Last fall I began riding two new tires from Vittoria. The venerable tire maker is now using graphene in their top-of-the-line Corsa tires. I’ve been riding the tubeless-ready 23mm Corsa Speed TLR, which the company claims is the lightest tubeless tire on the market, as well as possessing the lowest rolling resistance. I’ve also been riding the Corsa G+ in the 28mm width.
The Corsa Speed TLR gets a slight faster compound, increased suppleness (compared to other Vittoria tires), low weight along with the tubeless-ready casing, while the Corsa offers much better grip, increased wear and puncture protection, though slightly increased weight (on a size-to-size basis) and decreased rolling resistance.
Vittoria claims a weight of 225 grams for the Corsa Speed TLR, which is exactly what I got when I weighed the tire on my scale. It’s nice to see a manufacturer hit their stated weight. Same for the Corsa, which came in at 265g, just what the web site claimed.
I’m at a point in my riding life where due to my age, my desire for comfort, the fact that I no longer carry a USA Cycling license and the roads in Sonoma County are rarely glassy like those in Orange County, I just don’t want to ride a 23mm tire anymore. I’ll be honest and say that I was very excited to ride the 28mm Corsa, though. But ride both tires I did.
Both tires use Vittoria’s G+Isotech rubber compound with graphene, which Vittoria claims decreases rolling resistance by 40 percent (!) compared to the same tire without graphene.
With the Corsa Speed TLR, I moved my power meter to another bike and rode it with a set of Shimano wheels set up with the tires. These were not tubeless wheels, so I ran them with tubes, which increases rolling resistance, so I didn’t experience them at their absolute fastest. I drove out to a long, flat road I know with the bike and two sets of wheels. The other wheels, the control set, if you will, were set up with 25mm Zipp tires on an identical set of wheels. Both sets of tires were inflated to 90 psi, even though I’d ordinarily ride the 25s at a lower pressure.
I did a two-mile time trial on the road I selected, which is reasonably flat and has little wind if you hit it early in the morning. The time trial was an out and back and was only two miles due to factors which I’ll roughly sum up as time and fitness, but mostly fitness. I wanted to hold 300 watts for each ride and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do too many of those.
I rode both sets of tires three times for six total rides. When I looked at the average speeds from the six rides, on paper, the Vittorias won, just barely. My average speed was .22 mph faster with the Speed TLRs. The funny thing about just barely on paper is huge in the real world. In a crit, a gain of .22 mph could make a real difference in a breakaway staying away, or keeping you out of the red zone while you wait for the final sprint. I expect the gain would have been larger had I been able to run the tires tubeless.
So the graphene seems to make a quantifiable difference. However, this is a tire that doesn’t offer the best grip of tires in Vittoria’s road lineup, so descending mountain passes on it wouldn’t be my first choice. It’s also not a long-wearing tire.
As I mentioned before, the Corsa, according to Vittoria’s documentation, doesn’t give up much in weight or speed. It’s also longer-wearing and offers better grip and more protection. And, best of all, it’s available in a 28mm version, unlike the Corsa Speed TLR. As a result, despite Vittoria’s claims about how great the tubeless tire is, I’m a bigger fan of the Corsa. It’s a better fit for the riding I’m doing. But if I were to do a group ride down in Southern California? I’d put the tubeless tire on in a heartbeat, and I’d make sure to set them up on a set of tubeless wheels.
These are premium tires within Vittoria’s line. The Corsa Speed TLR goes for $79, while the Corsa is a bit less at $69.
Final thought: I can’t help but wonder if on rough roads at a lower pressure whether the Corsa might be the faster tire.
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