As you may know I recently swapped out my “summer” GP4000S tyres for some winter rubber, namely Continental’s Grand Prix 4 Season offerings. I’ve had a chance to test them out on a few rides including some fast paceline efforts, a bunch of hilly Surrey roads and the odd wet and greasy route. Here’s my initial thoughts.
Out of the Box
Placing both these 23mm tyres on my digital scales gave a weight of exactly 450 grams, equating to 225 grams per tyre. The Continental website quotes 220g. For comparison (on the same set of scales) a new GP4000S tyre weighed 208 grams and a bottom of the range non-folding 23mm Ultra Sport 330 grams. Swapping to the winter tyres incurred a negligible 34 gram weight penalty. Interestingly if you’re upgrading from Ultra Sports to GP4000S tyres you’d save almost 250 grams.
On initial inspection, the body of the tyre feels less supple than the GP4000S summer tyre. This is partly due to the second “Vectran Breaker” puncture protection layer and the more durable “Max Grip Silica” rubber compound. The tread pattern is also more pronounced than on the GP4000S.
Fitting was a breeze. They slipped onto my Fulcrum rims as easy as the GP4000S tyres they replaced. One thing I hate more than an ice cold winter puncture is a tyre that takes an inhuman amount of effort to get on/off the rim! I have a pro cyclist’s upper body don’t you know… Once on the rim and inflated the tyres looks the business.
The biggest visual difference over the GP4000S is the brown cross-hatching on the side walls. According to Continental this is the “Duraskin Wrap” protection. Not the prettiest, but function wins over fashion here. I’ve destroyed one nearly new GP4000S because of a fatal sidewall penetration so this is a welcome addition for the winter!
On the Road
So far I’ve only ridden 220 autumnal miles on the tyres. Not enough to form a solid conclusion but enough to get a good “feel” for the them. The 4 Seasons come across as sturdy and well balanced, while still fairly responsive when pushed hard. It may just be the placebo effect, but when on the rivet they do feel ever so slightly slower than the GP4000S. Nothing huge, more of a subtle bit of extra drag when going flat out. For winter I can live with that.
As for the extra grip, while leading a bunch around one particularly wet and oily right hander I momentarily lost the back wheel as the bike stepped out sideways. It was was a “heart-in-mouth” moment, but I regained control and kept the bike rubber side down. Did the 4 Seasons contribute to keeping me upright? It’s impossible to say for sure, but at that moment I was glad to be riding them!
Now to see how they hold up long term over the winter…