September may have been one of the driest on record, but autumn seems to be striking back with a vengeance in October. Wet weather inevitably leads to more debris being washed into the road and this is also the month when farmers indulge in a little house-keeping,  trimming back the hedges lining their fields and considerately leaving the detritus on the roads. Wet leaves and road markings aside, the combination of hawthorn clippings, flint and potholes lurking beneath puddles are a cyclists' worst enemy on autumnal rides. Now is the time, if you haven't already, to bring the winter tyres out of storage or invest in a new pair.

All the main manufacturers have tweaked their respective ranges for 2015 and many of the new models are now available to buy online or in the shops

German manufacturer Continental have made more additions to their range of tyres this year than most, and those aimed at riding in more challenging conditions have not been overlooked. The Grand Sport Extra was released in the Spring and is certainly a tyre worth considering for the coming months. It comes in a good range of sizes,  from 23c to the disc-break revolution ready 32c, and incorporates two layers of Nytech under the tread, Conti's newest anti-puncture technology.

Continental's Grand Sport Extra incorporates two layers of Nytech protection under the tread.

The three layer sidewall  protection also adds to the durability of the Grand Sport Extra, but it's no surprise that this robust tyre is heavier than two of Continentals perennial favourites, the Gatorskin, and it's more durable sibling, the Gator Hardshell, both of which have not been updated for 2015 and .  The Grand Sport Extra 25c/foldable tyre tips the scales at 300g, whereas the Gatorskin and Gator Harshell equivalents come in at 240g and 270g respectively. It's minor, but the weight watchers out there may be wary of the difference.

Conti's Grand Prix 4-Season tyre gets a notable facelift for 2015, with the addition of a 28c and 32c tyre to the range, the latter once again anticipating the advent of disc brakes on road bikes (and it will appeal to the road cyclists out there who use a CX bike as a winter trainer).

Last winter we were hugely impressed with the puncture resiliance of Schwalbe's Durano Plus. This winter Schwalbe have added the DD to the Durano stable -  the DD stands for 'Double Defence' and this latest edition to the range is squarely pitched in direct competition to Continental's Gatorskin.

New for 2015, the Schwalbe Durano DD

At 295g (for the 25c folding version) the Durano DD is a little heavier than its rival (the Gatorskin is 55g lighter). The DD features a RaceGuard band that offers a good level of puncture resistance without adding to much weight to the scales. The sidewalls have also been beefed up with some fabric protection, all of which, Schwalbe maintain, will make the DD durable and puncture resistant. but appeal to those who keep a careful eye on the weight of their winter tyre selection.

The more robust Durano Plus is, not surprisingly, a far heavier tyre - the 25c foldable version weighs a whopping 380g - but there is no disputing that the SmartGuard protection is highly effective. The Durano Plus has a new, more dynamic profile and tread for 2015, so if you can live with the extra weight, then it remains a very attractive option when riding in atrocious conditions!

Italian tyre manufacturer Vittoria have been focusing much of their attention of late on their new line of road and mountain bike wheelsets, so not surprisingly there is little to report in the way of winter tyre updates.  They have, however, unveiled a new, pure black version of the Pave CG, their most suitable for winter riding, which makes it a far more attractive option to those who baulked at the green band of the original - a bit of a 'Marmite' detail of this well regarded wet weather tyre. 

Not to everyone's tastes: the Vittoria Pave CG in its green manifestation.

Specialized unveiled the All-Condition Armadillo Elite tyre back in March, which comes in 23c, 25c, 28c and 32c and features their exclusive Gripton compound, which the American manufacturer claims offers lower rolling resistance, better road feel and improved adhesion on wet and cold roads.

In addition, the 120 tpi casing is protected by a more cross woven, flexible Polyamid weave that runs from bead to bead, which provides added protection for the shoulder and sidewall and increases the load bearing capacity of the tyre. The Armadillo Elite is very much a workhorse tyre, aimed at more inclement conditions, but similar to the Conti 4-Season, one that can be used throughout the year.

Specialized are obviously confident that the Armadillo Elite is tough enough to rival many other robust tyres on the market, proclaiming that, 'flat out, it's the best flat resistant, high performance tyre' they've ever created.  Weighing 323g for the 25c folding version, it is at the heavier end of the scale, but that's the pay off for the increased puncture protection. 

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Comment by Middle Ringer on November 6, 2014 at 19:04

Marathon Plus tyres have a bombproof reputation so they should fend off the puncture fairy! I hear they use them on tanks to protect against roadside bombs. Or was it that their built like tanks, coming in at a pork pie 750 grams a piece for the 28mm version! A good bit of extra winter training right there!

Comment by Rob Metcalf on November 6, 2014 at 17:21

I use Marathon Plus on my Trek 8.3DS. Coming up to two years of use on and off road with no punctures and loads of life left in them - the tread is hardly worn!

Comment by Dave Nash on November 6, 2014 at 16:44

They should see you through the worst a British winter can throw at you Dave. I'm a convert to Schwalbe's  Durano Plus, which have the same SmartgGuard protection as the Marathons. In fact the Durano are essentially a lighter, slicker version of the Marathons. I've had no punctures despite using them all through the wet of last winter and since mid-~September, so you should be in safe hands with the your new tyres! 

Comment by Dave Rowe on November 6, 2014 at 15:32

Just stuck a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Plus' (700x28) on the singlespeed. The very nice man in the shop Cytronex, Winchester said that they were the only tyres he recommended for winter roads with the farmers/weather doing their worst on the lanes. I gave up on the DSI (Bike Hut) No Puncture tyres as their rolling resistance was on the aggressive side of 'really quite cross'! First impressions of the Schwalbes are they're rather fab. Anyone else use them?

Comment by Paul Robinson on November 2, 2014 at 14:43

I've read your initial thoughts MR and as you seem quite happy and also that they are only ever so slightly slower than the GP 4000S, I think i'll probably stick with the 4 Seasons all year round.

Mine are 25mm as opposed to your 23mm. Not sure if that makes much difference but i've been very happy with mine. Hope they serve you well :)

Cheers Paul

Comment by Middle Ringer on November 2, 2014 at 14:23

Since fitting a little while back I've covered over 200 miles on the Continental GP 4 Season tyres and while that's not enough to draw any solid conclusions, I've been pretty happy with them. You can check out my initial thoughts here:

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Tyres: First Impressions

Comment by Paul Robinson on October 19, 2014 at 17:00
Cheers MR. Good stuff!
Comment by Middle Ringer on October 19, 2014 at 13:56

Yes Paul they went on yesterday! First ride today, covered 60 miles on very wet and crud-strewn country roads out to Box Hill and back. Initial impressions are good. Will post some more detailed thoughts later on.

Comment by Paul Robinson on October 18, 2014 at 16:06

They on the bike yet MR? ;-)

Comment by Middle Ringer on October 15, 2014 at 17:36

Ooooh! Look what has just landed on my doorstep! :-)

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