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The Challenge Strada Bianca Race is a low-cost yet perfectly good fat tyre for exploring bridleways and gravel roads as well as blasting the tarmac bits in between. Just be sure your frame can take them.
Back in 2014 Dave reviewed the Strada Bianca Race and gave it 4.5/5, saying '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'. The Strada Bianca on review here is the 'Gravel' version – with a lower nylon thread count and single puncture protection strip. Challenge has a 30mm version with the same name but marked as 'Pro', with a higher thread count and double puncture protection. That one's £54, so make sure you are ordering the right model.
As you might expect of a £34 tyre, the Strada Bianca is not handmade, and unlike the high-end Challenge tyres the tread is vulcanised to the casing – basically meaning heat is used to melt it all together. This results in a stiffer rubber than the handmade, glued tread that the more expensive and more supple Challenge tyres are famed for.
The standout feature here is the size – 33mm as labelled, but on my rims they measured a whopping 35mm wide. That's probably beyond the capacity of most older road bikes unless they were specifically designed for cyclo-cross, but many modern frames should fit them now that the fat (and often tubeless) sermon from Mount Rollingresistance has been accepted as Wisdom. My 2015 Merida Ride 5000 had no problem accommodating them, but you might want to try some first if your frame is of questionable capacity.
I've found some of the flatpack higher-end Challenge tyres a real 'mare to get on, but the Strada Bianca Race mounted with no issues at all, thumbs-only. Remember to spec decent-sized tubes too – sure, your 23-25mm ones will fit, but you're leaving yourself open to increased punctures as inside a 33mm+ carcass the tube will be stretched thin.
Following accepted wisdom I ran the Strada Biancas at 45 and 35psi rear and front respectively. It struck me while doing this that those were pretty much the pressures I used to run in my Panaracer Smoke and Dart mountain bike tyres back in the day...
With such low pressures you'd think handling would be all over the place – but not so. My first ride was a training session requiring four intervals in Zone Four (meaning rather fast), including one on a slightly downhill section of road that meant I'd run out of gears (50x11) trying to keep the heart rate up. During the recovery intervals I was also re-bedding-in my disc brakes, having done a full refresh of things. This involves repeated hard braking almost to a stop, then accelerating again and repeat. Throughout this nonsense the Strada Bianca held the line, with no squirming or sidewall flex apparent.
My feeling was that the Strada Biancas didn't offer as much grip as the rather excellent Schwalbe Ones I've been running for the last year, or the Schwalbe S-Ones I reviewed recently – but they are both another £20 or more a pop.
In more quantifiable results, I set a PB on a flattish section and came a close third to my all-time PB on a damp, twisty and very fast descent, so it's safe to say the Strada Biancas aren't likely to be holding you back any.
Being named after Tuscany's fabled white gravel roads and sitting in Challenge's 'Gravel' category, these tyres aren't meant to stay clean, so I headed out for a few hours of bridleway, farm track and gravel backroad fun. They were excellent over gravel at high speed – steering among and through potholes, over track ridges and in and out of grassy verges, they kept tracking and I didn't once feel the rear let go under power. There's no sidewall grip so, unsurprisingly, they slid on steep cross-angled sections – but just watch for it and have your counter-steering wits about you.
They didn't dump me in two hours of mountain bike-grade stuff – thick mud, wet grass, roots and Hampshire's notorious slimy chalk, the ultimate test for any tyre. Of course, they are not quite on par with a dedicated 35mm CX tyre with sidewall knobs, but streets ahead on sections of road between bridleway blasting.
At £34 each, the Strada Biancas will give your road bike a new lease of life as an off-road exploratory machine that won't be lagging on the black stuff. If you can fit 'em, go get 'em.
These versatile tyres are a great way to set your bike up for off-road shenanigans
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Challenge Strada Bianca Race 33
Size tested: 700x33-622
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?
It's a tyre for people wanting to get out and off the black stuff, but not be slowed down getting there.
Rough Road, Cobbles, Big Riders, Hard Packed Dirt
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Tire Width: 33 mm
Rim Width: 15-19 mm
Weight: 355 gr
Flat protection: PPS
Well put together, well finished.
Fast, not squidgy despite being massive.
Picked up a few nicks here and there but no worse than anything else. Didn't flat.
Average for what they do.
Fat = Comfy. And despite being vulcanised, they're nice and soft.
At £34 these are very good value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty darn good.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The size. Go Fat.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not as grippy as premium tyres. But it's not a premium tyre.
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
For the price, ease of mounting, and size, these are indeed very good. Little compromise on-road and lots of fun off-road.
About the tester
I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling