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review

Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL

9
£69.95

VERDICT:

9
10
One of the best tyres out there just got better, and it's now tubeless
Weight: 
302g

Continental's Grand Prix 5000 tubeless tyre – or GP5000 TL – takes everything that is improved with this latest generation tyre and adds tubeless compatibility for improved puncture resistance. They're relatively painless to set up and provide excellent performance in all conditions with low rolling resistance, good grip and durability.

  • Pros: Grippy, fast rolling, comfortable, easy tubeless
  • Cons: Pricey

German tyre giant Continental revamped its long-running and hugely popular GP4000 tyre last year with the GP5000, and in the process developed its first road tubeless offering. It shares all the same features as the non-tubeless version – you can read what I thought of that here – with updated Black Chilli rubber compound, Vectran Breaker, Active Comfort Technology and Lazer Grip. One key difference is the casing layup: three layers of 60 TPI to make Conti’s 180 TPI claim, compared to three layers of 110 TPI for a 330 TPI claim with the regular clincher GP5000. As has been pointed out in the comments below it’s a little misleading.

It's a case of lots of small changes adding up to make an improved tyre, and the good news is that on the road the new tyre has all the hallmarks of the old GP4000, but is better in every way. It's fast, grippy and puncture resistant, simply a very high-quality tyre that has no compromises.

Continental GP5000 Tubeless tyres20.JPG

The new tubeless tyre differs by having an inner liner that provides an airtight chamber and the bead is constructed with a softer outer material to ease installation. Despite that liner meaning the tyre will remain inflated on its own, Continental recommends using sealant to prevent small punctures, and, of course, recommends its own Revo sealant. This is a key difference to most tubeless-ready tyres which don't have a liner and absolutely require sealant.

A choice of 25, 28 and 32mm widths shows how the market has changed in the last decade – there's no 23mm option. I've been testing the 25mm tyre and the first thing to talk about is installation because that is the big thing putting many people off making the tubeless transition.

> What they don't tell you about going tubeless

The good news is that it looks like there'll be an update of the standards governing rim and tyre dimensions coming soon, hopefully this year. Continental has been involved in these discussions and we wouldn't be surprised if these new tubeless tyres subscribe to the as yet unannounced standards. The only thing Continental would tell us is that the GP5000 TL is compatible with all tubeless rims.

To test this out, I've fitted the tyres to a few different wheels including Fulcrum, Roval, DT, Mavic and most recently Cannondale Hollowgrams designed with a Stan's rim. Fitting was mostly painless but a few combinations required a tyre lever because of the tight fit. And while a regular track pump worked with some setups, a special tubeless inflator was needed with others.

Once fitted, I found excellent air retention with only occasional pressure checking required. I check tyre pressures nearly daily anyway but if you aren't as conscientious as me you'll be glad to know the tyres won't go flat between your last and next ride.

Performance on the road

On the road, it's possible to detect a small improvement in traction, especially noticeable in tricky conditions with a bit of dampness or grime on the road surface. They feel surefooted through the corners, where you really can lean them onto the new laser-etched shoulder patterns and get the bike properly banked over.

Continental GP5000 Tubeless tyres12.JPG

Bike reviewers – and I've probably been guilty of it in the past – like to use the phrase "confidence-inspiring". I hate to employ it here, but yes, the new GP5000 TL tyres do instil great confidence when riding fast descents with flowing corners requiring a high level of commitment. There's no hesitation when the speed is high, the tyres simply stick steadfastly to the road surface no matter how smooth or rough it is.

They're also exceptional when dealing with heavy braking forces on very steep descents; on tight corners that require lots of heavy disc braking they prove very predictable and controllable. Performance in the wet is excellent too, with no significant decrease in grip compared to riding dry roads.

Ride quality is exceptional. Continental added a sliver of elastomer material to the tyre, which it calls Active Comfort Technology, to provide additional damping qualities. It appears to work. These tyres feel as smooth and supple as the highest quality high TPI tyres I've tested in the past (a Vittoria Corsa springs to mind) with silky smooth composure over coarse road surfaces.

Durability of the tyres over the 1,000km of testing miles has been very impressive. There are no signs of damage, no cuts or scrapes across the top of the tyre. I've yet to puncture them, which could just be sheer good luck rather than anything the tyre is doing, but could point towards the Vectran Breaker doing its task well.

Continental GP5000 Tubeless tyres13.JPG

Testing rolling resistance is a tricky old job. Judged by my seat-of-the-chamois impression, the new GP5000 tyres – both tubeless and regular clincher variants – zip along the road very nicely and speedily. They certainly feel no slower than the old GP4000 tyres which I rode before switching to the new tyres.

Continental makes some impressive claims for its new tyre, including a 17% rolling resistance improvement over the outgoing GP4000. Clearly, some lab testing would be needed to verify those improvements. Unable to do that ourselves (road.cc sadly does not have a tyre testing lab), the excellent Bicycle Rolling Resistance website has tested the tyre and found the tubeless GP5000 to offer lower rolling resistance than the regular clincher GP5000.

