What better way to test a tire called Criterium than at an actual criterium. Killarney racetrack was the testing ground at the Wednesday night dogfight.

The Challenge brand is produced in the old Vittoria factory and with a pedigree like that these should be on the mark.

I mounted these myself so I have a had a chance to get to check these out more than most tubular tire owners who usually let the LBS do the gluing, but being the practical man I am I set about it the night before the race.

I received them on Monday and when I got home I mounted them one at a time onto my pre-stretching rim. It’s an old Amclassic clincher rim I use and mounted them each for a night. Getting them onto the clincher took a bit of effort as I had them at about 2 bars. I also weighed them and they were almost exactly the claimed weight of 260g at 263g. Normally tire manufacturers grossly under estimate their tire weights so this was refreshing. I added 20g of Stans sealant in each tire and put on my valve extensions.

I then applied the glue to the seamed contact area on each tire, and cleaned up my wheels – Easton Tempest II tubulars – and applied some glue to the wheel surface. The pre-stretch had worked wonders and the tires were now very pliable ad easy to work with, they went onto the rims without too much fuss and I set about aligning them after adding a bit more air. Not even 15 minutes later they are running true on my wheels and looking good.  I pump them to 10 bars each and leave them overnight.

The next day they have hardly lost air. I have seen some tires looking very sad after just one nights stand, but these have held air well. Once on the bike I take them for a little run around to see if everything is still working well. I try pry the tires off the rim lightly with my hands while inflated and they don’t budge, that’s a good sign!

Onto the road and I do a slow warm up and weave about and try feel them out, but in the racing I got the best feedback. They seem to turn faster than my previous German tires, almost too fast as I have to adjust my line in a few turns while I get used to them. Otherwise they are smooth and I can confidently flick my bike where I want. We averaged 45kmph for 40 minutes and I didn’t feel like we were going that hard which says a lot for the rolling resistance, we wound up for the sprint and I buried the pedals calling for response from my bike and ultimately the tires. They were grippy all the way through the sprint and my 5th place was a pleasant surprise. My best result at Killarney in a bunch sprint so far!

Could it be the rubber…I think it could…more racing to come and I’ll test the longevity over varied conditions in the upcoming season.

Special thanks to J&J Cycling.

Check the links on the right to find out more of the range. Also available in white!