Not too soft, not too hard. Continental’s Grand Prix 4-Season tires are something of a Goldilocks, slotted between the company’s race-oriented Grand Prix 4000s and training-tough Gatorskin tires.
The 4-Season is aimed at riders who want a bit of extra flat protection for winter training but don’t want to make the jump to a thick, uncomfortable, training-specific tire. That means it doesn’t excel in either area — it’s not as soft and supple as a true race tire, and it wears faster and offers less flat protection than Continental’s Gatorskin lineup.
But there is room for such a tire, at least for those who ride decent roads most of the time. The softer rubber and deeper tread grip better when roads are cold and covered in debris while the two-layer Vectran breaker and DuraSkin sidewall protection make the tire much more durable than its racier siblings.
Grand Prix 4-Season durability
Over 1,200 miles of riding, the Continentals suffered just one single flat, caused by a massive nail. No tire would have stood a chance.
The rubber compound is quite soft, and now, the rear tire is approximately 40-50 percent worn. The front still appears pristine, with at least 80 percent of its life still ahead.
The 4-Season now comes in both 28mm and 32mm versions in addition to the 23mm and 25mm options previously available. The casing is slightly narrower than claimed on all but the widest rims, measuring 27.7mm on a pair of wide (16mm internal width) Reynolds Aero 46 wheels.
The addition of the fat 28mm and 32mm casings makes it even more intriguing as a winter training option — if your frame has enough clearance, there’s no reason to ride narrow tires through the winter.
The larger casing (we tested the 28mm version) also improves overall durability by decreasing pinch flats. It allows for lower tire pressure and encourages a bit of dirt road adventuring.
Our test set of 28mm 4-Seasons came in at 281 and 282 grams per tire, an acceptable figure given the impressive flat protection. The 28mm Gatorskin weighs a claimed 360 grams.
The larger casing also makes the tire more comfortable, negating most of the ride quality drawbacks associated with a thick puncture belt. The 28mm 4-Season feels quite similar to a 25mm Grand Prix 4000s, albeit a bit slower.
The soft rubber grips well and was particularly impressive on wet surfaces. The advantage conferred by the slightly deeper grooves may be mostly mental, but the tires did feel secure when taken onto gravel roads.
The 4-Season isn’t a race tire, but it rides well and feels quick enough to be capable of a hard, fast winter group ride.
Suggested retail price: $80
We like: Grippy rubber compound and durable Vectran breaker provide a good balance between ride quality and durability
We don’t like: Too burly for racing, not burly enough for winter training on very bad roads
The scoop: A Goldilocks tire, sitting in between the GP 4000s and Gatorskin tires