Tires Make a Difference: The Vredestein Fortezza SE

After more than a year’s worth of riding on my Continental Gatorskins, I decided to retire them.  One tire had over 3400 miles on it, the other a little under 3,000.  They’ve been pretty good, although they’re not as puncture resistant as I would hope.

So the question was, what to replace them with?  Some years ago, a friend recommended the Vredestein Fortezza SE, a tire sold through Performance Bike.  He said the puncture resistance was good, and if the price was a determining factor, I should give them a try.  Then, my friend Torsten reviewed another Vredestein model, the Fortezza TriComp, and spoke very highly of them.  I figured I’d try the SEs out.

I was pleased to find them in an end-aisle display at the local Performance shop, with a sale price of $29.99.  Performance says the regular price on these is $49.99, but honestly, I’ve never seen them go for anything higher than $30.

The Fortezza SEs differ in two big ways from my old Gatorskins.  They come only in 23 mm width, and I had been running 25s for almost three years.  And, they inflate to a much higher suggested pressure – between 115-160 psi.  I used to inflate the Gatorskins to 100, so I was interested to see what the SEs would feel like.

I’m pretty impressed.  I inflated them to 120 psi, and they’re noticeably harder than the Gators were.  However, after 10 days worth of riding on them, I find it’s not that big a deal, unless you’re on chipseal pavement.  Then the jarring is unpleasant.  The hard ride also has a benefit in less rolling resistance.  These things make you feel like you’re gliding along the roads.  My average speed for my last six rides is a full mph higher than it had been on the Gatorskins, and two of those rides were with my wife, so I wasn’t exactly pushing it.  The grip in tight turns is good, although I have not yet ridden them in wet conditions.

I’ll be experimenting with pressures over the next few weeks, gradually increasing over 120 psi to see what I’m most comfortable with.  Now, I know some folks who know say you should really ride at slightly lower pressures.  Fred Matheny of Road Bike Rider says riding at 90 lbs won’t make you any slower, and will increase the comfort of the ride.  Jan Heine of Bicycle Quarterly is even more adamant about lower tire pressures, and maintains that for optimum performance, tires should “drop” about 15 percent when a rider is on the bike.  That drop requires lower pressures.

But for now, I’m enjoying the perception of low rolling resistance.  I’ve ridden the tires across one of the rattiest routes in the area, and they came away without any problems – not even any cuts.  Maybe that’s just because they’re new.  I’ll post an update on these tires later this year, once they’ve gotten some real miles on them.  In the meantime, I gotta admit that the blue stripe on the Fortezza SEs makes a nice match with my blue and black bike.


  1. Mel Hughes says

    I can imagine the blue stripe does look “mahvelous” on your bike. You and I are going in the opposite direction with tire experimentation. Last year, when I was getting my road bike ready to start riding again, I bought a pair of Michelin Pro 3 Racing tires in the 23mm size. Through the summer, they were great tires, fast, sticky, and relatively trouble-free. But this fall, I started noticing little gravel nicks in the tread long before I expected to see any real wear.

    I had been reading more diverse sources about bicycle tire widths and pressures, most notably Grant Petersen at Rivendell Bike and Alan Barnard at EcoVelo. At first, I thought I might just go for the 25mm Michelin Pro 3’s to see if I could perceive a difference in handling or comfort. But the more I read, the more I thought I might try going a little further. I ended up with a pair of Vittoria Randonneurs (700x 28c) in Black with Reflective Stripes. I haven’t been able to get out and ride them yet as we have been bouncing from one snow storm to another. But when and if we do have a reasonable thaw and wash-off of the road salt and grime, I am looking forward to trying them out. The silver reflective stripe really does look great on my old, gray titanium Litespeed!

  2. johnt says

    What a great deal and they match your bike. My armadillo skins red sidewalls bring out the red accents on my bike and they have been great tires. I’ll be curious how the 23’s perform with 120 psi in wet conditions.

  3. says

    Remember, there’s no one size fits all for tire pressure. If you’re a heavier rider, then you will want some higher pressure. I ride at 120 PSI most of the time and will go up to 140 PSI for anything over 60 miles.

    Also, I highly recommend gatorskins or armadillo tire liners if you use these tires. You’ll get a lot more wear out of the tires that way and far fewer flats.

  4. says

    Interesting point on perception.

    In reality, we as cyclists spend a lot of time shaving grams, looking for every single edge. In the real, physical, measurable world, most of the things we do won’t matter. We may save 30 seconds on a 40 mile time trial with a pair of $3000 deep section carbon tubular wheels, but that doesn’t stop us from longing for them, right?

    Perhaps the greatest advantage of all our nifty little gadgets, weight savings, and super parts is nothing more than the mental edge it gives us: we should be faster, so we make ourselves faster.

    Pretty cool to think about…

  5. says

    I’m running what would be considered FAT tires 700Cx35 (although the look very slim next to the 26×1.75’s on the other bike). Been looking at 700Cx28’s these days, hoping for less road resistance, LOL, it might just be “all in my head”! 😉

  6. B.P. says

    I have been riding the SE on my Ti dean for the past two years. 700/23.
    I ride them at 115 psi or so. I really like the ride of these tires. I ride in south central PA and my roads are mt the best. The tire with a standard rubber tube
    make them very flat resistant. I have put them on a new build extralight
    w/aerohead wheels and could not be happier. I got them at $19.99 each and
    bought 6 at the time. Great tire even at the retail of $30 each.

  7. Mel Hughes says

    Not only did I get a chance to try out my 11-32 tooth rear cassette today, I finally actually got to put my Vittoria Randonneurs (700x 28c) on the road. What a difference from riding 23c Michelin Pro’s! The maximum inflation on these fatter tires is 85 psi. That’s right, fatter and slower but the ride is wonderful! Road sufaces that used to chatter my teeth seemed much smoother on these tires. I guess the more I ride, the slower I am becoming. But it is very comfortable back here!

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