Fashion. We’re beyond that, right? As cyclists we transcend the whims of mere mortals. We have reached a higher plain, closer to the gods. At least when we stand up on the pedals. We spit at trends, they’re for people who shop at Primark.
Maybe so, but there are trends and then there is progress. Two entirely different things. Progress would get nowhere if it didn’t look half decent. Enter the Vittoria Corsa G+ tyre. A more gorgeous piece of gumwalled rubber you would struggle to find. And it's hard.
Through the history of cycling, gumwall tyres have represented quality. In the 1950s companies used gum for the sidewalls because it improved flexibility and rolling resistance. These were gradually replaced by skinwalls, which were tyres with cloth sidewalls. These tyres with tan sides became the hallmark of a racer’s tyre, the high-performance option. Black sidewalls were for choppers, basically.
Even up to the present day, tan sidewalls on race bikes would indicate a tubular, and therefore serious, tyre. It wasn’t that tubs were exclusively of that manufacture, but more that most clinchers weren’t.
Recently, the likes of Vittoria and Veloflex and Challenge have challenged the common thinking and been releasing clinchers with tan sidewalls, renaming them "open tubulars" in order to preserve the mystique.
Which brings us to the tyre of the season, and it’s the Vittoria Corsa G+, built with Graphene running through it like a stick of rock and a sidewall that’s not so much tan as very lightly tanned.
Graphene, in case you’ve been under a rock for the past couple of years, is a recently discovered variation on graphite, but the thickness of an atom, bonded together into a honeycomb lattice. Graphite, or pencil lead, is actually layers of graphene stacked on top of each other.
This stuff is ridiculously strong and a wonder discovery. It is one million times thinner than a human hair, the thinnest material known to man, the lightest (a square metre weighs around 0.77 milligrams) and the strongest compound discovered (between 100-300 times stronger than steel and with a tensile stiffness of 150,000,000 psi).
On top of that, it is abundant. Carbon, from which it is derived, is everywhere. We are mostly carbon. It is the basis of all life on earth. So graphene has been around since the dawn of time, since the big bang. Then in 2004, two researchers at Manchester University, Prof Andre Geim and Prof Kostya Novoselov, discovered how to extract it from graphite. They won the Nobel Prize for physics for that.
Thanks to their discovery you will soon be enjoying sex with thinner and stronger condoms, be able to go fly fishing with a super lightweight rod, enjoy thinner, stronger TV and phone screens, in fact there’s not much that graphene can’t improve.
Which leads us to cycling. Catlike have already used graphene to strengthen their helmets and now Vittoria have used it in their Corsa tyres. Vittoria was established in 1953 and claims to be the leader in cycle tyre design. That’s a tall claim when you’ve got the likes of Continental banging out rubber but Vittoria do seem to have been ahead of the curve on this one.
We’ve been testing the Corsa G+ for a good few weeks now and without tempting fate, have yet to experience anything close to a failure. Not only that, they seemed faster, which could have something to do with Vittoria’s claim to have reduced rolling resistance by 19 per cent.
Which is all well and good but when it comes to the fickle world of fashion it’s the way they look that counts, and these are proper head turners. They have the ability to turn an average bike into a real stunner.
Which is why your ride shouldn’t be seen in anything else this season.
Around £40 per tyre, visit https://www.vittoria.com/tire/corsa-open/ for more info.