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The Challenge Strada HTLR Tubeless road tyre is up there with the most supple road tubeless tyres on the market. The excellent construction translates into very good performance on the road.
The tubeless revolution is coming to the road and while many have already jumped on the bandwagon, I've been biding my time, waiting for the casings to become supple, like the open tubulars that I like. With these HTLRs, Challenge has aimed to merge the ride feel of those supple open tubulars with the added puncture protection of tubeless. I think it's got it spot on.
Challenge is making two models of road tyre using its handmade tubeless ready (HTLR) construction methods: the Strada Pro, which is only available in 25mm size (in black, or black and tan), and the Paris-Roubaix, which is available in a 27mm only. To go bigger than that you're looking at the Strada Bianca gravel tyre in a 30mm or a 36mm.
The SuperPoly casing is made from polyester with a high 300TPI (threads per inch) count. While it's not as supple as Challenge's corespun cotton, or silk casings, it's far more supple than the standard casings on most tubeless and clincher tyres. In your hands, you can even stretch the tyre slightly. There's a lot of give in these.
One thing these casings are not is impermeable. To enable the tyre to hold sealant, a latex liner has been fused to the casing in much the same way that Vittoria did with its Corsa G+ Speed. While this might not sound like the most robust system, I've been riding these tyres through what has been a particularly harsh British winter and they're still working perfectly. Once the air is in, it stays put.
Out of the box, these tyres are completely flat and this could present problems with initial installation. I did manage to seat the bead and inflate both tyres first time with no sealant, but you might want to install them with an inner tube, leave them for a few days to take shape, and then install them tubeless. A nice little trick taken from the road.cc comments!
Thankfully, Challenge has ensured that its handmade tubeless range conforms to ETRTO standards, which should mean more compatibility with different rims. More tyre and wheel brands are manufacturing to these standards in an attempt to get more tyres and rims to fit together easily.
What I was expecting from these tyres was a very supple ride feel, and that's exactly what I got. Once installed on rims with an 18mm internal width, these sat out at 27mm wide and I ran them at just under 70psi (62kg rider weight) for the majority of testing. This gave a nice floaty feeling over broken tarmac, plenty of grip on dry roads, and enough speed for group rides, although they don't feel as fast as some that I've ridden.
If out and out speed is your thing, or you want a set of dedicated race tyres, I'd suggest you look at Continental's Grand Prix 5000 TL, which David Arthur reviewed last year. The Strada HTLR tyres would definitely be my choice for ride feel, though.
Wet weather did require me to drop the pressures. I found the rear wheel was quick to step out in wet corners and slipped on steeper climbs at my regular pressures of 70-80psi. Dropping to 55psi did the trick, but you'll need to be careful with your pressures. While the issue might be that the rubber compound isn't suited to wet roads, the fact that reducing the tyre pressure solved the problem meant that I was soon confident in the corners again.
As far as puncture protection and durability goes, I've ridden these for four months now, including in harsh winter conditions. While the tread has some small cuts, I've suffered no punctures – though I'm well aware that this is mostly luck of the draw. The tan sidewalls have cleaned up very nicely too.
At £70 each, these are not cheap tyres, but they are the same as the Continental GP 5000 TL. He really rated those tyres for racing, but as I said above, I'd still recommend the Strada Pro HTLR if ride quality is your priority.
If you're still not convinced by road tubeless then you can save a bit of money with a top-end clincher race tyre such as Vittoria's Corsa G2.0 at £54.99.
I think what Challenge has done here is brilliant. To combine such a supple ride quality with tubeless technology is great. They might not be as fast as the Contis, but they're certainly not slow. And grip is great in the dry – just be mindful of your pressures in the wet.
Fabulous ride quality from a quick, grippy and supple tubeless tyre
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Challenge Strada Pro HTLR 25mm tyre
Size tested: 25mm
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?
Challenge says: "Fast rolling and cornering, comfortable, maximum control, all-condition road tire"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
HTLR: Handmade Tubeless Ready clincher tyre
Use: All around road use, wet cornering
Tyre width: 25mm
Flat protection: PPS special fabric
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliantly. It's the nicest tubeless tyre that I've ridden.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The ride quality that the supple casing provides is exceptional for a tubeless tyre.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The price; and while they're fast, they're not the fastest.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Exactly the same as the Continental GP5000 TL at £70.
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 overall score
A brilliant step up in the ride quality of tubeless tyres.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days 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!