Thursday, May 8, 2008
Torelli Gavia and Lugano Tires
I’m fussy about a lot of things. From how I make my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to which glass I drink wine from, I tend to make selections with some forethought. Likewise, I’m picky about tires. While I do believe there are a great many perfectly serviceable tires out there, when I buy a tire, I want something that offers sensitivity, excellent grip and low rolling resistance. I don’t need a casing that can withstand 60,000 psi and can only be cut by a diamond. That’s like insuring a Pinto for seven figures. Part of the fun of cycling is, well, the fun, and if the tire rolls like something from the Flintstones, there’s not much point.
I’ve put more than 4000 miles on the Torelli Gavia open tubular. It uses a 320 tpi polyester casing, enjoys a hand-vulcanized tread and barely tips the scale at 200g. Polyester has nearly the same suppleness as cotton at the same thread count, but doesn’t cut quite so readily. I mentioned these last fall during our Interbike coverage. There's a reason I'm mentioning them again.
It's true that running these tires, I do get flats. So what. The ride quality of the Gavia is as good as I’ve had the pleasure to experience in using any manner of clincher. I simply do not run any other tire any more.
Recently, I had the opportunity to ride a set of tubular wheels you’ll see reviewed in the near future. I decided to try the more erudite brother to the Gavia, the Lugano. Made from the same casing and tread, it opts for a puncture-resistant latex tube and weighs in at 280g.
As impressed as I am with the Gavia’s performance, I can still note an improvement in ride quality that only comes with tubulars. What a gas! I had the opportunity to ride the Luganos at 105 psi over some pretty rough roads recently and actually smiled as I noticed how they smoothed the road for me. A good tire should do that; it should make cycling fun and increase your sense of the road surface, making you a more confident rider. In the vernacular, this tire is the opposite of Kryptonite.
These tires beg the question: Why don't we make a bigger deal about handmade tires? You can spend more for a tire, but when $69.99 (for the tubular, $59.99 for the clincher) does the job, there’s just no point.