I made the mistake a while back of realizing that I hadn’t had a flat tire in a long time. Sure enough two days later I ended up pick up this spike. Now, nothing was going to stop that. But over the next couple weeks I kept flatting, and if I was honest with myself, that back tire was looking a bit squared off. It’s definitely summer now, so time for new tires.
I had been using 25mm Michelin Pro4 Service Course tires, which were an amazing switch from the 23mm Hutchinson’s I had been using before. The Michelin’s run big, and measured 28.5mm when mounted on 23mm rims. These were great tires, but I felt like trying something different, mostly just because. I also wanted to see if higher TPI tires really were more comfortable, or if it was as big of a scam as high thread count sheets. So I ordered a pair of Veloflex Corsas, also in 25mm. These tires are supposedly hand made in Italy by just a few people who left Vittoria after they moved production overseas. The main selling points for me were the 320TPI casing, available in 25mm size, and no gaudy graphics. A nice bonus was low weight (405g each), although who knows if that makes a difference.
The first thing I noticed about these tires is that they are tight! The instructions say not to use any tools when mounting, but there was no way I was going to get this thing on without a tire lever. I actually mounted both tires without tubes and let them stretch out overnight. This seemed to help a little bit (in that I could actually fit tubes in the next day). Once filled to about 90psi and left to sit overnight, it was clear that no matter how much these stretch over the coming weeks, they were going to be smaller than the Michelins. After a few days, they still measured right at 25mm on rims with a 18mm inner width.
I now have about 250 miles on these tires, so really just enough time to get some first impressions. I would say that they don’t absorb the large bumps (potholes, thanks Boston!) as well as the larger volume Michelins. They do seem to smooth things out a bit better on finer imperfections (chip-seal roads, thanks suburbs!). Grip is simliar – maybe a bit better when things are slick, but given that it’s mid summer I haven’t had the opportunity to try them in real rain yet.
All in all I’d say this was a lateral move. Different, not necessarily better. But also not necessarily worse. Probably depends on your road surface. I’d bet that a 28mm high TPI tire would best the Michelin Pro4 since they would be closer in size. Sadly 25mm is the biggest clincher that Veloflex makes (they do have a 27mm tubular). Maybe when these wear out I’ll give the 27mm Challenge Paris-Roubaix or Vittoria Open Pave a try.