If you're looking for a tough, tenacious all-rounder at a reasonable price that doesn't skimp in the grip, protection and reliability departments, then Panaracer’s Race A Evo 4 tyres are worth a look
- Tacky traction
- Impressive puncture/cut protection
- Low weight
- Reasonable price
- ‘Race’ name undersells its tough all-rounder strengths
- Be careful of tight clearance setups in the first few miles
Panaracer upped the puncture protection of its Race A tyres with the Evo 3 version. The Evo 4 features the same tough carcass with a new rubber compound that’s said to be faster and grippier. It also introduces a tubeless option to the range. We tested the standard tubed tyre in increasingly popular 28mm size alongside the best of the rest in both ‘Race’ and ‘Endurance’ categories to see if it's worthy of inclusion in our guide to the best road bike tyres.
Construction and fitting
Panaracer still makes its tyres in Japan which means the pricing seems even more reasonable. The base carcass uses AX-Alpha Cord which then gets an edge-to-edge layer of ProTite Shield fibre. That puts it into a much more protected category than most ‘Race’ tyres that just put the protection under the tread.
The tread itself uses a new ‘Advanced’ version of Panaracer’s proprietary Zero Slip Grip rubber compound, which promises 10 per cent faster rolling and 20 per cent more traction than the previous ZSG. They don’t give any clues as to how that’s been achieved but it’s in line with similar claims from pretty much every tyre manufacturer and their ‘special sauce’ of additives.
One definite Panaracer feature is the peaked profile of the tread extrusion which isn’t as obvious once mounted as it is in its diagrams but is certainly more pointed than flat.
The handmade Evos come flat-packed but they soon pop into a curved, easier-to-fit shape. They’re baggy enough to mount onto a tubeless-ready rim without levers, too. While we’ve not tried this specific tyre in a tubeless tyre version, the last TLC versions we tried from Panaracer fitted far more easily than the first generation tubeless tyres which were extremely hard to wrestle onto a rim. Considering the protection levels, it’s a lightweight tyre too, although the 28mm carcass size did come up closer to a big 25mm at 80psi.
Performance and handling
Panaracer’s Zero Slip Grip dual compound has always been one of the stickiest on the road, but the first kilometre on the Race A still made us laugh at how tacky the tyres were. Even on a just-above-frost-point morning, not only did they sound like hot blue tack, but they picked up every bit of grit going like a lint roller and fired a fair amount of it straight at our frame tubes. They get less audible and grabby after about 10km but that’s still enough distance to do some damage if you’re running very close frame or mudguard clearances.
Obviously the undersized nature of the tyres alleviates this a bit but it doesn’t do a lot for ride quality. The Race Evos aren’t painful or wooden, but they definitely aren’t floated, buoyant, creamy or any of the other words we’ve been throwing about describing other 28mm ‘Race’ tyres recently. You can take ‘rough road speed sustain’ off the cliche clipboard too, as you’ll definitely be looking for the smooth tarmac on these tyres where possible. The audible and tangible stickiness of the tread is backed up by power meter readings that showed we were consistently working harder than normal, even after the initial super stickiness had subsided.
As you might expect, the grip through corners, whether going up cold, green, greasy under-tree climbs or braking hard, is absolutely outstanding. There is a slight lunge as the tyre falls onto the flatter sides of the peaked profile, but you’ll only notice it if you’re specifically looking for it. Even then it’s subtle enough that we might just be imagining it because we think it should be there. Either way, it doesn’t do anything obviously weird to the handling of the bike and the tyres stick to corners like chewing gum in hair.
The peaked profile naturally offsets the tendency for tyres to go flat and ‘square off’ in the centre, so while the tread layer is relatively shallow they’ll stay tyre-shaped for longer. Our long term experience with previous Evo 3 tyres meant we weren’t surprised that we had zero cut or puncture issues with the 4 either.
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If you believe Panaracer and look at the Evo 4 as a ‘Race’ tyre you’re going to be disappointed. It’s light yes, but compared to some of the best road bike tyres we've reviewed of late, such as the Continental GP5000, Specialized Turbo RapidAir, Schwalbe Pro One and Vittoria Corsa, it’s a bit slower on the road with a relatively dead feel, too.
If you think of it more as a ‘protected’ tyre then it’s actually great. It’s well priced, light, it’s silly-sticky in corners even in cold or wet conditions and compared to tyres such as the Pirelli Cinturato and Continental 4 Season it rolls okay, too.
The puncture/debris protection is next-level, so you can run a latex or superlight butyl tube inside to make it faster and more comfortable without that being an undue risk. Treat it as a fat 25mm rather than a true 28mm and you’ll be okay on clearances and girth expectations.
Specifications: Panaracer Race A Evo 4
- Weight: 248g (28mm)
- Width: (17mm internal rim): 26.3mm
- Depth: (17mm internal rim): 23mm
- Price: £44.99 conventional, £59.99 tubeless ready