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First look at Conti’s brand new GP5000 tyre, now with a tubeless option

Continental has launched the successor to the venerable GP4000, the brand new GP5000 which is lighter, has more grip, lower rolling resistance and improved puncture protection, and for the very first time (and finally some might say) is being offered in a tubeless version.

It’s been 14 years since the GP4000 was first introduced, a tyre that many people consider to be one of the best race and performance tyres. It’s also a tyre with many race victories at all levels to its name. Developing an appropriate successor was the aim and upgrade all the key performance metrics that are important in a tyre.

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GP5000 clincher

The new GP5000 is claimed by Continental to offer 12% better rolling resistance, 20% increased puncture resistance, has improved grip and comfort and the 25mm clincher version is 10g lighter. It claims its a lighter than its key rivals but not at the expense of comfort, grip and rolling resistance.

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The GP5000 clincher tyre is constructed from three plies of 110 TPI material with a number of developments that contribute to the improved performance. The Black Chilli compound has been further refined to hit the perfect sweet spot of rolling resistance and grip. The Vectran Breaker, a puncture resistance belt inside the tyre, has been evolved to provide greater protection.

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Then there are two new features that we’ve not seen before. Lazer Grip is a lazer engraved texture on the shoulder of the tyres that is aimed at improving cornering grips, and also contributes to aerodynamic performance. It essentially roughens up the tyre a little so the tread forms a better contact with the road surface, and reduces the bedding in of new tyres. It’s also said to decrease drag as well.

And designed to provide a more comfortable ride, Active Comfort Technology is a layer of elastomer dampening material inside the tyre designed to dampen vibrations to provide a smoother, more comfortable ride over our increasingly rough roads.

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The GP5000 clincher tyre is being offered in 23, 25, 28 and 32mm width options, with the narrowest option coming in at 200g up to 290g for the widest. There are also two 650b options with a choice of 25 and 28mm widths.

GP5000 tubeless

Yes, Continental has finally thrown its hat into the tubeless tyre ring. It’s been a long time coming, one of the most frequent questions I’ve personally had to field for many years, but Continental now joins the likes of Schwalbe, Hutchinson, Pirelli, Mavic and Specialized in offering a road tubeless tyre.

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The GP5000 tubeless tyre incorporates all the new developments found in the clincher version but is claimed to provide 5% lower rolling resistance and 5% improved puncture resistance over its clincher sibling due to there being less material in the construction, and removing the inner tube reduces friction.

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It has three plies of 60 TPI material constructed with the Vectran Breaker, which Continental reckons provides far superior puncture resistance when tested against leading rival in its own lab testing. The bead is constructed with a softer outer material to ease installation.

- Buyer's guide to tubeless tyres

An inner liner on the inside of the tyre provides the necessary airtight seal and it is recommended that Continental’s own sealant, a previous product available in its mountain bike range, is used to provide a good seal and plug small punctures.

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The GP5000 tubeless is available in 25, 28 and 32mm widths with a 25 tyre weighing a claimed 300g, about 10g heavier than a Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tyre. There’s also a 650x28mm option.

Asked about tubeless installation and compatibility, Continental says it did extensive testing on a wide range of rims to ensure its tyre works as well as can be possibly expected but recognises there is no real standard across the industry when it comes to tubeless tyres and wheels. This is something it is actively trying to address and is collaborating with other tyre and rim manufacturers to hopefully seek some sort of resolution.

In an ideal world installation tubeless tyres is as easy as fitting a clincher tyre, and with some rim and tyre combinations, it is. But some combinations can lead to much hair pulling frustration. It’s clear a common standard would hugely help the advance of tubeless uptake for those people that like the sound of the benefits but are afraid of the potential trouble and mess.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a set of the tubeless tyres and test them on a multitude of tubeless rims to see how well they install, so stay tuned for that, it should be an interesting test.

The GP5000 clincher and tubeless tyres will cost €61 and €75 respectively, we’re waiting on UK prices. As for availability, the plan is that the tyres will be available in the shops at the same time as the embargo for this announcement being lifted today, so if you want to get your hands on a pair you shouldn’t have to wait very long at all.

First ride

Continental hosted the worldwide launch on the sunny island of Tenerife, which made a nice break from the damp and cold UK weather…

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I was provided with the opportunity to ride the new GP5000 tubeless tyre in a 25mm width on the brand new Cannondale SystemSix aero bike, and I would love to be able to give you a really in-depth appraisal of their ride performance.

But the ride was really short at just 45km which is far from sufficient time to assess the tyres, and then there is the fact that the silky smooth surface of the one road we pedalled up and over Mount Teide would surely make any tyre feel fast.

The most revealing part of the test ride was the descent, a joyous ribbon of curving corners and tightening radiuses. Here the tyres certainly delivered good grip when leaning the SystemSix over in the apexes. I felt comfortable engaging in some wild lean angles, as much as could be expected on a bike I’ve never ridden before and with the brakes the wrong way around.

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And when I encountered some damp patches from the low hanging cloud the tyre didn’t waver in its ability to feel glued to the road.

The real test will be on familiar local roads with a wider variety of surface textures, and also to test the 25mm GP5000 clincher tyres I’ve brought home with me against a set of the previous GP4000 S II tyres by way of a comparison.

Summary

One thing is clear though, the GP4000 has long been a solidly popular tyre and the new GP5000 continues to carry the flag and will undoubtedly be a popular choice for many years to come. The improvements may be small, you might not even notice them, but they haven’t ruined a really good tyre. It continues to deliver the level of performance expected from Continental.

As for the tubeless version, well it’s been a long time coming and it’s great to see the German tyre company finally get involved with tubeless. I know there have been many people waiting and hoping for Continental to offer a tubeless version of its top-level tyre.

There’s nothing groundbreaking though, perhaps to be expected from the conservative company, and there’s no challenge to the standards mess that exists in the tubeless market and is a serious obstacle to wider uptake.

Stay tuned for more first rides and a video first look coming soon.

- Your guide to Continental’s 2018 road bike tyre range

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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.