Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fast, Plush, and Robust: In Praise of Clement Strada LGG Road Tires

Untitled
Since switching to Clement Strada LGG tires on my roadbike, I've had quite a few requests to review them. But how does one review tires? I have not used a sufficient variety of road tires to establish a solid basis of comparison. Still, I am so pleased with these particular tires, that I'd like to provide some feedback.

To put things in context, I will start by saying that my preferences in road tires (which for me, means 700C x 23-26mm) revolve around three main features: speed, comfort and durability. That is, I like a tire that is fast rolling, that feels plush and supple despite its narrow width, and that is puncture resistant. All three features are equally important to me - which, unsurprisingly, restricts me to a rather narrow range of options. There are plenty fast racing tires out there, but most tend to be delicate. There are now also many puncture-proof tires on the market, but most tend to be rather harsh or slow rolling. A perfect balance of all three features might just be too much to ask for. Still, after a few misses in the past I've been pretty happy with several makes and models of tires - in particular, with the Michelin Pro series, and the Grand Bois Cerfs. Both of these, I found, offered a lovely fast supple ride and resisted punctures on New England roads.

But in Ireland, things changed. Here, the jaggedly surfaced chipseal roads with their generous scatterings of thorny hedge trimmings practically ate my tires alive. Within days of cycling here, I got a flat on my 700C x 26mm Cerfs. I chalked this up to bad luck, but the following week I got another. Switching between the Cerfs and my 25mm Michelin Pros, I continued to get flats at a rate of about one per week, until - after an especially eventful flat on a high speed descent - my nerves couldn't take it anymore and I began to seek a more puncture-resistant option.

Seven Axiom S, Year 3
I forget now who exactly first mentioned Clement tires to me, but it was someone in the bicycle industry. The Clement name is an old one, and the brand was well known for their high quality Italian-made tubular tires back in the day. However, that Clement disappeared decades ago. The Clement that surfaced in 2009 licensed the name and created a new range of products "in the spirit of" the original brand (see here for the story). Their products were rumored to be excellent, and I was especially interested to learn about a road tire that, presumably, had superior puncture resistant properties without sacrificing performance.

Spotting this very tire in my local bike shop some days later cinched the deal. There I was, shopping for a new spare tube after yet another flat. And there it was - a shiny pair of Clement Strada LGGs glistening fetchingly with its beautiful logo typography. Ideally I would have preferred the 25mm width, but the shop only had the 23mms in stock and I did't want to wait any longer. Onto my roadbike they went and we rode off into the sunset, hoping for the best.

That was in August 2013. Now, 17 months and thousands of miles later (perhaps around 8K?), I continue to ride on the same pair of tires without a single flat so far (knock on wood) and with the tread still in pretty decent condition. Now, it could very well be that I'm just having a long, lucky flatless stretch on this bike and the tire switch was but a coincidence. But just in case it's not a coincidence, I bought a second pair of these tires last month when I brought my fixed gear over from the US. This time I special ordered the gumwall version in 25mm.

Clement Strada LGG with Gumwalls!
How do the tires feel? Fast. Plush. Noticeably stable in slippery conditions. Just overall beautiful. The 23mm blackwalls feel wider than they are. The 25mm gumwalls feel true to size. Overall the ride feel of the Strada LGGs involves the same sensations that I liked about the 26mm Grand Bois Cerfs and the 25mm Michelin Pros I switched from. Except, on Irish roads, they seem to be less flat prone.

Clement describe the Strada LGGs as featuring an "integrated puncture-protection belt." They do not elaborate on its technical features. But whatever those are, they've worked pretty well, and (as far as I can discern within the limits of my riding style) without adverse effects on performance or feel.

Named after the airport code for Liege, Belgium (after the Liege-Bastogne-Liege spring classics race), the Clement Strada LGG road tires boast a combination of lightweight construction, superior grip for wet weather conditions, and effective puncture protection. They come in a chevron tread pattern and are available in 23mm, 25mm and 28mm blackwall versions and 25mm and 28mm gumwall versions, as well as 25mm tubulars. Now an owner of two sets, I am a happy customer. If you're looking for a fast, comfortable, puncture resistant road tire, these are certainly worth considering.

40 comments:

  1. They do look nice but too bad they are not offered in 32-35mm width. Anything below that is just too narrow for the type of riding I'm doing. So for now I'm staying with Clement X'Plor USH: http://bostonbybike.blogspot.com/2013/09/clement-xplor-ush-tires-test-ride.html They work quite well on road and at 30-35psi roll nicely off-road too.

