The Zipp Tangente Course R28 is the more affordable version of the same width Tangente Speed R28 that Stu tested late last year, and offers a similarly impressive performance. It's supple and durable, and a good option for anyone wanting to enjoy the comfort benefits of a wide tyre.
The clincher Tangente Course is available in 23, 25, 28 and 30mm widths – something for everyone. Unlike the more expensive (£52) Speed, the Course saves pounds by being constructed with a 120tpi casing. That impacts the weight – the R28 rises to 270g (claimed 260g), compared with 224g for the 220tpi Speed R28. A deal-breaker for the weight weenies perhaps, but the cost savings might well outweigh the small weight and performance gains of the more expensive rubber.
Aside from the obvious weight difference, the other key separator between the two tyres will be the level of suppleness due to the difference in the casing construction. I didn't test the tyres side-by-side, but I can certainly say that the Course R28 doesn't lack suppleness, and it compares favourably with other similar width tyres from Continental (GP4000S II) and Schwalbe (Pro One).
You're certainly going to be hard-pressed to discern big differences between them without taking them to a laboratory to do a detailed examination, although Blather 'bout Bikes blogger Tom Anhalt has painstakingly tested most of the currently available tyres for rolling resistance, and you can see the results here. He hasn't tested the 28mm tyres, though, only the 23 and 25mm versions.
Wide tyres are gaining a lot of new fans, even those who previously would quite happily run 22/23mm tyres at 120psi and think nothing more of their tyres. But change is happening. Many are now realising you can ride a wider tyre at lower pressures and not lose any performance, and in fact, on rough roads, you gain performance because the tyre is able to absorb the bumps instead of bouncing. Plus of course, you also gain increased comfort.
And with the advent and soaring popularity of disc brake road bikes, it's getting much easier to fit wider tyres to bikes that previously would have struggled to accept anything wider than 25mm.
Critical to getting the most out of a tyre is the optimum tyre pressure. Zipp helpfully lists recommended pressures for different rider weights on its website, and they're probably a lot lower than you're used to running with narrower tyres. This is a good thing – a 28mm tyre at 120psi is a horrible experience. I've tried it so you don't have to go there. The key to wider tyres is to run them at lower pressures. A 28mm tyre at 80psi provides the same rolling resistance as a 23mm tyre at 120psi, according to Continental.
Zipp, for my weight, recommends 5.5 bar (80psi) front and 5.9 bar (85psi) rear. That's a little higher than the 5 bar I would normally run for this width tyre, but some testing at both pressures revealed very little discernible performance difference. This pressure produced very satisfactory results.
From the first ride, they simply felt like a very high-quality tyre, smooth and comfortable with plenty of grip through the corners, and good performance on damp roads with a smattering of mud and grit.
To really enjoy the benefits of a low-pressure wide tyre, it also needs to be supple, and Zipp has succeeded in that too. It might not, on paper at least, be as supple as the Speed R28, but the Course R28 has a sidewall that clearly provides enough flexibility to help the tyre deform over imperfections in the road, with appropriate rigidity to prevent the tyre from squirming when run at lower pressures.
That helps the Course R28 impress on a range of roads and variety of weather. The tread is made from a 70 ShA durometer rubber (durometer is the measure of how hard a rubber is), and although 70 is quite a firm rubber (for a bicycle tyre), it strikes a good balance of durability, grip on dry and wet roads, and rolling speed. Puncture protection is boosted by the use of a nylon protection layer underneath the tread.
If you're in the market for a wide tyre at a reasonable price, the new Tangente Course R28 offers good performance with decent durability, wear rate and puncture protection. And don't worry, you don't need a pair of Zipp wheels to run these tyre. I won't be taking them off my bike in a hurry.
A fast and supple 28mm wide tyre that compares favourably with more established rivals
road.cc test report
Make and model: Zipp Tangente Course R28
Size tested: 700x28
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Zipp says: "The Zipp Tangente Course R28 and R30 tires give riders a high performance clincher at widths suitable for less than perfect conditions – rough roads, wet roads. The looming disc brake revolution will mean that you can run tires significantly larger than the 25mm limit on many bikes. The Tangente Course R28 and R30 are tires that takes disc brakes' opportunity for increased tire width and multiplies that with faster rolling, better grip and improved aerodynamics."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High performance sport and training tire
28mm (R28) and 30mm (R30) widths
120tpi nylon casing
Nylon puncture protection layer under tread
260 grams (R28), 306 grams (R30)
33.15 watts of rolling resistance @ 40kph (with Zipp butyl tube)
70 ShA durometer rubber (Shore A)
New water-siping tread pattern
Comfortable in rough conditions
The 120tpi construction saves money over the more expensive Speed R28 tyres but the difference is barely noticed on the scales, just your bank balance. The performance doesn't disappoint.
Very good performance with good grip and durability.
The tread remained cut-free during the test period and 500km and counting and, fingers crossed, no punctures.
Compare well with similar width tyres from other brands.
Follow Zipp's recommended tyre pressure guide and the tyre is very comfortable, smoothing out rough roads a treat.
They're reasonably priced but you can get the similar Continental GP4000S II for a bit less if you shop around.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does everything you'd hope of a wide tyre.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Grippy and fast.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Isn't really anything to dislike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A very good wide tyre that stands up against more well-known rivals.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.