Zipp have updated their tyre range, first introduced in 2007, and the Tangentes here are the middle of the three-tyre range. They're pitched as race-day tyres with an impressively low 196g weight for the 25mm size tested. They are very responsive and fast rolling tyres, ideal for racing and Sunday best bikes.
The tyres are constructed with a 220 tpi rubber/nylon casing, and weight is saved with the absence of the puncture belt that features on Zipp's two other tyres, the Course and SLSpeed tubular. I didn't suffer a flat during testing. That doesn't tell you much - luck has a huge part to play in punctures as much as anything - but the clean tread with a noticeable lack of cuts and marks suggest good durability from the rubber compound.
On the road the tyres provide the sort of speed and responsiveness you'd expect given their low. The tread compound gives the right balance of rolling resistance and grip. Shove the tyres hard into a corner and there's plenty of traction on the shoulders and a nice level of feedback that allows you to exploit the available grip. I used them in all conditions and they shone every time. They're as good as the very excellent Michelin Pro4s and Schwalbe Ones, two of my fave racing tyres.
You might expect the tyres work best with Zipp rims? To find out, I tested them on a pair of Zipp 303 wheels. I also tested them, on the same circuit with repeated laps, on a pair of Shimano RS80 wheels. There was an obvious difference in speed when riding the deep section wheels, but any difference because of the relationship between Zipp tyre and rim was impossible to detect. They proved fast on all wheelsets, suggesting that the changes to the tread compound have netted the biggest returns in performance and speed.
With the new Tangentes, Zipp have produced tyres that offer the speed and grip that a racing cyclist demands. They're certainly not cheap, and the lack of a puncture belt doesn't make them a good candidate for year-round everyday riding. The Course tyres, which we'll test soon, would be a better all-round choice. For those times when you want the fastest rubber, though, these are definitely worth a look. And don't worry if you don't have any Zipp wheels, the Zipp Tangentes work well with any rim.
Impressive race-ready performance tyres with low weight and a fast turn of speed
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zipp Tangente Speed tyre
Size tested: 700x25c
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 race day, the Tangente Speed is optimised for aerodynamics, rolling resistance and road feel with clincher convenience. Very light, this tyre will glide over the tarmac giving you that effortless road feel you want.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
For use in race events
Tyre is optimised for dry road conditions
220 TPI nylon casing with nylon puncture protection strip
New aero tread pattern
Sidewalls designed for supple and compliant ride feel
Rubber formulated for grip and acceleration
Very low rolling resistance; saves power
Min PSI/BAR: 90/6.2
Max PSI/BAR: 125/8.6
Sizes: 700 x 23/25c
Weight: 180/190 grams
Very fast tyres.
They don't have a puncture belt so lack the bulletproof durability of other tyres, but the tread doesn't cut up easily and the wear rate has been good so far.
There aren't many tyres lighter.
That lack of a puncture belt and the improved sidewalls makes these tyres feel lovely to ride, with a level of smoothness matched only by the best racing tyres.
They're not cheap, but then tyres that weigh this little and offer this sort of performance aren't usually cheap.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For Sunday best or racing, these are a good alternative to the more common choices in this price range.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Speed and grip.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of puncture belt could be a worry for some.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Very fast and light tyres that offer a bundle of performance. Best saved for summer and racing.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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, mtb,
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.