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The Vittoria Randonneur Tech is a city and touring tyre that delivers a good ride and, seemingly, impressive puncture resistance – I put in close to 300 miles on these, without a flat.
Vittoria says the Randonneur Tech is 'powered by graphene'. That most exotic of materials nobody seems to know what to do with has been turning up in bicycle tyres for some time now. In fact, Vittoria has been experimenting with it for 12 years, and it certainly seems that the company's in it for the long-term. The qualities it believes graphene brings to its tyres include better grip, durability and puncture resistance.
Test-wise, these Vittorias were going to have to live up to the Continental Contact IIs fitted to my winter bike. These have racked up over 3,500 miles so far in mostly poor conditions and over a lot of gravel surfaces and still have plenty of life left in them. They've also proven fast-rolling and grippy and are reasonably light, but they have been prone to piercing by the odd thorn, which isn't all that welcome in the winter cold and filth.
Fitting the Randonneurs was pretty straightforward. On my touring rims it took a single tyre lever to persuade the last bit of bead over the top. The manufacturing quality was okay – a little untidy around the bead but no bald bits of casing there, as I've seen on some tyres I won't name here. There were a lot of threads of surplus rubber from the moulding process all around the edges of the tread which buzzed against the inside of the mudguards for the first 20 miles and are still in evidence now. It's a small thing but a hint, perhaps, of how the tyres have been manufactured to hit that sub-£35 price point.
Like the Continentals, the Randonneur Techs come up narrower than advertised – these nominally 32mm tyres measured more like 29mm once installed; that's fine by me because they need to fit under the full length guards and they did. Also like the Continentals, and many other tour-orientated slick tyres, they come with a tread pattern ('sipes') for water dispersal. In my experience these mainly serve as traps for tiny pieces of grit or glass that can penetrate the casing.
The Randonneur Techs come with 'subtle siping for wet weather use'; but Vittoria's own tyre product manager, Christian Lademann, rather gave the game away when he told Cyclist magazine that 'the grooves on tyres are just for show, a confidence booster. Bicycles tyres just don't have the inertial mass to force water out through the grooves in the way car tyres do. It's also very rare to hit the speeds required to aquaplane a bicycle'. Anyway, regardless of all that, they proved surefooted on greasy, shady lanes going up and down some of the most testing bends that I make for when trying out tyres.
My winter riding includes many and varied surfaces including a lot of miles on the converted railway lines of County Durham. For a fairly narrow tyre they performed very well, taking the uneven gravelly surfaces in their stride and only threatening to spit a little traction on the steepest, loosest sections. They weren't excessively jarring, either. The maximum recommended tyre pressure of a mere 75psi might be significant, making for a more cushioned ride.
On the open road, progress was smooth and reasonably quick; not record-breakingly fast but midfield over Strava segments I've ridden many times before.
Where the Randonneurs and the Contacts diverge is in the weights. Vittoria's claimed weight for the 700x32 is 580g, the claimed weight for the same sized Continentals is 495g. And we weighed the Randonneurs at 640g. A chunk of this is likely to be down to the addition of Vittoria's 1.3mm-thick Solid Shielding puncture strip. I feared this might make for a draggy or heavy feel, but in fact, the general ride quality was very similar. If I'd been riding blindfold (!) I'd have been hard-pressed to tell the difference.
It was certainly far superior to what I've experienced with Schwalbe Marathons, which are often the default choice for this style of tyre. This surprised me, as the thread count on the Randonneurs is a paltry 33tpi, compared with the Contact II's 180. Is this the graphene factor at play, allowing more compliant ride qualities without the high thread count?
Durability and grip are often seen as opposites in tyre choice: a tyre that's going to last 10,000 miles is also one that'll dump you in the ditch on the first wet bend. But Vittoria argues that the addition of graphene massively reduces tyre wear while actually improving the grip and ride quality. I apologise for miserably failing to rack up 10,000 miles over the spring, but I did get a good feel for the grip and ride quality bit of the equation.
