Sunday, 20 December 2009

Vredestein, V for Victory - Part Two

Vredestein for many people is a tyre brand that doesn't come into the equation when making a choice for some new rubber. In my world of tyre snobbery I don't take manufacturers seriously unless they make tubs. That statement may seem crazy in the light that I choose not to ride tubs, well it's a bit overkill unless your racing these days. But the reason this is a good measure is that if they make good tubs, generally they will make excellent clinchers. Adding weight to this argument just look at the two big players Continental and Vittoria. Both make fantastic clinchers because of what they know about tubs, although the process is different. I have ridden two recently the first being the Fortezza TriComp Slick and most recently the Fiammante DuoComp.

This winter I decided to take a break from the trusty winter tyres of the last few years. Namely these have been the Vittoria Open Pave and the Continetal GP 4Season. Both of these are expensive crap weather options but both have proved incredibly reliable, which is what you need when going to work or riding in the cold of Winter. Lets face it none of us like changing tubes at the best of times and frankly its a pain in the arse when our hands are cold (and its normally raining), its not my idea of fun. So I decided to go cheaper this year and opt for the Fiammante.

First thing I noticed taking the tyres out of the box was that they were more supple than I was expecting. Fitting the tyres to the wheel you could feel that there was some extra rubber on the sidewalls which should improve protection against flints and small stones which is a problem in this area. Getting the last part of the bead of the tyre over the rim was a pain to say the least and some choice words were used. I put this in part down to the tyre and the wheel, which was a Fulcrum. Being from the Campagnolo family I am not surprised that they were tough as the tolerances are very tight on the rim.

So to the riding. I have been impressed with suppleness of the tyre, considering its price. It doesn't feel like completely like a Race tyre, but it does share some traits. Cornering was inspiring even in the wet, much better than the FTCS previously tested. I was curious to see how the tread would hold up as I went for the red/black option and was hoping that it would wear okay. I've had them on since November with no real issues until recently. Since the snow, ice and frost it has left many a road in a pretty bad state. This pushed the tyres to the limit and yes I have had a couple of punctures.

Would a more expensive tyre been able to withstand the shoddy roads we are left with, well in this case I have to answer a resounding YES. I have been out on my 'Best Bike' and they are currently shod with Fortezza TriComps. Even when I went through areas that I have previously punctured on I had nothing, but that is another review. I put it in part down to the two things that make a better tyre, higher tpi and better quality compound, these enable a tyre to hold out against those determined bits of flint/stone that seem determined to ruin your ride.

Are they a good Winter tyre, well Yes and No. I think in normal weather I probably could have used them all winter long and only taken them off when Spring arrived. The harsh conditions of January expose any weakness in a tyre and the Fiammantes is that it needs better protection. In truth the FTCS offered simple stunning protection as I used them right up till the end of October. Bizarrely I had only one puncture on those tyres and arguably those tyres are completely wrong for me. Okay I appreciate that those tyres cost a heap more than the Fiammantes, but I would expect that puncture protection SHOULD be at the top of the list when selecting features.

So the search goes on for a cheap bombproof Winter Tyre. Until I find one I will still be investing in the expensive options that deliver time and time again. I am sure that if Vredestein really concentrated they could make a kick arse tyre, they can do it at the high end both on clinchers and tubs. Maybe they need to drop a tyre and make one at this price point that would totally wow me, now that would be exciting.

No comments: