A lightweight, grippy open tubular clincher style tyre from Challenge, these tyres share the same construction process as the Challenge Strada Open Pro tyres we tested last year, the major difference is the casing material, the TPI (Threads Per Inch) count and a very different tread design.
As the seasons have changed, so hath the Autumn done come for the Challenge Criterium tyres – with all the rain recently the flint has started to wash onto the roads here in Sussex and this is not good for such supple racing tyres…they are now retired for the winter and will be ready again for late Spring.
These tyres are supple enough to be worn, if that were a thing you’d be keen to do, perhaps when the tread has finally done I’ll have them turned into a wallet or something.
The thread count is 320TPI and the corespun cotton casing reduces the tyre weight to 205g per tyre. The Criterium tyre offers the same PPS (puncture protection system) as the Strada tyres and, in my experience, were equally as effective at protecting against punctures throughout the summer, up until recently.
The tread design is a lighter touch than their Strada siblings, being a herringbone central spine with ribs running from it with no tread at the shoulders – this, combined with the lighter weight helps to bring these tyres up to speed very quickly. They are comfortable, grippy, confident in the corners and very quick. Still a faff to fit though.
The above image shows a bit of wear, after all if there wasn’t any they wouldn’t be doing their job, but there’s more than enough life in the tyres for another season.
By no means to be considered cheap, you pay for the quality of the ride, and I would think carefully before using these tyres as go to for every day riding – they are for racing or for Sunday best in my view, but then it’s your money, you do what you like. Aside from the fact they are a high performance clincher tyre they also look so damned good.
I tested the 25mm version, and on a wheelset with a wider tyre bed these tyres offer a slightly wider footprint for a little extra traction, which, surprisingly, makes an incredible amount of difference.
To accompany the real world experience of open tubular tyres we had a set of Challenge SuperLite latex inner tubes supplied too. These did not last – one particular butt cheek clenching moment descending a steep hill is worthy of note, but I don’t have enough space here to relate…possibly my fault with the positioning of brake pads against carbon rims producing quite a bit of heat build up on the top of the rims, but the experience was enough for me not to want to use the latex inner tubes again, or at least convince me to use these on a flat parcour, requiring less braking.
In short, if you don’t have a quiver of expensive tubular rims ready for racing, and are happy to get on the start line with a set of clinchers, then these tyres really are the next best thing.
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