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  2. Wow, an average of 25 miles a day on just one of many bikes is something I cannot comprehend!! Simply,wow! I thought most of your riding was on another bike. Wow and kudos! I don't like flats either and have been grateful for my tires which have lasted three years and nine thousand miles of transportation riding with only one flat. While I've ridden every single day during these last three years, in all kinds of conditions, my miles pale in comparison. Wow! I'm glad you found something to swoon about. I use a different brand of tires and have found them equally delicious and reliable and don't think I'll ever change.

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    1. Sorry!!! - see my reply below. The milage estimate was my total miles and not just on this one bike.

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    2. Still an impressive amount of miles…Still, kudos! That's a lot of hours pedaling and not having to deal with flats makes it more so much more enjoyable, yes? As I said, my 700x28 road tires have been in use for 9,000 miles so far and the only thing I've done is rotate them to even out the wear. One puncture! The rubber seems to suffering more from the heat and humidity of our oppressive summers and I'll soon replace them. Truthfully, I don't know if I could tell the difference between fast, plush, robust, harsh or any other adjective, but I am sensitive to flats. Well, let me rephrase….I've immensely enjoyed getting to know these tires and the sound/silence and feel of them, over all surfaces, has me convinced that a good tire is worth it. Happy cycling!

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  3. Ooooo.... thanks for the review! I may have to give those a shot. My area is a sea of goat's head thorns and broken glass, and my fancy schmancy Michelan Pro's were shredded in a matter of weeks. I switched to Continental Gatorskins this summer and just had my first flat in December. They ride OK, although you have to be careful cornering at high speeds, and the suckers are HARD! Seriously, the minimum rated pressure is 110 PSI - which for someone my size is a bit like riding on a rock, and if you cheat and try to ride them a little less full it's like slogging through mud. Oddly enough, the Specialized Espoir Elites that came on the bike (not a great tire by any measure) were actually more comfortable than the Gatorskins, and I rode for over 3K miles on them before getting a single flat.

    Not sure what I'll do when it's time to replace these, but I'll certainly consider the Clements!

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  4. "Now, 17 months and more than twelve thousand miles later, I continue to ride on the same pair of tires"
    Do you mean that you rode the same model of tires during that whole time? Or perhaps you meant to write twelve hundred (instead of thousand) miles on the same tires? I'm only asking for clarification about the language because I'm curious about the longevity of these tires. Thanks for the nice review.

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    1. 25 miles/day every day no flats same set?!

      No. Possible. Way.

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    2. Why not? She's a lightweight. Many years back I picked up a stack of 20 cheapo Vittoria tubulars for $120 and quickly discovered they lasted me about one ride each. So I started giving them away to the ladies. Most of those tires went thousands of miles with no incident. Personally I've done 8000 miles flatfree on Riv Rolly-Pollys. At 185#. Given that Bay Area pavements are on the abrasive side you won't get the same.

      When me and my 101# sweetie finish our ride she does the last 40 yards across the lawn to the basement door and barely bends a blade of grass. If I try that I cut a trench in the lawn. We're on the same 28mm tires. In fact if I try it on 700x50 tires I still mark the lawn. There's a point where the different experiences just can't be compared. I can't ride my bike at 101# and I do not know what it feels like. I do suspect that V gets as much flotation and plush from her 25's as I get from 28's. But it has to be different.

      When I build wheels for the ladies I the usual comments go "Best wheels ever!" or "Greatest wheelbuilder ever!". When I perform the same service for the guys an ordinary comment would be "They don't totally suck." My favorite comment was " Well, yeah, I won Worlds on them but (many expletives deleted). I've never succeeded in building a wheel too light for a lady (think 14 or 16 spokes) but for guys it's fullweight conservative only. And they still break. The ladies can get 30 or 40 thousand from a wheel. Guys are thrilled if they get 10.

      On a different note. Us here in the States usually pay way too much for tires. Flagship grade tires are at nosebleed prices wherever you go. But there are some popular bigname tires that can be had for 15 or 20 Euros that Americans pay $60 for, maybe $50 at a discounter. I see these tires on topend custom builds all the time. They don't belong there. Check Euro ebay sites for real prices. If you can easily get to Canada a couple of the big brands are way cheaper up there. Beats me why it's this way. The LGG tires at least seem to be the same everywhere.

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    3. Not related to tires - mileage, two continents, transpo biking, seasons, missed days. Lack of flats possible, long wear possible. Mileage? Na. No documented regularity in this blog.

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    4. Firstly, apologies - I mis-wrote: The 12K figure is an estimate of my total milage - that is, on all bikes and including transportation cycling. Between this and that and the other thing, I do a lot of cycling in the course of a day even in the cold season. But of that total, I think I could conservatively say that over 8K was on my main roadbike. And to clarify: yes, I meat that I've been riding on the same pair of tires over that time/milage.

