Having released the Gravel Grinder TLR vulcanised tubeless tyre last year, Challenge has today announced that it is finally making its ‘open tubular’ tyres available in a tubeless format, dubbed Handmade Tubeless Ready (HTLR).
This is great news if you’ve been searching high and low for a tan-wall tyre that’s actually designed to be run tubeless.
Challenge is also releasing three new ‘tubeless tubular’ gravel tyres, which are designed to work better with sealant and plugs than a traditional tubular tyre. These are called ‘Handmade Tubeless Tubulars’ (HTLTU).
There are three tubeless road tyres, three tubeless gravel tyres and three tubeless tubular gravel tyres available: the Road Handmade Tubeless Ready (HTLR), Gravel Handmade Tubeless Ready (HTLR) and Gravel Handmade Tubeless Tubular (HTLTU).
Handmade Tubeless Ready (HTLR) Tyres
Dubbed ‘Handmade Tubeless Ready’, Challenge aims to bring the characteristics of its open tubular tyres to the tubeless clincher. Challenge Tires
With this new range of tyres, Challenge aims to bring the comfort, handling and good looks of its standard clinchers to the new tubeless options.
Challenge is known for its ‘open tubular’ tyres which use a super supple casing more like that of a tubular, but in a clincher format.
Additions for the new tyres include an aramid bead protection strip, which aims to reduce rim chafing, and a coating (of unspecified material) on the inside of the tyre for puncture protection and to help reduce air loss.
While open tubulars have long been prized for their ride quality, comfort and low rolling resistance, they also tend to be criticised for their more delicate nature, compared to vulcanised tyres. Challenge clearly hopes that its Handmade TLR tyres offer the best of both worlds.
Some will also appreciate that these tyres retain their beautiful tan coloured sidewalls — something that other manufacturers seem largely unwilling to provide (mainly because a traditional tan-wall construction is harder to make airtight).
Vittoria, for example, notably dropped the tan wall version of its Corsa Speed TLR tyre just before its release. Though no official reasoning was given, there was some speculation that they didn’t hold air well enough without the grey coating found on the final versions.
Challenge says that the Handmade TLR tyres are all designed according to the new ETRTO tubeless guidelines and ISO Standards.
Tubeless tyres seem to be coming of age this year and it’s perhaps these new standards and guidelines that are finally convincing more manufacturers to jump on board.
Road Handmade Tubeless Ready (HTLR)
The Challenge Strada HTLR tyre retains the tan side walls of its clincher equivalent. Challenge Tires
Strada: 25mm / 300tpi / 255g
Paris Roubaix: 27mm / 300tpi / 280g
Strada Bianca: 30mm / 260tpi / 305g
Price: €69.90 / $79.90
Gravel Handmade Tubeless Ready (HTLR)
The Challenge Gravel Grinder HTLR is a handmade tubeless-ready, 260tpi tyre, available in either 33mm or 36mm sizes. Challenge Tires
Strada Bianca: 36mm / 260tpi / 385g
Almanzo: 33mm / 260tpi / 390g
Gravel Grinder: 33mm and 36mm / 260tpi / 405g (33mm) and 425g (36mm)
Price: €69.90 / $79.90
Handmade Tubeless Tubular (HTLTU) Tyres
Designed specifically for gravel racing, the Handmade Tubeless Tubular (HTLTU) use a latex liner that’s fused to the tyre casing to replace the traditional inner tube.
Challenge says that this tubeless-style construction means the HTLTU tyres work much better with tubeless sealant and allows for the use of a tubeless tyre plug, in the event of a puncture too large for sealant alone to fix.
The HTLTU tyres represent one of the few innovations in tubular tyre technology that we’ve seen in a long time. While they’re still popular in the professional peloton and cyclocross, it seems like they’re increasingly becoming an obsolete technology for everyone else, as tyre development focuses largely on clincher and tubeless technology.
Gravel Handmade Tubeless Tubular (HTLTU)
Challenge has also announced a range of new tubeless ready and ‘tubeless tubular’ gravel tyres. Challenge Tires
Strada Bianca: 30mm and 36mm / 260tpi / 385g (30mm) and 495g (36mm)
Almanzo: 33mm / 260tpi / 450g
Gravel Grinder: 33mm / 260tpi / 465g
Price: €86.90 / $99.99
Challenge Handmade Tubeless Ready (HTLR) and Tubeless Tubular (HTLTU) tyres availability
Challenge’s new HTLR and HTLTU tyres will be available around November 2019, but are on show at Eurobike 2019 this week.
UK pricing was not available at the time of writing, but we will update this article as soon as we get a hold of that information.