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Verdict: 
Brilliant handmade open tubular for UK roads, a fast and supple race tyre – just be prepared to pay for it
Weight: 
509g
Challenge Strada Pro Open Tubular
9 10

Challenge's Strada Pro Open Tubular is a super-supple tyre designed for racing on rough roads. It's not the quickest tyre I've ridden, but for the battered B roads of Somerset these are ideal for racing, fast riding and even as a summer training tyre.

  • Pros: Brilliant ride thanks to the supple casing, they sit really wide for larger riders and rough roads
  • Cons: Expensive, and tan sidewalls will discolour over time

As they arrive flat with zero shape, open tubular mounting is never great fun and these are a bit of a pain to get on the rims. Once on and inflated, they form into shape making subsequent tube replacements easy. I did employ the help of the Challenge Tyre mounting tool (separate review to come). It's not essential and only really helps with the last bit so two strong thumbs or careful tyre lever use will suffice.

> Find your nearest dealer here
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The ride feel is fabulous and is the reason I'll always choose these supple tyres over a vulcanised tyre, such as Continental's GP4000S II, which can be harder. A vulcanised tyre – improved, some would say, by a chemical process using heat and pressure – might be slightly faster and harder wearing, but I prefer the softer feel of these Strada tyres. They simply float over rough roads, of which I ride plenty.

Part of this is down to the size of the tyre. These 25mm versions sit much wider than the Veloflex Master 25mm they've replaced. Even mounted on narrow Mavic Ksyrium SL wheels, these provide a fat patch of rubber on which to sit.

The other part is down to the casing, which has a higher thread count (300tpi) than a tyre like the GP4000S II (110tpi). This means it will conform over road imperfections, giving that smooth feeling. My test set came with Challenge Latex inner tubes which further enhance the feel as they are again more supple than a butyl tube.

Cornering grip is, as a result, brilliant. I've been using these for training and also racing crits and I instantly felt confident to throw the bike into corners. The grip level is predictable in wet and dry conditions, although I do run slightly lower pressures on wet roads.

The rolling speed does feel just a touch slower than the Masters they replaced, though it's hard to quantify and certainly hasn't held me back in races. I'm not saying it's a slow tyre at all, it just doesn't feel the fastest.

> Beginner's guide to tyres: Everything you need to know about clinchers, tubulars, tubeless…

Weight is also a slight compromise at 509g for the pair. That's not overly heavy for 25mm tyres, but you can get lighter. The Strada SC S, for example, is slightly lighter at 480g per pair. That bumps you up to a sealed 320tpi corespun cotton casing from the 300tpi superpoly casing on this Strada Pro. That will also get you a more supple ride, though the differences are small.

The puncture protection often associated with more supple tyres leads some to believe that these would pick up more cuts and flats than a regular tyre. I've not had any issues with these tyres, and after two months of riding they're cut-free. I seem to pick up more cuts in the Continental Gatorskins I use for winter riding, but they do see more debris. My riding features a good mix of main roads and lanes so I'm happy to say that the Stradas will last a good number of miles on normal UK roads. I'd also be happy to use these in the winter as they're much grippier than the Continentals in the wet. I'd buy the black sidewall for winter riding as tan walls stain easily.

That leads me nicely on to cleaning. If you go out in the wet with standard aluminium rim brakes, these will stain if they're not cleaned immediately post-ride. Carbon pads don't seem to be as bad, and SwissStop BXP pads are much cleaner for some reason. Disc brakes don't generate the same muck at the rim so it's a win for discs.

The price is what I'd expect to pay for a beautifully made tyre like this. I've been buying these tyres for a few seasons now and I go through one pair a year. I usually take the used pair and fit them on the winter bike, so they get a fair bit of abuse. At full retail, these are £4 more than the GP4000S II (£49.95) and 99p less than another excellent option, Vittoria's Corsa G+ tyres, but a quick look online will find the GP4000S II at £29.99 and the Vittorias at £36.99, compared to £42 for a Strada Pro.

