Well, how do they perform? I have to admit that the Challenge tires are clearly superior to the Tufo tires. I definitely get better grip and seldom slide out. Even if I slide a bit, it seems easy to bring the bike back back under control and continue merrily on my way. In one race known for its steep technical off-camber turns, I was using the Fango in back and was regularly sliding on one 180 corner where the ground was torn up. But the slides were controlled which is unusual for me. I have only slid out once this year, which is unprecedented for me. I have had some very good races on the Challenge tires although my power meter says I earned them. I do find that the tires simply seem to roll faster than the Tufos at the same tire pressure - noticeably faster. They are a bit narrower which helps in the thick grass we have on some courses. I'm sure the Dugasts are a notch better again, but the price/durabilty ratio seems to be unfavourable from all accounts. Price definitely is an issue for the Dugasts.
Now there is no doubt that the Tufos are durable tires but they don't provide the traction the Challenges do. They slide on grass where the Challenges grab and I can make it up dead grass slopes first try with the Challenges that I could not with multiple tries with the Tufos. The Tufos are definitey not as supple which everyone tells us is the wholly grail for traction. But I think the lugs are also a bit too close together so they don't dig as well in the grass. They are great training tires as they last a long time, but they won't be my race tires again for our courses which are mostly grass - not rocks, etc. By the way, I have bottomed out on the Challenge tires on a number of occasions with no pinch flats. Although our courses are mostly grass, we have lots of roots and various types of concrete, wood and asphalt lips we hit. I normally run them at about 28-32 lbs depending on tree roots etc. and I weigh 155 lbs. I have a couple of hundred km on them, mostly racing and riding to/from races. I haven't had any issues with the tread separating from the casing as some have noted. They are dirtier looking after a bit of use if that is a problem for you. It's not for me.
So I've learned my lesson. I won't pronounce these the best cross tires ever. But they are the best cross tires I have tried and are pretty reasonably priced. They are my "go to" tires now. Do I get 5 positions out of them? Maybe I do.
|Rear tire on the left - only a tiny amount of wear|
The verdict - my tufo tires are only trainers now. Good tires for bombing around and they wear like iron, but not up to the "Challenges" of racing. The Challenge tires aren't used for much training as they wear faster (until I wear out my Tufos). That's why they grip so well. No training that includes pavement for these babies. They are my racing tires from now on. And they are cheaper than the tufos.