Zipp has added to its Tangente tyre range with a wide, race-ready clincher model, the Speed R28. With a high thread per inch (tpi) count and a supple rubber compound, the R28 offers a near-tubular-like ride in terms of both performance and comfort.
The Speed R28s have a 220tpi nylon, so even at their recommended pressure (via Zipp's own website) of 85psi at the front and 95psi rear for my weight, they offer a very supple ride indeed. You can barely feel washboard effect tarmac and small potholes as the large volume 28mm width just absorbs every vibration.
They're unbelievably grippy as well, the sticky rubber compound holding onto the road surface at stupid speeds and lean angles. And even if you do manage to break traction it's progressive: they start to slide very gently, which gives you chance to change what you are doing to bring things back under control. I've had some tyres just go grip, grip, grip, nothing – and you're wiped out on the tarmac before you even know what's happened.
That grip isn't just reserved for the dry either – the Speed R28s will hold on tight in the wet as well, giving you confidence in the bends, especially when the surface is off-camber. The predominantly slick surface has water-siping on the shoulders, although as most people know, you aren't going to aquaplane on such a small surface area so it's kind of redundant.
I wouldn't say I'd confidently use them on wet days regularly as they have no puncture resistance layer at all – for that you'd need their training tyre cousin, the Course R28.
It's at speed, though, where the Speed R28s really excel. They're pretty light at 224g – 30g per tyre lighter than the 28mm Schwalbe Ones they replaced on my Mason – and it's certainly noticeable. Zipp claims a rolling resistance of 21.97 watts at 40kph when used with a butyl inner tube. Acceleration is improved, and the way they just fly over rough surfaces means they definitely feel quicker than the Schwalbes on an all-round basis, though it's not by a big margin. You'll barely notice it on your Strava data!
While on the subject of the Schwalbe Ones, it's worth mentioning that they are pretty much the benchmark large volume tyre at the moment, judging by our various reviews, so let's compare the R28 Speed directly.
The Zipps are marginally quicker, especially under acceleration thanks to that 30g saving in weight. That comes at a cost, though, as it's achieved by omitting any form of puncture resistance, so they don't have the all-weather reliability of the Ones.
Grip goes to the Zipps, though only marginally, but then the Schwalbes are just under a tenner cheaper – £44.99 compared with the Zipps' £52. We'll call it a draw then.
So, in conclusion, if you want to run super-quick, comfortable tyres for the summer, the Zipps are an awesome choice, and will make you feel like you are absolutely flying. You need to be mindful of that lack of puncture protection, though, which makes them less of an all-rounder.
Awesome large volume race tyres, but they could be a little too specific for day-to-day use
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zipp Tangente Speed R28
Size tested: 28mm
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?
Zipp says: "Some of the greatest roads in cycling aren't particularly well paved. Sometimes, the fact that they aren't manicured like a golf green is part of the charm. Or maybe all of it. Today's bikes, handlebars and other components are stiffer than ever, but the emergence of disc brake technology has created an opportunity for riders to run a high-performance 28mm clincher. The Speed R28 is chance to double down on traction, trim rolling resistance, improve your comfort on long days and even better your bike's aerodynamics.
"We've introduced the Speed R28 to give riders a race-ready tire for those days when you want all the performance of a top-of-the-line racing clincher at a pavé-swallowing width. Wet or dry, it combines the grip of a bigger contact patch plus the reduced rolling resistance that comes with a larger casing."
They certainly are quick tyres and perfect for racing on if you've got a race bike that'll take 28mm rubber.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
High performance race tire
220 tpi nylon casing
21.97 watts of rolling resistance at 40kph (with Zipp butyl tube)
60 ShA durometer rubber (Shore A)
New water-siping tread pattern
Pretty much benchmark in terms of rolling resistance, speed and acceleration.
Stood up fine to the test miles in wet and dry conditions on a range of roads.
Impressive for a tyre of this size.
Not as bad as expected price-wise for a top end race tyre.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a tyre for racing it's hard to fault.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Lack of puncture protection.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, if I raced on 28mm tyres and had confidence in that I wouldn't puncture.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
For a race tyre, which is exactly what it's designed to be, the Speed R28s are hard to fault. They are so fast, grippy and downright comfortable even at the higher pressures I prefer that they are a joy to ride, really transforming the feel of the bike. The only downside for me is that I'd prefer a little in the way of puncture protection if I was going to use them as a quick road tyre rather than just on a race track.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Mason Definition
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
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!