> Buyer's Guide: 27 of the best road cycling tyres

Are they worth the extra cash? I'd say yes, they are. The ride quality and the look make it worth it.

If you're a rider who wants a beautiful tyre that can cope with UK roads, these are a brilliant option. The extra volume they provide along with an exceptional ride quality makes them near perfect in my opinion.

Verdict

Brilliant handmade open tubular for UK roads, a fast and supple race tyre – just be prepared to pay for it

road.cc test report

Make and model: Challenge Strada Pro 25

Size tested: 700 x 25mm

Tell us what the product is for

Challenge is aiming these at larger riders and rough roads. This is a tough road race tyre.

I've been impressed by their performance in the local races. They feel fast enough, with a supple feel that has kept me comfortable on some really dodgy surfaces. The grip in the corners and when laying the power down is also amazing.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

From Challenge:

Use: Road Racing / Big Rider / Rough Roads

Size: 700

Tire Width: 25 mm

Internal Rim Width: 13-17 mm

Weight: 240 gr

TPI: 300

Bead: Aramid

Casing: SuperPoly

Flat protection: PPS

BAR: 7-10

PSI: 100-145

Colour: Black-Tan

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
10/10

Unlike some handmade tyres, these are perfectly straight when you put them on. They look absolutely perfect.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

The ride is smooth and fast. I've not had any punctures and there are no cuts on the rubber or sidewalls. Using these for crits has shown them to provide plenty of cornering grip too.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I've marked these down slightly but only because if you buy tan wall tyres and ride them in the rain a lot, they will stain.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

The weight (shown per pair) is higher than a more race-focused tyre, but these have added puncture protection. There are lighter options for sure.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
10/10

It's partly the casing, partly the compound and partly the lower pressures that you can use, but these are the comfiest tyres I've ridden outside of CX tubulars.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

They're more expensive than a Continental GP4000S II, but if you're looking for a handmade option, these are worth the money.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

These are designed as a fast tyre that can stand up to poor roads. They worked absolutely perfectly.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The general ride is excellent. The comfort these provide while still being grippy and fast is excellent.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The price. And as they aren't as common as some, they're not discounted as much.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, a brilliant ride.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes. My general riding takes in some shockingly poor roads and these have really helped.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, especially larger riders.

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is a high-end tyre that provides a great ride on rougher roads. Pricey, yes, but worth it – near-perfect and fully deserving 9.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 22  Height: 177cm  Weight: 64kg

I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!

Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.

29 comments

Avatar
othello [405 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes

Fitting trick for these (also applies to Vittoria Corsa)

Fit these to the wheel without an inner tube, and leave over night. This allows you to manhandle them onto your rim shape/width, without worrying about pinching the tube the first time. It also pre-stretches them.

Then take them off, and fit with a tube. Makes them a LOT easier to fit. 

 

Avatar
Liam Cahill [116 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

othello wrote:

Fitting trick for these (also applies to Vittoria Corsa)

Fit these to the wheel without an inner tube, and leave over night. This allows you to manhandle them onto your rim shape/width, without worrying about pinching the tube the first time. It also pre-stretches them.

Then take them off, and fit with a tube. Makes them a LOT easier to fit. 

Neat trick! I'll be trying that one

Avatar
earth [409 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

" A vulcanised tyre – improved, some would say, by a chemical process using heat and pressure – might be slightly faster and harder wearing"

There must have been a reason for vulcanising and maybe it was to increase durability but I use unvulcanised veloflex rubber and they show almost no wear after 2000 miles of use, not even cuts. 

My theory is that unvulcanised natual rubber is very elastic.  It can streach to 6 times it resting length before breaking.  When accelerating or cornering the rubber is being stressed.  The mass of the bike want to travel in one direction while the rider is forcing the bike in another direction.  Thus the rubber is being streached.  Vulcanised rubber will reach its elastic limit long before natual unvulcanised and once it goes beyond that limit it will fail and wear away.  Unvulcanised rubber will streach and then return to its resting state where vulcanised will have failed.

