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.