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    23C Gator Hardshells -> 28C Grand Prix 4-Seasons?

    I'm getting ready to replace tires on my all-rounder, a CAAD7, and I'm contemplating going for larger tires to try to find a better balance for my riding habits. I put on Continental's Gator Hardshell tires because I despise hate hate getting flats, and to that end I've been really happy with the change, with no flats over the last two years of riding. It seemed like a good move over the Gatorskin because it's the same idea but more.

    I ride mostly roads and paved trails here in Germany, though it's not uncommon for me to find myself on groomed dirt and gravel paths through the woods. On these, I've noticed that the narrow width and hard compound of the Hardshells leaves much to be desired. So I'm thinking that if I go to a wider tire that still has anti-puncture properties (in this case, Duraskin and a double Vectran-breaker), while improving both comfort and tracking on non-paved surfaces. I've also read that the GP 4 is a slightly narrower-than-advertised tire, which means that 28mm makes more sense to me than 23mm or 25mm to ensure that I'm actually getting increased width.

    Am I on the right track, or are there other recommendations? Given that I'm in Germany, my two options are Schwalbe and Continental, with others like Vittoria being so peripheral that I'm not really interested. I know next to nothing about Schwalbe tires, having always ridden Continental, but if there's a tire there that can balance ride comfort, puncture resistance, and maintain or improve on speed, I'd love to hear about it.

  2. #2
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    The 4-seasons are closer to the Gatorskin in puncture protection than something like a GP4000s. Nothing wrong with your plan IMO but I wouldn't expect a big difference in ride quality going from 23mm Hardshells to ~25mm 4-seasons (my 28mm Gator Hardshells ran narrow as well.) Something like the Schwalbe Durano (not the Plus version) might give you a little better ride quality with adequate puncture protection.

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    To the best of my knowledge and I may be incorrect about this:

    The GP 4 Season utilizes the same casing material and rubber compound as the GP4000S, but, with the duraskin and two layers of puncture protection.

    I've been using 25/28mm GP 4 Seansons for several months. Excellent puncture protection, I haven't suffered a single puncture related flat. However, I have damaged two casings. One resulting in a flat. In one instance I found a lump in the contact patch of my rear tire. Upon dismounting I found that I had probably ridden over a sharp edge that had caused the cutting/breaking of several casing cords internally, while leaving the tread surface undamaged. In the second instance I picked up some piece of road debris which lodged between my tire/fork & front brake. Before I could stop it popped free, but, not without causing a small cut through the duraskin protection and the casing, just outside the edge of the tread. This resulted in the tube protruding ever so slightly and flating in short order.

    In general I have been happy with the GP4 Seasons. These two instances have happened just recently. I feel they are more durable than the Michelin Pro Optimums I was using previously, but, give up a little road feel compared to the Optimums.

    Mounted to 19mm DT Swiss 585 rims and inflated to 8bar/116psi my 25mm front and 28mm rear measure 25.5mm and 27.5mm respectively.

    I've not ridden the Hardshells, but, have mounted up a few for friends. The casing of the GP4Season is less stiff and the tire lighter. Don't expect the same sort of mileage from that GP4seasaon that you probably get from the Gatorskin Hardshells.
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    Dunbar, you really think I shouldn't expect ride quality given that the Psi calculator suggests 20 PSI lower for a 28C tire over a 23C tire? It seems like even if I went with a 28C Gator Hardshell (heavy!), that'd already be a huge improvement in ride quality.

    I'm less concerned about mileage than I am other characteristics, so if I have better traction, a smoother ride, and comparable puncture protection, then I'm willing to give up some tread life.

  5. #5
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    My 28C Gatorskins are hard, as a rock.
    No complaints here, I love them.
    I also run Armadillos, which are a great alternative to the Gatorskins.
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    Quote Originally Posted by biciklanto View Post
    Dunbar, you really think I shouldn't expect ride quality given that the Psi calculator suggests 20 PSI lower for a 28C tire over a 23C tire? It seems like even if I went with a 28C Gator Hardshell (heavy!), that'd already be a huge improvement in ride quality.
    But remember the 28c Gators are more like 26mm actual width. I've run 28c Gator Hardshells, Gatorskins and 25c Schwalbe Durano Plus. All have about the same puncture resistance IME and have a very stiff ride. I'm not sure you can expect a good ride quality if you require that much puncture protection even if you drop the pressure. I've since moved to a different location and run 25c GP4000s tires. They ride quite a bit better than the Gatorskins and the difference in rolling resistance is night-and-day.

  7. #7
    Senior Member GuitarBob's Avatar
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    Add me to the list of those who find Gatorskins to ride hard, but I live with it for the puncture resistance.

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    But as far as I understand (and the point for which I'm seeking clarification), going from narrow hard tires like Hardshells to wider, more compliant, lower pressure tires should improve traction and comfort marginally whilst only reducing flat protection marginally, if at all. Or is there something I'm missing, or a better option for my next tires?