Avatar
madcarew [743 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
earth wrote:

" A vulcanised tyre – improved, some would say, by a chemical process using heat and pressure – might be slightly faster and harder wearing"

There must have been a reason for vulcanising and maybe it was to increase durability but I use unvulcanised veloflex rubber and they show almost no wear after 2000 miles of use, not even cuts. 

My theory is that unvulcanised natual rubber is very elastic.  It can streach to 6 times it resting length before breaking.  When accelerating or cornering the rubber is being stressed.  The mass of the bike want to travel in one direction while the rider is forcing the bike in another direction.  Thus the rubber is being streached.  Vulcanised rubber will reach its elastic limit long before natual unvulcanised and once it goes beyond that limit it will fail and wear away.  Unvulcanised rubber will streach and then return to its resting state where vulcanised will have failed.

I think under that proposed scenario you would crash a lot in corners and while braking due to the tyre squirming around. 

Avatar
madcarew [743 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
bike.owner wrote:
madcarew wrote:
earth wrote:

" A vulcanised tyre – improved, some would say, by a chemical process using heat and pressure – might be slightly faster and harder wearing"

There must have been a reason for vulcanising and maybe it was to increase durability but I use unvulcanised veloflex rubber and they show almost no wear after 2000 miles of use, not even cuts. 

My theory is that unvulcanised natual rubber is very elastic.  It can streach to 6 times it resting length before breaking.  When accelerating or cornering the rubber is being stressed.  The mass of the bike want to travel in one direction while the rider is forcing the bike in another direction.  Thus the rubber is being streached.  Vulcanised rubber will reach its elastic limit long before natual unvulcanised and once it goes beyond that limit it will fail and wear away.  Unvulcanised rubber will streach and then return to its resting state where vulcanised will have failed.

I think under that proposed scenario you would crash a lot in corners and while braking due to the tyre squirming around. 

Well, this is one of those (possibly rare) occasions where you would be wrong.

Not that rare, ask my teenage kids  1

Do you have any industry knowledge or other evidence to back up your assertion? My understanding of why slick tyres provide more grip than tyres with tread for (in particular) bicycles is because there is no edges to squirm / stretch / deform.

Avatar
fukawitribe [2448 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
madcarew wrote:

My understanding of why slick tyres provide more grip than tyres with tread for (in particular) bicycles is because there is no edges to squirm / stretch / deform.

That may, or may not be, true for bike tyres in particular - according to which tyre manufacturer spokesman you listen to - in fact the edges were mooted as being part of the reason for more grip by at least one. Bouf.

Avatar
earth [409 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I have no empirical evidence to support my theory it is just a hypothesis.  Annecdotal evidence is that unvulcanised rubber lasts longer than vulcanised.

Seems likely that knobbly MTB tyres and tread will squirm about.  Slick tyres have more rubber on the hard surfaces whereas air between knobbles doesn't provide much grip.  Are they not for grip on loose surfaces where they can sink into the ground?  While on wet mud don't they just collect mud between the knobbles and turn into mud slicks?

Avatar
bike.owner [213 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

.

Avatar
davel [2390 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes
bike.owner wrote:

.

If you're going to flounce, do it properly, you fanny.

Avatar
bike.owner [213 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

What, like you regularly do? Pass.

Avatar
davel [2390 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes

Your comebacks need work if you're going to be the troll you can be.

What happened to your really silly tool thread? The one where you were a really silly tool? 

Avatar
me [98 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

How are these 'tubular'?  They're flat and there's no glue involved. 

Avatar
bike.owner [213 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
davel wrote:

Your comebacks need work if you're going to be the troll you can be.

What happened to your really silly tool thread? The one where you were a really silly tool? 

Was that the thread where you suggested multigrips as a serious tool? Ouch.

Nice try, but fail. 2K+posts and still can't post something meaningful. That must hurt, in a 'you fanny' like fashion...

