Interbike 2015: Tires for Gravel Cycling & Racing – Vittoria & Challenge

The next installation of our Interbike gravel tire (tyre) articles, this time around we examine Vittoria and Challenge.

Challenge Handmade Tires

Proudly manufactured in Italy, you know a manufacturer is serious about the gravel cycling genre when they incorporate the name “gravel” into a product, or name one of their products after a long-standing gravel event.

Challenge Gravel Grinder Skinwall Pro?
New Challenge Gravel Grinder Skinwall (gumwall) Pro – 700c x 36mm, 260 TPI.
Challenge Gravel Grinder Race – 700 x 38mm.

The Challenge Gravel Grinder tire isn’t new, is fairly well known and comes in two variants – the Gravel Grinder Plus and Gravel Grinder Race model. The difference between both models is weight and threads per inch count – a higher count  of threads per inch typically means a tire is lighter and may have lower rolling resistance, but possibly more susceptibility to punctures, etc.

  • Gravel Grinder Plus – 395 grams, 38mm, 60tpi.
  • Gravel Grinder Race – 375 grans, 38mm, 120tpi.

What the Challenge website doesn’t officially announce is the new PRO version of the Gravel Grinder tire, as indicated in the photo above, measuring 700c x 36mm, 260 TPI and skinwall (gumwall). Some people eschew skinwall tires, but some of us love them. They add a classy look to a bike, and we hope to acquire a set of these for testing soon.

Incidentally, the Challenge Gravel Grinder tire converts well to tubeless with the appropriate rim. Gravel Cyclist’s “Headmaster” is using our sponsor’s wheelset, the American Classic Race 29’er with the Gravel Grinder Race tire configured tubeless.

Challenge Almanzo.

Challenge’s Almanzo, named after the Almanzo 100 event, is recommended for hardpack dirt surfaces and not-so-heavy gravel. Narrow at 33mm by the standards of many gravel tires, we know it to be a fast rolling tire with excellent ride qualities and a very high TPI count. But as the manufacturer states, this one isn’t for heavy gravel use – probably best suited to events like Rouge Roubaix, Darby Roubaix, Bromont B7 100, etc. Unknown if the Almanzo works well configured as a tubeless tire. The Almanzo is also available in a skinwall variant, model # 00524 – model #00525 for all black.

Challenge Strada Bianca.

Challenge’s Strada Bianca is marketed towards rough roads, cobbles, “big riders” and hard packed dirt. Measuring 30mm with a TPI count of 260, this would probably be the fastest of Challenge’s lineup for pure “Roubaix” type tires. As alluded to earlier, some of us love the skinwall look.

This tire would certainly look fabulous on a cyclocross / gravel bike lined up for an event where one can use a fast rolling, big tire casing mostly suited to hard packed, non-gravel surfaces. Definitely not tubeless compatible, the Strada Bianca is marketed as an “Open Tubular” aka a clincher, which is designed for higher pressures, but lacks the necessary bead for tubeless use.


Vittoria Tires

VittoriaRevolution-2015-1Marketed by Vittoria as a “City” tire, I (JOM) was informed this is a very fast rolling tire, and may do well as a training / budget tire for hardpack and gravel type surfaces.

Unfortunately, weight specifications were not available, but this tire comes in a big variety of sizes and widths. 26″ x 2.0″, 27.5″ x 2.0″, 29″ x 2.0″, 700c x 28mm, 700c x 32mm, 700c x 35mm and 700 x 38mm. We suspect the 2.0″ variants will convert to tubeless nicely, along with the 700 x 38mm size. At the time of writing, there are no details available on Vittoria’s website.

VittoriaRevolution-2015-2More gravel tires (tyres) from interbike coming soon, thanks for reading!


  1. Avatar Steve

    I’ve been a fan of the Gravel Grinder Race since the most recent version gas Ben available. After reading that Challenge advised against setting them up tubeless I’ve been running them with latex rubes (quite successfully). I’ve got some Velocity Ailerons that I’d like to try them tubeless on and will give it a go. What pressure(s) does the Headmaster run them at?

