CONTINENTAL GRAND PRIX 5000 TL – BEST PERFORMER
Continental and Hutchinson introduced new tubeless tires recently and they surpass all those that came before them. The Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL is my new choice for Best Performer while Hutchinson’s Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm is my new pick for Best Value.
You can read my reviews of these two tires below. My post describing what matters most in picking between tubeless tires, how the top everyday tubeless road tires perform against those criteria, and what you need to know to about going tubeless can be found by clicking here.
Best Performer – Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL
It took a while for Continental to come up with a tubeless road tire and then a while longer from when they announced it to making it widely available. Now that they have done both, my testing and those of others I trust show that it is the Best Performer amongst tubeless bike tires for everyday road riding and darn near as good as the best tubeless, tubed or tubular road racing tires.
I’ve installed the GP5K TL on rims from several different manufacturers with inside widths of both 19mm and 21mm. The tires have gone on without me needing to use tire levers and usually with just a track pump. Note, these tires should not be used on hookless rims like the 4.5AR and 3.4AR wheelsets from ENVE or Stans Avion series rims or others without hooks for the tire bead to grab onto. They won’t hold.
The GP5K TLs ride very comfortably and give me confident handling when I run them at the same pressure I run other road tubeless tires. And while I haven’t worn them out yet, they do seem to be wearing evenly, not any more or less quickly than other good tubeless tires. No flats, burps, sealant leaks, road buzz, etc. You get a good feel of the road too. Neither damp/soft or rough/harsh. Goldilocks Mama Bear just right.
While it’s not always the case, we should expect all the benefits I’ve just described from tubeless bike tires these days as “table stakes” to get into the game for our enthusiast $, €, £, etc. these days. Tubeless road tires aren’t a new thing anymore.
Unfortunately, it’s not always the case that you get the balance of good performance along all of these installation and road feel characteristics. So that’s a strong vote for these new Contis right off the bat.
What makes the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL better performers, let alone the best among tubeless bike tires? They have all the table stakes working for them and what currently looks to be the best aero and rolling resistance performance of any everyday road tubeless tire.
To judge aero performance, I look at how well tires and rims work together. When the tire is the leading edge, you want the airflow coming off of it to continue smoothly along the rims of your wheels rather than flow away at an angle that never sees or “sticks” to the rims. You also want the air to flow smoothly from the rim to the tire when the tire is the trailing edge. For this to happen, testing has shown that the rim should be no less than 105% the width of the tire or the tire no more 95% the width of the rim.
Most new road disc brake wheels have a 21.0mm – 21.5mm inside width and a 28-30mm outside width where the rim meets the tire. The 25C Conti GP5K TL inflated at 80psi measures 27.0mm to 27.5mm on the wheels I tested or right in the range where you get your best aero performance. The tire sidewalls are pretty straight and well supported which also makes for good handling.
Modern rim brake wheelsets have 19mm inside and 27mm to 27.5mm outside width measured at the brake track. On 19mm or “19C” rims, I measured the 25C Conti GP5K TL at 80psi between 26.1mm and 26.5mm wide, again, in the range for best aero performance.
True, there are still many 17C and 19C rims around whose outside widths are less than 27mm. In those cases, you pay a penalty with these tires when your ride at aero speeds. If you’ve got one of those wheelsets, consider the Zipp Tangente Speed RT25, my prior choice for Best Performer, or the Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm, my current Best Value, as they measure a half mm narrower than the GP5K TL in similar situations on 17C and 19C rims and about a mm narrower on 21C rims. (See just below for a review of the Hutchinson)
As the wider is better hype continues, many riders wonder if 28C tires would be better for modern 19C and 21C wheels. While it might improve comfort and handling further, putting 28C Conti GP5K or even narrower fitting 28C Zipp, Hutchinson, Mavic and most other tires I’ve tested for this review on those wheels will put you beyond the best aero guidelines. You have to get to a 30mm wide rim for some 28C tubeless tires to work without wrecking your aero performance. Even a 25C Schwalbe Pro One, one of the more popular tubeless bike tires, measures a good mm wider than the GP5K TL and is often nearly as wide or wider than the rim it is mounted on. This is less than ideal aerodynamically.
The Continental Grand Prix 5000 TL’s rolling resistance as measured by Bicycle Rolling Resistance (BRR) also shows it to have less rolling resistance than any other everyday tubeless road tire it has tested by at least a couple watts and nearly as good as the lowest rolling resistance racing tires be they tubeless, tubular or tubed.
