Vittoria’s Corsa G2.0 TLR is nice to ride but a tubeless nightmare
Words and Images - James Raison
Vittoria announced their GRAPHENE 2.0 compound with all guns blazing. They promised more speed, longer life, better grip, greater air retention, and improved cut resistance. A tubeless ready version was announced too. Australian RRP is a highly competitive $75, well under the colossal pricetag of the Continental Grand Prix 5000 tubeless tyre. They even took a pro tour win at Gent-Wevelgem under Alexander Kristoff… but let’s not talk about his 3 punctures at Paris Roubaix...
Could it be the tyre I’ve been waiting for? Tubeless? Fast rolling? Grippy? Puncture resistant? Pretty good value? Well my first 1,500 kilometers on them have answered: no, no-ish, yes, no, and kinda.
Tyres can be a hard thing to review because individual experiences can vary so much. So I keep everything as objective and dispassionate as I can so every tyre has its chance to live its best life. Even so, my experience with these tyres can only be described as traumatic.
TUBELESS SETUP AND MAINTENANCE - THE HORROR
Getting these tyres onto Crafworx Ultima wheels was a two-day battle of wills.
They’re easy enough to get onto the rim, only needing a lever for the last leverage on one tyre and the other using fingers only. They weren’t tight enough to seat despite repeated blasts with my Bontrager Flash Charger pump. I ended up having to slowly work the tyre out of the centre channel to create enough of a seal for the air blasts (with valve cores removed) to work. Eventually it worked on both tyres after 10-15 full blasts each from my loaded pump. It was agony on my useless cycling arms but the battle wasn’t over yet. Both tyres leaked air once the sealant was added with multiple points of bubbling at the bead. I had a routine of air blasting, spinning, leaving the wheels in the sun to dry the sealant, and repeat. After hours of trying over two days the sealant had done its work and stopped the seeping.
It’s my most traumatic road tubeless setup to date - especially surprising because the wheels were previously set up tubeless with some Schwalbe Pro Ones with no fuss at all. I moved the Schwalbes to another bike with different rims using no levers, and got them inflated with a regular floor pump at the same time I was setting up the Vittorias. I will stress that my experience only represents a sample of one. Tubeless tech is still figuring itself out and the same tyre on different rims could give wildly different results.
Over time I came to learn how much the tyres hated being tubeless. I’d have to keep the pressure up with regular pumping because the tyres would randomly deflate and un-seat themselves while sitting idle at home. One day the unthinkable happened and I punctured both tyres in a single ride. The front was my fault for not topping up sealant, but the rear had a fresh injection a couple of days before. I couldn’t bring myself to set them up tubeless from scratch again. I’m a tubeless advocate but puncture prevention is far worse than puncture cure in this case.
I’ve had some conversations with other Corsa G2.0 tlr users and the tubeless experience matches mine. I spoke to one bike shop who abandoned setting them up tubeless on one bike out of frustration. I had multiple buyers respond to me through Instagram when I posted about my setup troubles saying they’d found them difficult too. It’s not a large sample size but I’m yet to hear a good tubeless experience.
On a positive note, Vittoria’s Corsa G2.0s are an excellent tyre to ride, as was the first generation. I genuinely enjoyed them when I was rolling along the tarmac.
Their main virtue is grip; glorious and confidence-inspiring grip. They were a breath of fresh air following the slightly vague feeling Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tyres that preceded them. Immediately I was cornering with more aggression and feeling like the front of the bike had sharpened considerably. The Corsa G2s have been sure-footed during my soggy winter testing on slick roads too.
Anecdotally, they felt adequately quick on my Specialized Allez that gets used to test most road tyres. I’d never claim to know for sure whether one performance tyre truly is faster than another because perception of speed and actual speed tend to be different things entirely. Anyone claiming they know the difference between a 12 watt tyre and an 11 watt tyre likely has some snake oil to sell you.
So let’s turn to the scientific method to clear things up. The Corsa G2.0 non-tubeless achieved a so-so result on bicyclerollingresistance.com with 13 watts of rolling resistance measured. That’s not a bad result as such, but the first generation was measured by the same test protocols at 12.2 watts. Oh dear. Independent lab testing seems at-odds with Vittoria’s claims of generational improvement. The tubeless tyre will likely register lower rolling resistance than the standard tyre but the point remains that the compound has not been measured faster in those tests.
Ride feeling was firmer than expected, likely owing to a beefed-up tubeless bead. It’s a common feeling with tubeless tyres; you can run lower pressures but you lose some of the sidewall flex of a tubed tyre. I ran them at 60 psi in the front and 65 psi in the rear and found them comfortable-ish. A supple tubed tyre will get a more plush ride feeling.
The Corsa G2.0s are a nice tyre to ride. It was their greatest strength for the last generation and it still holds true with the new version.
WEAR AND TEAR
I’ll stress once again that listening to puncture experience of a single person is not a representative sample size to judge a tyre. There’s too many variables and random chance encounters involved. Still, I am disappointed in the Corsa G2.0s. They show very little signs of wear but their vaunted cut resistance has been defeated multiple times. Both tyres show cuts, and one was long enough not to seal when something gashed laterally across the tread. I used a tube patch on the inside to keep the tyre going until I can wear it out properly.
I can live with cuts in the tread if they were functional tubeless tyres. I accept the ever-present risk of punctures even with tubeless setup but a tyre this hard to set up and maintain isn’t worth it. I could change dozens of punctured faster than setting up these tyres once, and it would take me several years to puncture that many times.
CORSA G2 Vs CORSA G1
Vittoria’s Corsa graphene tyres have a unique feeling to them. I used a set of original Corsa Graphenes on another bike at the same time as the Corsa G2.0 set and there’s a definite familiarity. Both grip in much the same way and give similar feedback from the road. I did note that the non-tubeless gen 1 Corsas had more flex in the sidewall. The G2.0s, as mentioned above, felt firm.
Those thinking of moving from first to second generation can do it knowing that the best parts have carried over.
My experience with the Corsa Graphene 2.0 TLR was poor enough for me to recommend skipping the tubeless version. What’s the point of a tubeless tyre that’s so hard to live with? The tubed version is both lighter and cheaper. Buy that one instead. If you really want tubeless then get a set of Schwalbe Pro Ones (read our review of the Schwalbe Pro Ones). They’re not as nice to ride but they’re tubeless you can live with.
Riding on them is a pleasure though. I thoroughly enjoyed them on-road. I love their grippiness, and the connected feeling with the road. In all other instances they were painful. So much that I wanted to finish the review and shift them onto another bike so I can start testing the next tyres. I wanted tubeless and I didn’t get it.
Ultimately Vittoria’s Corsa Graphene 2.0 tlr is a good tyre that’s bad at tubeless.