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A Review of the Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Cyclocross Tire

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Tires Post Race. Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Cyclocross Tires Fitted to a Set of Mavic Ksyrium Wheels

Tires Post Race. Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Cyclocross Tires Fitted to a Set of Mavic Ksyrium Wheels

A Great Clincher Cyclocross Tire for Racers on a Budget?

A review of the Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Tire for cyclocross racers on a budget.

If you're looking at riding cyclocross through the fall and winter you need to pay attention to the equipment demands you may have for racing. Cyclocross isn't all about who has the most expensive lightweight carbon bike with the most 'bling' carbon fibre wheel-set.

Cyclocross is all about function. Therefore one of the most important things for a cyclocross racer is their tires. That small area of rubber touching the ground can make a huge difference in terms of how quickly you can power across strength-sapping grassy fields and along muddy singletrack paths.

This review will look at the Grifo Pro Clincher Cyclocross Tire made by Challenge and assess if it is a good cyclocross tire for racers on a budget.

A Tried-and-Tested Tread Design for the Grifo Pro

Challenge is a company which has one step in the past as an acknowledgement to the master tire manufacturers of old. The Grifo Pro sports a legendary tread which has been taken from a classic mould by Clements. The same tread pattern is featured in the more expensive Grifo in both tubular and open tubular (clincher) designs.

The Grifo Pro offers a more affordable alternative for the rider who's new to cyclocross and looking to find the right tire for their riding, or the more experienced rider looking for an economical option.

The Grifo Pro tire also has potential as a cyclocross training tire for riders who wish to save their more expensive tires for race day use too.

The Clements Tread Pattern From the Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Cyclocross Tire

The Clements Tread Pattern From the Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Cyclocross Tire

Challenge Grifo Pro Specification

Here are the stats that make the Grifo Pro the tire it is.

Size: 700c x 32mm

Weight Per Tire: 395 gram (Wire Bead)

Threads Per Inch: 30 TPI

Recommended Pressure Range: 40-75 PSI

Tread Pattern: All conditions tread pattern from a traditional Clements mould

Price: Expect to pay around $30–40 (USD) or around £20 (GBP) for the Grifo Pro.

What Are the Grifo Pro Tires Like to Ride?

Challenge's base model Grifo Pro is an absolute pleasure to ride in all but the harshest conditions. It’s a great all-condition cyclocross tire that’s at home on tight packed fast-rolling singletrack and soft grassy fields for riders on a budget.

Straight Line Speed

The tightly packed central knobs mean that this tire rolls as well as anything on the marketplace. They offer excellent grip and minimal tire 'squirm' on tarmac sections and allow for fast rolling on tightly packed early season course which features lots of grassy fields and singletrack to resemble a cyclocross criterium race.

The tried-and-tested tread pattern offers grip in all but the most glutinous of muddy conditions where a mud-specific cyclocross tire will be of more specific use.

Racing Around a Grassy Corner. In Red: Cyclocross Racing on a Planet X Uncle John With Mavic Ksyrium Wheels and Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Tires

Racing Around a Grassy Corner. In Red: Cyclocross Racing on a Planet X Uncle John With Mavic Ksyrium Wheels and Challenge Grifo Pro Clincher Tires

Cornering Grip and Control From the Grifo Pro

The traditional tread pattern from the Grifo Pro gives cylindrical side knobs as part of the tread pattern. These dig in well to grass and work fine on sand and packed dirt. However, these are not shaped for aggressive cornering like those found on a mountain bike tire or many other cyclocross tires, giving these tires a more European feel with a slight amount of slide through the mud. Any cyclocross tire review has to take into account a tire's performance in the mainstay of winter cyclocross: MUD.

A number of reviews of the Challenge Grifo (and The Race Of Truth Blog to name two sources) have marked down the Challenge Grifo tread pattern due to the circular side knobs which have marked down their performance for some testers for the tire feeling in the mud. Personally, I have found some slide when cornering on soft, wet mud conditions which riders will either accept as part of cyclocross or come to decide on an alternative tire choice.

If you're a rider that wants as much stability in a muddy corner as possible, a better all-around cyclocross tire to meet your needs might be the Michelin Mud2 CX tire. Despite its name, it is a great all-round cyclocross tire that when reviewed loses out to the Challenge Grifo Pro in gravel conditions and on rooted trails due to a narrower tread.

Realistically the 2.5 mm high tread pattern gives enough bite on everything except thick mud, which most tires will struggle to cope with and force you to run with the bike. The tread pattern also clears mud fairly well in everything but the thickest deep mud.

Most budget and clincher cyclocross tires tend to have a fairly high-pressure range. Most lower-priced, budget cyclocross tires tend to have a recommended minimum tire pressure above 50 psi.

The range of 40–75 allows racers to legitimately use a low tire pressure to help provide grip over rugged terrain and tree roots. Low pressures help provide traction so the lower a tire can go, the more favourable the tire should be to racers.

The CyclingFitness Rating

Have You Ever Ridden Grifo Pro's?

What do you think of the Grifo Pro Tire from Challenge? Have you raced on them or do you have a preferred cyclocross tire choice for all-conditions riding?

We would love to hear your thoughts on this Challenge Grifo Pro Cyclocross Tire Review.

Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness)


Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on January 24, 2013:

Thanks cx warrior. It is peculiar to use the term Pro for a lower quality and price tire.

I've tried the more expensive Grifo and yes- the pliability and suppleness are significant

Thanks for your comment. CF

CX Warrior on January 23, 2013:

I have a set of Grifo Pro's on my training wheels while I use the significantly more expensive tubular version with the exact same tread pattern on my race bikes.

As with everything cycling based you do get what you pay for but for anyone riding cx at a mid to low level these are fine tyres however the quality increase can be seen in the pliability and lower pressure grip when you choose to take the step up to the standard Grifo tires.

Do you find that it's a bit strange to add "Pro" to a lower quality tyre?