Continental Reviews Tires

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Review

October 30, 2018

author:

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Review

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season
4.71

Summary

Continental’s Grand Prix 4 Season tires have been a go-to off-season tire for years, based on their combination of puncture resistance, lower rolling resistance, great wearability, and high quality. You’ll pay a premium for these tires, though, and you might want to build up your muscle strength (and patience) before mounting them to your rims.

  • Comfort
  • Fitting/Removal
  • Price
  • Puncture Resistance
  • Responsiveness
  • Rolling Resistance
  • Traction

Pros

  • After 1,500+ miles of experience with these tires, I have nothing but good things to say
  • Solid puncture and cut protection
  • Lengthy wear resistance
  • Low rolling resistance
  • Almost wholly positive online reviews from consumers and professionals alike. More than one called it the best tire they’d used.

Cons

  • Higher weight, if you’re interested in a more racing-oriented tire
  • High price
  • Many riders (ourselves included) report difficulty mounting, although this can be alleviated using baby powder, Aquaphor, or general cycling grease
Sending
User Review
3.2 (10 votes)

The Continental Grand Prix 4 Season is a popular bike tire among consumers and professionals alike. We combine our hands-on experience across more than 1,500 miles with third-party feedback so you can stay informed.

Handmade in Germany using high-quality raw materials and industry-leading technologies, Continental advertises that their Grand Prix 4 Season clincher tire offers robust puncture protection, longevity, grip, and overall performance, whether you’re touring or training.

Puncture resistance and cut protection are provided by a double Vectran™ breaker belt underneath the tread, which the company claims offers the “highest level available on the market.”

And on its sidewalls, the ultra-fine DuraSkin polyamide fabric is said to protect the casing “against the worst conditions,” while delivering a suppler ride. Visually, this sidewall fabric also offers a unique brown appearance.

We’re told the black “Max Grip Silica” compound optimizes wet weather and low-temperature adhesion, while also resisting wear and extending tread life.

Together, the Continental website tells us that the 4 Season represents the ultimate combination of speed, light weight, wet weather performance, puncture resistance, and sidewall protection. Third party pricing fell between $42 and $64 at the time of writing.

Does this necessarily mean they’re worth the investment, though? We rode the Grand Prix 4 Season tires more than 1,500 miles so you can answer this question for yourself. We’ll begin with the details.

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Specs

Quick Facts
ManufacturerContinental
ModelGrand Prix 4 Season
CategoryRoad, All-Season
Sizes Available 700 x 23C, 25C, 28C, and 32C
Weight 230 – 320 g
Pressure Range85 – 120 PSI (5.9 – 8.3 bar)
Rubber CompoundSingle
Threads Per Inch330 TPI (3-ply)
OriginGermany

We found Amazon rider reviews (more soon) for the Grand Prix 4 Season tire going back as far as 2010, so it’s been on the market a fair amount of time.

As a whole, the Grand Prix lineup targets road-oriented riders looking for all-around performance, a neutral design, excellent puncture protection, and high mileage. Despite these characteristics, they also indicate the line features exceptionally low rolling resistance and excellent comfort.

Staying true to this ethos, with multiple sizes available, the tire can accommodate tasks from traditional road riding and commuting to long-distance touring and light-duty cyclocross.

Compared to some of the other tires in the Grand Prix lineup, the 4 Season doesn’t feature Continental’s Black Chili Compound, though. This, they say, is a rubber mixture “based on the latest knowledge of polymers and raw materials research” that maximizes the balance between grip, rolling resistance, and longevity.

The 4 Season also doesn’t contain Continental’s PolyX Breaker often found in other Grand Prix tires, a polyester fiber that’s woven tightly into the carcass in a crosswise pattern, which helps maximize puncture resistance without impacting rolling resistance.

Related: The Different Parts of a Bike Tire

On the other hand, the 4 Season does feature a Double Vectran Breaker, which Continental describes as a spider silk-like synthetic fiber made from a liquid-crystalline polymer (LCP).

Compared to traditional nylon, they tell us this LCP is spun into strands and then again into threads, which join with the tire at a 45-degree angle. Together, they say this delivers lightweight flexibility, along with puncture and sidewall protection, without negatively impacting rolling resistance.