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    Quote Originally Posted by biciklanto View Post
    But as far as I understand (and the point for which I'm seeking clarification), going from narrow hard tires like Hardshells to wider, more compliant, lower pressure tires should improve traction and comfort marginally whilst only reducing flat protection marginally, if at all. Or is there something I'm missing, or a better option for my next tires?
    Correct.

    Dumbar is only debating with himself about gatorskin vs hardshell, etc.

    Trade the stiffer, less compliant, narrower, tires at higher pressure for a more supple, compliant, lighter, wider tire at decreased pressure and you are going to experience an increase in ride quality and probably traction. With some tradeoff in druability and/or puncture protection.

    In practice I've had very, very few pure "punctures" with any of the light weight tires that still incorporate a puncture protection strip (Michelin, Conti, Maxxis, Vittoria). Well, expect the Vittoria Rubino Pros. They still suffered punctures. But, what I have experienced is a decrease in casing durability and tread life expectancy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Dunbar is only debating with himself about gatorskin vs hardshell, etc.
    No, I'm relaying my personal experience having used these tires. I've used 28c Gatorskins and Gator Hardshells at 80psi. They ride very stiff. Reducing the pressure won't have much effect on ride quality. A wider Gatorskin at lower pressure is not meaningfully more compliant IME. If you want more compliance it's going to come at the expense of puncture protection. Whether or not a tire with less puncture protection results in more punctures depends on your local riding conditions.

    When I went from 25c Durano Plus's to 25c GP4000S's at the same pressure now THAT was a big difference in ride quality.
    Last edited by Dunbar; 01-06-14 at 06:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dunbar View Post
    No, I'm relaying my personal experience having used these tires. I've used 28c Gatorskins and Gator Hardshells at 80psi. They ride very stiff. Reducing the pressure won't have much effect on ride quality. A wider Gatorskin at lower pressure is not meaningfully more compliant IME. If you want more compliance it's going to come at the expense of puncture protection. Whether or not a tire with less puncture protection results in more punctures depends on your local riding conditions.

    When I went from 25c Durano Plus'si to 25c GP4000S's at the same pressure now THAT was a big difference in ride quality.
    apparently it continues to be lost on you that the OP has never indicated that he intended to stay with a wider hardshell, but, has, since his first post been doing exactly what you mention. Which is sacrifice some durability by moving to a GP 4 Season in a wider width . Whereby it is perfectly reasonable for him to expect an improvement in traction and ride quality.
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  12. #12
    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dunbar View Post
    No, I'm relaying my personal experience having used these tires. I've used 28c Gatorskins and Gator Hardshells at 80psi. They ride very stiff. Reducing the pressure won't have much effect on ride quality. A wider Gatorskin at lower pressure is not meaningfully more compliant IME. If you want more compliance it's going to come at the expense of puncture protection. Whether or not a tire with less puncture protection results in more punctures depends on your local riding conditions.

    When I went from 25c Durano Plus's to 25c GP4000S's at the same pressure now THAT was a big difference in ride quality.
    I've had a somewhat contrary experience. I started the winter on 25c Hardshells and switched to 28c (regular) Gatorskins and there is a marked difference in comfort. This is on my aluminum bike that tends to ride harshly.

    Also, going from a 23c Hardshell to a 28c GP4Season (which is a much more supple carcass) is bound to yield a much more comfortable ride. If clearance is an issue on that bike though, the 25c GP4Season will still represent a big improvement but it's not going to be all that much wider than the 23c Hardshell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    apparently it continues to be lost on you that the OP has never indicated that he intended to stay with a wider hardshell, but, has, since his first post been doing exactly what you mention. Which is sacrifice some durability by moving to a GP 4 Season in a wider width . Whereby it is perfectly reasonable for him to expect an improvement in traction and ride quality.
    What makes you think 4-Seasons ride better than Gators? The anecdotal reports I've seen say they handle better in the wet than Gators without giving up any puncture protection. The rolling resistance test I saw put 4-Seasons much closer to Gatorskins than the GP4000s which suggests they ride more like a Gatorskin than a GP4000s.

    I do think that if you can get wide enough (like a 32mm tire) they might ride better but most road bikes don't have enough clearance for wide tires. Going from 23mm to a narrow 28mm tire isn't going to make much difference IME.
    Last edited by Dunbar; 01-06-14 at 10:17 PM.

  14. #14
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    Here's what I'm talking about:


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    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dunbar View Post
    What makes you think 4-Seasons ride better than Gators? The anecdotal reports I've seen say they handle better in the wet than Gators without giving up any puncture protection. The rolling resistance test I saw put 4-Seasons much closer to Gatorskins than the GP4000s.

