Innovations come in many forms and whether it is frame design, components or clothing, brands are constantly looking for the ‘next big thing’ that will allow them to steal a march on their rivals. Tyres are no exception and with many cyclists tending to favour a particular brand, manufacturers are always looking at improvements to their rubber compounds that might cause cyclists loyal to their competitors to switch across!
The search for the ultimate cycling tyre continues, but when the Italian brand, Vittoria, unveiled their first G+ range of tyres in 2015, many in this sector of the industry, not to mention a fair number of cyclists looking to gain an advantage over their cycling mates, sat up and took notice!
A year on and Vittoria extended the G+ range over their entire road tyre range. It smacks of confidence, but what exactly is the G+ all about?
G+ stands for graphene, which is being heralded as the latest wonder material – a carbon allotrope that is already widely used in aerospace engineering and F1 racing. Vittoria were the first cycling brand to announce the utilisation of graphene, though the British frame manufacturer, Dassi, have been developing a highly technical frame in collaboration with motor sport engineers that incorporates 1% of graphene.
Gamechanger? Vittorio's Rubino Pro Control G+
Without going into too much of the science, graphene was discovered in 2004 and is a single layer of carbon atoms that is incredibly strong – over 200 times stronger than steel – but also incredibly lightweight. Vittoria uses a layer of graphene in its G+ Isotech compound that is 2 to 8 atoms thin. It’s a miniscule amount – graphene is hideously expensive to produce – but it is enough, Vittoria claim, to make a huge impact on the performance of the tyre is every aspect.
When it comes to tyres, Vittoria claim that the incorporation of graphene makes the rubber harder when rolling straight, thereby offering lower rolling resistance, but the compounds become softer when cornering, accelerating and breaking, thus providing more grip. The fact that G+ is now used in all their road tyres, suggests that they are confident that they have developed something that has given them that all important edge over their competitors.
Though I have a cycling mate who swears by his Rubino Pro Tech, I’ll be honest and say that my previous experience of Vittoria tyres has been confined to watching people mending punctures on the side of the road. Vittoria tyres, with their spectrum of coloured rims, look great, but my perception was that it was definitely a case of style over substance.
The All-Round Rubino Pro Control G+ foldable clincher is the tyre in the G+ range best suited to winter riding. It’s a great looking tyre – I particularly like the serpentine tread on the sidewall, combined with the smooth central span, which reinforces its ‘all-round’ credentials. Graphene, by its very nature, is a tough material, but the casing has also been beefed up to provide extra protection, but not so much that it will compromise grip and rolling resistance. I was still somewhat wary of these assurances, but my own experience of riding the 25c version, suggests that my fears were unwarranted.
I’ve totted up 1500 miles over a wet UK winter using these tyres and only had to contend with one puncture early on – a nasty shard of glass that would have breached the defences of many winter tyres currently on the market. One puncture in 1500 miles is a pretty good return I’d say and suggests that these offer a good level of durability and protection! So good, in fact, that I’ve even taken to using them off road down on dirt tracks and gravel towpaths, without incident.
I’ve been riding these at 100psi and thought it is often difficult to quantify the performance of a tyre on rough British roads, the Rubino Pro Control does feel very grippy and smooth. Did I feel a change in character when cornering? Well, no, I didn’t, but once I had the measure of these tyres, they do provide a definite level of assurance when cornering, especially on descents. Paired with the disc brakes on my winter bike, I've enjoyed a level of saftey and control over the last few months and part of that I put down to these tyres.
On the flat they roll smoothly enough, especially when you factor in the weight and their position in the Vittoria range as a good winter tyre. Personally, I’ll happily trade a bit of rolling resistance for increased grip on slippery winter roads.
At 320g the 25c tyre is not the lightest on the market, but seeing as my winter bike tips the scales at 11kg, I can live with a few extra grams and this all helps to make my summer show pony feel just that bit more frisky when I bring it out of winter hibernation!
Winter protection: 1500 miles and the Rubino Pro G+ are still relatively unscathed.
I’m also impressed by the wear and tear. Again, given the mileage, the compound remains in remarkably good shape, with little evidence of cuts or nicks. The overall lack of deterioration of the outer casing suggests these tyres will see me well into another winter of training and gives credence to Vittoria's claims that the graphene improves the tyre's durability.
Whether I get two winters out of these tyres remains to be seen, but if I do then that makes them an economical buy, because we shouldn't pretend that these are the cheapest clinchers on the market. As I touched on above, graphene comes at a price and that is obviously going to impact on the cost.
Deals are to be had, however, and Vittoria and their retailers appreciate that whatever the relative merits of a tyre and however well it performs, many cyclists will make a purchase based as much on the price as performance. One online retailer was offering these tyres at a tad over £20 recently, which is a bit of a steal for an excellent all-round tyre, that provides assured performance and protection and that all important element of innovation.
Review by Dave Nash. Road tested between October 2016 and March 2017 in all weather conditions.
Add a Comment