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Verdict: 
For riders who want to carry their summer speed through the winter without puncturing, these are the tyres for the job
Weight: 
235g

The Continental Grand Prix 4 Season is the all-weather tyre against which all others are measured, and there's good reason for that: it's light, grippy, puncture resistant and gives away surprisingly little in performance to its summer-racing counterpart, the Grand Prix 5000.

  • Pros: Light for an all-season tyre, reasonably supple, grippy, good puncture resistance
  • Cons: Some might not want to pay this much for a winter training tyre; no tubeless version

The Grand Prix 4 Season is one of the best known and best loved tyres of Continental's expansive range. Although the German brand aims to broaden its appeal by calling it an 'all-year-round tyre', many performance-orientated riders use it as a training tyre during the off-season. Watch any club run roll out between October and March and you're guaranteed to catch a glimpse of the distinctive brown mesh sidewalls.

GP 4 Season side.jpg

The reason why the GP 4 Season is a favourite with racers during the off-season is because it gets the balance exactly right: its weight is not much higher than that of the GP 5000 (235g compared to 220g in 25mm), meaning it isn't slowed down by an excessively thick tread. Despite its relative thinness, however, it still supplies excellent puncture resistance, grip and durability with suppleness and rolling speed paying less of a penalty than you'd expect.

> Buyer's Guide: 17 of the best winter tyres

Continental claims a double layer of its Vectran puncture-protection insert (made from a multi-strand thread spun from a melted liquid polymer, if you want the chemistry lesson) supplies enormous tear resistance at a very low weight. Conti also says it doesn't adversely affect rolling resistance.

GP 4 Season pack.jpg

The sidewalls, which do feel considerably thicker than those of a summer tyre, are protected by Duraskin – the brown mesh mentioned earlier – which is a polyamide fabric wrapping the entire casing under the tread to supply another layer of protection against foreign objects, the edges of potholes or other threats to its integrity.

Between finger and thumb, you can feel that the GP 4 Season is stiffer than a lighter summer tyre because of this extra protection, but for the casing Conti uses the same thread count at 330tpi (actually three layers of 110tpi) as it does in the GP 5000s. Compared to rival all-season tyres such as the Michelin Power All Season with its three layers of 60pti, it is much more supple.

Performance

I've been riding the Continental GP 4 Seasons since the clocks went back on a set of PowerTap wheels with tubeless-ready DT Swiss R460 rims. There was no problem fitting them with thumbs only, even though tubeless-ready rims can be a struggle. There's no tubeless version of the GP 4 Season yet, but as Conti has gone tubeless for the first time with the GP 5000, one can't be far off.

On the rim they measured a nice, wide 27mm and at 100psi felt responsive but not harsh. The ride quality isn't as refined as I'd been used to on high-end summer tyres even though the weight is similar, and that's attributable to the extra reinforcement.

GP 4 Season top.jpg

However, I found I was still able to average 20mph around my test loop at around 200 Watts. Interestingly, though, once I started riding the Power Michelin All Seasons for my review of those, the average speed dropped into the low 19s for the same power and setup. As I mentioned in that review, there are many factors at play including air density, colder roads not heating up the tyres, but based on my observations I would say the Grand Prix 4 Seasons are certainly faster than the Michelins, but not as fast as most pure summer race tyres.

I haven't had a single puncture on them, nor a dicey moment in the wet. The tread compound feels well judged – not so sticky that it slows them down, and not so hard that it can't grip.

GP 4 Season folded.jpg

As for durability, they're looking good so far, and I have high expectations for them in this area.

Value

The high price could be the only mark against them, but it's worth noting that they are rarely sold at their full £54.99. Great as they are, I would baulk at paying that much. The Michelin Power All Season sells for £47.99, while the Vittoria Corsa Control G2.0 (257g, 320tpi), which is the GP 4 Season's direct competitor, is priced to go head to head with it at £54.99. The Pirelli P Zero 4S is cheaper at £43, has a thread count of 127tpi and weighs a claimed 220g for a 25mm.

Conclusion

To sum it up simply: I can't claim to have tested every all-season/winter tyre out there, but out of all the ones I have I would choose the 4 Season.

Verdict

For riders who want to carry their summer speed through the winter without puncturing, these are the tyres for the job

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Continental Grand Prix 4 Season

Size tested: 700 x 25

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?

Continental calls the Grand Prix 4 Season "the toughest performance tyre on the market".

"Thanks to its DuraSkin anti-tear fabric and two Vectran anti puncture strips, the Grand Prix 4-Season holds up under extreme conditions. In the Paris- Roubaix race, the "Hell of the North", cyclists equipped with DuraSkin™ enhanced tyres have the fewest tyre related problems during the race. Incorporating our special wear resistant carbon compound, the tyre is characterized by very good mileage performance as well as excellent adhesion on wet roads and at low temperatures.

