These tyres look great but might be a tight squeeze in the touring frame ….
road.cc You’ll never guess what this Challenge Strada Bianca tyre is designed for. The Strade Bianche race uses the white gravel roads of Tuscany and this 30mm racing tyre is just what you need for that kind of thing. It’s a brilliant all-rounder that’s fast enough for nearly any road use, but with hugely improved comfort.
You’ll need a particular kind of frame to fit the Strada Bianca. Most endurance road bikes top out at 28mm tyres so you’re really looking at gravel racers, ‘cross bikes and their ilk. Ours went on our on-test Kinesis Tripster ATR which will handle tyres up to 40mm, so there was plenty of room.
Like all Challenge tyres they’re lovingly made by hand. These tyres use a slightly lower thread count (260TPI) than the 300TPI racing tubulars but it’s still high-quality stuff; most road tyres are 60-120TPI. The herringbone tread is hand-glued to the carcass and the whole thing arrives flat-packed.
Getting them on the rim for the first time is a fairly sweary experience as they’re not tyre-shaped like a moulded machine-made tyre. I managed to blow out a tube by not getting them seated properly. The longer they’re fitted for, the more shape they get.
Out on the road they’re fantastic. You can run them at hitherto-untried low pressures with little or no danger of flatting them on the potholes. I’m over 100kg and I was running them at 70-80psi a lot of the time. They roll extremely well and at 358g they’re not heavyweights. It’s not like sticking a set of Marathons on. These feel like race tyres, they really do, except loads more comfortable. If you want comfort on long rides but still want to go fairly fast, there are not many better tyres I can name.
Grip from the herringbone tread is good, especially on loose climbs where the suppleness of the casing and the extra width means there’s more rubber in contact with the ground at any one time.
I’ve also tested Challenge’s Paris-Roubaix tyre, which was decent but suffered from punctures. This Strada Bianca has a beefed-up puncture strip and I haven’t flatted them once. Running at a lower pressure tends to result in fewer flats from thorns and flints penetrating the tyre carcass anyway, and you can go pretty low with these. That and the extra protection make these a much better all-round choice than the narrower Paris-Roubaix rubber, if your frame will take them.
They’re about 90g heavier per wheel but it’s a weight penalty worth paying. They don’t have the all-out protection of a full winter tyre but they’re hardy enough for more than the summer. They’re certainly not cheap at £48 a pop, but that’s the only downside, really.
Big, comfy all-conditions tyre that rolls like race rubber.