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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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:
That tyre was inky black before that ride. Pity…
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.
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?)
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.
A tyre I keep coming back to again and again.
Note: On a 15mm rim the 700x23c measures 22.5mm
|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|