Continental’s DuraSkin technology implements polyamide fabric to boost sidewall protection further and also provides a uniquely brown color.

top image Continental Double Vectran Breaker cutaway, bottom image Continental DuraSkin cutaway
Two of Continental’s unique technologies are found in the Grand Prix 4 Season bike tire, including their liquid-crystalline polymer (LCP) Double Vectran Breaker (top) and DuraSkin polyamide fabric (bottom). Together, they say this maximizes puncture and cut protection, while minimizing rolling resistance. Credit: Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH

Taken together, the 4 Season is more of a performance-oriented Grand Prix tire useful for racing, touring, and grand touring in wet weather and low temps. Other models are more oriented toward:

  • Classic: Touring, racing (no grand touring)
  • 4000 SII: Touring, with a heavier emphasis on racing
  • 4000 S II Tubular: A tubular version that adds grand touring capability
  • GT: Grand touring, touring
  • Supersonic: Tuning

My Long-Term Experience With the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Tire

Testing Details
Tester SpecsAge: 41 Height: 6’ 1” (185 cm) Weight: 185 lbs (84kg)
Bike/Rims2017 Canyon Inflite AL SLX, DT Swiss CR 1600 Spline DB
Size Tested700 x 32C
Weight 320 g
ETRTO32-622
Surface ConditionsTacky, slick
Weather ConditionsWet, dry, windy, calm, hot, cool (no sub-freezing temps yet)

I’ve logged somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,500 miles on a set of 4 Seasons since April 2018, with my longest single ride exceeding 100 miles.

During this time, I’ve used them on just about every type of terrain, including gravel, asphalt, shallow sand, and concrete, with steep climbs and fast descents—often all in the same ride. In fact, the only conditions I’ve yet to use them in are sub-freezing, with ice or snow.

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season bike tire sidewall mounted on rim
The Grand Prix 4 Season’s unique brown sidewall is a result of the polyamide fibers used in their DuraSkin sidewall technology.

Overall? I’ve found the 4 Seasons offer excellent traction in every condition, and are entirely predictable. Whether climbing, descending, accelerating, braking, cornering, or wedged in the drops during fierce headwinds, I don’t have to think about them—they do their job and let me enjoy the ride.

top of Continental Grand Prix 4 Seasson showing tread pattern outline
A simplified, exaggerated look at the Grand Prix 4 Season’s unique tread pattern. Combined with its silica-oriented rubber compound, Continental explains this provides excellent adhesion in all conditions—especially wet and cold. ©TreadBikely

Tire pressure is mostly a matter of personal preference, and I tend to run my 4 Seasons at the lower end of the spectrum; usually somewhere between 75 and 80 PSI, front and rear. I’ve found this provides optimal small bump compliance and suppleness, especially in the frequent instances where I hop off the pavement for a bit of dirt action.

Related: How to Buy a Bike Pump

On pavement and loosely packed dirt, I found my 4 Seasons are fast rollers. I think the DuraSkin sidewalls look great, and the puncture protection they provide is phenomenal. In fact, despite the miles logged, I’ve yet to experience a flat.

As is common, the rear tire has worn meaningfully faster than the front. I would expect another 300-500 miles remaining before the rear tire needs to be replaced, depending on where and how I ride.

left image front Continental Grand Prix 4 Season bike tire, right image rear tire showing additional tread pattern wear
I’ve found that the Grand Prix 4 Season tires deliver good-to-very-good wear resistance, especially considering their excellent puncture protection. Above are the front (left) and rear (right) tires after approximately 1,500 miles.

Complaints? Only one: mounting the 700 x 32C folding beads onto my DT Swiss CR 1600 wheels wasn’t exactly easy, which seems common among other riders (more soon).

Pro tip: I’ve found that adding a small amount of grease (or even Aquaphor/Vaseline, or a bit of baby powder) on opposite ends of the 4 Season’s bead, or the rim’s edge, can help immensely. In fact, you could even lock them on with a single tire iron. Just make sure you wipe off any excess after mounting.

closeup of brown DuraSkin fibers in Continental Grand Prix 4 Season sidewall
Although the 4 Season’s DuraSkin fibers improve the looks of its sidewalls (depending on your preferences, of course), they make it difficult to see details like sizing and recommended PSI. Yeah, it’s a very minor complaint.

Are other riders experiencing the same? Before covering this important topic, let’s briefly compare the Grand Prix 4 Season to perhaps its closest competitor from the same company.

Grand Prix 4 Season Vs. Continental Gatorskin

A Quick Rundown

The Gatorskin is another extraordinarily popular all-around bike tire line from Continental. And based on its features, it’s vying for many of the same customers as the Grand Prix 4 Season.

Here, we’ll start by taking a glance at their meaningful differences:

Continental Grand Prix 4 SeasonContinental Gatorskin
Sizes Available700 x 23C, 25C, 28C, and 32CSame, in addition to 27 x 1 ¼, 650 x 23C, and 26 x 1 1/8
Weight320 g350 g
Threads Per InchDual compound rubber, 330 TPI3-ply, 180 TPI
Recommended Pressure85 – 120 PSI85 – 102 PSI
Breaker TechnologyVectran (single layer LCP)PolyX (dual layer LCP for added puncture protection)
Targeted UseGrand Touring, Touring, Race – lower weight and rolling resistanceGrand Touring, Touring – longer wear and greater puncture resistance
Third-Party Pricing (700 x 32C, folding)$42 – $64$35 – $45

A More Detailed Look

Now, we’ll zoom in and take a closer look at some of their meaningful differences:

Perhaps the most obvious is that the Gatorskin features no center tread. On the sides, it has a similar ‘reptilian’ pattern as the 4 Season, although it’s contained in smaller, teardrop-like formations on each side.

