CST Czar Cycle Foldable Tyres
285g 700x28c Black (as tested) £29.15 each
The CST Czar Folding Tyres come in three sizes and are designed, primarily, for asphalt surfaces – whether commuting or going for many miles. They come in at a very reasonable price, and that is not the only likeable feature by any means. Overall, I have found them easy to mount, pleasantly lively to ride, with decent durability, too.
Pros: a pleasantly lively ride at a decent price.
Cons: 32 would be a good option for longer, faster touring days.
Available 23/25 and 28x700c suggests faster road riding, although these are not out and out slicks, such as the Inoue Roadlight Xguard Tyre, for example. Indeed, the CST blurb suggests commuting and long training rides as their natural habitat. The pressure range fits this well – 80-120psi - as does he 60tpi casing. However, they’ll not suit if you run a bottle dynamo and they are not e.bike compatible. These are not tubeless ready.
Dual compound rubber should offer a good mix of rolling and grip with sound cornering. The tread is very much designed for the road rather than, even, light gravel. There’s an additional densely woven rubberised poly-fibre strip between the tread and the carcass. This is a “proprietary” material providing Exceptional Puncture Safety, as CTS put it.
A bit of a teaser this, but the tyres are available in a variety of colours should you wish to compliment or contrast your paint job; however, stockists logistics mean that they are unlikely to carry enough stock in any colour other than black. You can try asking.
Testing took place during winter, including a mixture of wet or icy days, including some snow. Seems to me that this offered a pretty good test, although something with a more prominent tread was preferable when commuting over packed snow. To be fair, the Czar is not really designed for that. They can cope with some light gravel, especially if the weather has been clement, but as you’d expect, braking and cornering required extra care.
So, we all like a bit of speed and the Czar did not disappoint when it came to getting up to speed to fit in with the rush hour traffic on city centre roads. Handling in both wet and dry conditions felt very secure even when braking hard or manoeuvring through those bloody cars that block up most city roads around five o’clock in the evening. Interestingly, Michael ran TPU tubes on the CST Pika Gravel Tyres, as well as butyl ones, and found it made them even livelier – may be the same with the Czar.
Generally, I ran them at 85psi, although I did drop them to 80 for a little canal towpath hard-pack dirt experiment. Getting things up to 100psi on the Son H rims were great for a good seventy or eighty-mile day trip, with a rack pack carrying the necessaries: lively on the ascents and sure footed on the descents. Loading up with front and rear panniers or pulling the trailer made things feel a bit skittish, but not unmanageable. Still, these wouldn’t be first choice for a multi-day tour on road, let alone mixed surface routes.
Durability/Puncture Protection 3.5/5
Well, I have not managed to puncture, which is always a bit of a lottery. Even so, commutes regularly take me through the Friday-night-Saturday-morning discarded bottles and glasses of the city centre; and there has been hedge-cutting along the local lanes, too. Even so, my feeling is that puncture protection is good, rather than great – on a par with all but the most bomb-proof tyres, such as my old fave Schwalbe Marathon varieties.
400 miles in and nothing meets the eye that would suggest that they are not going to stay the course. Being almost slick, of course, they pick up little in the way of unwanted detritus.
To be blunt, a tyre as good as this at this price point is very good value. You can go a lot higher with marginal gains for a good deal more. However, the CST Czar are not alone. Schwalbe’s Lugano entry level road tyres come in at a similar rrp, although the Czar are around 200g each lighter. Closer in weight, if still heavier, is Lifeline’s Essential Road Armour Tyre, which has a similar spec and can be found for a fiver or so less. All have asphalt as their natural habitat. More expensive, but very good on the road and some light gravel work, the Pirelli Cinturato Velo TLR are much more expensive, but very durable, are tubless ready, have a reflective strip, and very good puncture protection (even if my old adversary, the hawthorn, managed to get through. Of course, the CST Pika Gravel Tyre is fine on road as well as on gravel and is around half the price of the Pirelli Cinturato. Equally, for master blasters the Czar’s Cito stablemates (170tpi casings), which also come in a 28mm option, are £33.
The CST Czar Tyres offer very good value indeed to the rider who loves the rod and is only rarely tempted to hit the forest track. Secure and stable, best not loaded down with camping kit and kitchen sink, they’ll take you for some speedy fun and frolics along your favourite country lanes or your training rides.