This article first appeared on BikeRadar.
Continental has launched the Grand Prix 5000 — the successor to the legendary GP4000 — in both a tubeless (GP 5000 TL) and clincher (GP 5000) version. The new all-rounder will replace the GP 4000 S II, one of our favourite road tyres.
The new tyre is notable not only for the technology contained within it, but also for the lateness of its arrival, with a road tubeless option from Continental conspicuous by its absence as competitors have capitalised on the growing market in recent years.
Updates all round
Presentations at launches for new products are usually filled to the brim with hyperbolic guff, but one claim we can actually believe from Continental was that that the GP 4000 S II was a genuine class leader — the tyre has consistently scored well, including in our own tests just last year.
However, it’s 14 years since the original GP 4000 was launched and the market has been waiting for an update to the tyre and, in particular, a tubeless road option from Continental.
The tubeless tyre you’ve all been waiting for
So, yes, a tubeless road tyre from Continental is finally here!
The GP 5000 TL is largely similar to the regular version but adds an airtight liner, a shaped bead — which uses a softer rubber to make fitting easier — and has a coarser, 180 tpi 3 ply casing as opposed to the clincher version’s 320 tpi.
Continental claims to have gone through countless iterations of the tyre before deciding on its final dimensions, with the GP 5000 claimed to strike a good balance between easy mounting and a secure fit.
There were no unfitted tyres to confirm the actual weights, but the tubeless version of the tyre comes with a weight penalty of roughly 85g over the clincher.
The tubeless tyre is available in 25, 28 and 32mm widths — the idea of a 32mm tubeless tyre with GP 4000-like performance is a genuinely exciting prospect and this is one I’m really looking forward to trying out.
The tyre is also available in 25 and 28mm widths for 650b-sized wheels.
A blacker Black Chilli
Both versions of the new GP 5000 feature an updated version of Continental’s signature Black Chilli compound.
To be clear, every road tyre in Continental’s range that uses Black Chilli features its own unique version of the compound, but they’re all referred to as Black Chilli.
As Continental will of course have you believe, this new compound is claimed to feature all manner of rubber-mixology-magic to strike a perfect balance between rolling resistance and grip.
Following moulding, the shoulder tread of the tyre is given a treatment that Continental is calling Lazer Grip. This process sees the tread areas passed over with a powerful laser, roughing up the surface of the tyre. This is claimed to improve grip.
Amusingly, Continental also noted that changes to the compound have made the new tyres a darker shade of black compared to the previous generation. The change is genuinely noticeable, though I can’t say I ever found myself concerned over the colour of the GP 4000 S II.
On that note, Continental confirmed that there are no plans to develop a tan wall version of the GP 5000 despite the obvious aesthetic appeal.
An updated carcass
The carcass of the tyres has also been altered.
The new 330tpi, 3-ply construction of the clincher version is claimed to increase the overall stiffness of the tyre, improving stability in high-speed corners, all while reducing rolling resistance.
The tyre also features an elastomeric layer that Continental has dubbed Active Comfort. This claimed to improve vibration damping and improve comfort without affecting speed.
Both of the tyres also include an updated version of Continental’s Vectran anti-puncture strip, with the new tyres claimed to be 20 percent less prone to punctures than the GP 4000 S II.
As with all of Continental’s high-end tyres, the new GP 5000 is handmade in Germany.
As mentioned, the tubeless version also adds an airtight liner.
What tubeless wheels will the GP 5000 work with?
Continental was very open about the fact that the situation surrounding road tubeless standards is absolute chaos — there is still no clear consensus on an industry-wide standard for rim and tyre dimensions.
However, progress is being made, with Continental and other rim and tyre manufacturers sitting on a board that aims to define a standard within the next year or so.
It’s safe to say that we’ll be watching these developments closely — with Continental now on board the road tubeless train and a more clearly defined standard on the horizon, we could very well see mass adoption of the technology.
With that said, unlike Schwalbe, Continental will not be releasing compatibility charts for the new GP 5000.
Continental claims to have tested a huge number of tubeless road rims and has found that the new tyre will work with nearly all options — whether this means ‘works’ as intended or ‘can be made to work’ isn’t totally clear.
I personally think that, given the testing has already been carried out, it’s a real shame that Continental is choosing not to share this data; transparency is in vogue and it would undoubtedly be beneficial to consumers.
Will the pros be riding tubeless tyres?
Continental revealed that, alongside its usual tubular offerings, it will also be making the new tubeless tyres available to pro teams.
While I think it’s possible we may see some time-triallists — who occasionally choose to use clinchers over tubulars — using the tyres, I think widespread adoption at a pro level is very unlikely.
Pricing and availability
The new GP 5000 is available now in all sizes in both tubeless and clincher versions.
The clincher tyres will come in at €60.99 and the tubeless version at €74.99. International pricing is still TBA, though I expect this to be available shortly.
Continental GP 5000 specs
- Available in 23, 25, 28 and 32mm widths for 700c
- Also available in 25 and 23mm widths for 650b
- 215g for a 25mm tyre
- 330tpi 3 ply construction
- 10g (claimed) lighter than the outgoing GP 4000 S II
GP5000 TL specs
- Available in 25, 28 and 32mm widths for 700c
- Also available in 25 and 28mm widths for 650b
- 300g claimed for tubeless 25mm tyre
- 180tpi 3 ply construction with additional airtight liner
- Claimed to have 5 percent less rolling resistance compared to clincher version
Continental GP 5000 ride impressions
Continental invited me to Tenerife to try out the new tyres.
The island is famed for its glass-smooth roads and dry weather, so the ride impressions from our delightful 45km ride would be anecdotal at best — the real test will come when the tyres are subjected to a torture test of winter on the worst broken roads around Bristol.
We have tubeless and clincher samples on the way, and as soon as these have arrived, we’ll report back on how we got on fitting them to a number of different wheels.