The Tufo Elite S3 is a new addition to the Czech company’s range of tubulars. If you are a clincher user, you’ll be pleased to hear that it also comes as a tubular for clincher rims. Plus Tufo also have a great solution for fixing punctured tubulars, so if the very word ‘tubular’ puts you off, keep reading as this tyre may just make you think again…
Before we get into all that though, let’s talk about the actual tyre we have in for review, the Elite S3, which is, Tufo tell us, ‘an enhanced successor’ of the S3 Lite. It’s a definite race tyre for a number of reasons.
Firstly it is lightweight at under 225g. Though it’s predecessor was under 215g, this is still very light for a road racing tubular. Tufo go as far to guarantee the weight of their tyres so get your scales out. Our examples were both spot on.
Secondly it has a huge TPI count in the centre of the carcass at 375 threads per inch, dwarfing even the TPIs of the top Italian rubber. Higher TPI means a more supple carcass which in turn means better ability to deform over uneven road surfaces equating to more straightline speed – just the characteristics you want in the centre of your tyre.
The sides of the tyre have a slightly lower count at 210 threads per inch, this is designed to give extra stiffness under cornering forces.
Despite the low weight, Tufo promise that the Elite S3 has good puncture resistance thanks to a puncture proof layer under the tread, consisting of ‘rubber cord composite strengthened with CRCA’. CRCA refers to high modulus, long aramid fibres being introduced into the tyre carcass, increasing strength and resistance to puncturing.
These tubs should be able to handle high mileages thanks to Tufo’s new and improved tread, which also sports a new pattern to it: smooth in the centre and flanked by a diamond tread pattern on the shoulders. This tread seems of offer up plenty of grip and cornering at 30mph around the fast corners of the Hillingdon circuit in the wet presents few dramas. In the dry there’s just so much grip you’ll never come unstuck.
I’ve been using these tyres on a set of my race wheels – 1250g, full carbon, aero 27mm wide, 40mm deep – and together they make an awesome team. Light, fast and so responsive but not at the expense of comfort despite the tyre’s 23mm width.
Pressure wise I have found that around 120psi seems to work well for most conditions, road or smooth circuit, though I have had them higher. They are comfortable enough – relatively – and there’s certainly none of that bump induced bounce other tyres can produce at this pressure. Wet races I’ve only gone down to 110psi and been happy with the extra grip whilst still retaining cornering stiffness.
Indeed cornering stiffness is impressive, the 210 TPI sidewalls being helped by the extra support of my race wheel’s extra wide rims, which limits any lateral movement of the tyre under the rim when cornering hard, a real boon of modern wide rims, making tyres on narrow rimmed wheels feel positively squishy.
So far this tyre-wheel combo have proved their worth both in circuit races, including the London 3 Day, and in longer races, such as the recent Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo. I mention these two events specifically as it brings me onto one of a major benefit of, not just these but of all Tufo tubulars and clincher tubulars over any other tyre I’ve come across.
In the latter 83 mile event around the Cambridgeshire fens, a friend of mine suffered a puncture. He complained that he lost 9 minutes due to this unfortunate occurrence. Now we all know what it’s like to puncture and 9 minutes seems like a reasonable time to fix one to me. I used the Tufo Elite S3s on the same event with no issues – they are impressively tough and cut resistant – but that is not the point.
The point is that a few weeks before the Tour of Cambridgeshire, during the other event I mentioned, the London 3 Day, I did puncture the front Tufo tubular; during a stage race that involves not just racing around various London circuits but also commuting to them by bike over debris strewn, city roads perhaps this was to be expected. However, and here is the innovative thing with the Tufo tubulars, I fixed the puncture myself in just a couple of minutes!
Yes you read that right. I fixed a punctured tub in a couple of minutes. No picking at stitching and sowing it back together, no patching the inner tube or any other silly games that most tubular users will be familiar with when faced with the painful reality of having to bin a brand new £50+ tub…
It involved a simple liquid repair kit but unlike latex repair kits, this one offers a permanent fix. Tufo tubs do not have a Latex inner tube but have a butyl air chamber built into the tyre wall – think tubeless tubular. The liquid repair is therefore direct to the tyre wall whereever it has been broken and lasts.
This system is so good that I know journalists in the US who are actually training high mileages on tubulars full time again now (this used to be a common thing 15-20 years ago) without any concerns about punctures nor, with Tufo offering a good range of reasonably priced training tubs, the relatively high cost of tubulars.
Anyway, to get back to the point, by my reckoning my friend in the Tour of Cambridgeshire could have saved himself about 5 minutes or more puncture fixing time were he using Tufo tubulars or, seeing as he might say that he doesn’t want tubular rimmed wheels (despite the advantages of being a stronger rim, lighter wheels, better at handling heat on climbs and descents, etc), were he using Tufo tubulars for clincher rims. That time saved would be important if you are going for that gold time…
Other companies do offer similar fixing kits but they are often latex based and merely designed to get you home, not to be a permanent repair; most come with just a 3-month lifespan after the date of repair, not that good for an expensive tub.
So if you are a sportive rider, keen on getting that gold time in that big event, maybe you should be thinking Tufo tubular or clincher tubular. If you are a roadie, triathlete or time triallist spending your own cash on expensive tubs, then this particular, easily repairable brand of tubs make so much sense.
I am a complete convert to this Tufo fix it innovation; it is truly awesome. When combined with the excellent performance of this particular Elite S3 tubular, Tufo are onto a winning combination. You need to try it. Highly recommended.
Tufo Elite S3 Tubular RRP £52.50
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