Review: Vittoria Corsa 23mm Team Issue
(2016) With the support of my grandmother I waltzed into art class at the ripe age of nine years old and sketched figurines. I began seeing the world in different shades of gray, observing light and shadows that would spill over into photography. If I’m honest what I really wanted was one of those cool erasers the adults had. I was told good artists never resorted to erasing; naturally this confused me because I really wanted one of those erasers, but I wanted to be a good artist.
With the sudden advancement of spring I found myself regarding sunlight for the newly minted after work ride of 2016. Some temporary considerations for this ride include sunset time but most importantly sunlight glare. Those old lessons of shadow and light came in handy when hearing a car coming from behind while riding into the occasional glaring setting sun.
Recently it has become the days of finally pulling the Vittoria Corsas Team Issue out of the heavy plastic wrapping, snapping them on the HED Belgiums, and rolling around the Bucks County farmland in an effort to judge just how good they are. I have found immense excitement in riding on gumwalls.
These are the redesigned Corsas, mind you. Up to last year, Veloflex and Vittoria gumwalls were nearly identical in tread pattern. Both had little ridges but could essentially be viewed as a slick tire. With the new pattern I immediately thought of a whale’s baleen being mimicked in the new tread pattern. It resembled Team SKY’s Rapha speed suit that also looks like a baleen. Perhaps the cycling world is onto something when it comes to expanding curtain plates.
The clinchers went on easy enough. Talced tubes are certainly the way to go to ease the application of these casings. The tires were inflated to my preferred 100 psi (7 bar). I tend to mount gumwalls the night before a ride to let them stretch a little, though this time I put them straight on. Further, letting them age a bit is an approach some riders use when it comes to gumwalls; it’s something to consider. These had been in my possession for several months; I figured they were ready. I was more than ready.
Rolling out the tires brought back last season’s memories of riding on the smoothed-out progress of gumwalls. I got to test out the braking immediately when a motorist in the neighborhood backed out his car but saw me at the last moment. The tires tracked true with clamped brakes and did not lock up. It was an unexpected successful first test.
Heading out onto chipped and sealed roads is where the Vittorias began to show their advantage. The road, which felt bouncy a week ago on Vittoria Rubino Pros, now felt even and less vibratory. I began looking for cracked portions of pavement (of which there are plenty) to get a sense of the smoothness and the upgrade in quality was gladly translated in a better ride.
The object of the day’s ride was to test out the stickiness of the gumwall. Naturally (how have we gotten this far without mentioning) Mike met me at Tabora Farms and we headed to a particular road that is perfect for pushing the limits of traction. This is my most anticipated trait of having gumwalls mounted on quality rims.
Forcing the issue around turns, we approached the road accurately named 7 Corner Road. It is a slightly downhill portion with five 90-degree turns plus the turn on and off of the segment. Last week I had sprinted the straightaways but freewheeled the corners unsure if the well-worn Rubinos could hold the line. Improving today's scenario was a lone rider who got to the segment slightly ahead of us. Everything was in place.
Attacking the segment straightaway the tires felt in love with the road and rolled smoothly. There wasn’t the sticky sound of a worn out tread like last week’s rubber. The lone rider was overtaken immediately and the first turn was approached and taken wide open. I pedaled through the 90-degree angle right hander with confidence- and trust- in the tire’s ability to hang on. I wasn’t let down.
Downhill farther and the left 90-degree turn came quickly. I pedaled around that without hesitation. And I gunned it around each of the remaining three turns with confidence before ending at the intersection, which delineated the seventh corner. The Corsas were remarkable in their grip. Expectedly the road switches from blacktop to chip-and-sealed surface halfway through to provide diverse testing surfaces for these tires. The asphalt was cloudlike in its feel and the chipped roads contained less vibration. Oh the things that make cyclists excited!
A few days later I went back out with the Corsas, but instead I ran a scant 80psi (5 bar). I found the ride to be just as comfortable as the first ride with 100psi. There was no indication of rolling or sidewall wear when running the lower pressure. The cotton threads maintained their structure.
A variable in the tire’s performance can be observed in the form of surface heat, or lack thereof. It was a morning ride with cooler temperatures. I am a firm believer gumwalls have a sweet spot in road heat. Too cold and the rubber firms up; too hot and the tire picks up debris on the road and its lifespan diminishes. Today may have been a bit too cool to rev up the full capabilities of the Corsa.
Some updated surprises includes: Like what was mentioned in the Veloflex article, most gumwalls do not have a long rolling life. However, after rolling on these for over 1,000 miles, I've yet to see any wear. This includes pounding the chipped and sealed pavement of late during the warming summer weeks. Road debris could potentially cut through the compound as the rubber thins out, especially in hot weather as stated above, but I've yet to reach that point either. The tread still looks like it came out of the box yesterday. I thought gravel would be a no-go with these tires. However when I found myself riding through some of the dusty stuff, the Corsas baulked at my doubt. I spent the first few meters after the gravel road in a state of disbelief that the last style of roadway was dismissed so easily. Even better, many riders on the interwebs have raved about their cobble-gobbling ability.
These tires' grippiness excel for criterium racing and road racing. The thought that one would have to use them right out of the box for a lengthier road race is now dated information. They also prove themselves at smoothing out vibrations better than nearly every tire on the market. If a Gran Fondo is coming up, these tires will certainly serve the event well, leaving the rider feeling a bit fresher at the end.
The Vittoria Corsa team issue gumwalls are definitely worth the price ($84 USD) to be used as an all-round tire. Vittoria has nailed it with the Corsa Graphene tire. The best way to sum up the feeling of the tire is like that eraser I always wanted in art class. A kneaded eraser has a rubbery give to it until a certain point when it firms up and stops being absorptive. As I plied over the tertiary farm roads around northern Bucks County, all I could think of was how it felt like I contacted the road with a kneaded eraser under each wheel. Maybe I do need to use an eraser after all.
Keep an eye out for a head-to-head article this summer comparing Vittoria Corsa clinchers to Veloflex Master clinchers.