Official Tyre Testing – Serfas Seca Sport
Test Day 1
The R-002 rolled out in windy but dry conditions on a new pair of Serfas Seca Sport tyres. Initial pressures for the 700x28mm set were placed at 82R/74F. What I immediately noticed was how smooth they rolled, it was like gaining a bit of free speed. Now considering that the Continental Ultra Sport IIs have become my personal Benchmark for performance, the Seca Sports were impressive right out of the gate.
Billed as a training/performance tire, the Hard/Medium Soft intermediate tread and carcass design utilizes multiple silica and rubber compounds for both durability and performance. The center of the tyre is rated at a hardness of 65h for longer wear and puncture resistance while the edges are at a medium-soft 58h, which gives it plenty of ‘stick’ when flicking it or railing through the corners.
On the first run, the Seca Sports encountered lumpy and bumpy roads from smooth new pavement to weathered worn tarmac, sidewalks and bumpy park paths. The tires handled every surface with ease, providing solid feedback and inspiring confidence at every turn. The main focal point of today’s run was to test low to moderate speed corner entry and exit, hard braking as well as lower speed trail braking.
Bump compliance was another main consideration as there was very minimal ‘slippage’ off of debris, small rocks and pavement irregularities. The Seca Sport tires soaked up obstacles just enough to keep bike and rider planted, while still maintaining a good amount traction and control. Which means that in ‘loose’ sections, the Seca Sports negotiate less than perfect surfaces and transmit a real ‘feel’ back to a rider in order to respond accordingly.
The tires were predictable yet precise, edge grip and stability were both top notch. Though smooth rolling they are not vague either. Allowing a rider to feel the road surfaces and all of its subtleties. As you can see from the whitish lines on the post-ride photos, I pushed right to the edge of both front and rear without so much as a whimper from the Seca Sports sampling a variety of apex speeds from 25 to 40 mph.
Having never ridden on Serfas tires prior, they were performing a bit better than expected. Initial feeling at lower to moderate speeds were not too different from my usual stalwarts, the Conti Ultra Sport IIs. Tipping the scales at 300g, 35 grams less than the Conti 2s. So now looking ahead, day 2 will attempt to push the limits of higher speed cornering and find the limits of high-speed braking performance.
Test Day 2 (official)
Once again weather was hot with dry roads, so right to it then. Pressures were set at 85 rear and 74 front. At about mile 5, I increased the pace and started to push on. Right from the get go stability at turn-in and under braking at higher speeds provided good feel at the onset and all through the range of turning and braking. I was able to obtain many 30+ mph apex speeds during day 2 test
I blasted down Quill Penn, then headed towards the curves of Ferguson Rd where the tyres just kept biting and biting. Then it was on to the Top of the World a fast and bumpy sweeping descent. (had the pleasure of stealing the KOM while I was at it!) I also managed to clip 42 and touch 40 mph through one of the apexes with not so much as a hint of protest from the Seca Sports. Again, bump compliance was spot on, soaking up the uneven and torn up pavement. The Seca Sports are very stable and very confidence inspiring indeed.
Through cul-de-sac hairpins and Mtn Park Circuit, direction changes at speed were also very good. (through chicanes, hairpins and short esses). The tire profile, though not ‘sharp’ still lends itself to quick but precise steering and easy transitions from side-to-side as well.
Even while trail braking into the hairpin corner feedback and ‘feel’ was very solid. If you may be wondering, without question, there is a direct correlation to tire and braking effectiveness, something worth considering when choosing tyres. The final few miles had me bombing Somerville Rd, touching 42 mph again. I wanted to go faster, but just did not have the leg power today.
As far as hauling the bike down, under threshold braking, (just a micro moment before lockup) the Seca Sports braking-traction [not to be confused with breaking traction! 😀] yielded good ‘assist’ in slowing and stopping the bike from higher speeds, this is undoubtedly due to the grippy compound. Now whether or not that means a quick life-span, remains to be seen…
After a total of 3 days, two of which were very hard riding stints and one easy tour I racked up a total of 80 miles. No, it isn’t a long-term test by any means, but, it was enough in most all riding aspects, flat, uphill, downhill, slow semi-technical corners and fast sweeping turns on a variety of surfaces to draw a solid evaluation. In my many years of riding experience both on motorcycles and bicycles, I can safely say after a modest yet thorough analysis, the Seca Sport Tyres bridge the gap between very good training tires and all-out racing rubber.
Tested and Ridden: Continental Ultra Sport II Tyres
A couple of years back I had been riding on the Continental Ultra Sport tires with positive results and a fair amount of high praise for their road bike rubber. The Ultra Sport’s provided good performance at a great price and you can’t beat that in my book!
Then in 2013 I stumbled on a set of Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slicks and the love affair with the Conti’s promptly ended. Not that I thought the Conti’s weren’t a solid set of tyres, but the Pro Slicks had them slightly beat…
Subsequently and much to my disappointment, Vittoria stopped making the very affordable and sticky Zaffiro Pro Slicks. At about 30-35 bucks for a set, with the very same compound as the Rubino…I suppose Vittoria got a bit greedy (or embarrassed) and didn’t want their low cost set of tires performing as good as their top line donuts…
So, for me it was back to the Ultra Sports. But little did I know that Continental had improved on the original Ultra Sport, with a new compound called PureGrip. Enter the Ultra Sport II folding beaded tires, which I had purchased for a set price of $40.95 on Amazon. After a only a few miles I knew these were every bit as good as the Zaffiro Pro Slicks. The Ultra Sport 2’s are excellent tires at a great price point.
To date, I have about 1,850 miles on the 700 x 25c set and they have been impressive to say the least. I typically run about 96-100 psi in the rear and about 92-95 psi up the front. Initial bite is very good and under normal and up to hard braking, thanks to a well rounded profile. The Conti US II tyres adhere flawlessly, edge grip is very good and consistent through fast sweepers or tight corners/esses, and I sometimes lean the bike and push the front in certain fast sweepers and they indeed inspire confidence.
So far I have had no break of traction on many types of varying terrain in both dry and wet road conditions. The Ultrasport’s soak up irregular terrain and small bumps with ease. Overall, the Ultrasport II’s get 4-stars for both effort and performance in my riding opinion. The 180 TPI seems to balance durability/puncture resistance with enough suppleness for amazing grip.
According to Continental, PureGrip is based on activated silica compounds and the technology was originally intended as an performance level compound, but after intensive development at their Korbach Research and Development Facility, an advanced new compound with outstanding grip and cross-country properties was developed. This new rubber mix, given the self explanatory name “PureGrip”, is ranked just behind their top of the line BlackChili Compound.