The new Challenge Grifo Team Edition with 320 tpi cotton casing. © Cyclocross Magazine

The new Challenge Grifo Team Edition with 320 tpi cotton casing. © Cyclocross Magazine

The tried and true Grifo tubular excels with Team Edition cotton casings

The tried and true Grifo tubular with Team Edition cotton casings.

We saw several cyclocross racers last year racing on the Challenge Team Edition cyclocross tubulars, from Jonathan Page to Brady Kappius to Helen Wyman, and tested them ourselves with success last season. Of course, the cotton requires more care and attention to maintain, but a poll Challenge ran recently showed that consumers are willing to make the effort for the cotton casing.

For the 2013/2014 cyclocross season, Challenge has released the Team Edition cyclocross tubulars, in Grifo and Limus treads, to the public. We’ve reviewed Challenge Grifos and Limus tires online before.

Additionally, at CXM HQ, we’ve heard rumors of a “Baby Limus” created to compete against the Dugast “Small Bird” reviewed in Issue 21, possibly seen on sponsored riders’ bikes this fall, so stay tuned as we keep our eyes on tire treads on the pro circuit.

We’ve also heard rumors of a new tread, the Chicane, a tire with aggressive side knobs spotted being prototyped last season for leaning over in corners on dry courses, and have traction on the icy courses that we saw in Madison at Nationals. We’ve gotten confirmation that the tread will be available next season from Stefan Wyman—whose wife, Helen, helped develop the original—via Twitter, but at that point Challenge wasn’t releasing the name.

Since then, the tire has begun popping up on distributor sites for September pre-sale, though, under the name “Chicane XS 33.” The name Chicane has also been popping up on Twitter and Instagram lately, though hasn’t been confirmed.

Details from Challenge Tires  on the Limus and Grifo below:

Previously available only to elite sponsored athletes, Challenge plans to release select models of Corespun cotton Team Edition tubulars in response to public yearning for access to these supple tires.

Now these casings—the same that propelled US National Champion, Jonathan Page, and European champion, Helen Wyman, to victory—are available to all cyclocross racers looking for an extra edge on the competition. After a year of testing on the World Cup circuit and 19 national championship podiums worldwide eliminated any doubt of their performance, Team Edition cotton Grifo and Limus tubulars are now available from Challenge distributors and headed to retailers.

Not just for the pros this year: Challenge Team Edition is available for the masses. © Cyclocross Magazine

Not just for the pros this year: Challenge Team Edition is available for the masses. © Cyclocross Magazine

Feedback from Challenge athletes confirms that these tires are exquisitely supple.

“I found that I was able to ride up many things that other riders weren’t, due to the incredible traction I got on every surface I tried them on,” Page comments on the Team Edition tires, adding that they allow him to run a greater range of pressures than stiffer tires.

Wyman, who’s helped Challenge develop tires with a Limus/Grifo hybrid tread, agrees, stating “I’ve ridden most of the tubulars available on the market, and these are as supple as any others, as well as providing a long-lasting sidewall.”

Enjoy improved traction and expanded contact points thanks to the supple casings, which conform so well to the terrain it’s like riding on rails. Confidently run low pressures without the fear of folding that coincides with stiff casings, or run higher pressures and still benefit from improved contact and grip over everything in your path.

“Challenge’s cotton casing really gave me the opportunity to push my limits with cornering,” remarks 2013 US cyclocross Nationals silver medalist Jade Wilcoxson. “I was able to run lower pressures and my speed was only limited by my own fear—not the tires—and that’s a good problem to have.”


Cotton Casing Grifo and Limus Specs:

  • Casing:  Corespun cotton
  • Inner tube: Seamless latex, Presta valve with removable valve core
  • Puncture protection: PPS (Puncture Protection Strip) belt
  • Suggested pressure: 23-44 psi (1.6-3 bar)


Grifo Team Edition:

  • 700c (28”) x 33mm
  • 405g
  • $129.00

Limus Team Edition:

  • 700c (28”) x 33mm
  • 410g
  • $129.00

Notes from Challenge:

Please note that cotton tubulars require additional care, as their casings are more delicate than other materials. Though Challenge Team Edition tires come pre-sealed with a light layer of latex, it is important to pay careful attention to wear and re-seal as raw fibers begin to show. Also, avoid heavy scrubbing, direct power washing and cleaning with chemicals or solvents as these can damage the cotton casing. One Challenge employee already offered advice to CXM readers on tire storage and stretching, and suggested storing them lightly inflated and round in a dry, dark, room-temperature place. Challenge recommends avoiding exposing dry-conditions tires to moisture for the best longevity. Proper care of these handmade tires will provide you with many high-performance race days.