Avatar
simonmb [631 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
me wrote:

How are these 'tubular'?  They're flat and there's no glue involved. 

Open tubular. #marketing.

Avatar
davel [2390 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes
bike.owner wrote:

Was that the thread where you suggested multigrips as a serious tool? Ouch.

 

Nah, that was more helpful posters replying to your daft and hilariously angry and self-important requests. 

bike.owner wrote:

 

Nice try, but fail. 2K+posts and still can't post something meaningful. That must hurt, in a 'you fanny' like fashion...

Ouch indeed. 13 posts in and you already realise that deleting your threads and replacing all your text with '.' improves their quality. I can only imagine the problems with self-esteem that brings, but you're bang on. If you want to move forward, and are looking for help or encouragement, I recommend 4chan.

Avatar
hawkinspeter [2006 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
davel wrote:

Your comebacks need work if you're going to be the troll you can be.

What happened to your really silly tool thread? The one where you were a really silly tool? 

I was just starting to enjoy that thread, too.

Avatar
Liam Cahill [116 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

simonmb wrote:

me wrote:

How are these 'tubular'?  They're flat and there's no glue involved. 

Open tubular. #marketing.

It's just an unstitched tub. They put a bead in instead of closing it around an inner tube. Kinda marketing....

Avatar
Rapha Nadal [847 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

Liam Cahill wrote:

simonmb wrote:

me wrote:

How are these 'tubular'?  They're flat and there's no glue involved. 

Open tubular. #marketing.

It's just an unstitched tub. They put a bead in instead of closing it around an inner tube. Kinda marketing....

Do they actually ride like tubs though if you pop a latex iner tube in them?  I've never tried an open tubular before.

Avatar
simonmb [631 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
Rapha Nadal wrote:

Liam Cahill wrote:

simonmb wrote:

me wrote:

How are these 'tubular'?  They're flat and there's no glue involved. 

Open tubular. #marketing.

It's just an unstitched tub. They put a bead in instead of closing it around an inner tube. Kinda marketing....

Do they actually ride like tubs though if you pop a latex iner tube in them?  I've never tried an open tubular before.

RaphaNadal is right - and to be honest they do ride pretty much like tubulars (but you still have the clincher's risk of pinch-flats). Vittoria have open tubulars too. Race tyre. Worth a try if you don't want to commit to a whole new wheelset. Supple rubber and latex tubes are the key.

Avatar
missionsystem [67 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I think it's a bit unfair to call open tubulars marketing. There's enough difference between them and vulcanised tyres to warrant a specific categorisation, eh?

I've tried Corsa Gs and, whilst there's not a night and day difference with vulcanised tyres  IMO,  they do give a little extra with the obligatory latex tubes. Open tubulars and latex tubes are luxury items, no doubt, but a little luxury never did anyone any harm.

I might give these a go...

Avatar
rogermerriman [147 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
earth wrote:

I have no empirical evidence to support my theory it is just a hypothesis.  Annecdotal evidence is that unvulcanised rubber lasts longer than vulcanised.

Seems likely that knobbly MTB tyres and tread will squirm about.  Slick tyres have more rubber on the hard surfaces whereas air between knobbles doesn't provide much grip.  Are they not for grip on loose surfaces where they can sink into the ground?  While on wet mud don't they just collect mud between the knobbles and turn into mud slicks?

 

like all of these things it probably depends what your comparing with, ie vulcanisation or not with at the same durometer level even then I’m fairly sure it is more complicated than that.

for road grip width seems to trump all other things, in that I have noticed how my commute bike which is a old MTB is much more sure footed over metalwork and what not, that would make my road bike step out.

 

most if not all MTB tend to have well supported nobs/blocks, this said the x-one bites vs gravel kings at same size, the bites will squirm alarmingly so, like a MTB tyre from the 90’s! 

Avatar
Liam Cahill [116 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

missionsystem wrote:

I think it's a bit unfair to call open tubulars marketing. There's enough difference between them and vulcanised tyres to warrant a specific categorisation, eh?

