the bike? Yes I can, but only just.
I started riding the tyres in that warm, dry spell we enjoyed last October and my first impressions were that they had a touch less sensitivity and speed of acceleration compared to my Michelin Pro 4 Service Course – but that this was very marginal.
I’ve previously owned a set of Conti’s wire-bead Gatorskins and – for reference – the GTs are much, much closer to the feel and performance of a race tyre.
The other area where they comprehensively trump the Gatorskins is grip. I’ve carried on riding them through several months of the wettest weather that I can remember and the worse the conditions have got, the more they have impressed me.
Even when water is flowing down the roads and the tarmac is covered with wet leaves, mud and grit from the fields – the tyres have felt planted and dependable.
You probably spotted that the tyres have a shallow tread pattern – but I’m not going to speculate as to whether this may assist in the wet. I do know a good rubber compound when I ride one though – and this one is top notch.
I’d be happy to ride these tyres all through the winter – or all year round if I had just one bike.
It’s a bit early to report on durability, I got one puncture on my second ride on them – but I may not have checked the pressure for a while before that. Since then they’ve been faultless and I’ll happily fork out for another pair for my winter bike when the time comes.
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