Zipp were one of the first to start increasing rim width for aerodynamics so it's no surprise their Tangente SL Speed tubular tyres have followed suit. Low weight and supple casing means these things fly.
The Tangentes are designed to work with Zipp's own Firecrest wheels, which have wide-profile rims that are more rounded than traditional deep section wheels. Unfortunately I don't have a spare pair of Zipps kicking around but fitting the SL Speed to a similarly shaped rim shows a very rounded profile that mates neatly with the rim well and braking edge.
Seventy-six pounds is a lot for a bike tyre but for your money you are getting a top spec tubular with a weight of just 250g. They are easy to fit, sitting pretty much true as soon as you place them on the rim and pump them up. They only have a standard length 42mm valve but being designed for deep section wheels they come with a removable core to allow fitment of a proper extension. Not a lot of tubs have this option so it's a welcome addition.
The 320tpi cotton casing is very supple, which gives a beautifully smooth ride even when pumped up to the 130psi Zipp recommends for my weight.
The rubber is optimised for dry conditions and I'll concur with that, they are pretty skittish in the wet and doesn't make for an enjoyable ride. I wouldn't want to use a tyre this light in the wet anyway although you do get some puncture protection and it seemed to work over the test period as I picked up a couple of cuts without flatting.
Grip levels are good, with impressive lean angles being achieved without them feeling like they are going to break away. Wear rates are looking pretty good for the mileage they've done too.
The only real downside is how quickly they lose pressure, about 20psi over 24 hours front and rear at times. It's only really a major issue if you are doing 12 or 24-hour time trials or the like, but you will need to pump them before each ride.
Overall the Tangente SL Speed tubs are beautiful to ride thanks to that 320tpi casing and low rolling resistance. Grip is brilliant, in the dry at least, and they're surprisingly robust for such light tyres.
The price is steep but it's similar to the flagship tubs in Veloflex's or Vittoria's line ups which both offer similar weight and comfort although they are sold in 23 and 25mm options.
Large volume race tubs that are fast, supple and grippy. Save them for the dry though.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Zipp Tangente SLSpeed Tubular tyre
Size tested: 700x27c
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?
Race tyres in a 27mm width to suit Zipp's own Firecrest rims although they'll work with other wide rims out there. They are great tyres though with a very supple ride.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*Intended use: Racing
Optimized for dry road conditions
*320 TPI cotton casing
*Puncture protection belt
*Rubber formulated for grip and acceleration
*24mm or 27mm widths
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Zipp's are really nice tyres to ride all day thanks to the mixture of speed and performance.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The supple casing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Having to pump them up before every ride.
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?
The Zipps are pretty much at the pinnacle of what makes a great race tyre. You get the balance of speed, grip and comfort even when pumped up to 130psi. The cost is prohibitive for daily use though and I'd keep them for dry race days only.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Kinesis Aithien
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.