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Review – Challenge Grifo Team Edition S 33mm Cyclocross Tubulars

In short: Excellent all round CX tubulars with the proven Grifo Tread, a super soft sidewall, 320TPI casing and a new factory installed sidewall protection.

With us now entering November, and the course conditions softening up, the pros hang up their file-treads and opt for the Grifo Style Pattern.

We glued up a set of Challenge Grifo Team Edition S 33mm Cyclocross Tubular Tyres to see for ourselves why so many athletes are opting for the Grifo as an all round tyre.

First impressions of the new Team Edition S3 super soft sidewall were impressive, with the supple sidewall allowing for the tyres to easily be mounted to our test rims.

The new sidewall also offers additional protection from wear and tear with a new factory installed protective layer, preventing the sidewalls from rotting as fast increasing the tyres durability. That being said, the team edition cotton sidewalls won’t last as well as the basic ‘Grifo Pro’ Model which features a cheaper, less subtle, 300 TPI Super Polly casing compared to the Team Editions 320 TPI Corespun Sealed sidewall.

The new Team Edition sidewall offers a noticeable improvement in performance and feel, compared to the cheaper Grifo Pro Model, however we found the cheaper model to be slightly more durable. That being said, when compared to other big brands the Challenge Range offers excellent durability in comparison and the Team Edition S will still be going strong after a seasons use.

Another benefit of the high TPI (threads per inch) count offered by Challenge is that the feeling of the tyre rolling underneath you in the corners when run at low pressures is almost eliminated. This allowed us to corner at greater speed thanks to a more predictable ride feel.

Challenge sticks with the traditional proven Grifo Tread which offers a combination of different size knobs to allow for low rolling resistance whilst providing traction in the faster corners. The tyres also feature a latex inner tube sewn by hand into the tubulars in Challenges Italian Factory. This combination provides excellent all round speed for the faster grassier courses. The Grifo tread pattern clears mud very well so is also suitable for slippy conditions when others treads may begin to clog up, although if you are looking for something with a more aggressive tread for those really muddy days you should opt for the Limus model, which was ridden to multiple victories in Valkenberg earlier this year at the World Championships.

The main reason why we preferred the Grifo to its rivals such as the Dugast Typhoon and FMB Sprint is the additional side knobs on the very edge of the tyre. We found these provided extra traction when the bike was lent over in the turns and didn’t cost us any straight line speed. This allowed us to still be able to run our intermediate ‘all round’ Grifo tyres on days other racers had to bring out the mud tubs.

Challenge Grifo Tread vs Dugast Typhoon
Left – Challenge Grifo – Right Dugast Typhoon

Finally all Challenge Tyres are also available as Open Tubulars which fit on a standard clincher rim. This allows you to run both the same treads on training and race wheels, and although tubulars for cyclocross provide a massive benefit compared to a clincher tyre, the new Clincher Pro series paired with a Challenge Latex CX Tube helped us bridge the gap in performance between a tubular and clincher setup.

Technical features

Use: Cross Racing: All Around Soft Pack
Size: 28″
Tire Width: 33 mm
Internal Rim Width: 15-19 mm
Weight: 405 gr
TPI: 320
Bead:
Casing: Corespun SEALED
Flat

protection:

PPS
BAR: 1.6-6
PSI: 23-90 – we ran ours as low as 16 PSI
Inner tube: latex
Color: Black-White