However, Aerocoach in its testing found the regular clincher GP5000 with a latex inner tube to provide lower resistance than the tubeless GP5000, both in a 25mm width. It says, 'The GP 5000 clincher in 25mm was faster than the tubeless GP 5000 TL 25mm, saving 1.2w at 45kph for a pair of wheels.' It's worth noting the use of the latex inner tube; most people would use a butyl inner tube which would reduce some of the advantages.

Testing tyres is a tricky old business, but these two examples reveal there's very little difference between the two tyres, and my experience bears this out: both tyres feel very fast on the road. The benefits of reduced punctures give the nod to the tubeless version in my book, though.

It's also important to add that both GP5000 tyres are faster than the old GP4000 in aero and rolling resistance testing.

Value

The tubeless tyre market has been expanding in recent years and there are some very good choices offering similar performance and quality to the GP5000s for around the same price, so although 5p under £70 is pretty expensive, it's not out of the ball park. Schwalbe's Pro One is £66.95, and the new Vittoria Corsa Speed TLR G2.0 is £64.99. I've yet to test the Vittoria, but if it's anything like as good as the regular clincher version it should be another top contender. Goodyear's Eagle All-Season is a tenner less at £60, but the Hutchinson Fusion 5 does make them all look a bit pricey coming in at £39.95.

> Buyer's Guide: Tubeless tyres – all your options

One reason many might have baulked at the £69.95 rrp of the new GP5000 TL when it launched could be because they'd got used to discounted GP4000s for the past decade. It is now possible to find the GP5000s discounted, which makes them an easier buy, but don't forget to factor in the price of sealant, valves and rim tape if you need it.

Conclusion

The outgoing GP4000 is considered one of the best high-end performance tyres on the market, so the benchmark is very high, but it's clear that the new GP5000 is a small but noticeable step forward in every performance metric. The tubeless works a treat with improved puncture resistance and a silky smooth and fast riding quality.

Overall, it's an excellent all-round riding, training and race tyre. The wait for Continental to do a tubeless tyre is over – and it was worth it.

Verdict

One of the best tyres out there just got better, and it's now tubeless

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL

Size tested: 700x25

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?

Continental says:

The best allrounder in the field, brought to a whole new performance level. Ride faster, more comfortable and with increased puncture protection. Made to make you better. With the standard GP5000 already improving on the previous GP4000 S II model by 12% in rolling resistance, 20% in puncture resistance and at a reduced weight by 10g (25-622), the GP5000 TL (tubeless) further improves on this :

+5% better rolling resistance (speed) : +5% more puncture protection

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

Continental lists these features:

Tubeless: The user-optimized Tubeless System

The TL technology is specifically designed to offer Tubeless for road cycling demands. Easy to install and reliable in use. Specifically developed the Tubeless bead seals through its unique shape and provides stable fitting on the rim. We recommend the usage of corresponding Conti RevoSealant.

BlackChili compound: It's all about how you mix it

With our unique tread compound, which is produced only in Germany, we have revolutionised the sport of cycling. With the legendary BlackChili Compound we have answered the eternal question of the best balance of grip and rolling resistance for cycling. Regular test wins confirm the measureable and noticeable advantages for the cyclist, established in the laboratory and on the road. The latest polymers as well as specially developed carbon black particles and filler materials guarantee unique performance

Active Comfort : The revolutionary approach in cycling. Embedded in the tyre construction the Active Comfort Technology absorbs vibrations and smoothens your ride.

Lazer Grip, to make you one with the road. The lazered micro profile structure expands over the tire's shoulder and provides outstanding cornering.

Vectran™: The benchmark in puncture protection

Vectran™ is a synthetically manufactured high-tech fibre from a natural model. Like spider silk, Vectran™ is a liquid-crystalline polymer (LCP). Vectran™ is spun from the melted liquid polymer Vectra and processed further to a multi-strand thread. Spider silk like Vectran™ has an enormous tear resistance at a very low weight: Exactly the right properties to process into a premium Continental bicycle tire as a puncture protection insert. A Vectran™ Breaker is lighter, more flexible and protects more effectively against cuts than the comparable nylon breaker. Vectran™ Breaker does not adversely affect the rolling resistance.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Really well made.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Highly impressive in all key performance areas.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

After well over 1,000km of riding they are holding up very well.

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

They're heavier than the clincher version but you're also dropping out a 100g-or-so inner tube.

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

Comfort is very good, with a supple feel helped by the new Active Comfort tech.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

They are expensive at RRP, but you can now get them discounted, and they're in the same ballpark as other tubeless tyres, as mentioned in the review.

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

Fast, grippy and durable, an excellent training, race and sportive tyre.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Low rolling resistance, good grip, easy tubeless setup and no punctures.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The high price is the only negative that springs to mind.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Similar to other tubeless road tyres we've tested, but more expensive than some.

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

It's the tyre many people have been waiting for, and it's no disappointment. The high price is really the only downside to Continental's new GP5000 TL tyres.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

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, mountain biking

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.

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