Challenge Strada Bianca Pro H-TLR review
High-volume rubber with a road tyre zingGBP £83.00 RRP Skip to view deals
Challenge’s Strada Bianca has been around for some years in various constructions, spanning clincher, tubular and tubeless versions.
Its oversized carcass makes it an interesting option for riders hoping to explore unsealed or rough roads without rattling their fillings out, while it’s said to draw inspiration from the brand’s Paris-Roubaix tyre.
Aside from the effort needed to fit the tyre, and keep it working (sealed) at its peak, it delivers enviable ride quality and grip when you need it most.
Challenge Strada Bianca Pro H-TLR specifications
Challenge says the Strada Bianca takes the proven construction of the Paris-Roubaix tyre, and adds volume to cope better with less than perfect surfaces.
Aimed at rough roads, hard-packed dirt and a good swathe of gravel riding, this capable tyre can now be bought in six constructions – vulcanised and handmade clincher, handmade tubeless tubulars, handmade tubulars, plus vulcanised and handmade tubeless-ready variants.
The latter is on test here, and it’s available in 700 x 30, 33, 36, 40, and 45c sizes, and the 700 x 40c on test here.
The fine herringbone tread pattern is equally shallow across the width of the tyre’s 260 TPI (threads-per-inch) SuperPoly polyester casing.
The SuperPoly material is said to be almost as supple as Challenge’s race-spec Corespun Cotton casing, and impervious to water.
Challenge’s Corazza Armor puncture protection is layered into the construction, with its Smart Plus compound providing the traction to the road surface.
Challenge Strada Bianca Pro H-TLR performance
The Strada Bianca Pro H-TLR tyres are supplied folded and completely flat. Compared to many tubeless tyres, it takes a fair amount of effort to fit.
I found them to be quite fiddly to fit for the first time – it feels as though you need three hands to get them on the rim, mainly because they revert to being flat, rather than holding a rounded shape.
When you do fit one bead, it’s essential to ensure it’s positioned within the central rim well, because every millimetre of diameter gained is a huge help for wrestling the other bead over the final portion of the rim.
This is good general advice for fitting a bike tyre, but it’s especially important here due to the tight fit.
Once on the rim, the Strada Biancas refused to inflate with just a track pump, but a compressor did the trick immediately, and they popped into place.
As with previous Challenge H-TLR tyre setups, I used Challenge’s own Smart sealant. I found I needed to use larger quantities than with other tubeless tyre setups, around 80ml before the tyre would seal fully, with the help of an initial short ride to spread it around the whole interior.
Fitted to rims with a 23mm internal width, the 40c Strada Biancas inflated to 41mm wide. Visually, it looks like a very fat road bike tyre, or very bald gravel tyre (depending on your point of view).
They create a pleasingly rounded shape that makes for smooth transitions from side to side.
Lower tyre pressures naturally make for a flatter, squatter contact patch on the road. Challenge recommends inflating the 40c Strada Biancas to between 25 and 45psi, and I began testing close to the upper end of this range.
Even at such relatively low pressures (for a road tyre), there’s a definite zing from the large-volume tyre’s finely woven carcass, allied to an extremely plush feel.
The Strada Biancas casually dismiss the sort of broken tarmac that causes unpleasant vibration, and enable much more leeway with your line choice, keeping you out of trouble if caught out by a hole.
The mass – at 458g per tyre – dulls acceleration when compared to narrower road rubber. This is certainly no road-racing tyre, but can still be hustled along at satisfying speeds.
With relatively light 1,480g wheels on an 8kg gravel bike in winter road trim, sustaining a 17mph (27kph) average speed on a rolling circuit at my ‘usual’ effort level was only around 2mph (3kph) or so slower than a fast road bike with racier 700 x 25c tyres.
The tread pattern and low pressure, especially when run around 30psi, produces seemingly endless grip in all road conditions short of slick mud.
When venturing away from tarmac in dry conditions, the Strada Biancas cope well with groomed gravel and hard-packed dirt, delivering plenty of confidence. They come unstuck on wet or very gnarly surfaces, but that’s to be expected given the focus of the tread.
I didn’t experience any cuts or obvious signs of wear throughout testing, although it’s impossible to judge wear rates in full in a typical test period.
As I’ve experienced previously with Challenge’s tubeless tyres, the Strada Bianca H-TLR seems to be quite sealant-hungry. I mentioned that it required more than usual to seal, but it also seems to need regular top-ups to keep an effective seal and avoid notable deflation.
The Challenge sealant coats the tyre’s inner surface quite thickly, and that seems to leave little mobile fluid to deal with leaks. You can use your own choice of tubeless sealant, of course, but most brands recommend the use of their own (or a specific) sealant.
This naturally means you might need to more regularly dismount it, clean it up and refit it afresh. It’s a necessary aspect of running tubeless tyres at their best, but a small annoyance if you have to do so more often.
Challenge Strada Bianca Pro H-TLR bottom line
The Strada Bianca Pro H-TLR is certainly a challenge to fit, requiring patience and careful technique. You might also need to keep refreshing your sealant more often than average.
However, it produces a beautifully supple ride, delivering progressively predictable grip in the dry tarmac and loose conditions it’s designed for, and decent speed to boot, given its dimensions.