Product Reviews November 8, 2010
Continental GP4000 folding tyre test
I don't know about you, but I cannot get too excited about tyres. I know they are a critical piece of kit, afterall, they are the only part of the bike that are in contact with the road. Tyres, therefore, require a level of respect and due care. That said, they are basically a consumable item, something that will inevitably need replacing after some hundred (maybe a thousand if you're lucky) miles. It's not as if you can really get attached to your tyres - they are simply a necessity - the rubber used, getting from 'A' to 'B'.
Over the past 3 1/2 years I have used just two brands of tyre. I cannot claim this to be an all encompassing review, but what I can provide is a decent insight into the performance of one particular Continental tyre - the GP4000. I could make this the shortest review in history by saying don't bother buying any other tyre on the market - but making such a bold claim probably deserves at least some explanation. So here goes.
My Allez Elite came with Specialized tyres, I think they were Mondo Pro's. They lasted a while and I replaced them after the second or third puncture. Like most cyclists I find punctures extremely irritating and on the back of this I wondered whether there was a tyre that was a bit more resistant to general road detritus than the Mondo's. I decided to give the GP4000S's a run out - the 'Black Chilli' rubber compound version and needless to say, I have never used any other brand since. (I do switch between the GP4000S and 'non Black Chilli' GP4000's because they are available in a variety of different colours. The Black Chilli compound version is said to increase rolling speed, improve grip and reduce overall wear).
All that aside, for me, what makes these tyres so absolutely brilliant is their cut resistance which can be primarily attributed to the 'Vectran' layer that's embedded in the tyre bead. 'Vectran' is a Liquid Crystal Polymer Trade Marked technology which offers improved fatigue performance and better protection to flexing and buckling - perfect for tyres that themselves are folding. The material is also extremely resistant to water and is 5x stronger than steel! As testament to this, I have so far gone over glass, flints and anything else the roads of West Sussex can throw at me and never had a puncture. That's some claim, right? Well eventually I do get a puncture - but what I discovered is that when that happens it's time to change the tyres. This means I get around 750 miles, maybe more, depending on the season, per pair. I have not compared whether this mileage is any better or worse than other types, but it gives me confidence when I'm out on the road knowing that it's highly unlikely I'll pick up a dreaded puncture. They have a tread wear indicator on the side wall as well, but I have found accuratey judging tyre life can be a bit hit and miss. If you are bothered about weight, each tyre weighs about 205 grams. Personally, the fact I am not standing at the roadside, inevitably in the rain changing a tyre is good enough for me. I also keep mine at high pressure - in excess of 110 psi to gain maximum rolling road advantage. It all helps!
There are many different types of tyre on offer and Continental themselves offer a variety of different products that are designed for Track, Road, Sportive, Training and otherwise. However, in my opinion the GP4000 is a tyre that is ideal for everyday use - and it's stand-out puncture resistant qualities mean that I won't be changing my tyres for a while yet! Plus it means I can have orange tyres in the Winter!
GP4000s are available from www.wiggle.co.uk for about £37 each. A 2x tyre and inner tube deal is also available from wiggle, costing around £80 (or less if you are a gold/platinium wiggle customer)
For more information see www.conti-tyres.co.uk and www.wiggle.co.uk
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