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The Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance Gridskin Ltd Edition tyre grips well in both the dry and wet, is fast enough to race on yet durable enough for training. It's a great choice for the environmentally conscious too, as Hutchinson claims the reduced manufacturing steps and waste cut its overall impact. However, it does come with a financial penalty over the similarly performing standard version, and you are limited to just a 28mm size.
Hutchinson claims that after two years of R&D its new reptile like Gridskin technology offers the best balance between light weight and protection. On the road.cc Scales of Truth the tyres weighed bang on the claimed 276g in the single 28mm size, but that does make them 5g heavier than the standard Fusion 5 Performance tyre they're based on, which I tested last year. The knitted construction does offer benefits over the conventional 'hardskin' previously used, though.
Gridskin is designed to reduce the chance of embedded sharp objects causing larger holes and therefore punctures. As the tyre is designed for training rides and fondos as well as racing, this is obviously important.
The 1.6mm thick external compound of the tyre is exactly the same as found on the standard Fusion 5 Performance, and offers impressive grip in both dry and wet conditions while also being hardwearing. I've clocked up around 2,000km on the tyres (as well as many more on the standard set) and am confident these will surpass the claimed 4,000km mark – which is more than can be said for a lot of tyres that perform this well. During this time I have had no punctures, which of course could be down to luck, but the fact that the rubber is not cut up like some of the tyres my mates and rivals have been using bodes well for their lifespan.
Hutchinson also claims Gridskin has the benefit of 'outstanding distortion performance' – meaning that comfort over rough surfaces is improved, as well as cornering. I was intrigued to see whether this was noticeable, but switching between these and the standard set, both with latex tubes and set up tubeless, resulted in no discernible difference. The Hutchinsons aren't quite as supple as open tubulars or race-orientated tyres such as the Specialized Turbo Cotton or Vittoria Corsa Speed with their softer (and less durable) compound, but the 127tpi count does put them on a par with other tubeless tyres that can be used for both racing and training, such as the Continental GP5000TL.
The Fusion 5s were easy to fit to both my 19mm and 21mm internal width rims and both pumped up tubeless with a track pump – no air shot was required. Once on, they hold air well; some tubeless tyres have quite porous sidewalls and require consistent topping up, but the Hutchinsons can go a good few rides in between attention.
Another major appeal of Gridskin is the environmental benefits brought about by reducing the number of manufacturing steps from four to just one. Hutchinson says this streamlining has meant less plastic, less rubber, and less electricity being used; even the packaging has been minimised and is made from recycled paper, and the observant will notice no printing on the sidewalls, once again to minimise material and waste.
At £62.95 per tyre, these are a fair bit more than the standard Fusion 5 Performance (£49.95), which feel like their equal out on the tarmac, so in reality you're paying for reduced environmental impact and some funky looks.
That said, they are slightly cheaper than some comparable tubeless tyres – Continental's GP5000TL is £69.95 and the more supple but faster-wearing Vittoria Corsa Control TLR G2.0 is £69.99, while Michelin's Power Road Tubeless is £64.99, so this is more a reminder of how good value the standard Fusion 5s are.
Grippy and durable tyre for racing and training, with good environmental credentials
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance Gridskin Ltd Edition
Size tested: 700x28C
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?
Hutchinson says the Fusion 5 Performance Gridskin Limited Edition Tyre "delivers a striking aesthetic in a high-performance package. Bringing together excellent puncture protection and durability with low weight, comfort and traction, this is a tyre that goes far and fast while being produced in a more sustainable way."
I agree with all of that. The looks won't be for everyone but it performs well, and is built to last, though its more sustainable production has meant a price increase.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
276g claimed weight
Size: 700 x 28
Well made with no fraying, and the reduction in manufacturing steps/environmental benefits of minimising waste is great to see.
Any tyre is a compromise between speed, durability, grip and comfort. As with the standard Fusion 5 Performance, they are a great balance, and although there are more supple tyres out there, these will last longer.
The 4,000km life expectancy is believable – no cuts or squaring after 2,000km.
All right but not class leading; the 127tpi carcass feels stiffer than some but this is a compromise of having a more durable and harder compound. It is helped by the 28mm width and lower pressures associated with tubeless.
Not as good value as the standard Fusion 5 Performance, but compares well with other brands' offerings.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well – no punctures, grips well and feels fast, easy to fit and inflate tubeless.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
I like the looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Only available in 28mm.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Not bad. Some comparable tubeless tyres are a slightly more: Continental's GP5000TL is £69.95, the more supple but faster-wearing Vittoria Corsa Control TLR G2.0 is £69.99, and Michelin's Power Road Tubeless is £64.99. Its biggest problem is that the standard Fusion 5 Performance is £49.95.
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 strong all-rounder – it's fast enough, durability and puncture resistance seem really good, and it's great to see the environmental impact being considered. However, they are more expensive than the standard Fusion 5s, which in my opinion perform very similarly out on the road.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,