I’m going to make an early declaration that here in the UK the winter is now over! We’ve started April with nothing but blue skies and sunshine and had barely a drop of rain, there’s been some cool mornings but nothing leading to proper frost. So now that I’ve said that we can expect the weather to change suddenly, storms to roll in and the BBQs to be well and truly packed away again! But anyway, there is a purpose to this opener; my winter tyres will soon be coming off the rims and a pair of fresh slicker summer tyres taking their place. A good time for a review of how they have performed then.
Let’s go back to the start – it’s a very good place to start!
When I was looking for some tyres, I was wanting to try out something with a little more bite in terms of tread than a slick but something that would still be fast on the road. The idea being that I could head off down a gravel track should the desire hit me and also ride through the worst of the winter on the worst of the roads without grip concerns or puncture problems. In the end I spent a lot of time trying to decide between the Terreno Dry and the Terreno Zero tyres and the ‘Dry’ version just won the contest.
The ‘Zero’ tyres have a slick central section for fast riding on the roads whereas the ‘Dry’ have a slightly more aggressive treaded pattern there instead, alongside a more aggressive knobbly shoulder for gripping in the dirt. I figured this purchase would be for winter riding anyway and so I could afford to be a little slow on the roads through the winter if that ended up being the situation. And the extra tread would give me the opportunity to really try out the bike in a gravel type scenario. The tread in the central section is formed from a series of hexagon which are actually angled in the direction of travel, this apparently improves rolling resistance.
Obviously it’s difficult to determine how fast I would have been riding if I’d had different tyres fitted and there are too many other variables to consider for comparing to other years riding. My fitness is number 1 variable, weather conditions, who I was riding with and so on. However I can report back that I have not felt like I’ve been slowed down by the tyres and I’ve ridden flat roads, hills, local roads that I’m familiar with and those further away too. The real test will be when I switch back to some slicks in a week or two and see if I notice a significant difference that way around.
In terms of grip, I certainly cannot fault these tyres. Gravel, dirt tracks, roads, muddy patches on the road, wet, dry, in fact all conditions that I’ve been able to throw at them they have coped admirably with. I did lock up once when I had to brake very heavily at a junction but it was a controllable loss of grip and considering I’m a fairly lightweight rider and have hydraulic disc brakes I that’s to be expected. Certainly I have full confidence when out and about riding on these tyres; something I wasn’t able to say about the Hutchinson Sector tyres in the past.
So how about wear and puncture resistance? Well so far I haven’t had to take either tyre off the rims. The front tyre hasn’t had any punctures that I’m aware of, although it’s always possible that one occurred and sealed itself. The rear tyre did have a puncture once. It was due to a small flint like piece of stone (the usual sort of thing) but the tyre didn’t let me down mid-ride and the first I knew about the puncture was the following day when I happened to notice it had gone flat in the garage. A positive to this was that I was able to pump it back up (the tyre had remained seated on the rim just fine) rotate the wheel so the hole was at the bottom and leave it to seal itself. I then topped up the air and that has been that.
As for wear, the front looks like new but the rear is starting to wear in the central tread. The hexagons aren’t stepped like they were anymore, although they haven’t started disappearing as of yet. Hopefully I’ll get a second full winter out of the rear when it goes back on at the end of the summer. I guess it depends on how far I want to push the tread.
These tyres have the Vittoria TNT carcass which includes a stronger sidewall and can be identified by the grey sidewall rather than the black of some of the road tyres. Maybe a sensible feature to have for the gravel type of rides but one of those features you don’t know you appreciate if it’s all working as it should! Mounting them on the wheels tubelessly was a piece of cake, as I’ve come to expect these days, with most of the wheels and tyre combinations that I’ve had. Being a larger tyre than those that I’ve been riding on road in recent years, they needed more sealant that usual to fully seal. So I seated the tyres, deflated them, and then added sealant through the valve and repeated the process a couple of times until they held pressure as I’d like. I’m not one for pumping up my tyres before every ride, but then equally I don’t like to ride around with loads of excess sealant sloshing about in my tyres either.
The only issue I’ve come across was a self inflicted problem. When I fitted the tyres, I didn’t cut off the bits of excess rubber from the moulding process that stick out at the sides. Normally I wouldn’t have an issue with this but because the Kinesis RTD frame at the rear is quite tight for a 31c tyre, those rubber ‘bits’ have scratched away some of the paint from the frame where they’ve flicked against the seat stays. As you can just see in the photo below.
Overall, I’m happy with my first gravel tyres. I’m happy with them as winter tyres. And I’m happy enough with the Vittoria Terreno range that I have now also bought the Zeros! I intend to put the Zeros on now for the summer rather than going to an all out road tyre, after all they will be at least as quick as the Drys have been and they have done me fine. If I was racing, then sure, I would want the fastest possible option but I’m not.
Check out some of the other riding I’ve done on these tyres here – http://spokerevolutions.co.uk/giving-the-new-gravel-tyres-a-true-test-in-the-yorkshire-dales