If you are planning to ride your road bike this winter, it is worth thinking seriously about changing your summer road tyres to something that can offer increased grip for the rough and wet winter roads, better puncture protection and tougher casing. All of this without loosing too much speed! There are many winter tyres on the market that claim this but do any actually hold up to their claims? Step in the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season.
In their ‘Clincher Application Guide’ Continental Tyres position the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season firmly as a winter training and sportive tyre. But at only 230g (claimed) for the 25mm option we tested, it is only 5 grams heavier that its race-bred younger brother, the GP4000s II and shares some of it’s race pedigree. The Black ‘Max Grip Silica’ compound has been developed to not only increase grip in wet weather conditions but optimised to be equally as effective in low temperatures too. For increased protection against punctures and (sidewall) cuts, Continental have given the Grand Prix 4 Season a combination of their advanced technology features used on some of their other road tyres. One of the first things that stands out about this tyre is the distinctive brown sidewalls. This is the DuraSkin® cut resistant wrap that can be found on the tough Continental GartorSkins.
For those not familiar with DuraSkin®, it’s a gauze like Polymide fabric sheath that sits between the tyre casing and the outer carbon compound rubber tread. This protection is supported by not one but TWO Vectran Breaker anti-puncture strips which are sandwiched between the DuraSkin and outer tread. In total, Continental start the 4 Seasons have 5 layers (or pile count) plus the DuraSkin sitting between the tread and the inner tube. The tyre is modeled on the GP4000s II and shares it’s unique tread. But for extra grip on the wet and often rough winter surfaces, the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season has additional grooves running along the ridge of the outer casing.
As with all product testing, the proof is in the usage. In our testing at AATR, we want to know how products work for the everyday rider, from the weekday commuter to the weekend road warrior or the Sunday social rider. To do this we simply fit the tyre and ride them over a variety of distances, roads and weather conditions.
The Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tyres are available in 23, 25 and 28mm widths with a folding bead. For our testing I opted for a 25mm tyre. Having ridden on 23mm over the summer, I wanted to test the difference in comfort for Autumn and Winter riding. Fitting the tyre was pretty straight forward. It felt they were tighter than the GP4000s II tyre to fit and as with most clincher tyres, strong thumbs were required. The recommended inflation for the 25mm is 95psi with a max of 120psi. I am 96kg so ran the tyres at about 110psi during testing.
I expected these tyres to be sluggish and weighty on the first ride which was a 7 mile commute on a pretty flat route. If I was comparing these to the light weight, slick racing clinchers I had been riding over the summer, then this is the case. But as an ‘all rounder’ I was pleasantly surprised. They roll very well and on average I found I lost around 0.5mph. This was based on taking the same commuting route over the course of 3 or 4 days to allow for the variation in traffic flow. The ride comfort was very good also, although I felt they don’t share the smoothness of the 25mm GP4000S ii tyres we previously reviewed. Some may find the 25mm tyres (although not as wide as labelled width would suggest) a little too bouncy and lively but for heavier or larger riders, I’d highly recommend them. That being said, make sure you have the tyres pumped up to a suitable pressure. On the first test ride I inflated the tyres to the recommended pressure of 95psi and found that I spent most of the ride looking down to make sure I didn’t have a flat tyre. At the correct pressure though (we found this to be a little higher than usual), they eat up even the roughest on winter road surfaces well.
In the corners the tyres held up very well in both the dry and the wet. That is not to say you will stay up right if you catch a wet drain cover on a fast corner. But providing you can handle your bike through the corner and use caution the Grand Prix 4 Seasons shouldn’t let you (or themselves down). Puncture protection is always a difficult thing to test accurately. You can take every precaution to make sure you avoid every pothole, or grit patch but still find that rogue piece of glass or grit. In around 150 miles of testing we suffered 1 puncture after finding a sharp stone in unavoidable standing water. Even so, this was a minimal intrusion through the double Vectran Breaker and it would be harsh to mark them down for this.
Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Tyre Review Conclusion
The Grand Prix 4 Season tyres from Continental are definitely an ultimate all-weather tyre that not only look great but work great too. They combine good speed, great grip and longevity all whilst being lightweight for a ‘winter’ tyre. We found the ride to be smooth at the correct tyre pressure, even on rougher roads. Although this may vary depending on the width of tyre you opt for. They handle wet roads very well too. Having tested them in torrential rain with a lot of surface water on the roads, I felt safe and as long as I could handle the speed and the corners I pushed my bike into, the 4 Seasons would do the rest. From a price point, these are not a cheap tyre! They have an eye-widening RRP of £54.99 each. Compare this to some of the competition or even the Continental GartorSkin, it is certainly at the upper end of the scale. However, at the time of this review Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles offer a 35-40% saving. This makes them much better value. Word of warning though, 25mm widths proved popular and in short supply.
All in all, if you are happy to invest, these are a class all-rounder and an excellent choice for a winter road tyre.
Strong contender for the ultimate all-rounder. The Grand Prix 4 Season Tyres offer up excellent grip in both dry and wet conditions and seem to strike a near perfect balance between a lightweight racing tyre and a durable winter tyre.