Vittoria Mezcal MTB Tyre
Okay, let’s get to the facts: this is a fast tyre and it’s a damn good XC tyre, biting into the dirt with a singing sound as it eats the gravel. There you go then, what more do you need to know!
How about this; it tackled Nidderdale and Swaledale with some ease and no adverse slips, providing plenty of traction and producing some confidence inspired riding from me, plus a big grin. Yes, it’s a light looking tyre that Vittoria are introducing for 2016, but it seems to punch with some weight on the trail.
We’ve had some testing weather in the Yorkshire Dales this year. Enough rain to fill a moat, with trails washed in such a manner that rocks become freed from soil and the tracks become more technical and skittish. Gravel lies all over on the moorland trails, placed into piles and collectives to test the tyres of any rider. Ideal conditions for testing I’d say! Just in time for the Mezcal to arrive from Vittoria.
At first look the light tread pattern oozes pure XC and speed, with the tightly defined centre ridge doing its job to keep rolling resistance low. The side knobs are not overly prominent, but do the job intended when required, balancing the need for grip with the need for speed and excitement when cornering. The densely packed tread pattern is well thought out and not too bulky, gripping well on the gravelly surfaces of the open moorland tracks, biting into the surface with a confidence inspiring sound on climbs, and safely skimming across the ground on descents.
Climbing in Nidderdale was a dream, even with a storm throwing down buckets of rain to mix things up a bit. Speeding uphill, the climbs came and went with the musical sound of great grip accompanying my efforts.
The real test was to come on the twisting, technical descents of the Dales that throw rock steps,natural berms and water gulleys in your way at every turn. These technicalities can make riding a little nervy when testing a new tyre.
However, after throwing myself into a few corners and feeling the defined grip balanced against the Vittoria produced speed, I began to enjoy myself and ride with a growing confidence. The compound is excellent; tough, grippy and firm on trails where it needs to perform.
Those in the know will understand the nature of the descent from Ouster Bank towards Fountains Earth, just above Ramsgill. Long, rocky and fast, with a series of humps placed by the gamekeeper providing ample fun for the mtb rider, with air to be had. Racing along this stretch, taking off and landing on the loose gravel, the Mezcal raced it superbly, taking hit after hit.
The design of this graphene tyre is meant to speed you along and stay strong in all areas, and it works well in this context. I was pleasantly surprised by the toughness and puncture resistance provided by the new graphene, taking it along some truly testing trails and bouncing things around a bit near the sharp edges and even more risky hedgerows. It’s always comforting to know that the marketing actually works in practice, as I’ve had a multitude of ride punctures on these trails in the past.
Vittoria describe their new graphene tyres as being ‘confidence inspiring’ and the side knobs as ‘having increased strength.’ I’m a stickler for honesty, and I have to say to say that on our rides it seemed to do the trick. In terms of the increased durability, only time will tell, and I’ve moved them over to a longer term bike for testing this.
Looking at Vittoria’s own research, the Mezcal isn’t necessarily a tyre that performs at the top end in the wet. However, having ridden it in the worst conditions that we’ve had for years in the Dales, it seems to hold its own, with a performance that is more than a reasonable balance for the speed that you get from the tread design. I never felt uncomfortable or too skittish on the wet stuff.
It was definitely a happy medium. Once again, I’d have to point to the Vittoria use of graphene here, as this is one of the company’s key points, and, on the ground it did perform. There’s no question that Vittoria have done some work on this tyre. Especially in terms of the toughness, strength and compound performance, with the 4 compounds in the tread being unique to this Italian brand – science being useful I’d say.
No, it’s not going to be the best mud-slinger in some really oozy conditions, but you can get other tyres for those trails, and don’t blame this tyre for any skills deficiencies. In terms of what Vittoria have designed the Mezcal for, it performs well and provides the rolling speed that XC riders crave, with a confidence inspiring grip. It’ll be a shame to change this tyre over, so I may just pop it onto the spare bike for a real long term test – and why not! There’s lots more trails to take it along, and I’m now a disciple of graphene!