Both models use Continental’s DuraSkin technology, although the Gatorskin replaces 4 Season’s Vectran Breaker with their PolyX Breaker. Whereas the former uses a single layer liquid-crystalline polymer (LCP) applied at a 45-degree angle, the latter adds a second crosswise layer for maximum puncture protection.

Both come with three-ply construction, although Gatorskin’s 180 TPI is meaningfully lower than 4 Season’s 330. It also comes with a slightly lower recommended PSI (85-102), as well as a slightly higher weight at 350 g for the 700 x 32C folding version. The Gatorskin also has a wire (i.e., non-folding) bead available in the same size, which increases weight to 420 g per tire.

Functionally, Bicycle Rolling Resistance’s Jarno Bierman reports that the Gatorskin’s rolling resistance is almost two watts higher than the 4 Season’s when inflated to 120 PSI (which increases to almost 4 watts at 60 PSI), while the latter’s puncture resistance is only one point higher.

However, the Gatorskin is also available in a much wider range of sizes, including 27 x 1 ¼, 650 x 23C, and 26 x 1 1/8, along with a tubular Sprinter model.

Price-wise, third-party retailers sold the 700 X 32C folding Gatorskin tire for between $35 and $45 as of this writing. 4 Seasons were priced higher at between $42 and $64.

Online Grand Prix 4 Season Bike Tire Reviews

Because the 4 Season has been around for so long, quite a bit of online feedback has accumulated. Let’s quickly break this vast data into smaller bites:

Professional Grand Prix 4 Season Feedback

Between sites like VeloNews, BikeRadar, and Mantel.com, most hands-on reviewers reported that the 4 Season’s softer rubber compound offered a nice balance between support and comfort, and well as between low rolling resistance and a thick puncture belt for extra flat protection.

Traction-wise, many appreciated its wet weather grip, along with its ability to adapt to a variety of conditions.

So, whether you’re a commuter, gravel racer, or anything in between, Mantel‘s Simon Kikken perhaps summarized it best when noting that it offers a sweet spot between a lightweight racing tire and a more substantial, but highly puncture-resistant, winter tire. And in the end, that it’s a “true jack of all trades and an absolute must-have for any rider who plans on riding on through the fall.”

One of the biggest common complaints among these sites, though, was that the 4 Season is definitely on the pricier side. In fact, as we discussed in the previous section, you could pay almost twice as much for a 4 Season tire than a Gatorskin, depending on the retailer.

Grand Prix 4 Season Consumer Insight

Not to sound like a broken record, but the Grand Prix 4 Season has been around for ages, at least by cycling standards.

As a result, we came across more than 2,700 combined customer reviews among third-party sites like Amazon, Chain Reaction Cycles, REI, Competitive Cyclist, Wiggle.com, and Performance Bike, to name just a handful. Overall, it had about a 4.5-star average rating.

While many of the compliments aligned with professional feedback, a small percentage of customers commonly complained of less wear/puncture resistance than expected, especially related to sidewalls.

Let’s go ahead and bring all of these details together, roll across the finish line, and come to a conclusion about 4 Season bike tires.

Our Parting Thoughts About Continental’s Grand Prix 4 Season Bike Tire

Will you pay a premium for Grand Prix 4 Season tires? You bet.

However, based on my experience riding them 1,500+ miles across a wide variety of terrain and weather conditions—without a single flat—I think they deliver much more value than their price tag. After all, any flat tire is one too many.

I even tested Continental’s competing Gatorskin tires for a couple of hundred miles on a previous cycling setup for comparison, and found that the 4 Seasons offered immensely better flat protection for the conditions where I ride.

Fast-forward to today, and I’ve found the 4 Seasons also deliver great sidewall protection when I decide to hit smoother dirt trails, with the occasional small-to-moderate size rock thrown in.

There also isn’t a lot of rolling resistance, despite its great (some might say phenomenal) puncture resistance. I was even satisfied enough with their grip that I didn’t switch out to a summer tire with less tread this past year.

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Keep rolling: A Step-by-Step Look at How Bike Tires Are Manufactured

Derek has more than two decades of experience as a cyclist. He currently travels full-time with his family via RV, enjoying the country's best biking destinations. A secular Buddhist, Derek frequently explores the intersection of cycling, mindfulness, and compassion in his writing. #rolloutblissout
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