About a month ago, we showed the new Continental Grand Prix 4000S II in our Eurobike coverage. At the time, details and tech information were slim, so we got in touch with Christian Wurmbäck, product manager for Conti Germany’s bicycle road race tire division.
The main thing that Wurmbäck stressed to us is that this is not a brand new tire, but rather an update to their hugely successful GP 4000S. I consider that to be a very good thing; it breaks my heart to see product designs that go from ‘good’ to ‘worse’ over time. Grandpa was right – if it ain’t broke, don’t ‘fix’ it.
More specifically, Conti tells us that the price, tread pattern, advanced Black Chili compound, Vectran puncture layer, and 3/330tpi casing have not changed. To be clear, I do believe that the tire has changed somewhat over time, as evidenced by some of the roller data from people like Slowtwitch contributor, Tom Anhalt. It seems that the newer versions of the tire have lower rolling resistance than the first year or two of production.
What has changed, then?
First, we get a rainbow of pretty colors in the GP 4000S 2:
Conti has offered different colors of the standard Grand Prix 4000 for many years. Those ‘non-S’ tires had full colored treads (i.e. the entire body of the tire had color), which is precisely what kept them from being called ‘S’. Huh?
You see, rumor has it that the S stands for Schwarz – which means ‘black’ in German. Only the magic S-for-Schwarz tires have black chili compound, which is the magic sauce that makes them so darn fast. Now you can have the special compound and black tread, but with color accents on the sidewalls to match your dorky bar tape and shoe covers (yes, I’m talking to you – guy who has to have everything matching the same shade of red). We don’t know exactly how the color is applied, but we’d be very surprised if Conti was foolish enough to do anything to the tires that would increase rolling resistance.
What else is new? Two big things:
1. A new 650x23mm size (ISO 23-571)
2. A new 700x28mm size (ISO 28-622)
In our Fast Tires 2013 article series, we wrote that these two specific sizes were the two holes in Conti’s line. Clearly Continental was thinking along the same lines and saw enough sales potential to warrant making these two new sizes.
Here is a full breakdown of sizes in the new Grand Prix 4000S II:
Note that the “Reflex” option in the 25 and 28mm size is a reflective sidewall for nighttime safety.
Finally, let’s talk rolling resistance. Similar to the story I’ve heard from Specialized and Schwalbe, Continental says that larger tires roll faster. Here’s a breakdown of their four width options in the GP4000 S II (Crr on the Y axis, pressure on the X axis):
For comparison to some other brands, here is one of Tom Anhalt’s latest charts:
I stand by my previous statements about the 4000 S – it’s an awesome tire. In my opinion, it is one of the best choices on the market for triathlon. In the game of tire-puncture-roulette, the stakes are high. There are very few tires with Crr that low and puncture protection that high. I’ve had success with the Challenge Forte, but admittedly do not have nearly as many miles on them the 4000 S, so my jury is still deliberating on the matter. I have high hopes for the new Schwalbe Ironman tubeless tire, but have zero miles on them. I’ve used the 4000 S a lot, and know it works. It’s not a year-round gravel training tire, but it does remarkably well in a lot of conditions.