Known for riding off the front of group rides only to be caught in the first mile, CJ got back on a road bike and realized he must win the Donut Derby at least once in his life. Regularly pledging he's "not a climber," he can be found as a regular attendee of Trexlertown's Thursday Night Training Criterium or sitting on the couch watching Paris-Roubaix reruns. CJ has been a constant rider of the Hell of Hunterdon in New Jersey and races the Tour of the Battenkill before going into seasonal hiding on cross-country ski trails.

Review: Vittoria Rubino Pro Endurance and Speed

Review: Vittoria Rubino Pro Endurance and Speed

 

(2016) There was a bit of reticence as well as interest when I narrowed down the tire selection for the upcoming offseason. The reason was based on previous experiences, but I wanted something that could handle difficult terrain and conditions.

 

The Vittoria Corsas finally gave up recently. The timing was impeccable. I was ready to move on to another selection of tire that ranks protection as its first attribute. Offseason riding is mostly an endurance sport in and of itself. The last thing anyone wants to be doing on a ride is pulling hands out of mitts to change a tube in the cold. I’ll sacrifice rolling resistance for reliability during the colder months.

 

Recently Vittoria revamped their whole line. Sadly the Pave Green Stripe Army was plowed over. Actually it was incorporated into the Rubino line. Vittoria brags about their Graphene technology. Graphene, according to them, when heated with body temperature, can cut through ice. I guess that’s important to know if I try to ride across a frozen lake. But I had strong misgivings about the word ‘Rubino.’

  The Vittoria Rubino line packaging displaying the Endurance 23c on the left and the Pro 25c on the right.

The Vittoria Rubino line packaging displaying the Endurance 23c on the left and the Pro 25c on the right.

Last year I had a new experience not once, but three times while rolling on Rubino Pros. Mind you, these were the old versions, but the history was there. Three times I went into a corner only to be bounced out of the riding line by the Rubino’s inability to grip. Twice I managed to slow myself down and drift to the outside of the road. But the wildest ride of all was when I tried catching back up to a group ride. I ignored the 15 mph suggestion to navigate the upcoming hard right turn. Once I realized I was overcooking the corner I had to prioritize where I going to send the bike. Though I will commend the Rubinos for holding together as I cyclocrossed into and out of a person’s front yard they were the reason I was freewheeling through a person's yard. I’m sure my point is clear that Rubino gives me a little hesitation. So would they convince me their job is sturdy in the new line?

 

Just last week I snapped on two types of Rubinos. Because of the variation, I will talk about the rear selection first.

 

Vittoria Rubino Pro Endurance

 

Since most of the weight sits on the back wheel, and since it is the biggest pain to change, I decided to bulk up by selecting Vittoria Rubino Pro Endurance. The little icon on the packaging stated it was virtually puncture proof had my attention. The Endurance tire is designed to handle many offseason conditions plus enhanced traction on gravel roads. This checked all of the boxes I was looking for in the off season. Add their convenient price point and I wouldn’t feel so bad if one ripped open.

 

On today’s ride I took the new setup to my personal proving grounds. Seven Corner Road is a cyclist’s dream when everything comes together regarding handling and tailwind. Five middle turns, alternating right then left, are ninety-degrees, occasionally banked, and slightly downhill. The Corsas established their reputation on this road last spring.

  A close-up of the Endurance tread pattern. The gumwall detail on the packaging is not lost here.

A close-up of the Endurance tread pattern. The gumwall detail on the packaging is not lost here.

Today though, the wind had other ideas. Each turn put me strangely into a headwind dropping the entry speed. I wondered how the wind knew just when to blow to make it a personal headwind. I did get enough speed through a few turns and immediately felt the trade-off of rolling resistance for dependability. The Rubino Endurance did have a semi comfortable grip through the turns but didn’t hold like the Corsas. Instead of hugging the turns, the tires tracked to the outside even under slower speeds. It could have been my confidence in past Rubino rides causing a experiment but the wind wouldn’t allow much more speed.

