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Vittoria Corsa N.EXT tyre review: Taking aim at Continental and Schwalbe

22 Jul 2022
Verdict:

The Corsa N.EXT is billed as a challenger to the GP5000 and Pro One, and we think its claim is legitimate

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Grip, Suppleness, Rolling speed, Size options
Against 
Weight (it's marginal)

The Vittoria Corsa N.EXT is the Italian tyre manufacturer’s latest high-performance road bike tyre. It enters the Vittoria range just below its namesake, the Corsa Graphene 2.0, and just above the Vittoria Rubino Pro, and is available in tubeless (hookless and TLR) and clincher types, and in 24mm, 26mm, 28mm, 30mm, 32mm and 34mm sizes.

Crucially, the N.EXT is a Corsa-type tyre with graphene in the mix too, but instead of a 320tpi cotton casing it has a 100tpi nylon casing, and the construction method is vulcanisation, not hand-gluing, making it far more similar to popular tyres like the Continental GP5000 and Schwalbe Pro One than the existing Corsa models.



Price-wise, things look good for the Corca N.EXT as well. The tubeless version retails for £64.99 versus the Schwalbe Pro One at £74.99 and the Contintental GP5000 TR at £75. The tube-type Corsa N.EXT is cheaper again, at £54.99.

To some the introduction of the Corsa N.EXT might seem odd – did Vittoria need another tyre? But to Vittoria the choice was inevitable, and the result is an incredible tyre that blends the speed and suppleness of the Corsa 2.0 with the hardiness of a Rubino Pro. Here’s how.

Vittoria Corsa N.EXT tyre: What is it?

‘We know our Corsa 2.0 is the fastest clincher,’ says Vittoria product manager, Tomasso Cappella, ‘But our friends in yellow and blue have very popular tyres that are very good. The yellow one is really very good. We have made a tyre that we think challenges our competitors and, in many areas, outperforms their tyres.’

Cappella is talking of course of the Continental GP5000 and Schwalbe Pro One, long-time market favourites, specifically where tubeless is concerned. The Vittoria Corsa N.EXT has been sent to vanquish these foes, and if Vittoria’s claims are true, it stands a very good chance.

In the broadest of strokes, Vittoria claims the Corsa N.EXT is ‘aligned’, ‘better’ or ‘much better’ than the GP5000 and Pro One in everything area save for rolling resistance, where the N.EXT outperforms the Pro One but is bested by the GP5000.

This pertains to the tubeless version of each, while the clincher version is said to be as good or better in every area (think weight, rolling resistance, puncture protection, grip and suppleness – the last criterion here being adjudged on rider feedback, the rest by independent or internal lab tests).

There’s also a host of data – numeric this time – on how the N.EXT perfroms next to the Rubino Pro, and of course it is better across the board. And so it should be, the tubeless N.EXT is a tenner more than the Rubino, £54.99 verses £64.99 (or £44.99 verses £54.99 for the clincher versions of each).

Interestingly at the launch we weren’t provided with comparisons with the Corsa 2.0 (£64.99 clincher; £74.99 tubeless), but one would expect that tyre to be faster and more supple, if perhaps not having quite as good puncture protection. It is a lightweight race tyre after all without an extra breaker layer under the tread.

We’ll dive into the theory and tech of the Corsa N.EXT after the break, but if chats about threads per inch aren’t your bag, skip to the review section of this article. Or if you don’t have time for that, just know the Corsa N.EXT is a tremendous tyre that is really worth considering - up there with the bext nylon thread tyres on the market.

Vittoria Corsa N.EXT tyre: Tyre tech deep dive

The key element here is the construction. Vittoria has built its reputation on fast, supple cotton cased tyres – that is, the strands of fibre woven together to make the tyre’s carcass (onto which a rubber tread is glued) are cotton. Continental and Schwalbe, however, have carved their reputation with nylon casings.

Nylon is more durable, it is tougher than cotton and isn’t susceptible to rot from water; however it is thicker and hence fewer threads per inch – tpi – can be used, and it doesn’t slide so nicely against itself.

