Review: Challenge fattens up Strada Bianca as wide, supple 40mm gravel-ready slick tire
Following up the all-new 40mm Getaway, Challenge has another new high-volume hardpack dirt road & gravel tire in the new Strada Bianca 40. Combining their newest supple handmade tubeless construction and new 40mm width with their classic herringbone road tire tread, the new Strada Bianca is more versatile than ever for all-road riding.
Challenge Strada Bianca 40mm all-road & gravel tire
The Getaway may have been Challenge’s first all-new tread design to get named “gravel-specific”, but Challenge tires have been ridden on all road surfaces for years – asphalt, gravel & dirt. Of course, the Strada Bianca itself takes its name from the fast hardpack white gravel roads of Tuscany, made famous by the granfondo that was so popular it became a modern professional Spring Classic.
We reviewed the original 260tpi Strada Bianca 30mm with latex tubes over all sorts of hardpack back five years ago, so were happy to see how this classic design has evolved with the times. While the thread count remains the same, these larger-volume tires simply feel more comfortable, and faster-rolling…
Dirt & Gravel Road – Tech details
Besides adding 1cm of width, the new tire also gets Challenge’s latest gravel-specific, tubeless construction. While most tubeless gravel tires are still manufactured in a high-temperature vulcanization process that generally means a stiffer (and sometimes tougher) casing, Challenge’s Handmade TubeLess Ready (HTLR) tires are built more like a traditional tubular or open tubular tire, with glues and room temperature coatings to woven casings for the most part.
Using a fine double-ply 260tpi polyester construction with bead-to-bead latex coating increases sidewall durability and retains air. Then a flexible, tight-weave Ganzo PPS (Puncture Protection System) liner under the tread limits flats from anything you run over.
The natural rubber Strada Bianca 40 tread is also said to be “gravel-specific” with a higher durometer that claims reduced wear, and a SMARTplus composition that retains grip, low-rolling resistance & shock-absorption all at the same time. Lastly, the tires have a black Chafer protection strip around the folding tubeless-specific aramid bead that protects the tire from sharp-edged rim bead hooks (these tires are for hooked rims only), and make it easy to see that they’ve snapped into place.
Curiously/interestingly, these 40mm tires are much easier to mount than their narrower HTLR counterparts. It still can possibly require some special tricks. But I mounted these with a single tire lever, no extra straps, and inflated them tubeless with a regular floor pump on the first try (to these affordable Hunt 4 Season Gravel X-Wide alloy wheels which made things easy.)
The end result is a tire that is noticeably softer in your hand and more supple riding on the road or trail than a vulcanized tire at the same pressure. More suppleness means both more grip over irregular surfaces and more comfort over bumpy terrain.
Strada Bianca 40 – Riding Impressions
Challenge says the Strada Bianca 40 is suited for riding “rough pavement, cobbles, sandy or hardpack fields, to literally floating over the more enduring dry, rocky terrains”. That’s a pretty broad range for a tire without any read tread on it. But as an off-road rider that is happy to drift a bit through the loose stuff, this new 40mm Strada Bianca seems to live up to that broad characterization.
With such a big volume I’ve been maxing out just over the 45psi/3bar upper pressure limit for fast road riding. But since it has been snowy & icy with gravel on even the dry sections of road recently, I’ve been dropping down the absolute low end of the new tire’s 25psi/1.7bar rating to find grip on & off-road. At that low pressure the tire conforms to frozen gravel roads and seems to stick to wet cobbles. I think when things warm up and dry out, I’ll probably go back up to split the difference when you feel a bit more support in hard turns.
Much like the equally wide Getaway which I had been riding more off-road and even bikepacking this winter, I’m finding myself surprised at how versatile& durable these two tires are off-road, with very little tread. It seems clear that the more supple construction truly offer more real-world grip for mixed-surface riding.
If gravel riding means more off-road dirt and trails than hardpack, pick the Getaway. If your gravel riding mixes equal parts tarmac, smooth (white?) gravel, even sand & cobbles, the Strada Bianca 40 is probably the better bet.
A note… I don’t have a lot of sharp gravel that generally can be harder on softer sidewalls. It does happen though. Challenge makes big claims about testing their gravel tires in the toughest, sharpest flint. My riding has been over a lot of tough off-road terrain in truly challenging conditions, and these new generation Challenge gravel tires have handled it trouble-free. But sidewall cuts can be unpredictable, so your mileage may vary.
Challenge Strada Bianca 40 – Pricing & availability
The Strada Bianca is now the one tire with the most choices in the Challenge line-up. While most tires get one or two size options, you can get a Strada Bianca in 30mm, 33mm, 36mm, or 40mm to cater to whatever type of all-roads that you ride. That’s probably especially important for road bikes that may have more fork than frame clearance, so you can mix and match to get the most grip & comfort.
The handmade-in-Thailand tan wall only 700x40mm Strada Bianca 40 sells for $86 / 78€ a piece, with a claimed weight of 460g. Our test tires came in at 450 & 455g, which is again about 5g lighter than the more knobby Getaway. The new 40mm slick all-road & gravel tires are available now direct from Challenge, and from retailers around the globe.