Source: bike shops, catalogs
Features: Vectran puncture-protection subtread; wear indicators; handmade in Germany
Weight: 219 grams in size 700x23C (manufacturer claims 205 grams)
Variations: 700x23C in black, silver/black, metallic blue/black, blue/black, red/black, yellow/black; 700x25C in black, blue/black, red/black, yellow/black; 700x20C in black; 650x23c in black
How obtained: sample from company
RBR advertiser: no
Tested: 1,500 miles
Testing tires is a strange business. Whereas you would normally avoid potholes, glass, gravel and debris to get the most mileage out of pricey tires, when you’re evaluating rubber you intentionally seek out this stuff and ride right through it — over and over again. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last 1,500 miles on Continental’s new Grand Prix 4000 clinchers.
I’m a big fan of Conti tires, having logged many seasons on the German company’s Grand Prix 3000. So I was eager to try the new GP 4000. It has a new trick, a layer of Vectran beneath the tread. You may have heard of Vectran because it’sused by some carbon frame and fork makers, such as Time, for reinforcement and better compliance.
On the GP 4000, Vectran adds puncture protection and reduces casing flex for lower rolling resistance and excellent durability. Continental describes Vectran (“five times stronger than steel”) as a liquid-crystal polymer that fights flats, cuts, wear and tear as it improves performance.
Even with this added protection, a 700x23C GP 4000 weighs only 219 grams on my workshop scale. Even better, the ride is every bit as supple, fast and grippy (in the rain, too) as that of the GP 3000. I expected a firmer ride with less comfort and less responsiveness, but the 4000 equals or exceeds the 3000’s road manners with top-notch cornering, acceleration and minimal rolling resistance.
Most impressive is the GP 4000’s ability to resist flats. Even though I’ve been completely reckless, intentionally riding through glass, frequenting dirt roads, going long in the rain, and even riding over a staple I didn’t see and driving it into the rear tire, I haven’t had one flat. When I stopped to pry out the staple because I could hear it ticking against the chainstay, I was sure the tire would go flat. Nope. The Vectran layer actually bent the staple’s leg so it folded under the tread. It never got anywhere near the tube.
Equally impressive is the wear. I typically get 1,500 miles from rear tires. But, the GP 4000, although it has squared off significantly, appears to have hundreds of more miles in it. How will I know when it’s finally time to replace it? The GP 4000 has little indicator holes in the tread. When they’re worn smooth it’s new-tire time.
All of this has me telling riding buddies that I’ve found the perfect tire. Yes, the GP 4000 is expensive at $63 (the price being charged by usual discounters Performance and Nashbar). But when you consider its outstanding ride, long life, puncture resistance, low weight, and the various color choices to match your bike or rims, it’s money very well spent.
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s streak of consecutive cycling days has reached more than 8,000. Click to read Jim’s full bio.