Standing around discussing tire rubber compounds is a sure sign that you've entered the world of full-blown bike geekdom, but I've long since accepted the fact that I'm a nerd, which is how I found myself in the Nevada desert talking about the latest tire technology from Vittoria.
Vittoria has a well respected name on the road side of cycling, and now the company is turning their attention on expanding and improving their line of mountain bike tires. To that end they've gone ahead and invested in a massive new extrusion machine for their Thailand manufacturing plant. The machine measures 100 yards long from end to end, and wasn't cheap, but it does allow for the production of tires that have four separate rubber compounds.
The concept of constructing a tire using multiple rubber compounds isn't new, but up until this point most manufacturers used three compounds, typically using a harder base rubber, and then two different durometers of rubber above it, with a softer compound on the side knobs for better cornering traction and a harder, more resilient rubber on the center knobs for better longevity.
Vittoria's Mezcal (left) and Morsa (right) will both be available with the new 4C G+ Isotech compound.
What's the benefit of a 4C tire? Vittoria's process lets them choose the best base and surface compounds for a tire's side knobs, as well as for the center portion of the tread, giving them greater control over how the tire will perform on the trail. For instance, stiffer side knobs with a softer durometer top layer can provide grip and support in the corners, while a softer base compound combined with a more durable top layer in the center of the tire can improve braking traction without sacrificing durability.
To go along with this four compound design, Vittoria is also using Graphene in their rubber mixture. Graphene is a very, very thin sheet of carbon that Vittoria says helps improve rolling speed, grip, and decrease the likelihood that knobs will fold and tear. Those are mighty impressive claims, which is why we'll be getting a set of tires constructed with the 4C G+ Isotech compound to evaluate their performance in the real world.
Vittoria's Mezcal and Morsa tires will be the first models available with the new compound. The Mezcal is aimed at cross-country riders with a low profile, fast rolling tread pattern. There are 27.5” and 29” versions in either 2.1” or 2.25” widths for $69.99 USD. The Morsa is the more aggressive of the two tires, aimed at enduro and DH racers, and comes in 27.5” and 29” versions in a 2.3” or 2.5” width for $71.99.www.vittoria.com