The C S3 lite is a racing specific tyre which is part of Tufo's own hybrid 'tubular-clincher' system. As the name suggest elements of both tubulars and clinchers are combined to create something in between. Something that I like to call 'clinchulars'.
This sounds like a great idea. In theory. We all know there are massive advantages of the clincher system, but, when it comes to all-out performance it's still the tub that adorns most of the Pro Tour come race day. A combination of the roadside puncture-fixing-ability and mounting simplicity of a clincher with the overall weight, speed and rim strength of a tub would be great.
But as with any attempt of 'best-of-both' there is always the risk of the polar opposite happening. Sadly, this brave attempt to break the mould results in a system with the weight of clinchers combined with the puncture replacement nightmares of a tubular.
The tubular-clincher system works by effectively adding a rubber mounting strip onto the bottom of a standard tubular carcass that makes it a kind of snap-fit to a clincher rim. You can find a diagram from Tufo here [http://www.tufo.com/technology-2/]. Mounting is clean, dry and glue free. The reduction of possible user-error is a benefit over a traditional tub. The strength of attachment is confidence inspiring and even those prone to rolling a tube shouldn't be concerned.
Tufo claim that the main benefits of this system come from allowing high inflation pressures, thanks to the system not loading the rim, and the ride quality of a tubular. The ride quality of these tyres is quite nice but certainly not a noticeable improvement over a similarly priced clincher.
120tpi is not bad thread density for a supple ride but for similar price you can be topping 240 tpi in clincher. That said, the ride was surprisingly surefooted for 21C on both the tight bends of the Hillingdon circuit and the weather beaten roads of my usual stomping ground. Additional benefits touted by Tufo are that you can ride on the rim in case of emergency - could be useful in the last few kilometres of a race,Van Summeren fashion.
What Tufo fail to mention on the website is being bent over your wheel in the rain cracking it out with your mini pump whilst praying to the puncture gods for the sealant to work is less than ideal. I was certainly not about to ride the 60km home on a new set of wheels even if I could. Thank goodness it sealed or I might not be here to tell the story and may have been eaten by a pack of hungry wolves in the Chilterns. To be fair to the puncture protection, I have only had the one flat throughout the test despite some large lacerations in both tyres. These are clearly marketed as a race day tyre and as such, lifespan should be noticeably less than your winter rubbers.
Given the added difficulty of puncture repair and without a weight advantage this system just doesn't add up for use on the road. Advances in racing specific clincher tyres further bury the case for the tubular-clincher system. The C S3 tyres are 285 grams each, effectively including tube. A Conti race day clincher with a matching 50g supersonic tube will weigh you down to the tune of 190 grams - an extreme example but even a less aggressive clincher tyre can still give you a weight advantage over these.
However, where I can see it working is for Cyclo-cross. Tubulars offer a real benefit on the school playing field because you can run lower pressures without puncturing in comparison to a clincher. This would mean that, thanks to the fast mounting benefits of the Tufo system, you could easily swap tyres between commuting slicks and tubular style cross tyres for race day. That would be a benefit for someone looking for cheeky performance gains on their do-it-all crosser. Unfortunately Tufo don't offer that option yet but I hope they are listening.
An attempt at "best-of-both" which simply hasn't worked unless you like really hard tyres.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Tufo CS3 Lite Tubular Clincher tyre
Size tested: 28 inch, 23mm
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?
"Guaranteed specified weight. Our best selling road racing tubular clincher tyre. Very unique properties in this tyre weight category. High inflation pressure, minimal rolling resistance."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The tubular-clincher system is a mix of the two which, in my experience, creates something not quite as good as either.
"Benefits of our tubular clincher:
High inflation pressures – up to 15 bars (220 psi) without any damage to the rim walls, even in a case when the rim manufacturer specifies lower inflation pressures (the pressure is contained inside the tubular clincher and does not affect the rim walls)
Same riding quality as with tubulars
Safe handling in case of punctures, the stability of a rider is not affected
In case of emergency, the tubular clincher can be ridden flat
The fastest and easiest installation and dismantling without any tools"
They do say on the website a "road racing" tyre so don't expect these to be mile munchers
You can get a lighter setup using a standard clincher.
21C tyre - the main selling point is its 220psi capability on a standard clincher rim. These were never going to be an arm chair.
Obviously the system has higher manufacturing costs than a standard clincher which means these are at the level of a premium clincher.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
High inflation pressures are certainly achievable but there are not enough performance benefits over either standard system to warrant the intrinsic negatives of this system.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easier to mount than a standard tubular.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Less user friendly than a clincher without any benefit in performance.
Did you enjoy using the product? No.
Would you consider buying the product? No.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No.
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF My best bike is: Canyon LUX MR/ Grand Canyon CF
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, mtb,