Continental GP4000s II review

Durable, sticky, and FAST – the best all-round road tyre of all?

The Continental GP4000s II (GP – Grand Prix) is a tyre that needs little introduction. Race-proven yet robust enough to be popular with a certain demographic of commuter, I sometimes experiment with other tyres but always end up right back here.

Now also available in wider models for even lower rolling resistance and superior handling, this is a strong contender for the best all-round road bike tyre money can buy.

continental-gp4000s-review

The GP4000s has been big on the ProTour and with amateur riders for years and for good reason – it’s a truly excellent tyre with very few (if any) weaknesses.

I’ve favoured it as my go-to tyre for events as diverse as the 1200km Paris-Brest-Paris or just racing to work…

(At the time of writing, Wiggle have a 35% discount while Chain Reaction are doing 33% off).

Width/weight

The Grand Prix 4000s isn’t the lightest tyre ever made, but it’s very competitive, at 205g (23mm) to 230g (25mm).

The 2mm difference between sizes may not sound like much, but it actually adds a significant 18% extra volume to the same supple carcass. Not only does this offer extra comfort for long days in the saddle, it increases stability and control on fast descents, rough surfaces and hard maneuvering.

width relative width relative volume
Continental GP4000s II 23mm 1x 1x
Continental GP4000s II 25mm 1.09x 1.18x

For technical reasons, if all else is the equal a wider tyre will also roll faster. All else is very much not equal between a race and touring tyre, but it applies here: the wider casing bulges proportionally less, so the sidewall deflection is slightly closer to a perfect circle (ideal efficiency).

The 25mm size would be expected to gain around 5% over the 23mm for this reason.

continental-gp4000s-road-tyre

Rolling resistance

The Continental GP4000s II rolls extremely well – so much so that it is competitive with, and in many cases exceeds, the performance of tubular tyres.

For instance, according to the well-respected AFM tyre tests, the 23mm GP4000s enjoys a Crr of 0.00284 versus 0.00340 for the Continental Competition tubular.

The easiest way to visualise this is to convert the Crr into a virtual gradient: you can do this by simple subtraction. The difference in Crr is 0.00056, which we multiply by 100 to get it into percent: 0.06%

The Continental Competition tubular is so much slower than the Grand Prix 4000s that it’s the equivalent of riding up an extra 0.06% gradient – all the time.

These tyres are fairly close – if you were in the habit of riding on Gatorskins, the difference (0.00284 vs 0.00405) would be more than 0.12%.

Over a 200km (130 mile) course, that’s an additional 240m (670 feet) of climbing – perhaps as much as (or more than) 10% of the event’s total climbing all over again!

As cyclists, it’s easy to obsess over the headline act (air resistance) but don’t dismiss the effect of rolling resistance, especially over long distances!

Comfort

To state the obvious, road tyres like this are not designed to emphasise comfort.

I’ve run the Continental GP4000s on a lot of different bikes and to be honest, the main predictor of comfort was the bike, not the tyre. Having said that, I do believe the GP4000s benefits from a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to the ride quality – particularly in the 25mm size which is a real delight.

I’d always been happy with 23mm slicks until I decided to spec up a bike for a real long distance effort (hundreds of miles) and decided I’d go for the larger size. I really couldn’t tell them apart speed-wise, but the improvement in handling and comfort was fantastic – instant convert.

Grip

One of the main selling points of the Continental GP4000s is the excellent traction of the Black Chilli rubber compound (by necessity, after Continental’s previous attempt  gained an ignominious reputation for dumping riders on the tarmac!)

Wet, dry, greasy or loose surfaces (to an extent) are all taken well within the stride of the GP4000s – I’ve never taken a tumble on these tyres that wasn’t due to rank pilot error or circumstances beyond the tyre’s control.

If you’re searching for a replacement tyre because your current ones don’t cut it on the slippery stuff, I really think you will be delighted with the performance of the GP4000s.

