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Road Gear

Reviewed: Clement’s LCV and the difficulty of avocado shopping

Buying road tires is like buying avocados. Sometimes you have to feel quite a lot of them to get it right.

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$75
Weight: 215 grams
Star Rating: 9/10

Buying road tires is like buying avocados. Sometimes you have to feel quite a lot of them to get it right.

You squeeze and squeeze, dumping those that are too hard or too soft. This one flats too much; that one is firm as a rock. “What am I even looking for?” you ask yourself, exasperated, as avocadotire after avocadotire fails the test.

But you know a good one when you feel it.

You feel it with a pair of Continental GP4000s IIs. You feel it with the new cotton-walled beauties from Specialized and Vittoria. You feel it, too, with Clement’s LCV. They somehow break the connection between a seam in the road a bump from your saddle. They whir instead of drag on bad pavement. They stay inflated most of the time. (This is key.)

On the spectrum from green (Gatorskin) to guacamole (Specialized’s first attempt at the Turbo Cotton), the LCV is about 2 hours short of perfectly ripe. It’s a race-worthy tire with a chip on its shoulder, capable of taking daily abuse. Buy the 25mm, or better yet the 28, and you’ll be pleased with both the ride quality and the durability.

The LCV uses a clever vulcanized casing that incorporates variable thread counts, improving durability where it’s needed (the middle of the tread) while retaining supple sidewalls. That makes it surprisingly durable considering its low weight (our pair of 25mm LCVs weighed in at 217 and 214 grams per tire, about 10 grams lighter than the GP4000s II) and thin casing.

I had zero flats in 1,500 miles of testing, which included extensive off-pavement groad time. Even more impressive was the lack of rear tire wear. The rear tire wore about 20 percent slower than I’ve come to expect from similar high-end offerings. Don’t expect it to be as tough as a Clement Strada LGG or a Maxxis Refuse or a Vittoria Rubino, though. This is not a winter tire, nor is it a training tire.

Both tires, front and rear, did suffer a few small cuts, though none were deep enough to affect the casing. This is to be expected when you take a race-worthy tire off the pavement.

Aesthetically, I prefer the classic look of a cotton sidewall. But cotton sidewalls tend to be much less durable than that of the LCV. I’ve put long gashes in two different Turbo Cottons. The LCVs are still going strong.

It’s difficult to test cornering grip without falling down. It’s like asking someone to find the edge of the Grand Canyon in a blindfold. But if you tiptoe out toward the brink of sanity slowly enough, you do get a good idea where the big drop probably lies.

In the corners, the LCV is slightly less confidence inspiring than a GP4000s II, particularly in the rain, where the Contis truly shine. It is on par with the Turbo Cotton and Corsa Competition. On a moderately wide rim (Campagnolo Bora Ultra 35, 24.2mm outer width) a 25mm LCV produces a nice round profile, further improving cornering confidence.

On a pair of race wheels, I’d stick with a pair of ultra-fast Specialized or Vittoria cotton tires. But to ride and enjoy every day, the LCV and GP4000 are more alluring. The performance and durability gap between the two is all but imperceptible.

At $75 each, the LCV is not a cheap tire, though no tire with comparable function can be found for much less.

Is a pair worth $150? I guess that depends on how you feel about a really good avocado.