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Continental GP5000 clincher tyres review

27 Jun 2019

The world’s most popular tyre has been updated for the first time in 13 years, but what’s changed?

Cyclist Rating: 
• Puncture proof • Relatively light for all-round tyre • Comfortable
• Expensive set of tyres • Can lack grip in corners

Continental seems to be a believer in the age-old saying ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. After all, the behemoth tyre giant from Germany decided to leave its GP4000 clinchers tyres largely untouched for 13 years.

And for those 13 years that decision made sense as it was the GP4000 that topped the charts as road cycling’s most popular clincher tyre year upon year. It represented the best halfway house set of tyres for those looking for low rolling resistance and grip but also wanting that touch of durability and puncture resistance.

But times change, and that meant Continental had to put some work into the development of new tyres, not least because of the more widespread uptake of road tubeless. This culminated in the originally-named GP5000, which launched late last year.

Buy the Continental GP5000 clincher tyres now from Chain Reaction Cycles

The new tyre comes in two options, tubeless and clincher, and promised to improve rolling resistance and be lighter while also increasing puncture protection and grip in cornering thanks to four things: a new Black Chilli rubber compound, Vectran Breaker puncture protection, Lazer Grip tred and Active Comfort. 

The question is: have these features helped to improve the GP4000 clincher tyre?

Smooth operator 

The first thing I want to talk about is comfort. Reason being, when I rode these tyres for the first time it was up Mount Tiede in Tenerife at the official launch.

A climb that while majestically beautiful has tarmac akin to the felt played on by Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible.

Punctures and discomfort were guaranteed to be a non-issue here. The cynic in me felt this was Continental hiding away from initial criticism. I was chomping at the bit to test them at home, where the roads are rough and the ride is bumpy.

Almost immediately, my cynicism was proved unjustified.

Despite being paired with a racy Canyon Aeroad and Reynolds AR deep-section rims and run at around 90psi, the tyres seem to morph over the tarmac like rolling lava, smooth and steady.

Well, maybe not as fluid as that but it did seem that Continental’s Active Comfort was doing its job. It promised to ‘absorb road shock and smooth the road surface’ and that’s exactly what it did.

The harshness of the aggressive frame/wheel combination had been dampened, making the bike more enjoyable to ride over longer distances.

To my mind, there’s also been no reduction in performance despite the increase in comfort.

The tyres do weigh in 10g lighter than their predecessors - not a huge saving but a saving nonetheless - at 215g in a 25mm width. That's around the same as the Pirelli P Zero, but quite a bit lighter than the popular Schwable One.

Rolling resistance is also claimed to have dropped by 20% thanks to an all-new Black Chilli compound.

Independent testing from the Aero Coach proved these tyres to be faster than the GP4000s but realistically, these savings are impossible to guage in the real-world and in all honesty, feel no different to their predecessors.

Yes, they are likely to be faster at 45kmh by a few watts but who rides around everywhere at 45kmh? No one. That’s not saying they feel slow, mind - they feel nippy for an all-round tyre.

I’m also yet to puncture on these tyres, which is huge bonus considering the state of my home roads. Honestly, all sorts of dire.

The GP5000s have rolled with all the punches Kent’s lanes have thrown at them, squashing fallen twigs, discarded plywood and sad flytipping with whimsical flaneur.

But, and there’s always a but…

Sound pretty decent, don’t they, these new GP5000s? Just as good as the old GP4000s or even a little better, but they don’t pass through my test without a couple of red question marks.

The first mark is against the grip, which comes as a slight surprise. Mainly because Continental made a point of talking up its new Lazer Grip, a lasered micro profile structure that has introduced a rougher pattern tread for increased contact with the road and has even etched the tyre's name in the rubber to help with grip.

Continental says that by putting further profile on the tyre’s shoulders it has improved grip in the corner but it was here it was found wanting.

A few times leaning into corners I felt the tyre break its grip slightly, tempting to wash out from underneath me if I pushed any harder. The slightest damp patch increased this feeling leaving me a little nervous when taking corners at full bore.

In fact, I found myself holding back slightly through fear I’d be given an unexpected meeting with the tarmac if I found my cornering calculations to be slightly off.

When put to Continental, tyre product manager Jan-Niklas Junger commented that the feeling of instability I experienced was an 'unusual sensation' and the tyres should be trusted to corner.

'Since the vibration of the tyre is dampened you get less feedback, therefore, if you keep your steering really hard during the corner you should be able to hold the line,' Junger explained.

Therefore I can concede that this may be a subjective issue and one not encountered by others using the tyres.

Secondly, and most notably, is the price. You see the Continental GP5000 is £10 more expensive per tyre at recommended retail price than the GP4000, which has also ceased to be manufactured.

Buy the Continental GP5000 clincher tyres now from Chain Reaction Cycles

This means you will have to pay £20 more for a set of Continental tyres despite there being little noticeable changes from the older models, while also not having the choice to continue using that former tyre indefinitely as the GP4000 is only available while stocks last.

You may argue that that is business, and yes, you’re absolutely right, but I just feel that such a dramatic hike in price hasn’t really been warranted.

It’s also worth noting that with the way the likes of Wiggle operate, most of this tyre's competitors have been on the market long enough to have reduced in price significantly and at a much lower cost than the GP5000s, which, by the way, are already being retailed at discount.

Currently, the GP5000 clincher can be bought at £39.99 per tyre at Evans Cycles.

Wiggle are now discounting the GP5000 clincher down to £38 here while Sigma Sports have the clincher tyres at £41 here

Now I’m not saying don’t buy the GP5000. This is a good tyre. I’m just saying it may be wise to stick with the GP4000 while you can as the older iteration offers pretty much the same thing but at a much lower price.

£60 per tyre RRP

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