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    5. [...cut myself off early]

      All that said, it could very well be that I'm just having a long, lucky flatless stretch on this bike and the tire switch was but a coincidence. Would love to hear from others who've used these same tires long term.

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  5. I have a set of 28s on one of my bikes, a nice old 531 Puch I got last year, they're labeled Strada LLG though. The Clement site shows a picture of them on the same page as the LGGs so maybe that's what they call the wider ones. Either way I rather like them. Like you I find them really long wearing but I have to admit I don't find them particularly sporty. Better than the ubiquitous Gaterhosen you see on every second bike these days though. I also put a set on a loaner bike that my Daughters Boyfriend is riding all over Hell and half of Virginia. No flats on either bike with them in spite of some rather rough roads and poor judgment. I run them at 80 psi or less which is 20 less than the lowest pressure I used to run on any of my roadbikes.

    I've been sipping Jan Heine's Kool-Aid about bigger, lighter, less inflated tires and am finding myself more and more convinced that there's a lot to that concept. I took the Clement LLGs off my Mercian and replaced them with some used Jack Brown Green labels that were laying in the corner of my LBS and was really pleased with the improvement even though that's really not a super light tire. I also put a set of Challenge Griffo File Tread 33c CX tubulars(which is a very light racing tire, also slightly used from the floor of another shop but alas, they weren't free) on my Raleigh International and a set of Stampede Pass Extralight 32s on the Seven I'm finishing. I've got a bunch of miles on all of them except the Stampedes and have convinced myself they are as grand as can be. No flats yet and the bikes are certainly more comfortable and maybe faster though probably not as grippy as I think cuz" how could they really be that much better, you know? In a year I might be berating myself for falling for this heresy but for now I think I'll keep riding these big fat sausages and see what happens.

    I used to ride 23s on just about all my fast bikes, pumped up super hard for that nervous jittery feeling, I got my share of flats but not like a plague or anything. I started riding 25s and 28s a few years ago when I started riding farther and harder again and found I wasn't enjoying the frantic sizzle so much anymore. Maybe I should have just let some air out, eh?

    Anyway, I like trying lots of different tires and with all my bike shop connections get lots of nice used tires to play on. I think there's more to be gained from better tires than from better wheels for most of us, which you'd never guess from all the people riding blingy wheels with commuter tires... I still like riding sew-ups on my regular bangin' around bike and seem to accumulate nice(ish) ones faster than I can use them up. To this day, after 35 years I have yet to buy a brand new one so the world must not be quite the Horrible Place I sometimes make it out to be.

    Spindizzy

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    1. Ooh I bet your LLGs are an early release, with a typo. Could be collectable!!

      With regard to tire width... I do find the "fatter is better" idea appealing. But ultimately I have to go by my own feel rather than by test results and reviews. On a go-fast roadbike with 700C wheels, on pavement, 25mm seems to be the sweet spot for me, and feels consistently more enjoyable than 28-32mm. I don't know why that is, but it is.

      At the same time, the 28-32mm range feels suboptimal to me for dirt, gravel and other rough terrain. For that, I prefer 650Bx40mm, or barring that 700Cx35mm. So I like skinny tires and I like fat tires, but the stuff in between just feels like no man's land. To each their own I guess.

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  6. nice review for great tires, i guess, thanks ! I saw yours on preview post, and tried to get a pair for my old PX10, without success, they are'nt well distributed in continental europe (for instance, switzerland, home)... anway, i get then a traditionnal brand's product, but in the same spirit, Continental Grand Prix Classic (25mm only), with dark brown skinwall: ride smooth, fast and great as well, and look amazing, but not enought kilometers to say about punctures yet.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/129968387@N06/15566876224/in/set-72157649686701017/
    Are clement considered as tires or open tubulars, like veloflex?

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    1. Is "open tubulars" not just a term Veloflex made up for their clinchers, rather than an actual category of tires? Going by their description, I'd say Clement does something similar.

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    2. Good answer-question! Well, i'm not so well informed about it, just a bit curious how is the "felling" of clement's rolling. It is quite common in France or Italy to speak about "open tubular" (in french "boyaux ouverts" really sounds like gore movies), wich are supposed to be build with almost the same material and manufacture process as real tubular. At least Vittoria, Dedatre and Challenge makes open tubular models: the felling is supposed to be very close to tublular one, ie precise andconfortable...as far as i know about it, it as also a abomination to install it on rims...
      But any way, clement really looks close to veloflex master 25, i wonder i try both of it once

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  7. I can see the appeal of these, especially since gumwall tires are not as common as they used to be and look much better than the all-black variety, in my opinion.

