Today I'm testing Continentals cheapest road bike tire: the Ultra Sport II. The Ultra Sport is quite a popular tire in the lowest price class. Not only because of its low price but also because it's available in lots of different colors and sizes. I'm testing the Ultra Sport II 700 x 25C folding version. A wire bead version is available as well which costs even less. The Ultra Sport has a 3/180 carcass, Conti's PureGrip compound, but no hi-tech puncture resistance layer.
It seems like Continental saved some money by skipping the extra layer of puncture resistance material that most other all-round tires have. No puncture resistance layer helps achieve a lower rolling resistance at the cost of lower puncture resistance. The other low-end tires I have tested up to now are the Vittoria Zaffiro (review), which has a decent rolling resistance but low puncture resistance. And the Schwalbe Lugano (review), which has a decent puncture resistance, but a very high rolling resistance.
The trade-off between rolling resistance and puncture resistance will always exist, a stronger tire will have a higher rolling resistance. Although the use of a better design and better performing materials helps, tire cost will go up as well. Let's see how Continentals lowest priced tire performs in our rolling resistance and puncture resistance tests
|Model||Ultra Sport II|
|Tire Type||Tubetype (clincher)|
|Supplied By||Bought in store|
|New or Used||New|
|Specified Weight||260 grams|
32-630 (27x1 1/4)
28-630 (27x1 1/8)
Size and Weight Measurements
|Size and Weight Measurements (Bike Wheel: 622x17C, Pressure: 100 psi / 6.9 bar)|
|Specified Weight||260 grams|
|Measured Weight||267 grams|
|Measured Width||26 mm|
|Measured Height||24 mm|
|Total Tire Thickness Center||3 mm|
|Total Tire Thickness Sidewall||0.7 mm|
Specified weight of the folding Ultra Sport 700 x 25C is 260 grams. My sample comes in at 267 grams, which is slightly over the specified weight. The measured width and height on a 17C wheel is 26 mm and 24 mm respectively. These are both average values for a 25C road bike tires.
Rolling Resistance Test Results
|Rolling Resistance Test Results (Speed: 29 kmh / 18 mph / 8 m/s, Load: 42.5 kg / 417 N)|
|Inner Tube||Conti Race28 (100gr butyl)|
|Rolling Resistance 140 psi / 9.7 Bar||
CRR: Not Tested
|Rolling Resistance 120 psi / 8.3 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 100 PSI / 6.9 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 80 PSI / 5.5 Bar||
|Rolling Resistance 60 PSI / 4.1 Bar||
|Use the formula: RR (watts) = CRR * speed (m/s) * load (N) to calculate rolling resistance at a given speed and load|
When taking its low price into consideration, rolling resistance is good. The Ultra Sport is able to outperform the Vittoria Zaffiro and comes very close to the slightly more expensive Continental Grand Prix (review). At an air pressure of 120 psi, rolling resistance of the Ultra Sport is only 0.3 watts higher when compared to the Grand Prix. At the lower air pressure of 80 psi, the advantage of the Grand Prix increases to 0.5 watts.
The Vittoria Zaffiro had a decent rolling resistance at a very high air pressure. At lower air pressures, rolling resistance of the Zaffiro skyrocketed. The Ultra Sport, on the other hand, has a much better rolling resistance curve. Resulting in a decent rolling resistance even at the very low air pressure of 60 psi.
Puncture Resistance Test Results
|Puncture Resistance Test Results (higher is better)|
|Puncture Resistance Tread||10|
|Puncture Resistance Sidewall||4|
As expected -because the puncture resistance layer has been omitted, tread puncture resistance is low. With a score of 10 points, it scores just as low as the Vittoria Zaffiro.
Sidewall puncture resistance is 4 points; this is an average score as most other road bike tires without reinforced sidewalls score 4 - 5 points on this test.
If you're looking for a cheap tire with decent rolling resistance, the Continental Ultra Sport II is the way to go. The Ultra Sport can hold its own in the rolling resistance test. Even at lower air pressures, it's able to score very close to more expensive tires. The trade-off is that puncture resistance is below average because an extra layer of puncture resistance material has been omitted.
If you want cheap tires and don't care about puncture resistance, the Ultra Sports are perfect. If you're willing to spend slightly more, the Continental Grand Prix (review) or Vittoria Rubino Pro (review) are still my price/performance recommendations. Those tires have a slightly lower weight, lower rolling resistance, and a much better puncture resistance at a slightly higher price.
TEST VERDICT: Recommended
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