Rolling resistance plays a more important role than aero performance up to the point where you are riding at aero speed (roughly 20mph/32kph) and when you are drafting in a paceline. At aero speed and increasingly beyond it, your aero performance outweighs rolling resistance when comparing the effects of wattage losses from air and road resistance.
These tires seem to have everything going for them. Along with a price that isn’t unreasonable for all you get, this makes the Grand Prix 5000 TL a clear Best Performer choice.
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Best Value -Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm Road Tubeless
While Continental may be the most recent brand to introduce road tubeless bike tires, Hutchinson was the first to sell a tubeless road tire. Hutchinson did it about 15 years ago, coincidentally about the same time Continental started its long run with Grand Prix 4000 tubed tires. Continental’s and Hutchinson’s divergent paths came back together in 2018 when Hutchinson started selling their 11Storm compound tires just before Continental introduced their Grand Prix 5000 TL.
Hutchinson also puts its 11Storm compound into the more durable, all-weather, commuter-oriented Fusion 5 All-Season 11Storm model and the lighter, thinner racing-focused Fusion 5 Galactik 11Storm. The company makes the Mavic Yksion Pro UST and Zipp Tangente Speed Road Tubeless tires with the 11Storm compound as well but in different molds that inflate to slightly different inflated sizes and have somewhat different road feel.
Since I selected the Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm as the Best Value among everyday road tubeless bike tires, let me first talk about its low price.
As you’ll read in a moment, they are good if not the best performers on the road. And they are newly introduced and available at multiple stores with a low list price and slightly lower market price so it’s not like this is an introductory sale they are offering to attract attention and initial market share. The Fusion 5 model has been around for a while, the 11Storm being it’s latest iteration.
I could come up with a few theories as to why these tires sell at a relatively low price – high volume/lower costs thanks to their OEM agreements with Mavic and Zipp, lower brand/marketing/distribution expenses, highly competitive market, less greedy French company, etc.
It’s hard to know why and it’s probably not important as long as they perform well enough for the price.
And I found they do.
I really enjoyed the road feel (comfort, handling, grip, road noise) of the Fusion 5 Performance tires. Of course, it’s a personal thing but for me, they felt dampened, comfortable, grippy and were quiet. If you want a more energetic feel or more feedback from the road, you can inflate them 5psi or so above your normal level but they won’t ride as comfortably. You can also go with the more expensive Conti GrandPrix 5000 TL which I find give you both road responsiveness and comfort.
The Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm install easily enough with the odd tire lever required on rims with a shallower center channel and compressed air occasionally needed to get the beads to set into the hooks. With the range of rims out there, I’ve had a hard time blaming added difficulty installing and inflating tubeless setups on the tires or the rims lately. Unless the tire is very supple, as it seems the Conti GP5K TL is, it usually takes two to tango rather than the rim or the tire leading the dance.
After mounting the 25C Hutchinson Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm, I did find they measure closer to the 25mm suggested size than the GP5K TL, Mavic Yksion Pro UST or Zipp Tangente Speed RT25. (Who comes up with these freaking tire names?!?!?). On a 19C rim @80psi, count on a 26.0mm width from the Hutch. With a 21C rim at the same 80psi, look for something closer to 26.3. If your external rim width is in the 26.5mm to 27.0mm range, these are going to be one of your better aero options in a 25C tubeless tire.
I’ve not seen independent rolling resistance testing data for the Fusion 5 Performance 11Storm. BRR’s testing of the Mavic Yksion Pro UST Tubeless which shares the same 11Storm compound shows its rolling resistance to be essentially the same as the Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless. The Schwalbe long set the standard for tubeless rolling resistance until the GP5K TL came along so this new Fusion 5 Performance is in good company.
And what of that Schwalbe? It is priced similarly to the Hutch. Why is it not a Best Value among tubeless bike tires?
The answer – width and wear. After installing and inflating, the Schwalbe Pro One Tubeless measures 1-2 mm wider than other 25C tires on 17C, 19C, and 21C rims. This makes it as wide and usually wider than the rims themselves, reducing aero performance.
The Pro One Tubeless also seems to wear more quickly and cut more easily than other everyday tubeless road tires. Some people still swear by them but many more swear at them than other tires I’ve reviewed.
True, they’ve been around longer than many I’ve tested and they once set the standard. But despite their good price, their width and wear no longer makes them a great value.
Here’s how the Conti and Hutch compare on performance and price against the other tubeless road tires I’ve reviewed.
You can read more about these tires in my review The Best Tubeless Bike Tires.