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    1. Fan of gumwalls also.

      One of the big knocks on GWs is they get dirty over time. Frankly I like the look of well worn GWs. The Clements certainly photograph well above!

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    2. Dirty gumwalls look better than clean IMO!

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  8. That's an impressive milage; on par with the marathon plus! Is it the two or single compound version?

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  9. Very sexy looking tires there! If I ever move from my upright to a road bike, I will have to keep these in mind.

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  10. I'm just jealous of your nice weather, if those are recent photos. I'm stuck on Schwalbe Marathon Winter spiked tires for the duration.

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    1. Where I live it's sunny practically every day. For a good half hour right before sunset :)

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  11. I have been using for my bikes..Bell.{ Innova} or Schwinn {Innova} with Kevlar {for the money hard to beat} for several years..they are not high priced and holdup well..

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  12. Bike Tires Direct has the Clement Strada LGG tires in two flavors, 120 TPI and 60 TPI.
    Both are available in the 23 & 25 size, only the 120 tpi is available in 28mm, i think.
    Other than that they sound very similar.
    Do you have the 120's or 60's?
    Is this yet another parameter of biking ripe for parsing?
    They say they received a shipment of the 60tpi's mistakenly marked "LLG",
    Cool!
    Cheers

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  13. "At the same time, the 28-32mm range feels suboptimal to me for dirt, gravel and other rough terrain. For that, I prefer 650Bx40mm, or barring that 700Cx35mm. So I like skinny tires and I like fat tires, but the stuff in between just feels like no man's land. To each their own I guess."
    25mm
    Your observations and experience do make sense. However, as I mentioned elsewhere, I have the Clement Strada LGG tires in 120 TPI 25mm (yes they come in 120 TPI in that size) scheduled to be delivered shortly. These will go on custom built wheels with HED Belgium + 25mm rims (thank you Ride Studio Cafe for the build!) for a new bike for primarily use on paved roads. I will also be trying out 28mm for forest roads and light gravel use with these wheels to see if the wider rim which reportedly allows lower pressures and better grip without performance penalties will enable such application, aka cheating:). In choosing my new bike, I gave priority to fast road use but with a nod to some application for light non-paved road use. It will be fun to see how these wide rim wheels and optimized bike geometry with caliper brakes perform, especially in limited gravel application. I'm glad Clement Tires make the excellent products they do. Thanks, Velouria, for sharing as always and for your wonderful blog.
    Jim Duncan

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    1. Enjoy the new bike and I'd be interested in your feedback about that setup.

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  14. I had heard of these Clement tires of late, popular for cyclocross. I'd like to try. My husband has had a few grand bois cerf and cypress tire sets and all murdered very quickly! An expensive mistake. I have no idea how people(ei Heine) ride those light supple tires in the pacific northwest with no flats ever ever, they have the same blackberry thorns, nasty roads and variable dirt roads we do! I have a road bike with continental tires, and they have been sturdy, only one flat given all the dirt trails and blackberry thorns this year. However, they are hard and have a poor ride quality. I have ordered the new panaracer gravel kings for a road bike and will see how they go.
    But plush, fast and sturdy, sounds ideal! Are they heavy-it's relative I know. I am curious how you found the somafab new express road tires which you had on a cyclocross bike.

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    1. I think Jan might be using tire wipers which do seem to help with things like thorns and glass slivers that sometimes take a few revolutions to really get stuck in the tire. I've used them in the past with success riding tubulars on real world roads.

      He might also just be more alert to things on the road. It's amazing how even really small things register in our vision if we train ourselves to see them, the classic example being a batter seeing the stitching on a spinning baseball coming at her at high speed. If you see it you can certainly increase your chances of avoiding it. A high level of engagement and interest in an activity is necessary to perform at that level which he certainly appears to have, I suppose that's also why his opinion on some issues is more relevant than others; he just enjoys things like testing tires and aerodynamics and that sort of thing so much. I don't think a person who just buys the tires the most opinionated guy in the club uses and then say's to himself "Right, tire decision made, forget about tires" is going to have much insight about the nuances of the bits of rubber and fabric we use to keep our rims off the cement. The other side of that coin might be that someone like Jan gets more from their equipment than some others and couldn't satisfactorily explain why. I believe him when he say's he doesn't get many flats but that's not always been my experience using superlight tires even though I can make out the stitching on the ball myself when I try.

