A set of Challenge Forte tubs has recently arrived at RCUK Towers, ready for stretching and fitting to some race wheels.
They’re handmade in Thailand, but Challenge is based in Italy, near Pisa. Run by Max Brauns, they have been producing tyres since 2000, initially for other brands, but since 2003 under their own label. Stretching from track to mountain bike with time trial, triathlon and road riding in between, they are also producing a fine selection of cyclo-cross tyres. Indeed, they are probably most famous in the ‘cross scene for sponsoring a fine selection of stars including our very own Ian Field and Helen Wyman.
These are from the road racing range and are a grippy version of their super fast Criterium tub. The Forte 24 has a stippled centre section with ribbed sides that help cornering grip. They also use a Super Poly casing rather than the silk that is at the heart of the Criterium; this should make them beter suited to a few off-season forays into the wilds of our test loops. The change to the casing also makes them a more pocket friendly £65, rather than £110 for the top end Criterium Seta Extras.
The 24mm weighs in at 270 grams, with the mildly slimmer 22mm shaving off only five grams. The Super Poly casing is made from a combination of cotton and polyester fibers which are extremely fine and enable Challenge to create a tyre with a high tread count: 300 tpi on the Forte.
This should make it extremely supple and so resistant to damage. Suppleness is key for grip in corners, allowing the tyre to deform easily over small surface irregularities that would otherwise throw you off line by increasing the contact patch with the ground.
Between the fabric inner and the hand glued tread is a puncture proof strip which will hopefully ward off any penetrations into the core of the tub.
Well be handing them to one of our hardened test crew, who’ll be heading out into the countryside to find out how they perform. Now where did I leave the tub cement?