I've tried Corsa Gs and, whilst there's not a night and day difference with vulcanised tyres  IMO,  they do give a little extra with the obligatory latex tubes. Open tubulars and latex tubes are luxury items, no doubt, but a little luxury never did anyone any harm.

I might give these a go...

Seeing as my whole bike is one big pile of luxuries, it can't hurt to add just one more  3

Avatar
missionsystem [67 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
Liam Cahill wrote:

Seeing as my whole bike is one big pile of luxuries, it can't hurt to add just one more  3

That's the spirit!

Avatar
700c [1260 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
madcarew wrote:
earth wrote:

" A vulcanised tyre – improved, some would say, by a chemical process using heat and pressure – might be slightly faster and harder wearing"

There must have been a reason for vulcanising and maybe it was to increase durability but I use unvulcanised veloflex rubber and they show almost no wear after 2000 miles of use, not even cuts. 

My theory is that unvulcanised natual rubber is very elastic.  It can streach to 6 times it resting length before breaking.  When accelerating or cornering the rubber is being stressed.  The mass of the bike want to travel in one direction while the rider is forcing the bike in another direction.  Thus the rubber is being streached.  Vulcanised rubber will reach its elastic limit long before natual unvulcanised and once it goes beyond that limit it will fail and wear away.  Unvulcanised rubber will streach and then return to its resting state where vulcanised will have failed.

I think under that proposed scenario you would crash a lot in corners and while braking due to the tyre squirming around. 

 

Regardless of whether the theory is correct I can confirm that having run 'unvulcanized' vittoria corsa's (clincher and tub) for many years there seems no greater risk of tyres squirming. The suppleness / rubber etc seems to help with grip in dry conditions. I don't find them hard-wearing though.

Also, possibly in contrast to the reviewer, I find these types of 'flat-packed' tyres much easier to mount than more rigid ones, just do them in the warmth inside if possible they are easy to pull and stretch over the rim . YMMV

Avatar
carytb [131 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes

Life's too short not to ride on the best tyres you can afford

 

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds [2040 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

I had a pair of 32mm tyres sent to me a couple of months ago, made by corratec, I was actually after their out of production 40mm but out of interest I weighed the 32mm tyres. 256g!

That's absolutely ridiculous though they were fag paper thin in the tread but having had the pleasure of using their 40mm (coming up about 38mm on a 18mm internal bead) it could have been an interesting choice for a high pressure wider tyre.

Dunno if the Challenge is the 'best' tyre but they have a good rep, never used them myself, I don't consider £50-£60 a lot for a top tyre.

Avatar
Liam Cahill [116 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

700c wrote:

 

Also, possibly in contrast to the reviewer, I find these types of 'flat-packed' tyres much easier to mount than more rigid ones, just do them in the warmth inside if possible they are easy to pull and stretch over the rim . YMMV

[/quote]

So you're saying I've got to sit in the sunshine with my tyres for an hour.... fine by me!

Avatar
andyp [1573 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
fukawitribe wrote:
madcarew wrote:

My understanding of why slick tyres provide more grip than tyres with tread for (in particular) bicycles is because there is no edges to squirm / stretch / deform.

That may, or may not be, true for bike tyres in particular - according to which tyre manufacturer spokesman you listen to - in fact the edges were mooted as being part of the reason for more grip by at least one. Bouf.

 

I'm just here to commend the use of 'bouf'. Chapeau, sir.

Avatar
steviemarco [243 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
othello wrote:

Fitting trick for these (also applies to Vittoria Corsa)

Fit these to the wheel without an inner tube, and leave over night. This allows you to manhandle them onto your rim shape/width, without worrying about pinching the tube the first time. It also pre-stretches them.

Then take them off, and fit with a tube. Makes them a LOT easier to fit. 

 

Also, you could stand on one side of the tyre and pull the other side up to strech it, it's what I do with the Corsa G+ but I might give your way a shot as well.