Continental’s classic goes tubeless for even more speed, grip and comfort but it’s a fight to fit
- Deceptively fast
- Impressively damped
- Trustworthy traction
- A fight to fit on some rims
Continental’s GP4000 was widely acknowledged as the benchmark all-round performance tyre from pro racing to rapid recreational use but the German company was slow to take up on tubeless. The new GP5000 comes in a wide size range of both conventional clincher and tubeless versions though but is it a worthy heir to the throne?
Continental has certainly thrown a lot of tech - both fresh and proven - into the GP5000 TL tyre. The compound is an update of the excellent BlackChili mix, with elastomer ‘Active Comfort’ elements added to absorb road shock before it even gets to the carcass.
Laser-cut tread pattern ‘fins’ curl in regularly from the shoulders but leave the centre slick with Continental’s ‘Vectran’ puncture protection layer under the crown. The whole tyre is lined with an extra liner to make it airtight even without sealant, although Continental still recommends using its own lightweight Revo sealant to plug any holes. Continental has used a unique bead design for extra security and once fitted, sit nice and tight to the rim.
This makes the GP5000s easy to inflate with a track pump and they hold pressure extremely well over time. They are extremely hard to wrestle onto some road wheels though, particularly Mavic and Bontrager, although Hunts aren’t easy either. That means its probably worth having a soapy cloth for lubricating the rim and some very strong tyre levers ready even if you can normally flick tyres on and off with just your thumbs.
Performance and handling
The struggle is worth it though as the road feel and performance of the 5000TLs is outstanding, albeit in a deceptively disarming way. Comfort and road cushioning is excellent but in a very controlled and damped, rather than obviously buoyant and springy way. This underlines the already grippy-feeling BlackChili compound with even more nonchalant confidence. This makes banking in hard on even the roughest, dirtiest back roads feel sensible, rather than suicidal. You can even brake or pedal pretty hard on slippery surfaces before they slip and the ability to drop pressures very low with the tubeless set up increases traction and compliance further.
The only downside to this ultra surefooted, vibration-quietening feel is its effect on perceived speed. While Continental has made some impressive claims (nearly 20 per cent faster than the old 4000 S II), initial impressions are swift, but not super fast. The fact this tubeless version is 70g heavier (330g vs 260g) than the 4000 S II 28mm means it doesn’t feel super-quick out of the blocks either, despite the reduced weight of sealant compared to an inner tube.
That said, when you watch the wattage vs speed comparisons and compare times on your regular Strava routes, it soon becomes obvious that the 5000s are a very high-velocity set of road bike tyres. The fact that they carry such speed over rough road sections and keep you off the brakes through corners pushes those gains even higher in real on-road terms.
The Continental GP5000s are tough with feedback from local shops backing up our own puncture-free test sample experience. Wear life is reasonable and the tubeless system boosts flat shrugging ability even further than the 20 per cent increase claims. Width is bang-on for the claimed dimensions and they’re available in 25, 28 and 32mm sizes in 700c and 28mm in 650c, too. That leaves only the high cost and the initial fitting difficulties as downsides of an otherwise superbly controlled, calmly comfortable and super quick, all-conditions tyre.
Specifications: Continental GP5000 Tubeless
- Weight: 330g (28mm)
- Width: (on 21mm internal rim) 28mm
- Depth: (on 21mm internal rim) 26mm