"With 23, 25, 28 and 32mm versions, the Grand Prix 4-Season makes it possible to select the right tyre for various road qualities, type of bike and comfort requirements. A double Vectran Breaker belt under the tread raises the puncture and cut protection to the highest level available on the market. Featuring a total of five plies beneath the tread, plus a sixth Duraskin layer, it's ideal for rough sportives and general bad road conditions."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Continental lists:

Styled on the GP4000 S II, but with extra protection layers for harsh weather conditions.

Duraskin cut-resistant layer from bead to bead plus two extra Vectran breakers.

Black "Max Grip Silica" compound optimised for wet weather adhesion, low temperatures and extended tread life.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Handmade in Germany.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Strikes exactly the right balance between speed, grip and puncture resistance.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I haven't yet put the thousands of miles on them that they claim to be able to withstand, but they're looking good a few hundred miles in.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

Very low for this type of tyre.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
7/10

There have to be some compromises if a tyre is to be puncture resistant, so it feels a little stiffer than a summer tyre.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

At its full RRP it's pretty expensive, but no more than Vittoria's Corsa Control G2.0, and it's very good.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Superb for the off-season.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Everybody hates winter (except maybe cyclo-cross and track riders) but the Conti GP 4 Seasons make the transition easier because they feel faster than the average winter tyre.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

There's nothing I disliked about it.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

The price is at the upper end of premium, though they're almost always discounted by most retailers.

Did you enjoy using the product? Absolutely

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, but not at full price.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? One hundred per cent.

Use this box to explain your overall score

I would go as far as to say that these are the ultimate off-season tyre. If you're looking to carry on riding at a decent speed through the winter, you want peace of mind that you're not going to hear the dreaded hiss every time you run over a thorn in the rain, and you need to stay rubber side down even when the lanes get really coated, then these are the ones.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 50  Height: 178cm  Weight: 68kg

I usually ride: Racer Rosa custom alu  My best bike is: Colnago Master Olympic

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, school run on a tandem

Simon finished his Masters in online journalism back in 2003 when the internet wasn't very exciting or popular yet. So he got a job as a sub editor on Britain's biggest weekly cycling magazine, where as well as taking out commas and putting them back in again he got to review a lot of bikes and kit.

As a keen time triallist he has spent many hours riding up and down dual carriageways early in the morning and has a national medal, a 19-minute 10 and a few open wins in his palmarès.

He and his seven-year-old son do the school run on a tandem, beating the traffic in car-choked Reigate and getting a great workout at the same time (for one of them).

 

26 comments

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IanEdward [400 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Have been my winter commuting tyre of choice, no punctures that weren't my fault (too low pressure or clumsy fitting).

Looking forward to trying some 32s on the new winter bike!

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zyghom [5 posts] 1 month ago
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I spent on them around 2000 miles (May-October 2019) and I had few (3) punctures - actually the day after I put the new ones - never on the old ones.

Apart from that, they - are superb (mine are 700x25): comfortable, grippy etc.

Right now I use them on 3 bikes (my wife and a kid) - all the same size.

And I was the only one with puctures - what to say: snakes bite sometimes  3

And regarding price - yea, I bought them on sale (Chain Reaction Cycles) so paid 44£ for a pair so I find it very good deal.

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srchar [1703 posts] 1 month ago
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I prefer the Grand Prix GT, which have been just as durable as GP 4 Seasons but feel grippier, which is pretty important at this time of year.

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LastBoyScout [680 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I put a set of these on earlier this year (700x28), albeit a slightly older set, and have had 2 punctures in them - one of which was a bit of flint through the thickest bit of tread.

They are also a total nightmare to get seated on my (tubeless compatible) rims - have to pump them up to ridiculous pressure and leave them overnight!

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IanEdward [400 posts] 1 month ago
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I think this is going to become the new norm, lots of issues with tight tyres on tubeless rims!

Mine went onto my DT R460s with one layer of DT Tape nice and easy, and the only issue on my Fulcrum Racing 3s was the tube getting stuck under the bead at the valve, needs some jiggling as you inflate.

Hoping they go up OK on my new Pacentis...

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mtbtomo [309 posts] 1 month ago
2 likes

One of the most underwhelming tyres I've ridden when compared to the hype.  They feel no grippier in the cold/wet that GP4000, Clement, Hutchinson, Maxxis, Schwalbe tyres I've tried.  They don't roll very nicely and I've had as many punctures on these as I have on other brands, plus they're covered in cuts after not much use (though at least the puncture protection below the rubber must be doing something).  Had these sliding under rear wheel braking in the wet more than other tyres too.

So the talk of their compound being better suited to cold conditions I think is just spin.

