The Challenge Grifo 32 Pro Cross is a really good all-round cyclo-cross tyre, versatile enough to cope with a range of conditions from hardpack to muddy fields, making it a good fit-and-forget tyre whether you're racing or riding cyclo-cross for fun.
Tyre choice is important in cyclo-cross. Top racers will have a shedload of tyres designed to excel in specific conditions, but if you want just one tyre that copes well with the usual range of conditions you can expect to encounter in the UK, the Grifo is a really good choice. Away from racing and riding cyclo-cross for fun, the tyre also strikes the right balance between speed on firmer trails and roads, with enough grip for all but the very muddiest conditions.
The tread pattern is key to the tyres performance. A directional low profile tread comprising a row of wide central paddles interrupted by small arrow-shaped blocks, and flanked by half circle and smaller circle blocks. This tread design produces a tyre with good rolling resistance. On the road and other hard-packed surfaces the tyre has a decent turn of speed. Away from the road the tyre finds good grip on grass, dirt and gravel, and isn't bad in the mud. Straight line speed is excellent, and there's good grip in the corners when you bank the bike over.
It provides a nice supple ride quality at a range of tyre pressures, and does well to absorb a lot of bumps and shocks, especially on rough hard surfaces. At 330g it's not the lightest cyclo-cross tyre for a 32mm width but unless you're taking your racing extremely seriously (in which case you're probably only riding tubulars) it's not enough to worry about. It's been a robust tyre - even at low pressures the sidewalls stand up well and cope with impacts.
Since moving to the countryside, I've been out on the cyclo-cross bike a lot more, and have been riding these tyres on a multitude of surfaces. From mud-covered roads to around the edges of fields, muddy bridleways and dirty singletrack, they've proved to be excellent tyres that offer few compromises. It's possible to overcome the tyres' ability to find traction on muddy slopes over a certain gradient. They do clear quickly however so don't clog up too badly when the mud is a consistency approaching clay.
With a decent pressure they fly along the road with little speed penalty over a race slick, yet the moment the surface gets muddy and slippery the tread finds bags of traction. If you're into cyclo-cross for adventure and to mix up your winter riding, and aren't happy with the stock tyres on your bike, the Grifo is a well-priced upgrade.
If you're not racing and want to upgrade the tyres that came fitted to your cyclo-cross bike, the Grifo is also an excellent choice.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Challenge Grifo 32 Pro Cross clinchers
Size tested: n/a
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?
Cyclocross World Champion for years. Whether a Pro or just a hard core rider Grifo is the tyre you need. Unbelievable grip with no rolling resistance compromise.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight 380 gr
Even at low pressures the tyres' construction is solid and stands up to abusive riding.
Really impressed with how they perform across a range of conditions. Not too shabby on the black stuff either.
Excellent really. The wear rate is good, despite quite a lot of road riding (to link up bridleways and woods) and they're not showing any sign of damage or cutting.
They're not the lightest 'cross tyre, but for general riding and even racing, they're pretty good, especially for the price.
The sidewalls are good and supple and the large volume ensures they soak up the bumps.
At this price they're a worthwhile upgrade over regular cyclo-cross tyres, and will certainly increase the performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Coped with everything I threw them at.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good grip on range of trails.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's nothing really to dislike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.