CST Cito Folding Tyre
700x25c Dual Compound 170tpi Folding Tyre 252g £33
The CST Cito 700x25c Dual Compound 170tpi Folding Tyre is apparently the brand’s flagship road model and one with an equally appealing price tag. It's available in three widths 23, 25 and 28mm (about 1.1 in), which arguably caters for most speed orientated road builds, and lighter riders. Some would argue, scope for winter training. I’m not in the latter camp and as might be expected, given the modest price, they’re not tubeless ready. Nonetheless, I’ve found they’ve given me plenty of big grins and some added zing to my early 90’s road bike.
Pros: Lightweight, responsive, grippy, terrific value for money.
Cons: No tubeless compatible version at present, 70 kilo maximum payload favours lighter riders, tricky to fit.
I gave the game away in my opening paragraph really, didn’t I? These are a dual compound with 170 threads per inch, which promises a forgiving and supple ride-especially in the wider sections. Talking of which, CST advise me there’s a maximum recommended payload of 70 kilos, which is unexpectedly modest- I'm right on the line and may be turn off a lot of riders who would otherwise be drawn to them. Pressure ranges are also interesting-as low as 80psi, which is a welcome surprise and well within the scope of most contemporary mini pumps. I’ve run ours between 90 and 120.
Beneath the casings we have the marques EPS (Exceptional Puncture Safety), which is used in other models, including the Pika and Czar. It’s a flexible poly fibre strip running beneath tread and casing but doesn’t extend to the sidewalls.
These things are, in my experience, a compromise-a 5mm (about 0.2 in) Aramid strip beneath the casing will offer bullet proof protection but there’s a trade off when it comes to rolling resistance and responsiveness. Not ideal on a competition tyre. Similarly, a single compound is arguably the hallmark of a durable tyre, albeit one with a slightly more direct feel.
By contrast a dual compound promises a compliant, grippy ride, albeit with some trade-off in terms of longevity. However, aside from the old horses-for-courses thing, these things are nuanced and a gauge, not an exact science.
Ours were fitted to my road bike, hailing from 1991. Some of the original build remains, including the Mavic MA2/ Athena wheelset. Age aside, the MA2 are very standard, shallow some might say. Even so, the Cito called for my workshop tyre wand. They have relaxed with use, and by no means the only stubborn tyre but something to bear in mind. I thought they’d be a little tricky and believed I’d “steamroller” them aboard with the Crank Brothers Speedier lever was the final 20% that defeated me (and amused bystanders). Others have reported pinch flats with the 28mm counterparts, so go slightly slimmer than you ordinarily might on the tube front, too.
Ride Quality/ Handling 4/5
Whoosh- yay! I’m pleased to report the struggle was worth it. I’ve run ours between 90 and 120psi. Now I realise, tubulars aside, 120psi might seem excessive for 70kilo me but as I said earlier, that’s their max payload and I was keen to see how they’d behave. Now, rolling resistance is tricky to measure accurately, outside of a lab and on the road is, to some extent, subjective.
From the outset, the 170tpi casings have really brought out the best from my skinny tubed 531c frameset, supplying a grin-inducing quick, punchy and yet supple ride quality. Not on par with a good tubular but by the same token, I don’t miss the gluing, stitching and cussing that went with them.
Maintaining a steady 23mph along the flatter sections was easy enough and pushed hard, no spiteful surprises. They’ll accelerate quickly too, and I’ve had some seriously big grins. I’ve also caught a few riders by surprise, especially on the climbs. Though primarily a race/sportive orientated tyre, the Cito are also surprisingly fun through town and stop-start traffic, snatching away from the lights, or entering the flow of traffic. Characteristics that spice up a commute nicely.
30mph plus along my regular 1 in 7 descent and they behaved impeccably, although predictably dropping pressures to 110 improved matters further- 105-110 seemed best for me. Nonetheless, lots of big grins when chasing through the S-bends and I couldn’t cajole them into a shimmy, or squirm. 105-110psi and the Cito seemed to float over wash broad tarmac and similar ripples, while being very flickable around the frustratingly ubiquitous holes, not to mention the odd kamikaze rabbit, hare and muntjac deer.
Engaging personas aside, these qualities also left me feeling fresher on longer rides. Wet roads can be tricky customers, especially after long dry spells where diesel and other residual oils get flushed from the verges. Again, the Cito has a slightly sticky (but not power sapping) characteristic meaning they just seemed to bite harder, giving excellent feedback, allowing me to hoss along and enjoy. Obviously, there’s the usual cautions when tackling wet, greasy ironworks and similar surfaces but for the most part, I’ve not had any call to bleed any pressure. I had run them at 90 psi, just to see if this gave them any advantage. Grip was slightly improved in the wet but there was also some slight trade off in efficiency and it didn’t add to their compliance, so for me 105-110 psi across the board, thank you.
Puncture Resistance/Durability 3.5/5
Thus far, 600 miles and a mix of conditions- roads, lanes, concrete jungle wet and dry. No punctures to date- a few sharps had sat in the grooved sections but thankfully, hadn’t burrowed inside-I brushed them off promptly- no cuts, or other damage to report since. Now, I've run the Cito’s Czar Road and Pika gravel cousins' long term. The EPS belt is what they all have in common. I’ve found the 60tpi Czar and Pika generally reliable, especially during summer but after 1200 miles or so, succumbed to several flint and thorn induced flat.
Talking Pika and Czar, two out of the four were trafficked into the casing via wet mud or dung, so it will be interesting to see if the Cito are similarly vulnerable. By the same token, it’s important to remember the horses-for-courses mantra. Tyres with a 60tpi single compound casing and 5mm thick aramid puncture repelling belt are like-for-like, super reliable. However, while not necessarily dull, they are going to be a good bit heavier and lack the sparkle of a lightweight summer/competition tyre.
Taking everything into account, not least their price, the Cito are hard to ignore and represent cracking value for money. On paper at least, there aren’t any direct rivals when it comes to weight, TPI. Panaracer Race D-Evo 4 are within the price bracket but are still £10 dearer. Continental GP5000 is another popular choice, promising similar characteristics, but then we’re talking £69.99 - over twice the Cito’s asking price.
The Cito are a fun, frisky and grippy tyre for a very modest price and lighter riders. The present lack of a tubeless option will alienate some, ditto the weight limit and they can be tricky customers to fit.
However, their frisky, agile personas offer loads of smiles per mile. Great for summer and fair-weather blasting. Worthy starting points for competitive riding-whether it be road racing, or time trials. In many respects, provided you’re within the weight limit, it’s hard to see where you’d go wrong with the Cito as fair-weather all-rounders.
Whether you’re wanting wallet friendly everyday training rubber, an upgrade for an older sunny days’ road bike, or for the OEM tyres that often come with lower to mid-range bikes. The only pause point stopping me recommending them for winter training is a question mark around the EPS belt’s ability to resist sharp thorns, tacks and flints during the darker, colder and wetter months.
Verdict: 3.75/5 Quick, compliant road tyres for lighter, budget conscious riders.
PUBLISHED JULY 2023