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CyclingInBeastMode [369 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

"For riders who want to carry their summer speed through the winter without puncturing, these are the tyres for the job"

Sorry but for far too many people who have ridden the GP4S this is a complete contrast to their experiences including mine. The tyres feel dead/unresponsive and sluggish, you do not keep your "summer speed" at all as they feel really draggy, they might have some additional grip in the wet but whatever micro improvement over x tyre I couldn't tell but having some unmeasurable extra grip at the expense of how they are much less a quality ride and lower performance (over Giant P-SL2s in 28mm) would simply not be worth it at all.

As for puncture resistance, hard numbers like tyre/sidewall thickness don't always tell the whole story, whilst I never puctured on the 4s before I siold them on (after circa  65 miles, it was a long while before I had a puncture on the Giant tyres. I once got a puncture within 18 miles of using a gatorskin straight out the packet.

For me I would never buy them ever again
 

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Rapha Nadal [1215 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

One of the best tyres out there as far as I'm concerned.  Agree with the comments about them being quick (23's on 17 internals for me) and I've never had an issue with punctures.  Now that I think about it; I don't think I've ever punctured on them (tempting fate with that one!).

However, a friend of mine has had no end of issues with punctures and poor quality so maybe it's a hit & miss thing? Which it shouldn't be, obviously. 

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Markopic [44 posts] 1 month ago
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Have there been new version of these tires, or are the same as the ones I had in 2014? According to the pictures they are absolutely the same. They were ok back then, but there are much better tires these days. Also they are not tubeless.

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Russell Orgazoid [576 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Had some of these. they said 28mm but came up to 26mm...that's how they are light then.

They slid and i came off too when I didn't expect them too.

and

still not tubeless! it's 2020 soon

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Velophaart_95 [8 posts] 1 month ago
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They seem to be the popular 'go to' autumn/ winter tyre. I've used them and they're okay, nothing particularly outstanding. And, if truth be told, on the rural/semi-rural roads were I ride, they're all at sea. A tyre with small knobs is a better choice when the road can be full of soil/mud from the adjoining fields.

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Judge dreadful [460 posts] 1 month ago
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I've had too many failures of these tyres, over the years, to use them anymore. In my experience, the side walls are a particular Achilles heel, but I've had a couple of carcass failures as well. The puncture resistance is fairly meh as well.

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Joe Totale [196 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

There's cheaper tyres out there which are as good, if not better than these like the Pro 4 Endurance and the Durano. 

Given that Conti now make road tubeless tyres it's strange how there isn't a tubeless version of this tyre yet. 

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Prosper0 [258 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

No tubeless. No sale 

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Redvee [473 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Finally got rid of my last one of these on Ebay for £32 which is what I paid for it initially. Won't go back to them cause of the sidewall thing, now running Wiggle own brand tyre and apart from a snakebite at 35mph they have been far more reliable so far.

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KoenM [147 posts] 1 month ago
1 like
LastBoyScout wrote:

I put a set of these on earlier this year (700x28), albeit a slightly older set, and have had 2 punctures in them - one of which was a bit of flint through the thickest bit of tread.

They are also a total nightmare to get seated on my (tubeless compatible) rims - have to pump them up to ridiculous pressure and leave them overnight!

Dude u can't blame a tire that it's hard to make them tubeless if they aren't tubeless compatible, maybe buy a tubeless tire? U can't complain a cat that it can't lay eggs, it's not a chicken!

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KoenM [147 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

I use the GP5000 (25mm) and Schwalbe One Evolution (30mm) on my bikes. If Conti made the GP5000 in 30mm I would use those to but 32mm is a bit to wide and 28mm not wide enough. The GP5000 is strong enough for everything except gravel.

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LastBoyScout [680 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
KoenM wrote:
LastBoyScout wrote:

I put a set of these on earlier this year (700x28), albeit a slightly older set, and have had 2 punctures in them - one of which was a bit of flint through the thickest bit of tread.

They are also a total nightmare to get seated on my (tubeless compatible) rims - have to pump them up to ridiculous pressure and leave them overnight!

Dude u can't blame a tire that it's hard to make them tubeless if they aren't tubeless compatible, maybe buy a tubeless tire? U can't complain a cat that it can't lay eggs, it's not a chicken!

Not blaming them, just making an observation - I know they're not TL compatible, but I still hadn't expected them to be "that" tight. This is the first set of tubeless rims I've ever had.

I haven't fitted tubeless yet - I need to swap between CX and road tyres on that bike and haven't got a spare set of wheels yet.

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EddyBerckx [768 posts] 1 month ago
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Has very mixed experiences with them on my commute (I'm sure they'd be far better on country roads). Basically they cut up and puncture far easier than I would want for such an expensive tyre.

