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Revealed – scientific testing uncovers the ultimate road tyre

Thursday, March 1st, 2018 11:39am
Category: Latest News

The Hub can exclusively reveal results of independent laboratory tests to find the ultimate road tyre, during which 15 top performing tyres were pushed to destruction.

Trials, commissioned by Chain Reaction Cycles and carried out by Finish experts Wheel Energy, saw Michelin Power Competition come out on top in three out of four cycling disciplines, including best all-round tyre.

The tyres, taken from top-performing brands Michelin, Continental, Vittoria, and Schwalbe, endured rigorous tests that included a 5000km rolling resistance trial, and detailed examinations for puncture resistance, cornering effectiveness, durability, all-weather performance, and braking ability.

In the all-rounder rankings, Michelin Power Competition came out on top, while Continental Ultra Sport came second, and the Schwalbe 1 ONE came third.

CRC Hub editor and presenter Matt Cole, who had been invited to the launch of the Michelin Power range in March 2016, said: “No one has compared road bike tyres this rigorously before. They were independently tested to destruction under such strict laboratory conditions, which is a real first.

“This was a test of the best of the best, but it’s not much of a surprise that Michelin has managed to overtake the competition with its Power range. We knew this tyre was special when we first tested it back in 2016, and it continues to impress.

“It’s fantastic to see all these top brands continue to push their tyre technology harder and these tests revealed just how good all the compounds have become.”

The trials were carried out by Finnish tyre performance scientist Petri Hankiola.

The Hub has assembled the data into a number of easy to read formats, and created a live and interactive tool allowing any cyclist to instantly analyse the findings and find which tyre best suits their unique needs. See the ‘Interactive Weighting Tool’ section for more details.

The tests

A total of seven tests pushed each of the 15 tyres to their limits using a number of repeatable and verifiable experiments.

Here’s a breakdown of how those tests were conducted:

Rolling resistance

After a 15 minute warm up, the tyre was subjected to four hours of rolling at 40mph with a test halfway through the experiment and at the end. The test used a Mavic Ksyrium SSL wheel under 40kg of weight at a set pressure. A standard Butyl 98g innertube was used.

Tread puncture

A 2mm flat plug was plunged into the centre of the tyre, under a set pressure, at a speed of 1.5mm per second. The test was repeated four times for each tyre and the result was an average of the three closest tyre failure times.

Brake (dry)

Under 40kg of weight, a granite surface moving at a slow speed of 1.8mm was placed onto each tyre, locked in position. Four measurements were made on two different areas of the tyre.

Brake (wet)

Exactly the same as the brake (dry) test, but with 25C degree water added to the granite surface.

Cornering (dry)

Using the same pressure, weight and granite surface as the braking tests, the locked wheel was moved horizontally across the surface at the same speed as the braking test. Again, the test was repeated four times at two different spots along the tyre.

Cornering (wet)

Same as the cornering (dry) test but with 25C water on the surface.

Durability

With a load on the tyre of 50kg, the tyre was set spinning at 40km/h for 5,000km. Tyres that punctured or disintegrated before 5,000 km failed the test.  The tyre weight was measured after the test, and a photo was taken of its condition.

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The results

Here is the ranking showing how each tyre performed in the tests. The number in each of the columns represents where each tyre ranked. For example, Michelin Power Competition came first in rolling resistance and fourth in the tread puncture test. A number of tyres were awarded first place in the durability test as they all completed the 5,000km without failure. The table below also ranks the tyres using a basic  average of how highly they placed across all tests.

Key:

RR: Rolling resistance

TP: Puncture resistance

B d: Braking in dry

B w: Braking in wet

C d: Cornering in dry

C w: Cornering in wet

D: Durability

To make sense of these results, it’s important to add different weightings to each competence to account for different situations. As can be seen from the above table, the Schwalbe Marathon Plus was joint winner with the Michelin Power Endurance in the puncture resistance test – but that doesn’t make it the best tyre in every circumstance.

In order to find which compound is right for particular terrain and conditions, the importance of each competency has been weighted. The higher the tyre weighting percentage, the more important the competency.

Best all-round tyre winner

The below all-round tyre weighting reveals from the data which tyre would perform best in a broad range of circumstances. A good all-round tyre must be a ‘Jack of all trades’, and be trustworthy enough to perform when you need it most – braking and cornering in the wet.

In the interests of transparency, here are the weightings used:

All-round tyre weighting

All-round Tyre rankings

Using the weightings above, the results were… 

Rank Tyre Score
1 Michelin Power Competition 4.4
2 Continental Ultra Sport 4.95
3 Schwalbe 1 ONE 5.15
4 Continental Gatorskin 5.8
5 Michelin Power All Season 5.8
6 Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed 6.1
7 Michelin Power Endurance 6.4
8 Schwalbe p Durano Plus 7.15
9 Continental Grandprix 4000s 2 7.7
10 Vittoria Rubino Pro Control 7.95
11 Vittoria Rubino Pro 8.75
12 Michelin PRO3 Race 8.85
13 Michelin PRO4 Endurance 9.1
14 Schwalbe p Durano DD 9.7
15 Schwalbe Marathon Plus 10.6

 

‘Score’, above, refers to an average of that tyre’s performance in each of the tests with the weighting applied – the lower the score, the higher it ranked on average. Scores vary depending on the weighting used.

