TUFO is a cycling brand that should be familiar to most seasoned cyclists. They specialised in tubular tyres and tape and though they are comparatively young, founded in 1991 by Miloslav Klabal in the Czech Republic, Tufo have built an enviable reputation in Europe for their tyres. Their range extend across road and dirt as well as some euro-centric sports including cycle football and artistic cycling.
I sampled their Comtura Duo, bicycle tyres aimed at Racing/Sportive road cycling and the model from Tufo which is spear-heading the brands increasing presence in Australia. My challenge for this review on Bicycles Network Australia is to find out if the Comtura Duo is a serious alternate to the other brands?
Narrowing down the Comtura Range
Within the Comtura range, you are faced with options… lots of options; do you run innertubes or want tubeless, should the tyres be racing specific, training specific or both… and how wide do you want to go?
Contrary to any subliminal suggestions that the choice is overwhelming, it is fairly easy to orientate towards a tyre to match your needs. One of the easiest decisions could be between the 25 and 28mm wide tyres which are the two sizes offer across all models in the TUFO Comtura range.
If you want to stick with innertubes (for clinchers), there is the Comtura Aero, Duo and Trio models. Tubeless ready tyres are denoted by the ‘TR’ in their tag, with the range including the Comtura 3 TR, 4 TR and 5 TR. The ‘regular’ tyres for clinchers and tubeless tyres are not explicitly related to one other so each of the six tyre models essentially brings its’ own individual characteristics to the table. Though in common, all tyres are essentially slicks (untreaded) on the rolling surface and on the sides (cornering surface) they each feature a different tread pattern and which is useful for differentiating them from one another.
The Aero is specified as the racing tyre in the Comtura ‘tubed’ range while the Duo is a cross-over Racing/Training tyre and the Trio is classed as the Training tyre. The tubeless ready range defines the 3 TR as the all-round Training/ Racing option, the 4 TR is designated as the Racing/Training whilst the 5 TR is a Training tyre.
A feature of all of the Comtura tyres is the integrated Vectran™ layer for improved puncture protection and stability. The tubed range has 120/240 TPI rating, whilst the tubeless has 210/375 TPI rating. TPI refers to Threads Per Inch and the more nylon ‘threads’ in the tyre casing, the more supple and responsive the ride and the lighter the tube. Tufo have two numbers which refers to overlapping layers and a subsequent increase in the total number threads supporting the tyre.
The Comtura Duo for testing on Bicycles Network Australia is offered in 25 or 28mm widths. This specific model also is available with colour options for the sidewalls in black, red, blue or retro tan. All other tubed and tubeless tyres come in the Henry Ford option of Black Only.
The Tufo’s tyres are rated in 6 attributes; Suitability for Training/Racing, Durability, Protection, Comfort and Weight. The Duo is rated as 4 (out of 10) for Training, 10 for Racing, 10 for Durability, 8 for Protection, 10 for Comfort and 8 for Weight. I’ll get onto my ride impressions a bit later, but first will dig deeper into the specs and fitting !
Comtura Duo 28C
Whilst I don’t classify myself as a finish-line hungry road racer, I do like my fast downhills and speed so opted for the Comtura Duo which promise to be a fully fledged racing tyre along with training capabilities that the Comture Aero.
I chose the wider 28C option over the 25mm for the increased comfort and stability on the Adelaide roads, on my cycle tours I face mixed surfaces from smooth hotmix to rough chip-seal. And like bicycle riders across Australia, I also get my fair share of road surface deterioration as a result of minimalistic road maintenance and patchwork repairs. The other helpful factor is that my road bike frame readily accepts 28mm wide tyres and this is something you should check, particularly if your bike a few years old.
The Tufo website lists the weight of the Duo 28C as 250 grams, on my scales, the tyres for review came in at 258 and 262g. This is slightly over the posted weight, but who’s counting 8 or 12g? I know some riders out there are counting grams, but I am not a hard-core weight-weenie. For comparison, the Continental GP 5000’s in 28mm are also listed with a target weight of 250 grams while the 25mm Comtura Duos are listed at 225 grams each.
