At first glance the Vittoria Terreno Zero looks like a lockdown love child of the Corsa road tyre and a Terreno cyclocross tyre. Has Vitoria found that sweet spot for fast gravel rides?
Vittoria has been in the tyre game for a while now and where enhancements in road tyres are few and far between the off-road team have been busy. Hot on the heals of the existing three Terreno cyclocross specific treads; Wet, Dry and Mix, the Italian brand released the Terreno Zero.
Tyre Technology Overload
When the Terreno range of cross tyres first appeared I was skeptical of the performance claims. Whilst the Wet version looked like a conventional mud clearing tread, the Mix; with those arrows, looks like it was designed with Clip Art. Finally, the Dry had those fish scale honeycomb blocks that bucked the file tread trend.
So, what happens when you take the smooth centre section of a Corsa road tyre and Frankenstein those fish scales onto the side tread?
Is this a slow road or a fast gravel tyre?
The fact that this tyre is called a Terreno Zero and not a ‘Corsa All Road’ probably tells you which type of rider Vittoria are appealing too.
There are four size offerings if you ride 700c wheels and one in the 650b format. My test tyres are the 32 mm wide 700c tubeless ready versions, which are the narrowest in the range, widths bulge to 38c.
Whilst there is only one size for the smaller rim I’m sure Vittoria are backing this size and sales to the gravel market will be a high percentage of this 47 mm wide version.
All tyres feature the Vittoria Graphene 2.0 technology. (Graphene particles fill in-between the rubber particles to add performance in case you were wondering). The main belt is a three-level compound and sits on top of a modern nylon based 120 TPI casing.
If this is a true gravel tyre then chances are you are going to be running them tubeless. So, it will only succeed if you can mount them without the need of an industrial-sized air compressor or giving yourself a latex-based shower. Let the fun begin…
The front tyre popped on with nothing but a track pump, the rear only required a little assistance from a MilKit air canister. To be fair to Vittoria I’m putting it down to the wheel. Of course your mileage will vary and any tubeless setup is going to depend on the tyre rim combination.
Once mounted on my DT Swiss ER1400 and inflated to a lofty 50psi they were measuring 38 mm wide. Given this rim has an internal width of 20 mm these are pretty much bang on spec.
Out on the road/trail
Whilst on the tarmac the centre tread, or lack of, acts just like any Corsa I have ever ridden, admittedly they don’t feel as tacky as the road version, but they roll really well. As you spin the Zeros faster you are quickly reminded that these are gravel tyres, the wind noise as the fish scales try to cut a hole is very noticeable. Once you hear it you can’t help but feel slower even if it is only in the head.
When you run out of black top you just keep going, those funny-looking honeycomb blocks do work. They add just enough bite and feel to keep on the gas for longer. That said, you can quickly find the limits of these tyres, when the surface gets really loose they just cannot cope as well and you are probably going to have to start messing with tyre pressures to get the most out of them. Due to an August heatwave I have not been able to test what I suspect will be the tyre’s weakness; wet conditions. That centre section is so smooth that I think once the ground gets damp these are going to be nothing more than Bambi on Ice.
The Zeros are just like the rest of the Terreno range I have ridden; on paper it just does not feel like it should work. Yet out in the real world I have been surprised how well they handle. The Zeros perform well on the road, they won’t feel out of place on a café run, likewise they hold their own on dry hard pack trails. Granted these are not a dedicated off-road tyre, but if you are a gravel rider that takes in a fair bit or tarmac between sections, or the trails are hard packed then these are worth a look.
I will continue to rack up the miles and ride them into the Autumn and see how they perform in the changing conditions.