I’ve had mine out in pretty muddy (!) conditions too:

continental-gp4000s-mud

That tyre was inky black before that ride. Pity…

Flat resistance

Several summers commuting on the Continental GP4000s have demonstrated beyond doubt that it’s a capable tyre for my conditions (glass, but few thorns).

A vectran belt provides a light, supple but very strong barrier to foreign objects. Only when the tyre gets worn down (see below) does it become vulnerable to easy deflation.

Durability

Tread thickness is directly linked to rolling resistance. The GP4000s emphasises going fast, so it has relatively little rubber!

Based on my experience, 2,500-3,000 miles is a reasonable expectation of lifespan. When I was riding 175-200 miles a week I tended to manage most (but not all) of a summer from one pair of tyres.

While I’ve never had any trouble on road, as with any race tyre, be careful of your sidewalls! In particular, do not tempt fate by tackling off-road or gravel trails (although if you’re mad enough to try, why listen to me?)

continental-gp4000s_onbike

Conclusion

With excellent grip (especially in the wet), respectable puncture resistance, great handling and superbly low rolling resistance, there’s not much you won’t love about the GP4000s.

For all that it looks the business, if you want sexy, the Continental GP4000s isn’t your best option… but if you want to get serious about going faster, this is a superb choice.

At the time of writing, Wiggle have a 35% discount while Chain Reaction are doing 33% off.

A tyre I keep coming back to again and again.

Vital Statistics

Note: On a 15mm rim the 700x23c measures 22.5mm

Folding only:

ETRTO (mm) Imperial (“) Pressure (bar) Pressure (psi) Weight (g)
23-622 700x23c max. 9 max. 120 205
25-622 700x25c max. 9 max. 120 230

 

16 Comments

  1. Janez

    Dave,

    Good review, cheers. I use these on my road bike, and have done for the past few years. I refuse to fit anything else now. I usually get c. 3000-4000 miles out of them depending mainly on road conditions – the Devon lanes can rip them up a bit!

    One thing I’d like to add to your review is that the puncture resistance is excellent – a lot better than similar ‘racy-type’ tyres.

    Cheers,

    Janez

  2. Dave

    Thanks Janez.

    Good to hear that you find them so tough. We don’t really have any issue with thorns here for instance, so I never know if my tyres are really that puncture proof, or just good against basic glass.

    Cheers!

  3. Dave Crampton

    Dave,

    I was talking to my local bike mech today and told him about Wiggle’s deal and his reply was ‘aye it cos they’re being discontinued’. Are you aware of this? I have got a pair on the Dawes and a pair from Wiggle on order, but I wonder what Conti are replacing them with, and if they will be as good?

  4. Dave

    Hmm, I’ve heard nothing about that. There is a fairly new Continental tyre (the Grand Tour) with Black Chilli compound and a thicker carcass / wider breaker strip, but it doesn’t seem like (and isn’t pitched as) a direct replacement – sportives being the target market.

    Still, the LBS might have spoken to a rep… stock up quick?

  5. Lincoln Brett

    I really enjoy all your reviews which are never short on detail. I use hardshells and the tread looks identical . I thought the puncture protection would be better but have no idea if they perform as well as the 4000s reviewed by you. Do you know ?

  6. Dave

    Hey Lincoln,

    Thanks – appreciate your kind words.

    Although the tread on the Gator Hardshell is superficially similar, the rubber is not the same (the GP4000s black chilli compound rolls and wears better).

    However, the real difference between these tyres is in the breaker layer (the puncture strip under the tread) and the carcass. The Gator Hardshell has a wider breaker and a much more substantial carcass construction than the GP4000s – designed to give the tyre improved resilience to damage.

    An inevitable consequence of this is increased rolling resistance (you lose the extra energy required to continuously flex the thicker sidewalls), but it could be well worth it if you need the extra protection!

