Vittoria Evolution Road Bike Tyre
26x1.9 678g £19.99 each
The Vittoria Evolution Road Bike Tyres are a hardy “multi surface” design intended for rougher roads and have impressed with their relative speed and agility. Marketed as a commuter, they’ve proven reassuringly competent on rough streets and lumpy lanes. However, there are better bets, if you want to go beyond quick canal path detours.
Pros: Relatively low rolling resistance, perform well on tarmac, inexpensive.
Cons: No 700c option, not e.bike compatible, puncture resistance good, rather than great.
The Evolution are available in 26x1.9, or 29x1.9, providing a generous pocket of air. 26tpi casings with wire beads and pressure range between 35 and 65psi suggest a sturdy, if slightly agricultural tyre. Rather than employing a puncture repelling aramid/ similar belt beneath, Vittoria have gone for thick nylon for the Randonneur, Randonneur Reflective and Evolution models. However, they still meet 5/7 for flat resistance on their puncture protection chart.
Traditionally dual use tyres employed a mix of subtle knobs for off road grip and a raised centre strip to minimise rolling resistance over metaled roads. They also had an unenviable reputation for being the worst of both worlds. The Evolution’s chevron tread pattern is subtler, dare I say much smoother, but reminiscent of Schwalbe Marathon GT 365.
Aside from the fact bottle dynamos have fallen out of fashion in recent years, given the price point I wasn’t surprised by a lack of dynamo track, or the fact they’re not recommended for e-bikes. Arguably reflective sidewalls are a missed opportunity, given the commuter tag but bold white Vittoria logos offer some presence. Staying with the sidewalls a minute, thee feel more supple than their composition and price might employ. Ok, they’re quite buxom, which helps but I’ve mounted ours without resorting to tyre levers and a bog-standard resin model has swept them off Ursula’s Rigida Sputnik and Ryde Andra 40 rims.
Ride quality has been surprisingly good. 26tpi tyres can give a slightly harsh ride. Again 1.9-inch width helps but they’ve cruised serenely overly lumpy bumpy tarmac, while still being surprisingly plush along dry trails, dirt roads and mild to moderate bridle path. In the latter context, 50 psi seemed optimal but obviously, you can go lower for additional bite.
Ours were lighter than Vittoria cite on their website, which was a pleasant surprise and contributed to the sprightly persona. I’d been running Schwalbe Land Cruiser Plus for 800miles previously-both these tyres are surprisingly responsive, given their size and weight. However, along comparable sections, and both at 65psi, the Evolution’s rolling resistance seemed lower.
I was able to maintain 16.5-17.5mph, with the same effort needed to keep the Land Cruiser at 16mph. Neither tyres suffer from that low-level hum. Accelerate in anger and you might induce a slight whirr-especially over rumble strips and similar road markings, but otherwise, conversation conducive silence.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well they’ve behaved in the wet, and at speed. 25mph along some sweeping bends, with bovine dung for good measure- no issues with control, especially when needing to swerve holes, glass, deer, rabbits, and roadkill. Opening car doors, jaywalking pedestrians were avoided with similar finesse.
Raised ironworks needed a more disciplined, dare we say cautious approach but with these things in mind, no nasty surprises. Off road and in the dry, they’ve been surprisingly agile, and predictable.
Models like Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Dual Defense will run rings around the Evolution in these contexts, ditto the Land Cruiser Plus. However, the Evolution are designed for rough tarmac. At 50psi, the Evolution behaved well through damp dirt roads and relatively smooth bridle path to around 17mph.
In common with others of this genre, in wet, mud the chevrons become impacted, so in these conditions will have the traction of slicks. Not what they’re primarily intended for, but something to consider when taking the scenic route.
Puncture Resistance/Durability 3.25/5
750 mixed terrain miles and only one flat, is reassuring given the lack of puncture repelling belt. However, wet, gritty canal paths and farm tracks, revealed some vulnerabilities. The tread pattern attracted flints and similarly sharp stones, which left unchecked will burrow deep and cause a flat.
Disciplined brushing of the casings with something like Oxford Tyre Scrub TESTED: OXFORD PRODUCTS TYRE SCRUB BRUSH (sevendaycyclist.com) certainly helps. Otherwise, casings show no signs of more serious wear.
£19.99 is very favourable. Especially if you’re looking for budget commuting rubber or have converted an older mountain bike into a road-biased tourer/workhorse. Or need your 29er to earn its keep during the week. Schwalbe Land Cruiser K-Guard Tour - Schwalbe Professional Bike Tires also retail at £19.99 and are available in 26x1.75 and 2.0, along with 700c options, viable for rough stuff tourers and cyclo cross bikes serving on tarmac.
The base model Land Cruisers employ K-guard, which is a blend of natural rubber, interwoven with Kevlar, and feature a dedicated dynamo track. I’ve run these and their Land Cruiser Plus siblings (rrp £23.99) Tour - Schwalbe Professional Bike Tires (Which feature a 3mm puncture repelling strip and are compatible with less powerful e-bikes). Run through the darker, wetter months, for comparable distances as the Vittoria, I’ve punctured once - a hedge clipping getting the better of Schwalbe’s K-Guard.
Those on a bare bones, tarmac dedicated budget might find Lifeline Essential Commuter LifeLine Essential Commuter 26" Tyre | Tyres | Wiggle very enticing. They feature a Kevlar breaker strip and are available in 1.5, or 1.75 widths. Those with deeper pockets might find WTB All Terrain All Terrain Tire | WTB $36.95 (approximately £30.00) another good bet. They’re available in 26x1.95 and 700x32 and 37mm sections and I ran a set for several thousand miles, through London’s mean streets, with no issues.
Horses for courses... the Vittoria Evolution are capable budget rubber for city streets and backroads. However, despite some very definite charm, there are better choices if you’re looking beyond canal paths, or short sections of dry trails.