Vittoria has launched a new Corsa tyre with a nylon casing called the Corsa N.EXT that is designed to go head to head - or tread to tread - with Continental’s Grand Prix 5000 and Schwalbe’s Pro One TLE.
The Italian tyre manufacturer sees itself as missing out in this category up to now. In the language of Shimano groupsets, the lingua franca of the bike industry for comparing things, Vittoria regards its flagship cotton-casing Corsa range - the Corsa, Corsa Speed and Corsa Control - as ‘Dura-Ace’ while the top tyres from the two German brands, which have nylon casings, are ‘Ultegra’.
Additionally, the Corsa N.EXT is Vittoria’s first road tyre to be certified hookless compatible (previously the Italian brand had not stated explicitly that any of its tyres were compliant with hookless rims), while the latest Continental Grand Prix 5000 S TR was specifically made to comply and the Pro One TLE is full hookless.
And Vittoria has priced the Corsa N.EXT strategically lower than both the Conti and Schwalbe offerings, against which it has benchmarked its new tyre and lab tested it against them, and the Corsa N.EXT is priced below the existing cotton-casing Corsa.
Vittoria says it has created “Racing-inspired performance with ultimate durability” and - in the words of the press release - “completes Vittoria's top-of-the-range offer by filling the gap between the Pro Competition and Advanced Training tyre categories.”
Vittoria says its design engineers focused on the requirements of enthusiast cyclists who clock up the miles on long and demanding weekly rides, granfondos or other amateur races. These riders want speed, but don’t want to compromise on durability and puncture resistance.
With this in mind, Vittoria says it has created racing performance with the durability of a long-lasting nylon casing that uses a unique Silica and Graphene compound for improved rolling efficiency, grip and longer wear-life.
And after extensive testing at Vittoria’s laboratory and after thousands of miles of road on the wheels of a number of professional teams, Vittoria claims the Corsa N.EXT to be “best-in-class in terms of puncture resistance, comfort, and wet grip.”
Interestingly, however, Vittoria did show us a slide at the media presentation that showed the new Corsa N.EXT was ‘worse’ than the GP 5000 in speed/rolling resistance in the tubeless version while it was ‘aligned’ with the Pro One TLE and also aligned with the GP 5000 tube-type clincher.
The clincher version is lighter than both of its rivals, weighing 210g in the 28mm compared to Conti’s 290g. The tubeless Vittoria, however, at 310g is heaver than the Conti GP 5000 S TR (275g) and the Schwalbe Pro One TLE (270g).
Vittoria again uses graphene in the compound, a single-atom layer of carbon that fills the spaces between the rubber molecules and increases all positive performance metrics, according to Vittoria.
But for the N.EXT it has added silica, which it claims boosts rolling resistance, grip and durability compared with only graphene-enhanced tyres. The silica-enhanced tyre, in Vittoria’s figures, gains the most in grip, a claimed 32% better than a ‘normal’ compound without graphene or silica.
Silica is already a component of Continental’s Grand Prix 4 Season tyre. The German tyre’s Max Grip Silica compound is optimised for wet weather adhesion, low temperatures and extended tread life.
The Corsa N.EXT feature three layers of nylon, like the triple-ply GP 5000. To Conti’s Vectran, Vittoria has a “high-density layer” that doesn’t have ‘technology’ buzzword; it’s a simple “puncture protection belt.
Interestingly, the 100 TPI (threads per inch) quoted for the Corsa N.EXT is kept fairly quiet. Generally speaking the higher the number, the more supple and the tyre - and this is where cotton casings and silk casings beat manmade materials. For example, the cotton-casing Corsa has a TPI count of 320. To speculate, it’s possible that Vittoria has deliberately avoided making a big deal of it since Continental has always famously massaged its TPI figure, adding three layers of 110TPI nylon together to make 330TPI - 10 more than that of Vittoria’s cotton-casing Corsa.
Vittoria has kept the classic longitudinal lines: wider spaced grooves at the centre for what Vittoria says will give lower rolling resistance and closer towards the shoulder for better cornering grip with the aim of simply putting more rubber on the road, since it’s the compound not the tread pattern that gives a tyre its adhesion.
As a final 21st-century flourish, Vittoria has printed a QR code onto the tyre label, which takes users online for information about the tyre, tutorials on how to mount it, recommended air pressures and tubes as well as the location of the nearest Vittoria dealer.
Pricing and availability
The Corsa N.EXT will come in tubeless and clincher versions and in a wide range of sizes from 24mm up to 34mm in 2mm increments. The tubeless size 28mm and above is hookless compatible.
The Corsa N.EXT will be priced at £54.99/$74.99 for the clincher and £64.99/$84.99 for the tubeless version - which is £10 less than the current cotton-casing Corsas, clincher and tubeless respectively. The current RRP of the GP 5000 clincher is £65.95, for the tubeless GP 5000 S TR £74.95 and for the Schwalbe Pro One TLE £74.99.
We weren’t expecting Vittoria to release a tyre like this and I have to admit it took me a while to grasp what the Corsa N.EXT was all about. But, since the cotton-casing Corsas are both expensive and relatively fragile - many of us have experienced this - a nylon-casing version that’s tougher and more durable yet still claimed to be fast makes total sense.
I first rode the Corsa N.EXTs at a ‘secret’ ride from Vittoria distributor Madison’s Milton Keynes HQ. First impressions were good but since all the tyres were already set up on wheels ready to swap into our own bikes, it was hard to make a fair comparison.
They were reassuringly difficult to get over the rim but once on, with levers, popped into place using just a regular track pump and after inflation were airtight even before adding sealant.
Typically it hasn’t rained in the UK for weeks now, so I can’t claim to have tested their grip in the wet, but I’ve been very impressed with their road feel on both smooth and rough tarmac in the dry. The friend I was riding with for their first outing commented that my bike seemed “very efficient” since I kept pulling away from him (sorry Paul), and that was the overriding impression.
Grip in the dry felt great - the Corsa N.EXTs seemed to stick to the road as well as float over it, which isn't a balance that every tyre manages.
This time I didn’t have a set of cotton Corsas to ride back-to-back - though I spent quite a bit of time on them last year with the Racer Rosa SC21 - but I’ve recently been riding both Grand Prix 5000s and Pirelli P Zero Races and would say without a doubt that the new Corsas feel every bit at that level.
Could I detect that the speed/rolling resistance was "worse" than that of the Grand Prix 5000 S TR, as the slide at the presentation had admitted? I've ridden a lot of different tyres and I like to think I'm fairly well attuned to the subtle differences between the various offerings, but the answer is I couldn't detect any comparative sluggishness. To me they felt as beautiful as they looked.
I’m a big fan of the classic longitudinal lines of the Corsas - mostly for the aesthetic - and I loved the way the Corsa N.EXTs looked on the carbon rims. The only thing missing is a tan sidewall version… but if I flag that up now hopefully some time in the future we’ll get one.
At £10 lower than the cotton Corsas, value for money seems pretty good. The N.EXTs are still clearly high quality tyres and if puncture resistance is improved and they last longer then they really could be the best choice of Vittoria tyre for the enthusiast.
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