      Spindizzy

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    2. The training comes from/came from riding old school tubulars even when you couldn't afford them and riding old soft 200 gram tubular rims that flatspotted if you hit the minutest pothole. New tubulars don't flat so easy and the 200 gram rims are all in the hands of collectors. But if you learned to ride that way, you still ride that way. We used to say you had to learn to "ride light". It was good training and no one has to do it anymore.

      I've had better luck than most with Cypres and Cerf tires but still won't ride them again. If you look at a Cypres and a Jack Brown Green side by side they're so alike you might not be certain which was which without checking the label. The Jack is tough and lasts a long time. Eventually they start stretching past 35mm and fitting tighter in the frame and you're done. But it takes some time. The Grand Bois tires go suddenly. Some go early and some go a bit later. It looks exactly like a QC problem. At the price and considering the knowledge and sincerity of the importer an ongoing QC problem makes no sense. There it is. Anyway those Grifos of yours are just great. I ride them pumped kinda hard and one started stretching on me at about 5000. I'm not complaining. Everybody talks about their problems with the Challenge P-Rs and I've had none. Worn out two sets now, have them on two bikes and two of my sweeties bikes and just never a problem at all.

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    3. Jan Heine rides a rather low pressure on his 40mm tires, and I think this might have a say in the number of flats he gets. Imagine a birthday balloon inflated to 1/4 of it's bursting size; press it on to a thumbtack and nothing happens. The low pressure means that instead of the thumbtack poking a hole in the balloon, the balloon gives in and accommodates it's surface to the point of the thumbtack. If the balloon is fully inflated it can't give way to the thumbtack and thus creating a small extremely powerful pressure point which pierces the skin of the balloon. In a bicycle tire low pressure presents a few other problems like rolling resistance and pinch flats, but those are offset by the larger volume of the 40mm tire.

      My son rides 16x2.0" tires inflated to 10-14 psi and because the total weight of him and his bike is no more than 30kgs he never ever get any flats. A 110 kg rider on 23 mm tires inflated to 120 psi will be extremely prone to flats.becaus of the high pressure point where the tire meets the road.

      Hope this is readable, non native english writer here!

      BR Niels

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    4. Hey anon 7:54,

      Remember how it felt to flat spot one of those old flyweight rims on that minutest pothole? No BANG, no ringing WHACK, just the slight "unhh" from the rim as it gave up the ghost and the eternal thump thump thump would begin. Another gold anodized Mavic Freccia De Oro or Rigida Pista de Pasta for the pile... One developed the ability to float on the saddle pretty quickly...

      Spindizzy

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  15. back in the mid 70s I got my first bike with tubular tires. it came new with Clement 50s. one of them suffered a catastrophic blow out, no fault of the tire. the other one out-lived about 5 other tires. there was nowhere to get Clement 50s locally and ordering off the internet was several decades away.

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  16. Thanks for sharing your opinion on these tires. I'm in the market for a new set of puncture resistant tires for my road bike. Right now I've got a set of the Continental Gatorskins on, which have been great against flats (none so far since I put them on a year ago! *knock on wood*) but they are a bit like riding on wooden wheels. I often ride off road with them too, with let the pressure down to around 100psi, and frequently forget to add more air when I go back on the road. The lower psi does feel better over the cracked up, pot holed and patched up surfaces we have, but also a bit sluggish. So I'll add these to my consideration list! I'm going to have to bite the bullet and buy something soon.

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  17. I keep coming back to Panaracer Pasela PT tires, 700 x 28-32-35. Very comfortable, grips well on turns and in wet weather, some puncture protection. So far, fine daily riding on highly patched roads. Its very hard to find comfort, enough speed and puncture protection in a tire. Not the fastest tires but great for the city.

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  18. I am curious as to how the gumwall variants on your Mercian hold up under Northern Irish conditions. According to the Clement website, those are 60 tpi. Do they feel any different in suppleness to you while riding?
    There are couple of vintage roadbikes here which will be needing replacement tires soon, and there is a lot of chipseal here in Greenland-on-the-Mississippi.

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  19. Agggh. I should have said "...Do they feel any different in suppleness to you while riding than the black wall 120 tpi version ?"

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  20. Based on your review, I just bought a pair of these and had my first ride yesterday - and liked them a lot. I didn't think I'd notice the difference but did. Part of it, I expect, was moving from 23s to 25s. I'm converting an older Serotta Concours (Titanium) for randos and expect these to be perfect.

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  21. based on this review I bought set of 28c for my Gios, and after a couple hundred miles I think they are my new favorite all-around tire. definitely the best value and i've found them true to size. hopefully I can get enough miles in to eventually try a set of 25c, as the 28's barely clear.

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  22. Hi. How are the 60 tpi holding up?
    Thank you.

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