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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