Suppleness is directly derived from how flexible a casing is, hence high thread count cases of slidey cotton are generally considered to create the supplest tyres. Suppleness also directly influences rolling resistance (it lessens it by reducing energy lost deflection and friction of tyre deformation), comfort and grip. We want supple!

But yet nylon is great too. It is easier - read: cheaper - to work with and has the capacity to last longer. It also responds well to vulcanisation, a process where pressure and heat cause a chemical reaction in which various compounds in a tyre homogenise.

Repairing an inner tube with an old school patch is an example of vulcanisation, with the patch effectively becoming part of the tube.

The GP5000, Pro One and now the Corsa N.EXT are all vulcanised tyres, the primary reason being speed of manufacture and tyre longevity – substances such as carbon black or silica are added to natural rubber to create tread compounds with longer life expectancies.

The downside is vulcanised tyres effectively come out of the process harder, stiffer and less tacky, ie less supple and grippy. Manufacturers such a Continental have developed rubber compounds to compensate for this such as BlackChili, but the best cotton tyres – hand-glued together using natural rubber compound treads – have historically had the edge in grip and suppleness, but not longevity.

That’s great for race tyres and pros, less good for high-mileage tyres and us amateurs. Which brings us back to the Corsa N.EXT. You aren’t going to see this tyre at the Tour in the same way you won’t see a GP5000. But there’s every reason why you want these Corsa N.EXTs on your day-to-day road bike.

Vittoria Corsa N.EXT tyre: Ride review

I can’t quantify any of Vittoria’s claims save for two. First, I weighed a N.EXT TLR (ie tubleless ready) tyre at 302g in a size 28mm, making Vittoria’s claims almost exact (see table above for more sizes and weights).

This does make them 20g heavier than the claimed weight of latest GP5000 S TL. But note the ‘claimed’ – I haven’t weighed a 28mm GP5000. Interestingly, it actually makes the Corsa N.EXT TLR lighter than its more expensive brother, a Corsa 2.0 TLR is a claimed 310g (the clincher is lighter by even more, 210g vs 270g).

Second, these are best suited, says Vittoria, to 19mm internal-width rims, and on said rims the WAM – ‘width as measured’ – should match the width stated on the tyre label. And it does. Should you care about that bit? Well it’s annoying when a tyre inflates to a different width than stated, especially when clearance is an issue. At least you know what you’re getting. But on with the riding.

I’ll be honest, I love tyres, I try to pay a lot of attention to tyres, and I really want to stand by my old friends the Corsa 2.0s and everything I’ve said about cotton vs nylon and say, ‘But yes, you see, the N.EXTs are very good but the suppleness of the Corsa 2.0’s cotton casing is superior.’ But I’d be lying.

I’d also be lying if I said these tyres were as supple. The reason is the margins appear to me so fine, the variables so varied, from bike setup to terrain to temperature, that it’s just not possible for me to tell.

I say this in the hand-on-heart knowledge that I could tell you the difference between a GP5000 S TL and a Vittoria Corsa 2.0 TLR. There is a difference. I swear. I think. I think I do.

Anyway, point being the ride quality of the Corsa N.EXT is supreme, I wanted for nothing – plenty of volume for comfort and excellent grip. (On that note, those grooves are designed so that when the tyre deforms at an angle in a corner, the groove allows the tyre to flex into a flattened shape to keep surface area as large as possible – don’t let your mate tell you the grooves are for wet weather grip.)

In fact, I wanted for nothing. The tyres even installed easily, tight but not excessively so – could roll them on with my hands, albeit with maximum huff-puff – and they went up with a track pump (eagle eyes will spot the wheel they’re on here isn’t tubeless, rather this is a display wheel, as it were).

I can’t attest to long term durability, I just haven’t ridden the N.EXTs enough. But I’d wager life expectancy would be as good as the competitors, and better than the cotton cased Corsa 2.0s, which are the defintion of summer race tyres.

Given all this, and what I’ve said about fine margins, I also can’t tell you Vittoria has indeed beaten its competition. However that isn’t to take anything away from the Corsa N.EXT. It is every bit a worthy contender for the best nylon-casing tyre out there. Ride it and you will see.

But one last thing – can we have this is in tan wall please?


Tyre image credits: James Spender

Graphs/charts courtesy of Vittoria

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