Vittoria has been around since 1953, and unlike so many companies in the cycling gear space, they have managed to focus on just one thing that whole time: Tires. Vittoria says they make 7 million tires a year, an impressive figure! The Vittoria brand name is synonymous with professional racing tires, as they are built for speed and handling. At the same time, Vittoria tires are also pretty closely associated with high price and questionable durability. Without a doubt, top-of-the-line Vittoria racing tires are popular and fast, but also skittish creatures. At the other end of the company’s product line, however, some pleasant surprises are to be found that are both nice on your bike and reasonable on your bank account.
The Vittoria lineup has been relatively stable for the past few years, so we will outline them below. Note that this review is mainly for triathlon bike (aka time trial) and road bike tires. Vittoria is also into making tires for hybrid, comfort, and mountain bikes, but we are going to focus on those tires most commonly used by triathletes.
The Corsa series is Vittoria’s high-end line of racing tires, with 11 models that all feature the company’s 320 TPI casing material for maximum flexibility and handling. Corsa models include the standard Corsa, the Corsa speed, the Corsa tubular, and the Triathlon speed versions. These are all made with advanced materials and designed for competition. The Triathlon Speed tire is a bit more puncture resistant given the unpredictable road conditions associated with a triathlon. Vittoria calls the Corsa speed the “world’s fastest tire” and the standard Corsa the “world’s best tire”.
All of the Corsa series tires are lightweight; the Corsa models weigh in at 250g to 270g and the Speed at an ultra-light 165g. They also are all pricey; the tubular version retails for around $100, the clincher version for about $75. By comparison, you can find the Michelin Pro4, the Vredestein Fortezza Tricomp or the Continental Grand Prix 4000 clinchers for around $50, although none of these tires will give you the Corsa’s high thread count or race-proven reputation.
Corsa tires are the choice of pro racers, but amateur riders often find the tires to be a little too finicky to be worth the extra money. Vittoria claims that their new casing includes a puncture-resistant belt that reduces the rate of flat tires by 40% over earlier models, but there’s no question that these tires are still made for speed rather than durability. Considering that the initial price of these tires is high, having to replace them often only adds to the already steep cost of owning a legendary brand.
The Diamante steps the thread count of the casing material down to 220 TPI, producing a tire that the company says is right for “real-world racing.” The Diamante tires are tougher than their thoroughbred Corsa cousins, but they’re also light; the Diamante Pro Radiale weighs just 195g in its 22mm-wide version, and the Diamante Pro Light weighs 170g in its 23mm version. The Diamante Pro has a slick center tread with a subtle tread pattern at the shoulders, while the Pro Light is entirely slick. Both are clinchers and retail for about $50
The Diamante Pro Radiale features Vittoria’s radial casing construction, in which the cord ply of the casing material is oriented nearly parallel to the direction of travel, reducing rolling resistance as compared to bias-ply tires and allowing the tire to be more flexible. Because of the increased flex, some riders find radial tires to be a little unsteady when pushed into corners
Like the Corsa tires, Diamante tires sacrifice durability for weight, grip and handling. Riders consistently complain that the tires wear quickly and are susceptible to flats, but other riders insist that the ride of the tires more than makes up for their lack of fortitude
If the Diamante tires are for real-world racing, Rubino tires are simply for the real world. Rubino tires are designed to wear longer and stand up to harsher conditions than Vittoria’s racing tires, making them better suited to riders who demand more than just speed from their tires.
Rubino tires come in three flavors: Rubino Pro, Rubino Pro Slick and Rubino Pro Tech. These three Pro models feature a 150 TPI casing and are foldable. Versions of the basic Rubino and the Rubino Slick with a rigid, non-foldable 60 TPI casing are also available. The Rubino Pro is an all-around tire with technical tread pattern, while the Slick is designed for smooth, clean pavement. The Rubino Tech is a bad-weather tire with a technical tread pattern, a grippier tread compound and reinforced sidewalls.
Thanks to their heavier casings, the Rubino tires draw far fewer complaints about their durability than do Vittoria’s racing tires. They’re still a bit pricier than comparable tires from competing manufacturers, but their more reliable performance makes the premium price easier to stomach. This is a common tire on today’s new midrange roadbikes, as they are often paired with a Shimano wheelset as stock equipment.
Vittoria’s low-end series of training tires offers the same model categories as the Rubino series: a basic model, a slick model and an all-weather model. The foldable Zaffiro models are built with a 60 TPI casing, and the rigid models feature a 26 TPI casing material. The unique Zaffiro tread pattern—a combination of pebble texture and cross-hatch grooves—is the same in both the Zaffiro Pro and the Zaffiro Pro Tech, but the Tech version includes reinforced sidewalls and the company’s special wet-grip tread compound.
Unlike its costlier relatives, the Zaffiro series doesn’t suffer from complaints about durability or cost (the Zaffiro Pro retails for about $20-$25). Riders consistently praise the tire for its long-wearing tread and resistance to flats.