Continental GP 4 Season V — 700 x 28c Bicycle Tires — on a Redline d440 29er Utility Bike — Review

© 2013 Peter Free


25 August 2013



An initial caveat — this review is about the Continental GP4s’ performance on 29er wheelset


My guess is that they would perform better on pure road rims.



Performance to cost ratio, under my conditions — average or worse


I have been riding these GP4 tires almost every day for two years.  They are mounted on a low end Redline 29er, which I converted into a utility bike some years ago.  I reviewed the bike, here.


The Continentals, in 700 x28c size, replaced a pair of Specialized Turbo 700 x 26c tires.




I replaced the 26c Turbos with the 28c Continentals because the Redline’s 29er rims were too wide to leave enough road-to-rim air volume, when hitting deep road cracks at speed.


The narrower Specialized tires would bottom out on 29er rims, sometimes causing pinch flats.


These Continentals were moderately expensive at $59.95 each.  They have not been that great for utility bike purposes.



Best two GP4 qualities


Low rolling resistance.


Durability, while ridden flat.


That last quality will not interest sensible riders.  But I get so many flats here in goathead thorn country — often 2 per short ride — that I sometimes ride home flat.  That practice is hard on tire sidewalls, but these Continentals have held up surprisingly well.


Caution — do not try this at speed or in corners, unless you are skilled


Riding clincher tires, while flat, is asking for trouble.  They are prone to rolling off the wheel rim, especially in corners.  If you are going to do this, it helps to have good bike handling skills.


Roadies and old-timers (like me) will recall that tubular tires (sewups) are safer to ride airless.  If properly glued to the wheel rims, they are less prone to coming detached, and they tend to track straighter.



Certainly not “4 Season”


On the Redline 29er — on the road and inflated to about 80 to 90 pounds per square inch — these are not confidence-inspiring in rain.  They are nastily “slippy” in an inch or two of snow.




Run of the mill qualities


Wear resistance is average.


My rear tire already has the flat streak typical of worn tires.  It cannot have more than 2,000 miles on it — given that the utility bike makes frequent, but comparatively short trips year round.


One clue to why this is so is the appearance of faint (but noticeable) black rubber streaks on our concrete driveway.  These come from slowing, but not locking the brakes, as I pull up to the house.


Puncture resistance is average.


If the GP4 sees a goathead thorn, it flats.  Small bits of wiry metal have occasionally also been a nuisance.


Rim fit




I have had the GP4 tires on two brands of rims.  Unlike some other Continentals, they fit reasonably tightly, but without requiring the stream of cursing that their predecessor types often evoked.



Ride quality and handling


Handling is fine in dry conditions.


However, ride is noticeably harsh with my rigid steel fork.  If you deflate the tires somewhat, on 29er rims, air volume becomes squishy.  Although the ride improves, one’s bike handling confidence does not.


This is one performance area where the wider 29er rim probably puts the GP4s at a disadvantage.



Conclusion — Performance to price ratio is poor, unless low rolling resistance is your only criteria


Overall, the GP4 bicycle tires matched my impression of automobile Continentals — average for the money, with some annoying shortcomings.


My next set of tires (for the utility bike) will probably be wider.  My wife’s 700 x 38c Specialized Infinity tires are more comfortable and seem to do better in the wet.  Rolling resistance, however, is noticeably higher than the narrower GP4s.


As always, you can’t have it all.  That said, the GP4s did not impress me enough to buy another pair.  Comparatively low rolling resistance isn’t everything, especially on utility bike.