Challenge's Paris-Roubaix is a bit of a mixed bag (sorry). On the one hand it's fast and very comfortable over bad surfaces, on the other it doesn't have much by way of puncture protection. It's a sort of winter tyre for summer, if you like.
Challenge have designed this tyre with a specific use-case in mind: to be fast and racy, but with the benefit of a big air chamber to soak up the hits. The clue's in the name, really. This is a tyre for riding fast on bad surfaces. Like in that race, what's it called again?
Anyway, the Paris-Roubaix uses the same 300TPI SuperPoly casing that Challenge use in their tubular tyres and their race clinchers. Just more of it, to make effectively a 27mm race tyre. You'll need a frame that'll handle them; most endurance road bikes should be fine. They were a snug fit in our tested-on-pavé Ridley Fenix Classic.
Talking of a snug fit, the construction of these tyres (they're not moulded like a normal tyre, the tread is hand-glued to the casing) means they arrive flat. This is the first tyre i've ever failed to fit: straight out of the box I simply couldn't get them onto a set of Shimano WH-6800 wheels, with their very narrow rim well. I had to fit them to another, wider set of wheels and leave them in the shed for a few days until they got a bit of shape. They were okay then, but it's worth noting that from new they can be tricky blighters.
At 261g they're light for a big tyre and the supple casing gives them a fantastic ride feel. Add to that the fact that you can drop the pressure a bit thanks to the bigger air chamber (I generally ran them at 85psi but you could go lower if you're lighter than me, which you likely are) and you get a really good ride over bad surfaces, as the tyre soaks up some fairly major surface imperfections. Challenge suggest they're better with their £10-a-pop latex inner tubes. They are, but not sufficiently that I'd personally pay the difference.
When you're just talking about hitting potholes, or the sides of cobbles, these tyres do a bang-up job of shrugging off some pretty bad treatment. But out on the badly-surfaced lanes you're also contending with flint and thorns and other sharp things, and this is where the tyres fall down a bit. The puncture protection is pretty minimal and they're easy to flat when the hedges are being cut. That's not the specific job they were intended for, and there are plenty of other, more durable winter tyres out there, but a bit more protection wouldn't go amiss. Most people won't be blowing the best part of a hundred quid on tyres for that one summer gravel race or cobbled sportive. Using them with latex tubes like the manufacturer recommends will cut down on sharp flats a bit, as the latex is harder to pierce the butyl. But then that makes them even more expensive.
They're hard tyres to score, the Paris-Roubaixes. On the one hand they do what Challenge designed them for – to deliver "the best comfort you can achieve from a top performing racing tire" – very well. On the other hand, the conditions for choosing them are restrictively narrow in the UK, even in summer. If you had miles of thorn-free dirt roads to play on, they'd probably be ideal. Mostly we're not that lucky over here and the big air chambers are for the badly-surfaced, glass-strewn lanes. Challenge do an even bigger (30mm) tyre, the Strada Bianca, which has an even bigger air chamber (natch) and also a decent puncture strip under the tread. If your frame will fit them, they're a much better UK conditions tyre.
Light for a big tyre and great comfort over rough surfaces, let down by puncture protection
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Make and model: Challenge Paris-Roubaix 700x27c tyre
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A max. volume 27mm sect. clincher for fast but safe riding on worst condition roads. Delivers the best comfort you can achieve from a top performing racing tire.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Use: Road / cobble / gravel racing
Width: 27 mm
Weight: 260 gr
protection: Double PPS
Very nicely constructed hand-made open tubular.
Good at a specific job, but better puncture protection would make it more versatile.
Decent rather than exceptional.
For the size, very good.
Super plush ride on all surfaces.
Nearly £50 a pop at RRP isn't exactly cheap, you can often find them cheaper online.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
When used for its specific purpose, very well. The specific purpose is rather narrow though and most people's riding is more varied.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Punctures, hard to fit from new.
Did you enjoy using the product? Most of the time.
Would you consider buying the product? For a big-volume fast-riding tyre, maybe.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe.
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.