I must admit that I had never ridden a Tufo tyre before, and am a stickler for my usual set up, year in year out, so I was therefore both a bit sceptical and excited by trying something new. The only minor issue with all this is that the Tufo Calibra Racing Tyre is billed as a racing tyre and seeing as I would be riding them over the winter would really put them through their paces…
My usual choice for winter riding is a rock solid Specialized Armadillo which weigh in at around 280g compared to the Tufo which came it at just under 200g (23c size). These handmade tyres certainly looked the business with a smooth centre for extra speed on the flat and tread on the side for grip when cornering.
Everything started very well for these tyres, the weather was not too bad so far (winter was yet to properly kick in) and the tyres felt fast and smooth. My normal routes are a mostly on back roads and country lanes and the tyres have certainly held up well in some mucky conditions. As the weather started to turn though I noticed some wheel spin on a climb and did begin to wonder if these tyres were going to cut it through the winter after all. As the ride progressed though, the tyres held up well and I didn’t notice anymore loss of grip. It was only a few days later when I rode the same climb, this time in dry conditions, that I noticed them slip again in exactly the same place. I would therefore put this down to either a steep, dodgy patch of road, or my bad climbing technique…
They did show great grip when the icy mornings came along. I admit I don’t take risks so one of two things normally happens when it is icy: I will hit the turbo or the nearest, straightest, most gritted dual carriageway I can find. This winter, even the latter had icy patches but I had full confidence in the grip these tyres were giving off. Descending is also not one of my strong points, but I had no issues or concerns, rocketing round tight corners or hurtling down damp descents.
I have had them on for most of the winter now and clocked up over 2000km so far and have only had one punctur, which actually was more down to me doing laps of my road at the end of a ride to get my mileage over a certain mark for the day; had I not been doing U-turns in the gutter then this may not have happened at all. When repairing the puncture and checking the cause, the offending article had already fallen out and had left a large gash which if I’m honest, I think just about any tyre would have failed with whatever it was that attacked me!
It was at this stage that I thought I would switch the front and rear tyres around so I could finish the winter off with more tread on the back. To my surprise I really didn’t need to as the back had so little wear that I left them where they were (and still are today). The Calibra has extra layers under the top ridge for extra puncture resistance and this did seem to be working. There are quite a few small cuts and slits in the tyres, but as only the one puncture, I suspect other objects are being resisted pretty well. I would go back to the point that these are racing tyres and not specific winter tyres, so I doubt you would be hitting so much debris in the summer months anyway. Over the past couple of weeks the weather has improved (well, dried out slightly, but not warmed up!) and the Tufos are still showing signs of life, rolling fast, grippy in the bends and performing really well in the dry conditions.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised by these tyres, but what exactly would I use them for in the future if given the choice?
Winter training – Well, yes, they did very well, but I personally prefer a harder rolling, heavier tyre to train on for two reasons: I like the sturdiness of my usual tyre but mainly I like to have that extra rolling resistance over the winter (great for training!) and can then really feel the benefit when switching to a racing tyre. So, in that case…
Racing – This would definitely be a great choice for a tough road race. Any course with some lumps, bad roads, gritty conditions, or in the wet or damp, then this would be a perfect fit. Would I use it for shorter, fast circuits or TT events? Probably not. There are certainly faster tyres out there for that. If you are a beginner and mix the odd local race with riding for fun or hitting the local club TT, then this would be a good fit for you.
Sportives – Most definitely. For this type of event you want something you can rely upon, will be fast when you need it to be, and give you some protection and peace of mind if the conditions get bad.
Training in general – Absolutely. If you want a strong, fast tyre for riding on from Spring through to Autumn then you wouldn’t go far wrong with this tyre.
So overall a great tyre and one that you could certainly put on your bike, forget about and simply get on with your riding, whatever that may be or wherever that may take you.
Tufo Calibra £27.98 / $49
Tufo UK (Sonic Cycles)
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