It wasn't that long ago that Continental still claimed that tubeless tires had no advantages on the road. Apparently there have been new insights at the Germans, because when the new flagship, the GP5000, was launched last year, a tubeless version was also introduced. We bought a set and put the tires to the test.
The tubeless version of GP5000 gets the addition of TL and is available in 3 widths: 25, 28 and even 30 mm. The weight of our 25 mm version weighs in at 295 grams, which is about 80 grams heavier than the regular version. The weight is 30-40 grams higher than that of the direct tubeless competitors. The recommended retail price is 74,95 euro each, but if you search well you can find the tires cheaper online. That's a lot of money, but not much more than what you pay for a tire in this segment these days.
Tubeless tire changing can be quite a challenge, especially if you're using older wheels that aren't made for tubeless. Firstly, we try to mount the tires on Campagnolo Bora Ultra clincher (v1). Wheels that are officially not designed for tubeless (but on which Schwalbe One tubeless has already been successfully mounted). What immediately strikes you is that the tires are very tight around the rims, mounting is not possible without a tire lever (we used a special tire lever). We needed some help to pop the tires, as usual with older rims. In our case a compressor and some soapy water, but a tire booster or a CO2 cartridge is also possible.
On these 17C rims the tires measure exactly 25 mm wide. The next step is to add sealant, although this is not necessarily necessary because these tires are tubeless (and not tubeless ready). This means that you could also ride without sealant. Of course we do, because otherwise you will fully benefit from the advantages of tubeless. Thanks to Cyclocalendar reader Cees Steenbergen we can also test if the tires are easier to install on modern, tubeless ready rims (Campagnolo Bora WTO clincher wheels). Unfortunately it turns out to be impossible to change the tires without a tire lever. With this combi you can pop and inflate the tires with a floor pump and without soapy water. On these 19C rims the tires measure 26 mm.
An advantage of the fact that they are tight around the rim is that the tires lose very little pressure. It's not required to be pump every day, once every few days is sufficient.
We're not going to venture any statements about rolling resistance; one simply can't feel that with the naked eye. Of course, this does not mean that there is no difference. According to bicyclerollingresistance.com, the GP5000TL is one of the fastest tires currently available. If we don't include time trial tires, only the Vittoria Corsa Speed G+ 2.0 tubeless is slightly faster. The difference between the GP5000TL and the regular version is exactly 3 watts - not a huge difference. The biggest competitor, Schwalbes new Pro One TLE, scores exactly the same values as the regular, non-tubeless version of the GP5000.
However, it can say a lot about driving characteristics. They are impressive in our eyes. We have tested the tires for over 5000 km in many different conditions: Dutch bike paths, Swiss smooth roads, French bumpy roads and even small pieces of gravel.More than 10 HC cols we have descended with it, some of them soaking wet. These tires convince in all conditions, and the grip in the rain is 'best in class' as far as we're concerned. At 4-5 bar, the tires are also quite comfortable. Is the difference with the Schwalbe Pro One (the tire we drove before) very big? No, it certainly isn't. In the blind test we probably wouldn't be able to feel what tire we were dealing with.
Each band wears out and squares out. That's one thing, bad driving characteristics that then come to light is another. Continental is notorious for this. We are therefore very curious how long it will take before the tire becomes square. After about 2500 km, the rear tire begins to become angular. However, the driving characteristics remain as good as ever. To extend the life of the tires a bit, we change front and rear to a version of the load sealant.
There is another reason that we change front and rear. We want to see if after 2500 km it is possible to change the tires without a lever. The answer: yes. We're also testing whether it's now possible to mount an inner tube without using a tire lever. Answer: no.
There is something else that stands out. Regularly wires come loose from the bead of the band (see picture). Research on the internet tells us that some users suffer from this, but most do not. It seems to be due to the shape of a rim wall. Functionally this is not a big problem, but it's not completely normal. After about 5000 km, the wear indicators of the rear tire are completely worn out, so it's time to replace the tires. An excellent lifespan for such a tire.
We can be brief about this, we did not puncture during our test period. We also did not see any traces of sealant. So the puncture resistance seems to be very good.
The GP5000TL is Continental's first step in tubeless road bike tires. It's a pretty successful attempt, although there is one very clear downside. The handling is fantastic, the wear is good and so is the puncture resistance. Improvement point are the wires that come loose from the bead on certain types of rims. Also the weight is on the high side compared to tubeless competitors. The biggest drawback, however, is the mounting; the tires are just a fraction too small, so mounting is only possible with a tire lever. If you have a puncture along the way that's too big for a sealant and you have to use an inner tube, it's praying and begging that you don't puncture the inner tube with the lever. A big disadvantage. By the way, we have heard from a reliable source that Conti has recognized this problem. Tires that now come from the factory have been made a fraction bigger, so fitting problems should be a thing of the past. We have really not been able to check this ourselves.
+ fantastic driving properties
+ low rolling resistance
+ puncture resistance
+ does not need sealant to maintain pressure
+ stays well on pressure
+ dimensions are correct
- loose wires from the bead (on some rims)
- relatively heavy
- mounting is impossible without tire swimmer