    Hope that helps,

    Dave

  7. Gavin

    Hi Dave,

    Enjoyed your review, which has provided a lot more detail than others i have found. I have just purchased a set of Shimano RS81s to replace my standard set and I am looking for an allround tyre and wondered if you would recommend the conti 4000s for a cycle path route that I use for a commute from Bath to Bristol. I was looking at the Schwalbe Durano S as well, any thoughts on which tyre would be more suitable or should i be looking at something else? Also, your words about using 25c over 23 has certainly given me food for thought.

  8. Dave

    Hi Gavin,

    It depends how glassy the path is.

    I think the Durano S will be far superior in terms of puncture protection, although I’ve not ridden them myself. The downside is the deader feel of a tyre with that much of a breaker band between you and the road.

    The GP4000s is a cracking tyre and won’t cave in at the first sliver of glass, but at the same time you won’t get away with riding them over broken bottles for long!

    cheers,

    Dave

  9. John Stevens

    Hi Dave,
    How do you get more rolling resistance with a wider tyre? Surely physics would dictate that more surface contact would give more friction and thereby more resistance.
    Best regards,
    John Stevens.

  10. Dave

    John – you meant to write _lower_ rolling resistance with a wider tyre, right?

    It’s the difference in the shape of the contact patch which is important. Rolling resistance losses primarily come from the tyre structure as it continuously flexes, not from the fact that it touches the ground per se.

    For a given contact area, the ideal (minimal) amount of flex is achieved with a circular contact patch. Our road tyres have a long thin patch relative to this ideal- but as you make them wider, that improves.

    Inflating harder also makes the contact patch more circular (as it gets smaller) but there’s a limit to how far you can go. Pretty soon the tyre is so hard that you get suspension losses from the bike having to lift your weight up and down over the macro profile of the road, instead of rolling over it, that are much larger than the original losses were. This is why 200psi is great on the track but slower on the road.

    Generally wider tyres can’t be inflated as hard, or they have slower sidewall / tread construction, but in the case of the GP4000s (or other tyres in a range of sizes) this does not apply. You can still blow up a wide GP4000s until it’s too hard to be efficient :)

  11. dean

    Im currently riding 25c 4seasons, and are stuck between the 4000s in 23 OR 25, my current contis measure 27mm on the calipers, Im after something abit smoother for the summer. Rim width is 20.8mm external, just wondering if the 23s would come like 25s. As the current 25s come up at 27mm.

    Btw, great reading :-)

  12. Dave

    Hey Dean,

    I measure the 23mm at 22.5mm on a ~19.5mm rim, so I’d be surprised if they come up much over size on a 20.5mm rim.

    That said, I’d also be a bit surprised if there was a big difference between the GP4000s and 4 Seasons, so it might be wise to expect them to be similar on the same rim.

    I’d get the 25’s, they’re fantastic.

  13. Andrej

    Hello all!
    I am 200lbs (95kg)
    I rode on road bike 3000km per year (2000 miles)
    I put 4000S on my bike (I do not remember when… more than 5 years ago…)
    Two days ago I got a front flat
    Yesterday I got my rear flat…
    These are my only two punctures I got with these tyres in 5 years and 15.000km….

    Litterary as I write I am changing my old S4000 with new S4000 (not S4000-II).

    Trully masterpiece tyres.

  14. This my second pair of GP4000S. In 2014, they were good for 7500 km on all sort of terrains (road, dirt, gravel, potholes) without a single flat. I just got replacement tires (GP4000SII) for next year’s season, although I believe the current pair could still hold for an extra 2000 km. The only issue is that the brake clearance for the 25mm is a little tight. Actually, the width of those tires is underestimated. The 25mm are more like 26mm.

  15. Bruce

    Really loved these tyres for the first 50 miles or so (certainly seemed quicker then the previous bontragers), but since then any speed increase has been completely outweighed by the time lost to repairing flats. I went four years without a single flat on the previous tyres, now have had over a dozen in the last month alone. The smallest grain of glass, flint, even road salt seems to go through the “vectran breaker” like a knife through hot butter.

    Sending mine back, (don’t even care if I get a refund), I might as well just coat inner tubes with tissue paper and jam…

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