Zipp's new Tangente Speed RT28 tyre, a tubeless version of its previous Tangente Speed, offers race-ready performance with the puncture prevention benefits of a tubeless setup. They're easy to install and hold air well, providing a great advert for ditching the inner tube. But damn they are pricey compared with the competition.
Tubeless road tyres are slowly becoming more prevalent, and Zipp is one of the latest companies to offer a tubeless version in its range. The new Tangente Speed RT28 Tubeless Clincher is based on the regular non-tubeless Tangente Speed tyre I tested a couple of years ago. It's one of three models on offer, and is pitched as being ideal for racing and training.
The new tyre is made with a 127 TPI (threads per inch) nylon casing with a tread pattern mirroring the regular clincher tyre. It's available in two widths, 25 and 28mm, the size on test (with an actual weight of 348g – so far off the claimed weight of 302g that it makes you wonder how Zipp is weighing them).
Max pressure for the 28mm tyre is 100psi, and 115psi for the 25mm, but with tubeless you can safely go lower than that. Remember, the max pressure isn't something to aim for, it's just there for safety. It's really worth trying lower pressures, especially on a wider tyre like a 28mm and when going tubeless.
To test the 28mm tyres, I fitted them to the Cannondale Hollowgram SL carbon fibre wheels on the Cannondale Synapse I reviewed a while ago. These wheels have a rim made to the Stan's NoTubes design and, as I found out when I removed the original tyres, a tubeless rim strip was already installed. So all I had to add was a tubeless valve, a glug of liquid latex, and inflate the tyres.
At this point you're usually crossing your fingers hoping the tyres inflate without any drama, but much to my surprise the tyres went straight up using just an ordinary track pump. I stopped at 80psi, left them overnight and checked the pressure in the morning. They were still at 80psi. Perfect.
With wheels fitted to the bike and heading out onto the road, the tyres felt good straight away. My remarks about the original clincher tyre hold true with this new tubeless version. They feel nice and quick in a straight line and compare well with other road tubeless tyres from Schwalbe and Panaracer I've tested.
Grip levels are good. I rode the tyres in all sorts of conditions, ranging from dry to severely damp, my most recent ride involving flooded roads and lanes covered in grit, sand and mud. The Zipp tyres coped admirably, providing confidence in their traction when leaning the bike over, cornering at speed and climbing steep ascents out of the saddle.
Touch wood, I've not punctured yet, but I've tried. I've ridden through some appalling weather and horrendous roads, with more holes and grit and stones on my local lanes than I can ever remember. Despite these punishing conditions, nothing has chinked the tyres' armour. Inspection of the rubber reveals a delightful lack of cuts or gouges, suggesting they're more than capable of standing up to this sort of abuse.
Tubeless technology, and the availability of good tyres and wheels, has come a long way since Hutchinson first debuted tubeless tyres back in 2011, but it's yet to gain widespread acceptance. As disc brakes and 1x has shown, roadies are a notoriously traditionalist bunch. However, tubeless, and the key benefit – virtually eliminated flats – is starting to win over a lot of cyclists.
Being easy to install and providing really good all-round performance, the new Zipp Tangente Speed RT tyres are a good choice if you're shopping for a tubeless tyre, and a viable alternative to the more established choices in this still young market.
However, with an RRP of £86 they're extremely expensive, especially when you consider you can get the also excellent Hutchinson Fusion 5 tubeless tyres for £55. As we regularly say, though, and I know you already know this, it pays to shop around. At list price, I'm not sure they're really worth the extra money over the Fusions, so I'd probably pocket the change and treat my missus to a meal out instead, as good as the Zipps are.
Fast, durable and easy to install, but super-expensive compared with the competition
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zipp Tangente Speed RT28 Tubeless Clincher
Size tested: 700x28
Tell us what the product is for
Zipp says, "Zipp's Tangente Speed RT25 and Tangente Speed RT28 tubeless tires deliver the lowest rolling resistance, best dry and best overall cornering grip among major brands, according to testing at an independent lab. Zipp's Tangente Speed RT25 and RT28 are performance and race-oriented tires designed for on-pavement riding.
"The new tubeless tires were modeled after Zipp's pioneering wide road clincher tires, the Zipp Tangente Speed R28, Tangente Course R28 and Tangente Course R30. These tires feature low rolling resistance and high durability. The new tubeless Zipp Tangente Speed RT25 and RT28 feature the same tread pattern as these groundbreaking clincher models."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Available in 25mm (RT25) and 28mm (RT28) widths to meet the preferences for wider tires among today's road riders.
127 TPI nylon casing.
Low rolling resistance, high cornering grip provide speed and stability in any situation.
Ability to run lower tire pressures with reduced risk of pinch flats.
Max tire pressure 115PSI for RT25 and 100PSI for RT28.
No tire levers needed or recommended for installation.
Polyamide puncture protection layer under tread
60 ShA durometer rubber (Shore A)
Water-siping tread pattern
Designed for tubeless wheelsets only
Heavier than claimed weight.
28mm wide tyres are very comfortable at low pressures.
Extremely expensive at RRP.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very easy installation and good road performance, fast and reliable.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Easy to install and feel fast and responsive.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Very expensive and heavier than claimed by 100g a pair.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Not at RRP.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not sure...
Use this box to explain your overall score
These offer a good performance with easy installation, but there's no getting around the high price tag, especially compared with other tubeless tyres, which knocks the score down.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.