Tyres, tyres, tyres. (or even tires if you’re from the US). This won’t be the first time that I’ve blogged about tyres and it may not be the last time either. But when this set of tyres wears out, it may well be the first time I replace like for like. So have I finally found a tyre that I’m happy to keep buying and riding year after year? Very possibly.
Towards the end of 2019, I decided to buy some tyres for the winter which could double up as suitable for light gravel riding. At the time I struggled to decide between the Vittoria Terreno Dry and the Vittoria Terreno Zero. The Dry being more treaded and classed by Vittoria as a cyclocross tyre and the Zero being very lightly treaded and classed as a gravel tyre. In the end I bought and fitted the Dry version in size 31c. They rode very well, weren’t particularly draggy on the roads and gave me a good level of confidence through the winter on wet, muddy and cold rides. Also allowing for the occasional off-road excursion if and when I wished.
So when winter had passed at the end of April I decided to treat myself to the Zeros in size 32c. I think I was mostly impressed with how well the Drys worked as tubeless tyres, Fitting, seating, inflating and sealing with no issues what so ever and having no punctures for the winter months that I rode with them (Nov 19 through to Apr 20). So I bought the Zeros in the same TNT casing type to ensure that these too worked perfectly tubelessly. I think that was the right decision, I mean I haven’t tried the TLR, but the TNT is spot on and I notice recently that the TLR version is no longer listed on the Vittoria website.
Since fitting them in April I have now covered 4,743.9 km and just like the dry version they went onto the wheels perfectly, seated, inflated and sealed with no trouble at all. Just to note, I am currently riding them at 3 bar (about 40-45 psi). I think the ease of fitting is in many ways aided by the quality of the Hunt Wheels rims. I have also had no punctures all summer, no tyre related reason to stop mid-ride at all and inspecting them now 6 months later there are very few cuts to talk of either and not a great deal of visible wear. And I certainly don’t nurse my tyres through my rides, if there’s gravel on the road or bits of glass, pieces of branches from the trees on a windy day or anything else, I really don’t bother taking any sort of avoiding action, the tyres see everything the road throws at me.
And it’s not just roads either. The advantage of wearing bigger volume tyres on your road bike is that your riding is so less limited. If the road unexpectedly becomes a farm track or a cut through the woods, then you don’t need to turn back and find another way, you can just keep going and enjoy the ride. This has happened to me a few times this summer, and noticeably on one occasion with some friends, where to avoid a closed road we had to ride across a field and through the woods to avoid a lengthy detour. I think my experience of this cut through was far better than that of the other riders, especially one guy on his expensive and stiff aero road bike. I have also had rides this summer when I’ve purposefully included some gravel sections to my routes and again the Zeros have stood up well to dry hard tracks.
What has undoubtedly impressed me most about these tyres though has been just how well they ride at speed on the roads. I don’t expect to see them being ridden by the pros in the Tour de France anytime soon but in summer evening group rides I have had no problems keeping my position in the group. Even on some particularly fast rides when other riders have been dropped or have struggled I’ve not felt held back in any way by these tyres. Cruising on the flat with a light tailwind at 45 km/h or completing a 60 km loop at an average of 35 km/h, these Terreno Zeros seem to forget that they’re supposed to be gravel tyres. Of course it’s all down to the slick centre section of the tread, the hexagonal tread on the shoulders only comes in contact with the surface when cornering or when the surface turns to gravel or mud i.e. just when you want it and not when you don’t.
My original plan if these tyres rolled well was to swap between these as my summer tyres and the dry version as my winter tyres. I’m now starting to think that I’ll just keep these on all year round, the problem then is what to do with my drys that are sat in the garage? I think I may need a second set of wheels then I can have the more grippy tyres for proper gravel and off-road adventures and keep the zeros for all year road riding.