Continental Grand Prix Classic Review

I’ve put a few hundred miles on the Grand Prix Classic tires on the 770 of late.

The Grand Prix Classics are a 700x25c tire with modern construction techniques, but with a classic tread pattern and a gumwall sidewall.

The center tread is relatively smooth, with classic chevrons along the edges.

Chevrons and Gumwalls.

Being Continental tires, of course they are…

They’re fantastic looking tires, and on a classic bike such as this, the aesthetics are perfect.  They were picked in part because of their look–and on that front, they’re fantastic.  I had never ridden these particular tires before, and was a bit nervous about how they’d ride…if they would feel lethargic or unresponsive.

I’m happy to report that they ride as good as they look.  With the smooth center section, they roll incredibly well.  If I was blindfolded, I’d have a hard time telling these apart from the Bontrager R3s that I run on the Madone, when these are pumped up to 90 psi and I’m putting my all into them.  The nice thing about these tires, however, is that I can run them at 80 psi and they take some of the sting out of the 770’s frame without compromising rolling resistance.  Around  80-85 psi seems to be the magic point where the tires remain fast rolling and responsive, but still have enough cushion to take the edge off of sharp jolts in the pavement.  Riding the tiny handlebars on the 770, any little bit of cushion helps.

The 770 likes to corner hard–the geometry is perfect for aggressive turn-in, and for powering out of corners.  Under such circumstances, the Grand Prix Classics excel.  They reward hard efforts with responsiveness, and even when I hit a little gravel or grit mid-turn, they respond predictably.  The early morning frost and dew on the road of late has not been an issue–the Classics have done a great job of taming whatever surface I ride.  I’ve done a little bit (little–maybe 5 miles) of tame gravel on them, and they were up to the challenge, but the 770 is not a gravel bike, so don’t expect much more of that.

The other thing I’ve done is push the Classics beyond their limits.  I like to know how a tire is going to respond if I have an issue, so when I’m testing new tires, I’ll do a hard corner (at a relatively low speed) and intentionally jab some rear brake to break loose the rear end and see what happens.  In a perfect world, when you release the brake, the tires regain traction progressively and predictably.  Some tires regain traction in an unpredictable fashion, and snap the rear end into line (which can be hard to control under the best of circumstances, and can high-side you off the bike in the worst of circumstances).  I’m happy to say that the Grand Prix Classics are predictable and progressive–slide recovery was easy (and dare I say fun).  I’m not necessarily encouraging a lot of drifting through corners, but it’s good to know how your tires (and bike) will respond when something goes amiss mid-turn.

The Classics also respond well under hard braking.  This morning, I was approaching an intersection on a street with no stop sign, and there was a car on the cross-street, stopped at a stop sign.  As I approached, I made eye contact with the driver of the car and signaled a left turn, to turn on the street that the car was coming from.  The car could have made its turn (and I would have turned behind it), but inexplicably, the car waited until I was halfway through my turn and then started to drive directly into me.  I hit the brakes hard, on a wet road, and the tires hauled me down to a stop admirably.  The driver rolled down her window and apologized profusely, indicating that she didn’t know why she started pulling forward when she did.  (?!?!?)  In any event, the tires did their job.

It’s too soon to talk about longevity, but with a few hundred miles under their belt, the nubbies are still showing.  I will also say that these tires seem to hold air better (and longer) than my R3s, even running the same tubes.  I can’t quite explain that one.

Thus far, the Grand Prix Classics are perfect.  I’ve been very pleased with all aspects of their performance, and highly recommend them, if you have a bike that would benefit from their aesthetics.

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