The new Syerra from Vittoria marks not only the company's debut into the emerging Down Country genre but also, being the first Down Country specific tyre available on the market, the growing popularity of this new style of riding.
So what is Down Country? It’s a style of riding that blurs the lines between XC bikes and traditional trail bikes, creating an efficient climbing bike that can cover ground quickly but that also handle itself on the descents; think Santa Cruz Tallboy, sitting in between the XC race focussed Blur and more capable Hightower in Santa Cruz’s range. A tyre built for big miles with long days in the saddle that’s equally happy smashing along a fireroad as it is tackling technical descents and obstacles.
- All new down country specific casing
- 850g claimed weight
- Uses Vittoria’s 4C compounds with additional Graphene
- One size, 29x2.4 as measured on a 30mm rim at 27psi
- Available late November
The Syerra uses Vittoria’s new Down Country specific casing which is a 60tpi, single ply sidewall with an anti pinch flat insert (APF) laid up within the cross section of the sidewall. The APF is used in Vittoria’s harder hitting Trail and Enduro casings, but does not extend so far up the sidewall of the tyre for the Down Country version. This helps the tyre guard against pinch flats and also provides support for the tyre at the bead to resist rolling in high load turns.
The relatively thin sidewall allows the tyre to achieve a claimed weight of 850g for a 29x2.4 tyre, which is impressively light given that Vittoria’s technical terrain XC race tyre, the Barzo, weighs 820g for a 29x2.6 tyre and foregoes the APF.
Up top the Syerra makes use of Vittoria’s four rubber compounds. To go along with the all new casing, Vittoria have combined two compounds from their XC range of tyres and two from the Trail tyres. The two XC compounds are used to create a fast rolling centre tread and the two trail compounds make up the side knobs to generate more grip than the tread pattern would suggest. As with all Vittoria tyres, graphene has been used within the rubber mix to extend the usable life of the tyre. In simple terms, using graphene within the rubber mix is said to produce a longer lasting tyre that grips as well as a regular tyre for longer.
The blend of XC and Trail rubber compounds are complemented by the tread pattern. Stepped centre knobs reduce rolling resistance while wide V channels between the tread allow the tyre to shed mud easily. Heavily siped side knobs allow the tyre to maximise the potential of the softer rubber compounds. The siped cuts in the tread let the tyre deform around the terrain as much as possible to help increase traction and therefore confidence.
The test tyres were set up tubeless with a small Vittoria airliner insert in the back to give some additional puncture protection and to support the tyre in higher load turns. The fitting process was totally trouble free with the tyres sealing right of the bat, no need to over inflate and ride to get a good seal. Control pressures of 17psi front and 19psi rear were recommended by Vittoria and used for the duration of the test.
When riding the Syerra, what immediately became apparent was the lightweight feel of the tyre and how easily it held speed. What can be a fairly drudgy climb was now far more engaging to ride as the speed and grins increased. Technical uphill sections requiring good timing and precision to clean became noticeably easier due to this increase in rolling speed and the knock-on effect of being less tired while trying to tie a busy few moves together in quick succession. Open fireroad sections were completed at a noticeably higher pace than usual and the XC heritage of the tread pattern and centre tread rubber compound definitely shines through in all aspects of climbing.
So that’s the ‘country’ dealt with, time for the down!
Similarly to it’s uphill performance, the first thing that is immediately apparent riding the Syerra down trail is how quickly the tyre picks up speed, and maintains it. Leaning the tyre over to engage the softer compound side tread gives a surprising level of grip that belies it’s uphill performance.
As speed and confidence increased, the tyres started getting loaded harder in turns. This is where the suggested pressures (17psi front, 19psi rear) started to become an issue with some noticeable tyre squirm from both ends. The airliner did it’s job of supporting the tyre in situations like this and no air escaped from the bead but it didn’t translate to a wholly confidence inspiring ride. On a separate occasion, with the pressures increased by around 5 psi to suit a 78kg rider and more aggressive riding style, this issue was eradicated, giving a much more predictable feel in the turns without sacrificing too much on all out traction.
Given the intentions of this tyre, the Syerra manages to strike a good compromise between pedalling efficiency and technical capability, perhaps skewed slightly in favour of faster rolling speed.
In a nutshell this is a very fast rolling tyre that is capable of tackling more than initially meets the eye. The Syerra would work very well as a front and rear combination for big days out in the hills, trail centre riding or on long bikepacking trips, and as a rear tyre paired with a more aggressive front tyre, like Vittoria’s Agarro, for a faster all round Glentress setup for those who want to venture onto slightly more technical terrain in all weathers.