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If it ain't broke don't fix it... If you are restricted to narrower tyre sizes then the Continental Grand Prix Force and Attack III tyre set is still one of the best you can fit to your bike, as long as you aren't fussed about running tubeless technology.
The Attack and Force tyre combination has been around for a while now; in fact we last reviewed them back in 2015. Since then the Attack has grown in size from 22mm wide to 23mm and the price has risen, but not much else has changed really.
If you haven't come across these tyres before, I'll give you a little recap.
The Attack is the front tyre, narrower than the rear for aerodynamics, and the 25mm Force is fitted to the rear. Continental says its larger contact area reduces wear and gives better traction. Let's be honest, though, it's going to be minimal.
A lot of tyres we get sent to test are around the 25mm and 28mm mark as most brands have dropped anything smaller from their ranges, and the majority of test bikes turn up with at least 28mm tyres fitted because of the adoption of disc brakes, which allows larger tyre clearances.
If you are riding a bike with rim brakes you're limited to 28mm by the dual-pivot callipers, but it often comes down to tight race bike frame clearances, or if you use mudguards.
My Kinesis T2 is used through the winter and wet days so has mudguards permanently fitted, which allows me a 25mm tyre maximum, and even that doesn't leave masses of room underneath the fork crown area. The 23mm Attack fits a treat, reducing the risk of things getting stuck between guard and tyre.
When I mentioned to anyone that I was testing these tyres, the first thing they'd do was wince about their narrowness compared with today's standards, but I really don't see the issue. Even with 100psi front and rear I find the construction and compound of the Attack/Force puts them well within the suppleness limits of a race tyre. Not once did I find the ride uncomfortable or wish for a bigger air chamber.
The BlackChili compound is found on many of Continental's tyres. It's grippy in both the wet and dry while giving a great level of feedback. Rolling resistance is great too.
For puncture resistance you get a Vectran breaker layer, which is a liquid-crystalline polymer which, when spun and processed into a multi-strand thread, has great tear resistance for its weight according to Conti.
I've had no punctures so far and the tyres are standing up well to the grit-strewn backlanes I've been spending most of my rides on. It's still early days on these specific tyres but I have ridden various sets of these before and got decent mileage out of them before they started to show any wear.
If you are wanting to run your setup tubeless then you'll need to look elsewhere, as the Force/Attack combo is clincher only.
I found fitting them to rims easy without the need to resort to tyre levers.
Priced at £104.95 for the set, they aren't cheap for standard clincher tyres. In fact, it's cheaper to buy them individually if Continental's UK website is to go anything by, at £49.95 per tyre.
That does put them at £10 a tyre less than Continental's own GP5000 Transparent clincher, though.
I was impressed with the 25mm Panaracer Race D Evo 4 clincher tyres, finding they offered great grip and were fast rolling. They are cheaper at £39.99 a tyre.
Pirelli's P-Zero Road clincher is available in a 24mm width as well as 26mm and 28mm. Matt wasn't overly impressed with its wet weather grip, but it is cheaper again at £37.99.
The Michelin Power Road Tyre is available in a 23mm width (plus 25mm and 28mm) and David was certainly impressed when he tested them; they will now set you back £46.99 each.
As a pair of tyres the Force and Attack IIIs aren't the cheapest out there, but I'm going to say that they are some of the best performers across the board. The BlackChili compound is grippy and rolls well in all sorts of conditions, and the overall suppleness belies their width.
A supple, grippy and fast-rolling set of tyres ideal if your bike has limited clearance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Continental Grand Prix Attack and Force tyres
Size tested: 23mm and 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?
Continental says, "A real racing set that exerts its performance on the road when the hunt for in-race 'economy' begins!"
It's a quality set of race tyres that are ideal for fast training rides too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Continental's website:
ATTACK the competition! suitable for lightweight wheels, highly aerodynamic, at a low weight
FORCE on your rear wheel means a tougher, wider tyre is required - with Vectran protection in a 25mm profile
TPS - Tyre Positioning System - Derived from motorsport, when aerodynamics and sharp handling are paramount
With our Vectran and BlackChili technologies
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Deliver everything you want from quality road tyres in a slim size.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great ride feel.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Tough competition on price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are some very good quality clincher tyres out there for less money, although I wouldn't class the Attack/Force as overly expensive.
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
Whether you need specific tyres for the front and rear of your bike is up to you, but if your frame clearances are tight, especially at the fork, these are very high-performing clincher tyres, as long as you don't mind paying for them. They did score 9 when we reviewed them in 2015, but I think the fact that you can get such good tyres for less makes these an 8 overall; they're very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!