    • JOM JOM

      Steve, around 40 – 45psi. Remember, try this at your own risk – disclaimer over 🙂

    • Howdy Steve – As we both know the Challenge Gravel Grinder Race is a tire made to be used with tubes and the manufacture provides useful information as to rim size and proper mounting on their website.

      That said, on to answering your question with a bit more details. I’m running the Gravel Grinder Race tyres on a pair of American Classic Race 29ers using Orange Seal. My weight is 72.5 kg (160 lbs for the non-Euro cycling wannabe). I run 40 in the rear and 38 in the front. I’ve only ridden them a few times but I believe the the rutted pounding winding down hill sections and partially exposed rocks ranging in size from that of a baseball to a small watermelon at the Pisgah Monster Cross was an ultimate tubeless test.

      I hope I’ve answered your question, however, in no way is it an endorsement/recommendation to run these tyres tubeless. That decision is left to each individual cyclist.

  2. Avatar Steve

    Thanks for the thorough answer! I understand that your experience is just that and does not necessarily mean my experience will be the same…. Disclaimer understood. I’m 74kg (165 lbs for those not metric/euro fluent) and have another set that are unmounted and plan to give them a try in the next week or two at a slightly higher pressure.

    I love the tire and I’m thinking about doing the Dirty Kanza in the spring and was wondering if you think this tire is tough enough for that.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  3. Avatar Paul cappiello

    I’ve been monkeying around w the Challange Gravel Grinder Race 38 on Novatec CXD tubeless ready rims. With tubes they are fantastic at 40-45 lbs front and rear. Ride like a dream over the Gravel Grovel roads in Indiana and roll plenty comfy on pavement when necessary. My riding weight is about 190. But tubeless has been a different story. After several days of trial and error they still won’t hold air. They seal up ok initially but by the next day they lose most air. Most of the air seems to be bleeding through the side wall just above the bead. I’m using Stans sealant and tape. Maybe Orange Seal would work better?

    • JOM JOM

      Hi Paul,

      I don’t think sealant is the issue, rather a leaky sidewall. You may need to be extra diligent about the preparation for these tyres. By that I mean, you’ll need to do the shake routine again – hold the wheel in your hands – shake gently back and forth – the rim should move towards and away from you when doing this. Then, rotate the wheel about 30 degrees and repeat the shaking. Once you have done that to one side, place the wheel face down over a bucket or something like that, and let it sit for 10 minutes.

      Repeat the above-mentioned process again, and when complete, place the wheel face down over a bucket on the other side. You may need to repeat this process over a couple of days.

      We’ve had a couple of non-tubeless tyres require this treatment for them to be completely sealed. I hope what I described makes sense.

      Good luck!


      • Avatar Paul cappiello

        I gave that a shot last night and this am. Maybe one more round on each side . . . I’ll report back.

        • JOM JOM

          It took me four rounds of this business to get a pair of Clement X’Plor tyres sorted out…

          • Avatar Paul cappiello

            Turns out I was just a little impatient. Two more rounds did the trick! Now if I could just get out for a ride. With all the ice and snow up here the only thing I dare take out is my bike. But I’ll be on Long Boat Key in a week!



  4. Avatar Andrew

    In WA state gran fondos–Ephrata, Goldendale where there is about 30% mixed condition gravel road, I notice the fastest riders using 28-33mm “slicks” like the Specialized Roubaix, Challenge Strada Bianca, Schwalbe one. Tubeless is a common theme to these, but unknown for challenge tires.

  5. Avatar mike

    curious to know if you’ve tested the pro 36mm GG’s yet? I never loved my GG’s the way I love 33mm Chicanes. Perhaps teh 36mm pro GG can be the high volume Chicane of my dreams?

    • JOM JOM

      Hi Mike, sorry, no time on the 36mm variant… a few of my guys ride the 38mm version and have nothing but good things to say about it. They are running that version tubeless as well. Hopefully we can obtain a sample soon for review, etc. Thanks for the question!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.