Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Gear Review: Challenge Fango Open-Tubular Cyclocross Tires.

          For a while now, I’ve been looking for a set of cyclocross tires that would be perfect for our local trails, as well as some of the great trail systems across the bridge in Marin. Knowing about the Challenge brand, and their expertise in making some of the best tires on the market, I decided to pull the trigger and purchase a pair of their brand new Fango 33 Open Tubulars. Challenge advertised these tires as the perfect tire for a myriad of conditions and riding styles. I’ve ridden their Grifo’s in the past, and loved them, but felt that I needed a bit more “bite” in some of the loose corners I find myself in every ride.

Handmade Italian Goodness

          “Open-Tubular” tires are essentially a tubular tire without the typical sew-up you find on tubular tires. The 300 TPI tires have the same casing of their Fango tubulars, but fit on your standard clincher wheel. Personally, I threw in a pair of latex tubes to get even closer to the feel of a tubular (warning: latex tubes are featherweights compared to standard butyl tubes, so they are more prone to a flat on rough trails). The true test would be riding these tires on my home trails of shell ridge and on the Diablo Trails
They look good too!

          I’ve been riding these tires for over 500 miles now, and I have never been so impressed with how a tire feels in such a variety of conditions. The open-tubular casing on the Fango’s are insanely supple, giving me better control of the bike on the trails due to the greatly improved ride quality. Unlike a lower TPI count tire, the Fango’s adhered to the trails so well, letting me push through corners at much higher speeds than I would be able to on a 120TPI tire. Another quality of these tires is how buttery smooth they are, even over the eroded and rutted trails that make up a good part of the lower Shell Ridge Open Space due to this drought. 

500 miles of hard riding.

          The Bottom Line: The Challenge Fango tires are absolutely killer! One of the best multi-purpose tires I have ever ridden. From hard pack, loose sand, loamy trails of Marin, and the occasional mud pit, these tires can handle it all extremely well. However, I feel like the Fango’s are more suited for softer trail surfaces, more than the hard-packed fire roads we have in the summer. With that said, the Fango’s will handle our local trails with ease. I have only one word of warning: The Challenge Fango’s are extremely supple tires, with a softer casing than the majority of cyclocross tires on the market. Try to avoid riding on pavement for longer stretches, or you will wear out the center treads faster than usual.

Front Tire Wear

          The Challenge Fango’s retail at $100 per tire. Yes, they are quite pricey, but you get what you pay for. These tires are completely handmade in Italy, with quality that you will feel out on your first ride, all the way to your final ride on these fantastic tires. Plus, the tan sidewalls look so good!

Shred On.