Best known for a well-earned reputation with wheels, Zipp has also sold tyres for many years. Tyres that, in terms of ride quality, were unremarkable. The new Tangente Course clinchers, however, are fast, supple, grippy, armed with a little Kevlar puncture protection and, notably, won't break the bank.
The original Tangente tyres came out in 2007. They were triathlon tyres, basically, designed as an aerodynamic project. The new tyres still take aerodynamics into consideration, but more thought and work were put towards lowering rolling resistance. The difference is immediately noticeable.
With tyres — as with many things on a bike — it’s relatively easy to differentiate between low- and high-quality products. Once you get into the realm of comparing high-end to high-end, going on ‘feel’ becomes tenuous. With the Tangente Course, they immediately feel like a supple, fast, high-end tyre. On a 40-mile test course with dozens of tight, sweeping bends, the Tangente Courses gripped the tarmac like Velcro in corners and floated on the straights. Are they better than a venerable Continental GP4000? We don’t know. But they are certainly in the same league.
Mechanical engineer Tom Anhalt has done extensive tyre testing as a hobby and posts the results at bikeblather.blogspot.com. He tested the new Tangente Course tyre recently and found its rolling resistance to be just a hair more than the Continental GP 4000 (Crr of 0.0035 to Contin’s 0.0034). You can read Anhalt’s data and discussion on the matter here.
Made in Thailand by Vittoria, the Zipp Tangente Course clincher comes in 23 and 25c models
Three other strong points about the Tangente's low weight, a very competitive price and real-world durability. The 23c version weighs a claimed 205 and the 25c model is a claimed 215g. Pricing varies by market of course, but the Tangente Course does seem to come in well under the Continental GP4000. In terms of durability, we have only done a single ride (without issue despite some off-road wanderings), but there is a Kevlar belt tucked under the grippy rubber.
The Tangente Course is made in Thailand by Vittoria, but it is Zipp's design, not simply a rebadged Vittoria model.
Zipp says the Tangente Course is intended for riding in the dry, so apologies, Brits, but this might not be the tyre for you.
The line also include the Tangente Speed, which has a 220tpi casing and less puncture protection, and the Tangente SL Speed, a 320tpi cotton tubular that comes in 24 and 27mm widths.