I’m now on my second pair of Continental Ultra Gator Duraskin folding road tyres (700 x 23), which I use for my high mileage winter training. I’d toyed with the idea of keeping my Specialized Mondo Pro II summer tyres for the winter training season but as soon as the roads started to get wet, the tyres got very twitchy. I quickly realised it was a fools game not to have a pair of winter training tyres and went out to invest in another pair of Ultra Gatorskin tyres from my local bike shop (Ralph Coleman’s, Taunton).
“Unlike my summer tyres, they’re grippy in the wet and give me much more confidence when cornering and descending in winter conditions.”
My first pair of Gatorskins lasted me 2 winter/spring seasons and clocked up thousands of miles on wet, gritty country lanes and were definately worth the investment (current RRP £28.95 a tyre but you can get better prices if you shop around). I didn’t get a single puncture the entire time until, in the space of a month, I was getting puncture after puncture (in one 50 mile ride, I had 3 punctures!). I was later told by a bike shop friend of mine that most punctures happen in the last 10% of a tyres life – this was certainly the case with my prized Conti’s.
One thing I’ve found with the Gatorskins is that you need strong thumbs to get the tyre over the wheel rim and with my current pair I’m ashamed to say that I actually had to get the guy in the bike shop to put them on for me! But, as soon as I went out with my new Ultra Gatorskins, I instantly felt the difference. Unlike my summer tyres, they’re grippy in the wet and give me much more confidence when cornering and descending in winter conditions. They’re lightweight (220g) and whilst not a race tyre as such, they’re still fast and roll really well.
I’ve now riden about a 1,000 miles this winter season, much of it on wet and gritty Somerset country roads and I’ve not had a single puncture. The special Duraskin external mesh forms a protective shield over the entire casing to prevent cuts, puntures and abrasions and is the main reason I was advised by my Triathlon coach to buy the Gatorskins for winter training in the first place.
I tried another pair of winter training tyres last year and they were not a touch on the winter handling performance of the Gatorskins. I can certainly see why the Ultra Gatorskins are an extremely popular winter training tyre.
Pros: An excellent value for money high mileage winter training tyre.
Cons: They can be difficult to get onto your wheel, especially the first time.