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The CST Czar 700x28C Dual Compound is a very good tyre for commuting and long training rides, its 285g weight no hindrance and its 60tpi casing boding well for longevity. Grip and cornering prowess has been dependable, even in heavy rain, ditto the puncture-repelling belt, which is all very reassuring given the asking price.
It's also available in a narrower 25mm width, though a 32mm option might broaden the appeal, and some folks may bemoan the lack of tubeless compatibility, but these are very minor grumbles.
The specification is good, especially from a tyre giving change from £30.
Dual compounds promise lower rolling resistance without compromising grip, and I was pleased to discover the EPS (Exceptional Puncture Safety) puncture-repelling belt runs edge to edge. It's described as a tightly woven lightweight 'rubbberised polyfibre', which I am told is a 2mm Kevlar belt.
A 60tpi casing denotes a rugged tyre, in line with the commuter/training narrative, although they're not suitable for e-bikes or tyre-driven dynamos.
Maximum pressure is 120psi, but there's no minimum cited. I've experimented a little and found 100psi my sweet spot.
I was pleasantly surprised by how easily they fitted to standard rims, with only a single tyre lever needed on deeper section models. I was slightly suspicious the Czars were narrower than 28mm, but my vernier calipers dismissed such scepticism.
The UK had been gripped by a heatwave, but our first outings coincided with some very intense, thundery downpours, perfect for assessing their grip. (Long, dry periods followed by heavy rains mean roads become particularly slippery.)
Averaging 18mph, there was not so much as a flicker. The Czars held their line remarkably well, giving ample feedback, and this remained unchanged to around 25mph. We're not talking skittish, but I was more vigilant at 30mph plus.
My descent test revealed a less 'planted' feel compared with more expensive models such as Bontrager's AW3 Hard Case Lites and Vittoria's Rubino Pros.
Wet, or dry, they're easy to coax up to speed, which is reassuring all round but particularly useful around town, where swift getaways and changes of course can be imperative. Holes, absent-minded pedestrians, opening car doors and similar all calmly navigated.
In the wet, inspection covers and similar greasy ironworks required restraint, but no more than usual.
On the open road and down the lanes these characteristics make for an engaging experience. Typical of other 60tpi casings, washboard tarmac and bumpier surfaces are more noticeable than on tyres with a higher thread count, but never harsh.
The casings employ a very faint tread pattern, but in my experience these supply psychological reassurance rather than any performance advantages over a slick.
Winter may tell a different story, but in 500 miles of riding I've had no issues, despite deliberately making for shards of glass, not avoiding dung-covered wet lanes, and being intentionally lax when it comes to brushing the casings. As well as no punctures, there are no visible signs of wear.
The Czars retail at £29.15, though I've seen them discounted generously online. There are plenty of 60tpi tyres around, but at this end of the market they tend to be a good bit heavier.
I remain very fond of Kenda's Kwick Journey KS Plus tyres, which are surprisingly compliant, hardwearing and reliable. They've gone down to £25 since I reviewed them in 2020, but at 757g apiece for a 700x32 they're on the portly side.
Specialized's Roadsport (review to come) is only £20, and features a 60tpi casing and puncture-repelling belt, but according to Specialized the 28mm size weighs 420g, presumably due in part to the wire bead.
The Czar isn't quite as good value as Lifeline's Prime Armour Road Tyre, which I reviewed back in 2016. That also comes in a 28mm version, sports a Kevlar breaker strip and 120tpi casings, and gives change from £20.
I've also been impressed by Vittoria's Rubino Pro Control, another 60tpi model, featuring graphene and a puncture-repelling belt, but they are slightly heavier than the Czar and, at £44.99 each, a good bit dearer, too.
There's a lot to like about the CST Czars, and they're hard to beat when it comes to price – although if you really want to blast along, their Cito stablemates also come in a 28mm width but feature racier 170tpi casings, tip the scales at 240g, and at £33 are only a few quid more.
Sprightly, compliant and seemingly dependable tyres with a modest price tag
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road.cc test report
Make and model: CST Czar 700x28C Dual Compound tyre
Size tested: 700x28
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?
CST says: "Constructed with a dual-compound rubber, this tyre enables precise cornering and rider feedback in all weather conditions. Add to the construction, the carcass is a strong but supple 60 Treads Per Inch...The Czar tyre is also constructed with EPS puncture protection, to remove the worry of having a ride interrupted by a puncture."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
EPS (Exceptional Puncture Safety) technology protection offers an added layer of proprietary rubberised polyfiber material between the tread and the casing. The tight weave of this lightweight, puncture-resistant layer prevents sharp objects from penetrating the casing and damaging the tube.
Dual Compound - Two compounds used within the tread of select tyres to offer lower rolling resistance and increased cornering grip.
Seem well made and decent specification for the money.
Quick, agile, and compliant – especially for a 60tpi tyre. Puncture resistance is proving reassuringly dependable to date.
Too early to comment longer term, but 500 miles in, no undue signs of deterioration.
Performance and specification are impressive compared with others at this price.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been very impressed by the CST Czars. They're surprisingly quick, yet have performed very well on wet, greasy roads. Even at higher pressures they're surprisingly compliant. They might be a little narrow for some tastes, but shaping up as a very good fit for winter riding and training.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quick, compliant, and seemingly dependable.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing, though being really picky, a reflective sidewall would be good – and a 32mm option.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There are plenty of 60tpi tyres around, but at this end of the market they tend to be a good bit heavier. Kenda's Kwick Journey KS Plus is £25, but at 757g for a 700x32 it's on the portly side. Specialized's Roadsport is only £20, and features a 60tpi casing and puncture-repelling belt, but according to Specialized the 28mm size weighs 420g.
The Czar isn't as good value as Lifeline's Prime Armour Road Tyre. That also comes in a 28mm version, sports a Kevlar breaker strip and 120tpi casings, and gives change from £20.
I've also been impressed by Vittoria's Rubino Pro Control, another 60tpi model, but they are slightly heavier than the Czar, and £44.99 each.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely
Use this box to explain your overall score
These are impressive tyres for the money: quick, compliant, and seemingly dependable.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)