This article originally appeared on BikeRadar
Vittoria claims its new Corsa Speed tubeless-ready open tubular tyre is the fastest in the world, supposedly posting the lowest rolling resistance figures ever recorded by the folks at Wheel Energy in Nastola, Finland. The Corsa Speeds absolutely feel super fast on the road, even when ridden back to back with typically good competitors. But when Vittoria says that these should be reserved for time trials and other race day applications, it's a warning you'd best heed.
The Corsa Speed is built with a 320TPI cotton casing and tubeless-compatible beads in open tubular fashion – meaning the tread cap is glued on separately as opposed to a vulcanised tyre where liquid rubber is injected into a mold and the whole thing cures all together.
- Highs: Tangibly fast, incredibly supple and comfortable, low weight and hassle-free setup
- Lows: Extremely fragile
- Buy if: You want rubber to rule your race-days – just try to resist the temptation to use them for more everyday riding
In general with open tubulars, the result is less rubber mixed in with the cords and a noticeably more flexible casing. That suppleness yields lower rolling resistance plus a generally smoother ride – all other things being held equal, of course.
The soft and flexible open tubular construction is just one piece of the puzzle, however.
According to Vittoria, the other major component to the Corsa Speed's exceptional lab test results is the graphene-infused rubber tread material, which the company says absorbs less energy than conventional compounds while still providing improved grip and wear. Vittoria even claims that the stuff gives the tyre high-rebound characteristics under low load (meaning a faster roll when just cruising along) but lets the material soften under stress for better cornering grip – heady claims, indeed.
Regardless, the Corsa Speed is tangibly fast on the road with an ultra-efficient roll that not only gobbles up tarmac but does so with incredible comfort. They're also impressively grippy and with an actual weight of just 215g in the sole 700x23mm size (plus 35g per tyre for the requisite sealant), the Corsa Speeds are even some of the lightest options around. In terms of all-out performance, the Corsa Speed is easily one of the best clinchers I've ever used.
That performance does come with a heavy price in terms of durability, however. That super supple cotton casing has no additional reinforcement to guard against punctures and that fancy graphene-infused tread cap is literally paper-thin. Good wear characteristics or not, there just isn't that much material there to start with.
In fairness, Vittoria hardly pitches the Corsa Speed as a viable everyday option, suggesting that they should only be used for time trials. I'd say that warning is justified given that it didn't take long for a sliver of glass to go through the rear tyre. Later inspection revealed plenty of other little shards embedded elsewhere, both front and rear, circling like buzzards waiting for a window of opportunity.
That said, the NoTubes sealant I used inside did plug up the hole such that all I had to do was reinflate the tyre to my preferred operating pressure and carry on. To further test the real-world sealing capabilities, I didn't even remove the offending sliver and the tyre was still holding air several days later and ready to ride.
Moreover, the Corsa Speeds don't carry any of the hassles sometimes associated with tubeless road tyres. They aren't any more difficult to install than other open tubulars I've ridden and they also initially inflate, seat, and seal easily with a standard floor pump.
Overall, I'd say these are fantastic in terms of performance but you should take that with a big grain of salt. Their speed may tempt you to use them to break that stubborn Strava segment time but keep in mind that a fast tyre that's also flat ultimately isn't going to help much.