So who enjoys going slow? Nobody? So why, I ask you, do so many people insist on fitting hard compound, heavy, stiff tyres to their bikes in the winter? Puncture resistance some of you may say but frankly, I think that's a bit of a cop out. Don't get me wrong, products like the Conti Ultra Gatorskin are fabulous tyres for the money - they roll well, have good puncture resistance and have good grip. If you want something a little more performance orientated you could do no wrong by going with a Continental GP4season which may sacrifice a small amount of puncture resistance but it is lighter and rolls better. I spent years on the 4seasons running them over thousands of miles and never really had any gripes.
Then I tried a set of Vittoria Open Pavé CGs. The Open Pavé is the tyre of choice for most riders through the Paris-Roubaix, a gruelling, cobbled 250km race through France. It is fabled for it's exceptional grip, good puncture resistance and buttery smooth ride quality.
There is absolutely nothing in my mind that compares to these tyres. The 320TPI (more on that in a minute) core spun casing offers an unparalleled ride quality, almost tubular like. The tyre smoothes out road imperfections beautifully at the same time as taking the edge off the Surrey potholes. Puncture resistance is good - over 4000 miles last winter I reckon I only picked up one or two flats. And then there's the grip. Winter brings greasy roads, but with these tyres you can rest easy knowing you can hit a corner guns blazing and really lay the bike down flat. They really are much more confidence inspiring than any other "winter" tyre I've used.
Based on the fabled Open Corsa CX, the Pavé uses the same 320TPI casing. TPI standing for threads per inch. What this means is that you get a much more flexible carcass with a larger contact area to the road and an increased air volume - hence the "magic carpet ride" of the tyres. This high tech and relatively expensive carcass is bolstered by Vittoria's PRB 2.0 Kevlar breaker for added security which brings a 24c width tyre in at 240g.
There are of course some drawbacks. All this performance doesn't come cheap - £54.99 a tyre. They also won't last you as long as some of the continental offerings as the soft compound cuts up quite easily and will wear out faster. Be that as it may I wouldn't use anything else. Yes they're expensive but what's that got to do with anything? They roll better than any other comparable tyre, are more comfortable and grip and grip and grip. Head down to your friendly local Pearson Performance store at Sutton or Sheen to check them out.