The Puncture Pixie is a capricious creature, sometimes striking three times in a week and otherwise not visiting for months. She seemed to be on annual leave during the test period and I racked up nearly 300 miles in late winter and early spring conditions without a flat. As well as the puncture-resistant layer, Vittoria also argues this is an inherent property of the graphene content, as it allows the rubber to re-form around any small holes.
The Randonneur comes in a few varieties – there's the non-Tech version without the graphene, and the Tech comes in both reflective and non-reflective versions. Strangely, Vittoria markets the Tech version as e-bike ready, but then produces a separate e-version called the e-Randonneur. The Techs tested here are available in a wide range of sizes, up to 40mm in 700C size and also in 650B and a 26x1.5in.
We've also been testing Vittoria's Adventure Tech tyres which combine the graphene content with even more puncture resistance. They also delivered a surprisingly good ride for their weight and similarly low thread-count and are slightly cheaper.
As you might expect, I can also speak quite highly of the Continental Contact IIs I've been using for the last couple of winters; comparable price-wise (£32.95), and rather lighter, they deliver a very good ride quality but are a little more puncture-prone.
Overall, I thought the Randonneur Techs performed very well in some demanding conditions. It's true they're a bit heavier than some other city/hybrid/touring tyres but that's less of an issue on a winter bike or on tour, where the tyre weight is a smaller proportion of the overall mass. If that weight, or the low thread count, had translated into a draggy road feel I'd have been less impressed, but I found the ride quality very acceptable. If puncture resistance also continues to hold up, I'll be thrilled.
Surprisingly versatile tyres that ride well and have kept punctures at bay – well worth considering
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vittoria Randonneur Tech Tyre
Size tested: 700x32c
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?
Vittoria says: "Our popular semi-slick tread for the city and touring, featuring subtle siping for wet weather use. E-bike compliant Graphene compound rolls fast, and when used on an e-bike, extends battery life. Reflective sidewall stripe increases your visibility for oncoming motorists. The Solid Shielding puncture protection layer makes punctures a thing of a past. As with all Vittoria Tech Series tires, the mix of performance and durability add up to a great value!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Vittoria lists these features:
Graphene 2.0 Nano Technology "improves speed, grip, durability and puncture resistance without compromise".
E-bike ready: "Compound and specs make it suitable for the higher torque produced by the electric motor".
33TPI: "Nylon 33 is an extremely durable thread for super longevity and protection".
Generally well finished, without scruffy edges around the bead, but a lot of injection moulding bristles around the side walls. The 33tpi count is at the low end but doesn't seem to affect either the ride or the construction qualities.
Nothing startling, but nothing offputting either, which is what I want in a tyre of this class. Low rolling resistance, comfort and ride quality are all there; puncture resistance seems excellent with no problems after nearly 300 miles.
Vittoria promises improved wear thanks to the graphene content; my existing winter tyres have seen me through three years with plenty of life yet so I can't really make a fair comparison at this stage, but the general quality of the tyre bodes well.
Puncture-resistant strips are bound to add some weight; these come in mid-weight with their 1.3mm-thick puncture-resistant strip.
Good shock absorption, possibly down to the maximum 75psi inflation pressure.
They're a couple of quid more than Continental's Contact IIs (with reflective sidewalls), but they do offer surprisingly good performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very good – the ride quality was much higher than the low thread count promised. Grip is good, and the puncture-resistance has yet to be breached...
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Smooth rolling, quite quick and – so far – reliable; competitively priced.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Come up narrower than advertised. Self-confessedly pointless sipes, and the entry-level tpi count.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Continental's Contact IIs are £29.95-£32.95 at this size. Vittoria's own Adventure Tech tyres have even more puncture resistance and are slightly cheaper.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The low thread count and relatively high weight didn't bode well, but the Randonneur Techs proved to be good multi-purpose tyres. It'll be a while before we know how well they measure up to Vittoria's claims for durability but the ride quality is surprisingly good and puncture resistance has, so far, also passed muster. And the price is competitive.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10 My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,