 

Basically they are no better than cheaper but similar options from other brands. Hopefully when they go tubeless they'll get a decent update for both versions

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dooderooni [54 posts] 1 month ago
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I was a big fan of them for my commute until I changed my route and encountered 'cobbles'. The cobbles in question are those that form the edge of tarmacced roads. On more than one occasion I've had the front tyre go sideways as I've turned into a side road and transitioned across these cobbles. Oddly enough, the Vittoria Corsa's on my summer hoops never let go on the same cobbles, even in the wet. The GP4's are otherwise very grippy, if a little slow.

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CyclingInBeastMode [369 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
Russell Orgazoid wrote:

Had some of these. they said 28mm but came up to 26mm...that's how they are light then.

They slid and i came off too when I didn't expect them too.

and

still not tubeless! it's 2020 soon

that was my experience too, came up to 26.5mm nominal, the giant tyre I was using was virtually identical weight but came up 1.5mm wider at the full size on same rim/same tube/same pressure, also the Giant tyre has more meat on the bone so tread thickness is more, grip in the dry better, equal in the wet I would expect (and I have pushed the Giant's and even ridden on sub zero days wotth them) and puncture protection has been superb. So impressed that I bought another NOS pair as you can't generally get them.

I'd also say that the Schwalbe ZX double defence was a superior tyre.

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KoenM [147 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes
CyclingInBeastMode wrote:
Russell Orgazoid wrote:

Had some of these. they said 28mm but came up to 26mm...that's how they are light then.

They slid and i came off too when I didn't expect them too.

and

still not tubeless! it's 2020 soon

that was my experience too, came up to 26.5mm nominal, the giant tyre I was using was virtually identical weight but came up 1.5mm wider at the full size on same rim/same tube/same pressure, also the Giant tyre has more meat on the bone so tread thickness is more, grip in the dry better, equal in the wet I would expect (and I have pushed the Giant's and even ridden on sub zero days wotth them) and puncture protection has been superb. So impressed that I bought another NOS pair as you can't generally get them.

I'd also say that the Schwalbe ZX double defence was a superior tyre.

This could also depend on your wheelwidth, my GP5000's 25mm are 28mm on my DT-Swiss wheels and only 25mm on my old Dura-Ace 24 wheels. Not that i'm saying this is always the fact (my Challenge Gravel Grinders 38mm were only 35mm). But for me Continental were always a bit wider.

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Fluffed [158 posts] 1 month ago
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Don't like these at all, came up narrower than GP4000s,  felt like a harsher ride and had less grip. Maybe you gain some puncture protection, I don't know, but all the trade offs are not worth that.

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gunswick [139 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Agree with comments above, no tubeless, no sale.

What is the point of 'an all weather's tyre which is tubes only? I've run them a bunch, they do puncture, and they arent that quick or trippy
Schwalbe over took them 3 or 4 years ago.

Tubeless all the way, summer and winter. Conti way behind...

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crazy-legs [1222 posts] 1 month ago
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Rapha Nadal wrote:

One of the best tyres out there as far as I'm concerned.  Agree with the comments about them being quick (23's on 17 internals for me) and I've never had an issue with punctures.  Now that I think about it; I don't think I've ever punctured on them (tempting fate with that one!).

However, a friend of mine has had no end of issues with punctures and poor quality so maybe it's a hit & miss thing? Which it shouldn't be, obviously. 

Conti quality control is awful. Some good, some just atrocious.

And from experience in ride leading, fixing other people's punctures etc, far and away the majority of issues are on Conti tyres. Maybe that's partly because they somehow seem to be the "go-to" tyre - if you post on a forum asking "what tyres for..." half the answers will be "Conti" but IME they're flaky tyres and tubes. GP4S get very varied write ups too, a lot of people reckon they're not at all grippy in wet/cold conditions.

They're "variable" when fitting them too, some are so tight you wouldn't want to risk using them on a ride because the idea of sitting at the roadside in 5 degrees and rain attempting to get the thing off the rim is just too awful to contemplate.

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jaspersdog [15 posts] 1 month ago
0 likes

Used to ride these in the winter until about 3 years ago and found them to be pretty reliable if not that quick. The roads where I ride are more like farmtracks in the winter so you need somthing fairly robust. I switched to Schwalbe S-Ones a couple of years ago and loved them. very quick, grippy and comfortable, obviously self sealed small punctures very quickly but did cut on the very rare occasion requiring a tube. They also wore out very quickly but I was prepared to trade that for the other attributes.

This year I have been running GP5000 tubeless and to say the 4 Seasons gives away little to it in terms of speed is not my experience. So far I am blown away by how quick it is at relatively low (comfortable) pressures. Way grippier than 4 seasons and so far no punctures. Lets see how they hold up to a winter of abuse.