 

A noteworthy aspect of the casing is that it can go as high as 130 PSI. I usually run 100 PSI and even this felt jarring as the tire’s stoutness translated into a little extra vibration.

 

The Rubino Endurance came in handy during the end of the ride when I pointed the route onto a technical dirt road that has two downhill sharp turns in rapid succession.  Today’s descent was even more technical with the addition long shadows and leaves hiding hazards. The road is currently more packed dirt than gravel, and despite the drought, it was interestingly damp.

  Two benefits of the Rubino Endurance listed on the packaging. 

Two benefits of the Rubino Endurance listed on the packaging. 

Knowing this road well, I opted for the right-hand side tire groove for both right-turn descents. It would keep me out of any oncoming traffic. The first descent was extremely lumpy with hidden potholes and slippery leaves. The gravel barrier down the middle of the road was not an option to cross so it was imperative to stay on one side of the road. The Rubinos tracked true and the pedal power was translated to traction as a punchy climb followed the turn. Once topped out an even more technical descent followed with the right turn into a left. Here drainage ditches cross the road. And again, the Rubinos scoffed at these impediments. Despite the frequent hazards causing blurry vision, I put a remarkable amount of faith in the Vittorias and came out just fine. The Rubinos did their job well.

 

Having the Endurance selection on the back gave me confidence that many of the offseason hazards will be no match for these Vittorias. Earlier in the week I had ridden the Rubinos and sidewalled it through an elongated crack in the pavement. There were no issues. With no slippage on the climbing portions of the gravel road during the test, the tread proved to be ideal for off piste conditions. The harder compound might be worth the tradeoff with regards to rolling resistance. For the price of the Vittoria Rubino Pro Endurance, the reliability can’t be beat. When the salt, sand, and gravel start showing up on the winter roadways, this could be the best bet at getting home without having to pull out the flat repair kit or the phone.

 

Vittoria Rubino Pro (Speed)

 

Opting for a bit more traction on the front, I went with the Vittoria Rubino Pro speed setup. Furthermore, I opted for the 25c option to throw in some comfort with traction. This style of Rubino feels more like the old Vittoria offered before the revamp.

  The Rubino Pro (speed) selection in the 25c width went on the front for added comfort and grippiness.

The Rubino Pro (speed) selection in the 25c width went on the front for added comfort and grippiness.

Rolling across the chipped and sealed roads the Speeds proved just grippy enough to help with that offseason Strava segment. Having the grip on the front lets the bike track better into the corner before handing it off to the rear. With the wider selection on the front it offset some of the terseness that could come about having an Endurance on the front, too. The softer compound of the Speed is certainly noticeable when pairing it with the Pro Endurance. 

  It helps to have the extra puncture protection when the road conditions deteriorate during the winter.

It helps to have the extra puncture protection when the road conditions deteriorate during the winter.

On the unpaved road the Speed tire cut through the gravel and helped the bike stay true. The vibration created by the potholes under piles of leaves proved to be no issue for the Speeds either. Standing up to climb the pave ascent was easy for the Speed as the outside tread hooked up predictably and dependably. It was a truly satisfying gravel road with these tires mounted. At the same price as the Endurance, the Speed is a reliable option as a front tire for the approaching offseason weather conditions.

 

Gone were the handling concerns of old, though the same entry speeds were not entertained. Having the Endurance on the back to prevent punctures is one less worry for the rider. The Speed on the front makes a pretty dependable tandem combination for a rider looking to cushion some of the road while having the reliability on the back. At $45 (USD) each, it’s tough to beat an offseason selection than the Vittoria Rubino line.

Essay: On Slippery Rail Season

Essay: On Slippery Rail Season

Events: Doylestown Bike Works Cranksgiving 2016 (and Why You Should Do It)

Events: Doylestown Bike Works Cranksgiving 2016 (and Why You Should Do It)