Best sportive tyre

In the same way as the all-round tyre rankings, the test data has been weighted again but this time to find a tyre most suitable for the unique demands of a long-distance sportive.

Again, here are the weightings used to find which tyre suited the rigours unique to sportive riding:

Sportive weighting
Sportive tyre rankings

Despite very different weightings, the top three sportive tyres emerged in the same order as the all-round tyre analysis. However, the new emphasis does see Vittoria’s Rubino Pro Speed jump two places, due to its excellent rolling resistance and durability which are vital for sportive riding.

Rank Tyre Score
1 Michelin Power Competition 2.5
2 Continental Ultra Sport 3.15
3 Schwalbe 1 ONE 4.2
4 Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed 4.6
5 Continental Grandprix 4000s 2 4.65
6 Michelin Power Endurance 6.25
7 Continental Gatorskin 7.1
8 Vittoria Rubino Pro 7.25
9 Michelin PRO4 Endurance 7.3
10 Michelin PRO3 Race 8.05
11 Michelin Power All Season 8.1
12 Schwalbe p Durano Plus 8.2
13 Vittoria Rubino Pro Control 8.6
14 Schwalbe p Durano DD 10.3
15 Schwalbe Marathon Plus 11

 

Winter Tyre

For the winter tyre test, more emphasis was placed on puncture resistance and performance in the wet. With rolling resistance less of a priority, it’s influence was dropped back considerably to just 5%.

Winter tyre weighting
Winter tyre rankings

And the results put the Schwalbe 1 One into first place, with the Continental Ultra Sport in second position and the Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed in third.

Rank Tyre Score
1 Schwalbe 1 ONE 3.8
2 Continental Ultra Sport 4.1
3 Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed 4.8
4 Michelin Power All Season 5.2
5 Continental Gatorskin 5.75
6 Schwalbe p Durano Plus 5.9
7 Michelin Power Competition 6.1
8 Vittoria Rubino Pro Control 7.65
9 Michelin Power Endurance 7.75
10 Vittoria Rubino Pro 8.85
11 Schwalbe p Durano DD 9
12 Continental Grandprix 4000s 2 10.25
13 Michelin PRO3 Race 10.5
14 Michelin PRO4 Endurance 10.8
15 Schwalbe Marathon Plus 12.85

Time trial

The final analysis was for best tyre in a time trial. Simply, this was an exercise to find the fastest tyre that would outperform all others in the time trial style race.

Here were the weightings we used to find the rankings:

Time trial weighting

In the pure speed category, the Michelin Power Competition emerged on top once again, with the Continental Grandprix 4000s 2 in second, and the same brand’s Ultra Sport tyres in third. It’s no surprise that a lot of the winter specialist tyres, such as the Michelin Power All Season and Schwalbe Marathon Plus, fared less well in a speed test.

Time trial rankings

Rank Tyre Score
1 Michelin Power Competition 1.65
2 Continental Grandprix 4000s 2 3
3 Continental Ultra Sport 4
4 Vittoria Rubino Pro Speed 4.95
5 Schwalbe 1 ONE 5.75
6 Michelin Power Endurance 5.8
7 Michelin PRO4 Endurance 7.3
8 Vittoria Rubino Pro 8.3
9 Michelin PRO3 Race 8.7
10 Continental Gatorskin 9.05
11 Vittoria Rubino Pro Control 10.35
12 Schwalbe p Durano Plus 11.4
13 Michelin Power All Season 11.75
14 Schwalbe Marathon Plus 12.75
15 Schwalbe p Durano DD 14.25

At-a-glance guide

For quick reference, here’s a summary of each tyre and how they performed in the tests.

Interactive weighting tool

Don’t agree with the weightings used or they don’t suit your particular circumstances?

Well, The Hub has developed a unique tool allowing you to interrogate the data for yourself.

The below tool allows you to input your tyre requirements generating a bespoke answer for your needs.

So, if you commute through winding city streets, and want better braking and rolling resistance, or you’re looking for a tyre that can handle the unique challenges you face on the bike, then this is the tool for you.

Just input your desired weightings – the higher the percentage, the more important the competence – and it should automatically display the tyre you need from those tested.

Ensure the percentages total 100% or your answer may be skewed. You may need to give it a few seconds to complete the calculations.

What weightings suit your circumstances? Let us know the tyre profiles you have created in the comments below and what your results were.

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