With the majority of cyclo-cross bikes these days seemingly going nowhere near the race course it's a surprise that anyone makes a 'cross tyre that's designed for anything other than the hardships of debris-riddled bike lanes and genteel bridleways, but thankfully Vittoria realise that there are still a few misguided idiots that use their cyclo-cross bikes for their intended purpose of an hour of painful mud of a Sunday morning and so produce a tyre for them. Hooray.
The open design of the Cross XM Pro's tread sparsely decorated with thin lateral paddles of rubber screams "thick mud" and it copes with it very well indeed. Thrown into the traditional 'cross battleground of playing-fields churned to a rim-deep porridge of slurry and grass the Vittorias reacted superbly with no clogging and no loss of traction either, which while excellent news for a tyre designed for the mud had the downside for the haggard rider of yielding no excuses to stop pedalling thanks to slipping or overloaded tyres. With the tread being biased towards maximising forward grip there's not much in the way of sideways control so they can have the habit of gently drifting on slimy off-camber corners and damp grass but with a bit of practise that drift can be used as an advantage in corners where the rear can be joyfully slid round with a shimmy of body swerve for a bit of two-wheel steering. These Vittorias certainly square up to the seasonal favourite Michelin Muds as a cyclo-cross mud tyre du choice.
There are going to be times when the Cross XM Pro needs to perform out of it's designed environment, be that on the race course as the tape corridor swaps from car-park tarmac to grassy bank or just mucking about on a mix of tarmac, hardpack and mud. As it's designed for the loose and the slippy it's not going to be perfect all-rounder but it's more capable than it's looks suggest. On harder surfaces the open design and thin tall tread slugs combined with the 120 TPI casing making them not the most supple of rubber and the Vittorias feel a very tippy-toe and nervous tyre but grab them by the scruff of the neck and tell them with a firm hand what to do and their skippity character can be controlled. On wet tarmac climbs a tongue-out degree of pedalling finesse was required to prevent them from spinning out on every revolution though. Thankfully the tread compound isn't Plasticine soft so even after being ridden over the full gamut of terrains from solid tarmac through to soft mud the tyres are wearing well, considerably better than expected and the PRB protection led the Vittorias to be completely puncture free over several months of 'just riding around', which is quite the rarity for a 'cross tyre round these parts where thorns and flints usually award at least one flat per ride.
Excellent mud and soft condition specific cyclo-cross tyre that's not too frightening on other surfaces either.
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Make and model: Vittoria Cross XM Pro tyre
Size tested: 700c
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?
Vittoria say this is their mud and loose condition offering. Widely spaced knobs allow optimum mud shedding while providing unparalleled grip while accelerating, braking and cornering. The new tread pattern and PRB 2.0 protection belt ensure the Vittoria Cross Clinchers deliver the lowest rolling resistance, the highest comfort, and the best all around grip.
For anyone that rides in thick mud circles this is indeed an excellent tyre, it does shed mud as promised and give consistently good grip. Rolling resistance and comfort are hard to quantify in the same situation, but in drier conditions they were definitely fast and frisky.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Available in 700x32c or 34c sizes, with 120 TPI and PRB puncture protection.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a mud and loose condition tyre they were excellent, and not so shabby on other surfaces if ridden with the right attitude.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The grip and lack of clogging in the mud.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The compromised sideways traction in the mire.
Did you enjoy using the product? Enjoy would be the wrong word, but they made struggling through thick mud a bit less terrible.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, they're set aside for Winter pain.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? The ones that ride their 'cross bikes as they are meant to be ridden, quickly, through the mud, for an hour yes. The ones that use a 'cross bike as a drop-barred hybrid, no.
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 73kg
I usually ride: It varies as to the season. My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun
Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.