Is there any tyre more iconic than the Vittoria Pave CG? The green sidewall has been a common sight on bikes at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix for many years. The tyre is held in high regard and there's a very good reason for that: it's beautifully supple with fantastic grip, impressive cushioning and low rolling resistance, making it ideal whether you're tackling the cobblestones of northern France and Belgium, or gritty and damp British roads. It's an expensive investment and longevity isn't great, but the positives easily outweigh the negatives.
The tyre is available in a tubular - favoured by the pros - or open clincher version and, new this year, an all-black colour option. The Open Pave CG comes in two sizes: 25mm (tested here) and 27mm.
It's constructed with a 320TPI casing - that means there are 320 threads per inch - with a core spun technique, which involves twisting cotton fibre around a central filament core. Vittoria's ISOgrip compound, with the trademark herringbone tread pattern, is laid over the top of this carcass, with a puncture breaker laid between.
The tyre provides astonishing levels of grip, offering dependable traction in the wet and dry. It's in poor conditions that the tyre really excels, though, and provides a level of confidence that few other tyres can match. When it's wet and slippery, this tyre lets you push on at speed. It feels secure and reliable on the cobbles when I've ridden Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and it's equally adept at tackling my local roads – which give Belgian roads a run for their money in places. Its performance on muddy, greasy or dirty roads is good enough that you don't really need to hold back from charging.
It's a wonderful tyre to ride. It has a high level of flexibility and that allows the tyre to deform, providing a level of suppleness that few tyres can match. The tyre feel amazing when tackling rough surfaced descents and it's great through the corners – you can really lean on the tyre, and that makes it a good racing choice with the higher cornering speeds typically involved.
There's no doubt it's a fast tyre – when compared with others, it feels supremely quick with low rolling resistance – but rather than being the fastest outright, instead it gives a really good all-round balance of grip and speed. The flexibility of the carcass means there's plenty of cushioning as well, helping to iron out rough roads and providing a smoother ride on any wheelset or bike it's fitted to.
Puncture resistance is good, if not startling. Vittoria uses a PRB 2.0 breaker and the tyre does withstand punctures well, but it's not as impervious to flats as some tyres like Michelin's Pro4 to pick one example. Glass and flint, in particular, have occasionally been able to cut through the tyre and leave a mark - the test tyres have a few scars from where large objects have penetrated the carcass, but it's within acceptable limits.
If you're wondering what pressure I ran them at, I opted for about 80-85psi for my 67kg weight, varying it depending on conditions. The bigger tyre volume certainly adds to the comfort, and the lower pressures eke out more traction.
The wear rate is high – it won't last as long as many other tyres. This means that unless you can justify the price you're probably not going to want to ride them every day unless you're happy to continually replace them. That's a shame because the grip and comfort they provide makes them well suited to winter riding, when the roads are covered in crap.
If you can live with the high wear rate, though, and the fact that there are more puncture resistant choices, these are a brilliant tyre for tackling bad roads and conditions with outstanding performance.
Superb traction and performance but high wear rate is a downside
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Make and model: Vittoria Open Pavé CG
Size tested: 25mm, 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?
The clincher version of the Pavé CG tubular is hand-made and provides excellent grip and performance, thanks to the 'open tubular' construction. It's a tyre well suited for Autumn/Winter riding both in wet and dry conditions.
The family of cotton tyres benefits from casing with 320 TPI (threads-per-inch) that's one of a kind in terms of flexibility and lightness, from a tread that's the result of millions of km in races around the world and from new, even better performance lightweight puncture protection, offering 40% better than ever before.
The full range of cotton tyres features the new ISOgrip compound for yet more grip and safety. Vittoria has a long tradition of success: its tubulars and treads have won the greatest number of races in history.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Open Clincher only
Use: Extreme conditions
Weight: varies from 240g - 280g
High quality construction with 320TPI thread count but could do with better puncture protection.
Best in class performance for riding the cobbles or wet British roads.
The wear rate is quite high and they're not the best at resisting punctures.
Reasonably light at 240g for a 25mm width.
Super cushioning and suppleness makes them brilliantly comfortable.
They're expensive, yes, but they offer a lot of performance for that price. And they are handmade.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Despite the high wear rate and susceptibility to thorns and glass, the traction these tyres offer makes them ideal for riding in the winter on roads covered in mud and water, plus the cushioning makes them very comfortable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lovely road feel from the flexible carcass and high grip levels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
High wear rate and price tag is a deterrent.
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
Top level performance but high wear rate and puncture resistance prevents them from scoring more highly.
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, 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.