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.


SkidMark said...

What a coincidence - just got done reading a string of emails among the guys in my club re. best tires to use: Conti Gatorskins, Armadillos, Vredestein Fortezza Pro were a few of the "I switched to [insert brand] and now I won't ride anything else". I'm more confused than trying to find a good table wine.

Ray Huang said...

I am running a Gavia right now and I feel its the fastest rolling tire Ive ever used. I compare it to a Vittoria Open Corsa CX. Its absorbs road vibration better and road irregularities too. I am ordering more. Pity no puncture protection though.

josh said...

For the road, we get tires through the collegiate team. I use whatever they give us. It's free.

For CX however...its handmade FMB's. :) I agree though, handmade tires are definitely the way to go.

Anonymous said...

My hat goes off to you for running tubulars. I have them on my track bike and used to race them for road.. But the cost of flats was killing me!

C said...

A flat in a tubular shouldn't be no more expensive than a flat in a clincher - at least not in terms of dollars. All you need is the skill to know how to open them up and patch the tube. It's not hard but it is definitely something you need to be taught how to do right. Like wiring and soldering spokes, this seems to be one of those cycling arts that is quickly being lost. When I was in school and racing in the late 80's I routinely patched tubulars. Yeah it was time consuming but it was that or crappy clinchers since I couldn't afford a new tire after every flat.

C said...

Also if you want a comfortable tire get yourself a pair of Grand Bois tires. Yeah they're fat but so what. Unless you're a pro racing up the Alps you'll never notice that weight but you will notice the increased comfort and cornering ability.

Anonymous said...

As a wide eyed and horny junior, a cat II who was after my sister said to me, "Riding tubulars is like sex without a condom."

Anonymous said...

"That’s like insuring a migrant farm worker in a Pinto for seven figures.

Ugly comment.

Still bitter that whole Tancredo campaign didn't pan out?

Old Fonzie said...

Hear ya on that Cinghiale. Don't think that sentence was carefully written and it's a blog so we have to give him some slack (not that you shouldn't point out these things).

I was also thinking... hmmm, insuring anyone driving a Pinto these days is a no brainer profit pipeline. Weren't they deemed the most dangerous car to drive because they explode with a strong tailwind?? I'd take that bet any day.

The metaphor falls apart like a 200 pound green jersey contender on the fourth hors category climb of the day.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're right.

Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled for a Vlaams Belang banner ad.

Anonymous said...

I Agree with you as well, Cinghiale
On the
"That’s like insuring a migrant farm worker in a Pinto for seven figures."

Anonymous said...

i just ordered up some tan wall Torelli Torino's. sound pretty good for the price.

Bret Moss said...

Everybody needs to go out and buy a set of Dura Ace tubeless wheelsets so I can get more choices of rubber.

Road tubeless is sweet jelly smothered with warm peanut butter.

Unknown said...

Woah. $140.00 for a set of tires??

I am so not worthy. I guess I need to stop reading BKW.

Little_Jewford said...

Skidmark....dont believe the hype! I've ridden Gatorskins and armadillos on both my commuting and road (a lugged steel with steel fork spectrum) bikes. They offer amazing flat resistance but the ride is noticeably different then nice conventional clinchers.

On the pinto tip, I agree it was uncalled for...well not the pinto part, but lets move on

Anonymous said...

Tubulars are pro and since my only wheels are tubulars (20 year old Mavics) that's all I know. In my experience, it's Conti Sprinters or nothing. And since nothing doesn't really work, I stick with the Sprinters. I've tried Wobblers, Hutchinson, Vittoria, and a couple of other tubulars including cheaper Contis, but they all either don't go on strait or don't last as long. Conti's Gatorskins looked good and went on strait but I had some self-inflicted bad luck with punctures. Let's just say riding through the broken mussel shells on the Cape Cod Canal access road (thanks, seagulls) was a bad idea. The 'skins probably deserve another chance.

When I finally catch up with the times and go clincher, the Torelli's will be the first thing on them (after the Velox).

(sorry if this double posts)

Anonymous said...


I have repaired some tubulars and *shame* have gotten my girlfriend to sew them back up.

The problem I was having was the tubs were leaking for the sides.. About a good two inches long.. I must have scored a bad batch..

Thanks for the tip though. I'm pricing a set now.

MT said...

I only ride Torelli tires.

I have ridden Specialized, Conit, Vittoria, Avocet, Ritchey, and Panaracer.

Nothing compares to the supple, grippy, reassuring ride of a Torelli.

If you have not tried them, do yourself a favor and do so. You will not be disappointed.