    I do think that if you can get wide enough (like a 32mm tire) they might ride better but most road bikes don't have enough clearance for wide tires. Going from a 23mm to a narrow 28mm tire isn't going to make much difference IME.
    I'm having trouble finding a RR test that compares the GP4000S to the GP4Season to the Gatorskin, but keep in mind, it's a lot more than just the puncture belts (and the puncture belts on the GP4S are the more supple 'vectran' type). The casing on the 4Season is the 330tpi casing that they use on the GP4000S so I'd strongly expect the rolling resistance and suppleness to fall between the two tires.

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    The test can be found here. Doesn't include the Gatorskin but other tests I've seen suggest the Gatorskin is close to the 4-Season.

    http://www.conti-online.com/www/down...gp4000s_en.pdf

    GP4000s - 34.3 watts
    4-Season - 53.9 watts

    Both at 35 km/h and I'm assuming that's for 2 tires.

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    John Wayne Toilet Paper nhluhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dunbar View Post
    The test can be found here. Doesn't include the Gatorskin but other tests I've seen suggest the Gatorskin is close to the 4-Season.

    http://www.conti-online.com/www/down...gp4000s_en.pdf

    GP4000s - 34.3 watts
    4-Season - 53.9 watts

    Both at 35 km/h and I'm assuming that's for 2 tires.
    right, but no gatorskin in the test.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhluhr View Post
    right, but no gatorskin in the test.
    But it's pretty obvious that the 4-Season is nowhere near the 4000s in rolling resistance despite sharing the same puncture belt technology. The Gatorskin would need to have truly awful rolling resistance if what you suggest is true.

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    This is quite the conversation! Clearly what I should do is buy the new Grand Prix 4000 S IIs in 28C, which will save weight over my current 23Cs, drastically improve ride quality and reduce rolling resistance, and hope that they hold together when the road turns rotten.

    Or I get the Grand Prix 4-Seasons after all, noting that they have double Vectran breakers and Duraskin for the sidewalls, and take comfort in the fact that they are 330TPI tires instead of the 180 offered by the Gator Hardshells, even if they're not the so-called BlackChili compound.

    Or do something else? The only thing I'm really getting here is that 25C or 28C isn't really a bad idea, especially given mounting evidence that at least 25mm and possibly 28mm hit the rolling resistance sweet spot by reducing hysteretic losses. Seems like everything else is more up in the air now than before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by biciklanto View Post
    ...drastically improve ride quality and reduce rolling resistance...

    Or I get the Grand Prix 4-Seasons after all..... even if they're not the so-called BlackChili compound.
    ...
    "drastically" might be overstating any differences.

    The GP 4 Season does use the BlackChilli compound.
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    Quote Originally Posted by biciklanto View Post
    This is quite the conversation! Clearly what I should do is buy the new Grand Prix 4000 S IIs in 28C, which will save weight over my current 23Cs, drastically improve ride quality and reduce rolling resistance, and hope that they hold together when the road turns rotten.
    Obviously the safe choice here is to use the 4-Seasons. If you're willing to take a chance the GP4000S is a very good tire with respectable puncture protection. I've heard many people who switched to them from Gatorskins to GP4000S's and didn't have any more flats. But nobody here can tell you how much puncture protection is going to be enough for your local riding conditions. The trick is to find a tire with the least amount of puncture protection that you can live with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    "drastically" might be overstating any differences.

    The GP 4 Season does use the BlackChilli compound.
    @bigfred, okay, drastically might be a little much. And are you sure? Neither the 4-Season product page nor the BlackChili tech page on Continental's website seem to show it:
    http://www.conti-online.com/www/bicy...kchili_en.html
    http://www.conti-online.com/www/bicy...season_en.html

    Oh well, I think I'll go with the 4-Seasons anyway, unless I happen to see the new 28mm GP4000SII locally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by biciklanto View Post
    And are you sure?
    As sure as the speed with which product lines change now a'days.

    Quote Originally Posted by biciklanto View Post
    Neither the 4-Season product page nor the BlackChili tech page on Continental's website seem to show it:

    http://www.conti-online.com/www/bicy...season_en.html
    In your link there: look to the lower right, in the chart, just to the right of the "TPI". See that little black and yellow box with the picture of a black chilli in it's right hand section? That's THE "Black Chilli" logo. I don't have any GP 4 Season boxes at the moment, but, I'm reasonably sure it was also on the boxes of my last batch of GP 4 Season tires. So, yeh, unless they're old stock or they've changed again, GP 4 Seasons use the black chilli compound. For whatever that's worth.
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    Oh god. Now you've got me wondering.

    They don't have a "big black chilli" below the black chilli icon like they have on the supersonic chart. But, then the GP 4000 lacks the chilli logo on the chart but includes a big version of it in the description.

    Hell if I know. Let us know what it says on your box(es). Or, if I get some more before you, I'll do the same.
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    I know this much: My GP 4 Seasons are sticky.

    Maybe not as sticky as the Maxxis Re-fuses I had, but, very comparable to the Michelin Pro Optimums. I can tell a difference between the Pro Optimums and the GP 4 Seasons, but, it's difficult to put it to suppleness are rubber compound, etc.
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