Team R-002 completes Two-Day Tyre Test

Test Day 1
The R-002 rolled out in windy but dry conditions on a new pair of Serfas Seca Sport tyres. Initial pressures for the 700x28mm set were placed at 82R/74F. What I immediately  noticed was how smooth they rolled, it was like gaining a bit of free speed. Now considering that the Ultra Sport 2s have become my personal Benchmark for performance, the Seca Sports were impressive right out of the gate.
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Billed as a training/performance tire, the Hard/Medium Soft intermediate tread and carcass design utilizes multiple silica and rubber compounds for both durability and performance. The center of the tyre is rated at a hardness of 65h for longer wear and puncture resistance while the edges are at a medium-soft 58h, which gives it plenty of ‘stick’ when flicking it or railing through the corners.

Left @ Dunham II

On the first run, the Seca Sports encountered lumpy and bumpy roads from smooth new pavement to weathered worn tarmac, sidewalks and bumpy park paths. The tires handled every surface with ease, providing solid feedback and inspiring confidence at every turn. The main focal point of today’s run was to test low to moderate speed corner entry and exit, hard braking as well as lower speed trail braking.

Bump compliance was another main consideration as there was very minimal ‘slippage’ off of debris, small rocks and pavement irregularities. The Seca Sport tires soaked up obstacles just enough to keep bike and rider planted, while still maintaining a good amount traction and control. Which means that  in ‘loose’ sections, the Seca Sports negotiate less than perfect surfaces and transmit a real ‘feel’ back to a rider in order to respond accordingly.

The tires were predictable yet precise, edge grip and stability were both top notch. Though smooth rolling they are not vague either. Allowing a rider to feel the road surfaces and all of its subtleties. As you can see from the whitish lines on the post-ride photos, I pushed right to the edge of both front and rear without so much as a whimper from the Seca Sports.

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Having never ridden on Serfas tires prior, they were performing a bit better than expected. Initial feeling at lower to moderate speeds were not too different from my usual stalwarts, the Conti Ultra Sport 2s. Even tipping the scales at 35 grams less than the Conti 2s. So now looking ahead, day 2 will attempt to push the limits of higher speed cornering and find the limits of high-speed braking performance.

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Test Day 2 (official)
Once again weather was hot with dry roads, so right to it then. Pressures were set at 85 rear and 74 front. At about mile 5, I increased the pace and started to push on. Right from the get go stability at turn-in and under braking at higher speeds provided good feel at the onset and all through the range of  turning and braking.

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I blasted down Quill Penn, then headed towards the curves of Ferguson Rd where the tyres just kept biting and biting. Then it was on to the Top of the World a fast and bumpy sweeping descent. (had the pleasure of stealing the KOM while I was at it!) I also managed to clip 42 mph with not so much as a hint of protest from the Seca Sports. Again, bump compliance was spot on, soaking up the uneven and torn up pavement. The Seca Sports are very stable and very confidence inspiring indeed.

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Through cul-de-sac hairpins and Mtn Park Circuit, direction changes at speed were also very good. (through chicanes, hairpins and short esses). The tire profile, though not ‘sharp’ still lends itself to quick but precise steering and easy transitions from side-to-side as well.

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Even while trail braking into the hairpin corner feedback and ‘feel’ was very solid. If you may be wondering, without question, there is a direct correlation to tire and braking effectiveness, something worth considering when choosing tyres. The final few miles had me bombing Somerville Rd, touching 42 mph again. I wanted to go faster, but just did not have the leg power today.

As far as hauling the bike down, under threshold braking, (just a micro moment before lockup) the Seca Sports braking-traction [not to be confused with breaking traction! 😀] yielded good ‘assist’ in slowing and stopping the bike from higher speeds, this is undoubtedly due to the grippy compound. Now whether or not that means a quick life-span, remains to be seen…

Conclusions
After a total of 3 days, two of which were very hard riding stints and one easy tour I racked up a total of 80 miles. No, it isn’t a long-term test by any means, but, it was enough in most all riding aspects, flat, uphill, downhill, slow semi-technical corners and fast sweeping turns on a variety of surfaces to draw a solid evaluation. In my many years of riding experience both on motorcycles and bicycles, I can safely say after a modest yet thorough analysis, the Seca Sport Tyres bridge the gap between very good training tires and all-out racing rubber.

When Experts Are Missing Something

Once again Jan Heine and the bicycle quarterly staff have provided sound, in depth research and tire test results.

Off The Beaten Path

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Recently, I posted about slick tires and why they tend to offer poor traction, especially in the wet. Almost predictably, some Internet “experts” declared that it was all wrong. One of the more polite comments was: “Wow, lots of misinformation in this article.”

I guess it’s normal: If your research is breaking new ground, the results aren’t what people think they know. But the unexpected isn’t always wrong.

What the “experts” really are saying is: “This isn’t what most people believe right now. It may take a few years until it becomes widely accepted.”

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The same thing happened when we first published Bicycle Quarterly’s real-road tire tests a little over eight years ago. Back then, the idea that higher tire pressures do not increase speed bordered on heresy.

