Challenge tyres are renowned for producing high quality and durable tyres in all formats (Tubular, Clincher and Open Tubular) and for many cycling disciplines. This review covers their Strada Open Tubular tyre, which I bought and am currently using as my Autumn/Winter tyre.
So what is an Open Tubular?
Before you start reading what is an Open Tubular? In essence an Open Tubular is a clincher tyre that mounts to the rim in the exactly the same way as a standard clincher tyre. The difference being it’s manufacturing process. Challenge Strada Open Tubular Road Tyre are constructed using the same artisan handmade processes as their tubulars (tubs) retaining most of the suppleness, ride quality and road feel which handmade tubs provide. This reflects in tyre quality, the comfort they provide and of course the price.
My time with the Strada Open Pro’s
I’ve been riding these Challenge Strada Open Tubular Road Tyre for a 2-3 months now and there’re performance is superb. I’ve put these tyres through quite a bit of punishment recently, due to all the rain etc and given the state of the lanes, which I have pointed my bike down, they have stood up to the ‘Challenge’ – sorry for the pun, really well.
I opted for the black sidewall choice because Autumn/Winter riding means dirty, muddy roads and Tan sidewalls would stain pretty easily plus I didn’t want to keep cleaning them after every ride. Obviously grip is a key factor on any ride and more so when damp. The Strada's gave just that both is straight line riding and when cornering. Even when out-the-of-saddle (climbing a hill), grip was good, especially when climbing a 17% hill, in damp conditions, coming into the town of Calne the other day.
Complete tread coverage
Another great feature is the tread coverage. The tread wraps around a large proportion of the tyre which in turn means more rubber in contact with the road giving greater grip and rider comfort. I do have another set of 25c tyres (Conti’s), but the Challenge tyres, once inflated, are bigger measuring 28mm in width. Also, I’ve only had one puncture to date (20/11/15) and this was due to a large thorn I picked up. Debris left over by a local farmer hedge trimming - just bad timing on my part I guess. But considering the riding that I have done so far, I’m really impressed with the lack of punctures I’ve NOT had. Finally, the tyres still show no deep/heavy cuts or cracks with minimal wear.
These tyres feature a 300TPI casing and non-vulcanised rubber, which when combined makes them extremely supple. Once inflated, around 100psi, they roll beautifully over the tarmac providing superb comfort and offer great rolling resistance also. As pictured above, the tyre displays black sidewalls then a completely treaded contact surface area which again gives great grip all-round.
Puncture Resistant, not puncture proof
The Challenge Strada Open Tubular Road Tyre is not puncture proof, not does it claim to be, but does however feature a puncture resistant layer called the PPS. Couldn’t stop that very large thorn getting through, but if you knew the roads I have cycled down, this PPS system has worked very well. It’s a combination of lightweight woven material (densely) that is situated between the rubber and casing. So far it has provide great puncture resistance, but it’s not puncture proof. If you want that then solid tyres are your choice.
Out the box, the rubber smells good and you can instantly feel the quality of the casing and how supple it is. First time fitting was tough mind you and it took me longer than usual to get them onto my wheels (Black Inc), but the extra effort to begin with was worth it. Funny really as when I punctured, I envisage a tough time getting the tyre off, but to my delight, it tyre came off pretty easily. It was the same story getting back on again, so obviously the tyre must stretch to a degree after being fitted for the first time. A relief to know this for the future I guess especially if transferring the tyres to another set of wheels, which I did as regards the COSINE’s (see image below).
I highly rate these Challenge Strada Open Tubular Road Tyre for many reason (stated above) and compared to the usual folding clincher tyres, they offer such a better road feel and rider comfort. The wider tyre profile, once inflated, also means more rubber on the road which in turn give you more grip and traction and for Autumn/Winter riding is what you want.
Don’t think I would go with Tan sidewalls though as in Winter they would soon get stained and won’t look as nice – save those for summer riding. A remarkable pair of tyres and a brand and model to keep in mind when you’re looking for a set of Winter tyres.