Thursday, July 15, 2010

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Tires...Initial Impressions

My conversion of a 1984 Pinarello from a geared to a fixed gear bike was fitted with Continental Ultra Gatorskin 700 x 25c tires borrowed from my carbon racing bike. As this bike's purpose is training in flat to rolling areas, and Century riding with climbing less than 2,500 feet, I thought that a different set of tires was called for. I wanted durability, cruisability, good road feel. Measuring very carefully with a ruler and set of allen wrenches ( nice trick to measure in difficult access areas ), I determined that the frame would take a 28c tire. After EXTENSIVE research, I decided on Continental Grand Prix 4 Season 700 x 28c tires. Wiggle UK had a good price, and they arrived two days ago. Mounting the tires was not too tough, as I was able to slip the Teutonic bead over the Mavic Open Sport wheel rim with thumb pressure only. Maybe the French and the Germans can get along after all.   The stated inflation pressure is 80psi, with a maximun of 115psi. Not being a 150lb racer nor a Clydesdale, I started off at 100psi. My test track was Caumsett State Historic Park, which has a 2.5 mile paved road with flats to rolling hills. For my 25 mile test ride I did 12 small hills ( less than 25 revolutions standing ), and three large hills ( 80 revolutions standing ). As it had recently thunderstormed, the sunny areas were dry and the shaded areas were wet. Perfect for a test run. On the road the tires felt very smooth, giving up only a hint of speed to the Gatorskins. Handling was good over dry, wet, and gravel strewn hard road surfaces. Best of all they were comfortable. The ride consisted of gentle cruising and hard hammering, so I got a pretty good feel for the tire's characteristics. Clearance to the chainstays, chainstay bridge, and brakes is adequate, although I might be wary of trying to put 30c tires on this frame. At the end of the ride I had no road shockitis. The combination of a larger tire and a steel frame/carbon fork made for a cozy, non fatigue experience. For all you naturalist animal lovers out there, I spent quite a while protecting a turtle from being squished by oncoming cyclists and joggers. I feel like a hero of the wilds ! I plan to do both the TFCE Century in Massachusetts, and the Sea Gull Century in Maryland before the season is done. These are flat to flattish 100 mile rides. Some cold day in December I will post a follow up long term report on these tires, and so complete my evaluation. Keep Riding.

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