I fitted the tyres to several rim sets and they went on without tools without fuss. The beads seated easily and evenly and were soon inflated to 75psi to settle in overnight before taken on the road. I noticed that rims of different widths also affected the tyres width. On a wheelset with and internal rim width of 18mm, the inflated 28C tyres measured 28.5mm. On a newer wheelset with a contemporary wider internal rim width of 20mm, the inflated 28C tyres measured a sizeable 30.4mm.
Proof is in the testing
Over the last 2 months I cycled in excess of 1,500km on all sorts of road surfaces, wet & dry with lots of climbing and descending. The Comtura Duo quickly had me impressed and ready to buy some more for my other bike. Let me explain why…
Up until now, my ‘go to’ tyres have been the Continental Grand Prix in 25 or 28C, ever heard of Conti GP’s?
Just kidding, in Australia, the Conti GP’s are popular because of their universal performance; they grip pretty well in the wet and dry, they wear well, have brilliant cut and puncture protection and are a competition ready road cycling tyres priced at around $65 (clincher). The TUFO Comtura Duo matches the Grand Prix benchmarks – they are on paar on weight, are slightly bigger, deliver a great road feel, they grip just as nicely and also wear well. Oh, and they are a little cheaper at $50 each and appear to more widely available from bike shops.
I spotted them on sale for lower, BikeBug had them on special for $26 each which is an absolute steal.
Tufo are still small enough as a brand that there are almost no independent comparison tests to be found though a lab test of the Tubeless Road Tyres by Roadbike.de (German language) with the Continental GP 5000 TL and the Tufo Comtura 4 TR (racing and training) showed that for a more affordable price, the Tufo’s can play with the big boys.
When performance comparisons of grip, puncture resistance and rolling resistance edge over into the decimal points, the ‘average enthusiast cyclist’ within me quickly looses interest because this no longer impacts how or where I ride. As a podium contender I would be riding tubeless and the tiniest detail may then be important… but for real-world riding with inner tubes, the Comtura Duos are good value, they ride well and didn’t have any blemishes after 1,500km of crappy Aussie roads which was impressive.
The Tufo rating of 10/10 for Racing and 8/10 for training is code for ‘Sportive’. I’ve found that the tyres are more than capable on buttery smooth hotmix but keep the speed and comfort on coarse/chip spray seal and the typically poorly maintained and cracked urban roads. Across different surfaces and transitions, between different types, dips, bumps and road repairs I felt in control.
One of my regular descents is a good test bed for grip and handling ability, Greenhill Rd takes you down from Mt Lofty into Adelaide. The 7km descent averages 7% with lots of corners, plenty of road repairs and some long, fast, straight sections. I’ve ridden down this descent many times and a good day will give me average between 55 & 60km/hr. I’ll be the first to admit that whilst I’m handy at descending, I’m not a demon or reckless descender (an old war injury with a tear in my right shoulder AC Joint in Grade 2 racing keeps me in check). Having said that, the Comtura Duo had me feeling safe while hurtling down Greenhill Rd.
After experimenting with tyre pressures, I found that the generous inflated width (from the 20mm wide internal width of the Token Konax Pro wheelset) allowed me to run pressures of 55-60psi on the front and 65-70psi on the rear. Despite these seemingly low pressures, there were no issues with handling stability, cornering or braking, and even the odd unseen pothole was shrugged off with indifference.
A credible alternative to the big brands
Given the level of comfort and grip provided by the tyres, as well as their cut resistance, seemingly long life (that I’ve seen so far) and comparable weight, the savings of 40 – 70% against many well known competitors including Continental, Schwalbe, Pirelli and Maxxis make the Tufo Comtura Duo tyres a very credible alternative.
If you look at the pointy end of competitive performance, you could speculate that the rolling resistance of the Tufos may a little higher than the Continentals, but not to the extent that I can actually feel the difference… and I am saying this as a long-term Continental GP 4000 and GP 5000 rider. A small grip is that when inflated, the actual width on wider rims exceeds the denoted 28mm and for riders with tighter tolerances, this could be a real problem of your frame has limited space although I appreciated the comfort of this extra volume.
The most compelling feature is that they come with a great retail price for a similar performance. At their regular retail price, the Comtura Duos have shown me that they are a reliable Sportive tyre which can handle Aussie roads. If you are in the right place at the righty time and you spot a special on these… you know what to do.
Tufo tyres are imported by Legend Cycling and are available from online retailers and bike shops across Australia.