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You'll never guess what this Challenge Strada Bianca tyre is designed for. The Strade Bianche race uses the white gravel roads of Tuscany and this 30mm racing tyre is just what you need for that kind of thing. It's a brilliant all-rounder that's fast enough for nearly any road use, but with hugely improved comfort.
You'll need a particular kind of frame to fit the Strada Bianca. Most endurance road bikes top out at 28mm tyres so you're really looking at gravel racers, 'cross bikes and their ilk. Ours went on our on-test Kinesis Tripster ATR which will handle tyres up to 40mm, so there was plenty of room.
Like all Challenge tyres they're lovingly made by hand. These tyres use a slightly lower thread count (260TPI) than the 300TPI racing tubulars but it's still high-quality stuff; most road tyres are 60-120TPI. The herringbone tread is hand-glued to the carcass and the whole thing arrives flat-packed.
Getting them on the rim for the first time is a fairly sweary experience as they're not tyre-shaped like a moulded machine-made tyre. I managed to blow out a tube by not getting them seated properly. The longer they're fitted for, the more shape they get.
Out on the road they're fantastic. You can run them at hitherto-untried low pressures with little or no danger of flatting them on the potholes. I'm over 100kg and I was running them at 70-80psi a lot of the time. They roll extremely well and at 358g they're not heavyweights. It's not like sticking a set of Marathons on. These feel like race tyres, they really do, except loads more comfortable. If you want comfort on long rides but still want to go fairly fast, there are not many better tyres I can name.
Grip from the herringbone tread is good, especially on loose climbs where the suppleness of the casing and the extra width means there's more rubber in contact with the ground at any one time.
I've also tested Challenge's Paris-Roubaix tyre, which was decent but suffered from punctures. This Strada Bianca has a beefed-up puncture strip and I haven't flatted them once. Running at a lower pressure tends to result in fewer flats from thorns and flints penetrating the tyre carcass anyway, and you can go pretty low with these. That and the extra protection make these a much better all-round choice than the narrower Paris-Roubaix rubber, if your frame will take them.
They're about 90g heavier per wheel but it's a weight penalty worth paying. They don't have the all-out protection of a full winter tyre but they're hardy enough for more than the summer. They're certainly not cheap at £48 a pop, but that's the only downside, really.
Big, comfy all-conditions tyre that rolls like race rubber.
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Make and model: Challenge Strada Bianca 700x30c tyre
Size tested: Black
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?
Designed for Gravel racing. Proven Paris-Roubaix tread pattern. New formula, lower wearing tread. PPS-2 double puncture protection strip. Low rolling resistance with increased casing volume, achieving a new level of control, puncture resistance and comfort.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Use: Road & gravel racing / touring
Width: 30 mm
Weight: 390 gr
protection: Double PPS
Inner tube: latex
They're just great. Comfy and fast.
Wearing pretty well, good puncture resistance.
For a big tyre, very light.
About as comfy as a slick tyre gets.
They're not cheap but they're decent value for the performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Feel, weight, speed.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Hard to intially fit.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.