The idea that tires roll faster the harder you pump them up seemed so evident that there wasn’t even a need to discuss this. Every tire company expert agreed…

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On the Wings of Idunn

As the Vernal  Equinox ushers in the the warming season, The Norse Goddess of Spring…Idunn brings with her a rebirth of promise and possibilities…fore, she will lead the way for my wheels to roll-

We are now four weeks into the Spring season and the weather here in the northeast of the U.S. has finally turned a corner, with temps consistently in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s.

Although I have been putting in some rides, this is a time of the year where I will be ramping up my volume of riding. So it’s time for the obligatory tune up. In addition to recent cable and gearing adjustments, today I installed new bar tape, a new chain, and fresh new rubber both front and rear. The R-002 is now ready to take on the rest of the year though I’m not so sure about its rider! lol….

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Luckily I was able to locate another pair of the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick tyres, one on Amazon and one on ebay, because unfortunately Vittoria have discontinued this particular tire model. Combined, I paid a total of $35 dollars for the pair, scoring another great bargain for a great set of tires. 

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The Tire Pressure Revolution

“Of all our research on tires, the most revolutionary finding is this: Tire pressure has almost no effect on a tire’s speed.” –  “This finding has revolutionized our understanding of tires. In the past, we all thought that higher tire pressures made tires roll faster.”

Thanks to Jan Heine, Editor of Bicycle Quarterly for this excellent and informative article

Off The Beaten Path

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Of all our research on tires, the most revolutionary finding is this: Tire pressure has almost no effect on a tire’s speed. We did not believe it at first, either, so we’ve tested it numerous times. It’s been confirmed numerous times, with different methodologies.

The real revolution is not how you use your pump… What has totally changed our riding are the wide, supple tires, which only work because of this new insight.

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First, let’s look at the data. Here is one experiment: We ran three different 25 mm tires (a supple clincher, a supple tubular and a harsher-riding clincher) at pressures from 4.5 and 9 bar (65 and 130 psi). These tests were done on very smooth asphalt (above), a surface where high pressures should offer the greatest advantages.

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There is no relationship between tire pressure and performance in the tested range. (Lower and higher pressures are unsafe to…

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Tested & Ridden | Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks

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( In total, I put over 3300 miles on this set of Vittoria Zaffiro’s before changing to a new set)

Earlier this year in June, when I first reviewed the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 700×25 clinchers, I did so after putting only about 342 miles on the set. Since then my initial impressions have changed a bit. To date I have what I consider is an unbelievable 2,503 miles on the set of Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks. Even after 2500 miles, these tires are performing very well. Not a cut or a tear to be found and I have had not one flat (so far!)

As I had remarked back in June, the durability was a bit of  an unknown factor at the time and although I did read some reviews which stated they were a long lasting tyre, one never knows until one actually puts the miles on. Well, I can now state without any bias, that the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks are one of the most durable road bike tire brands I have ever ridden and they are also some of the best all around tires I have ever ridden on.

Set up and peel off into a fast corner, the Zaffiro’s provide stable grip all the way through to the edge of the tyre. Transitioning from right-to-left and left-to-right in quick esses, they never miss a beat. Compared to my previous set of Ultrasports and Maxxis, the Vittoria’s don’t exhibit that sometimes ‘vague’ feeling, especially in the front tyre as some other brands tend to do at higher speeds. Shoulder to edge grip is high and consistent, providing a secure feeling when carving through the corners.

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For 60 TPI tire, the Vittoria’s have a high-level of side and edge grip and provide very predictable feedback, as well as having lasting durability. And to be sure, I have put these tyres to the test in many high speed sweeping and technical corners, in which I have claimed a half dozen top segment spots. In both dry and wet conditions they have simply performed exceptional while remaining markedly consistent.

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Compared to some of the previous brands I have ridden on; Hutchinson, Maxxis, Kenda and Continental, the Vittoria’s stand well above the rest (though the Conti Ultrasports are nearly as good imo). The Zaffiro Pro Slicks mounted on my R-002 Supersport machine have been through all types of terrain and all types of road conditions and have performed exceptional in all instances during the 2014 riding season. This includes many varying types of surfaces from gravel and dirt to rough and smooth pavement as well as a wide range of cool to hot summer temperatures.

Though billed as a ‘training’ tyre, with a ‘tread’ I would absolutely recommend the Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks for anyone wanting an all-around tire for touring, club riding- both casual and aggressive and training races as well. Typically, I run about 100-102 psi in the rear and 95-96 psi in front. Bottom line is that I have a lot of praise for these tires which upon initially purchasing them, is something I did not think I necessarily would have said.

Given what I had purchased the Zaffiro Pro Slick set for, $31.00 on sale and additional $6.00 for s/h and considering the performance-to-price ratio (or Benefit-to-Cost ratio) the Zaffiro Pro Slicks earn 4 and half stars in my book.

Size: 700c x 25mm
Bead: Kevlar-Folding
Weight: 250g
TPI: 60

(as with all reviews, the opinions expressed are dependent on a variety of factors derived directly from my experiences)