Getting To Grips with the Vittoria Cross XL Pro and Clement PDX Clincher Tires in the Mud – A Review
If you’re racing cyclocross this winter there’s pretty much an assurance that you’re going to encounter some mud. Whether it’s the thick heavy stuff like riding through peanut-butter that severely slows you down or the ultra-soft watered down stuff that literally ends up everywhere, it’s tough to ride through. At some point during the season the hard-packed ground of early season will turn to a form of gloop and as a rider you need to be prepared.
One of the easiest ways to prepare for the conditions is picking up some mud-specific cyclocross tires. Generally there are three kinds of cyclocross racing tires: dry conditions, all-around performance and mud-specific tires. It’s logical for a racer using clincher wheels to have a selection of tires at their disposal throughout the racing season.
Two of the more recent additions to the clincher cyclocross tire market are Vittoria’s Cross XL Pro and the Clement PDX. Both tires aim to target the muddier end of the cx racing season but will they help you power your way to better performance or leave you sliding in the mud? To give you an idea of our comparison of these tires we’ve given a running scorecard for you to judge how each cyclocross tire performs.
Which of these two cyclocross mud racing tires is the best? Read on to find out.
Tread Pattern: PDX Versus Cross XL Pro
Looking for a racing tire to conquer muddy conditions involves analysis of three things: tread to drive you forward in the mud, side tread positioning, and an open tread pattern to ensure grip and mud clearance.
Forward Drive in the Mud
In terms of its tread pattern, the XL Pro has a slightly more aggressive edge with lots of claw-like tread sections which really bite into the terrain. These are ideal for muddy conditions although give the Cross XL Pro an edge in the all-around performance stakes compared to the PDX and therefore not limiting the tire to being just for the mud. The PDX tread features flatter, blade like contact areas which don’t quite have the same level of grip and bite into the terrain.
Drive Forward in the Mud: PDX 0, Cross XL Pro 1.
Side Tread Placement
The tread on the PDX features a side tread with knobs which look almost like ice-axes with a near-flat exterior to allow the tire to dig into the mud whilst cornering and limit the tire sliding out during cornering. The internal edge forms a hook to help hold you in place to give great traction to drive you forward. The side tread knobs on the Cross XL Pro are a little more of a linear nature which means they’re more associated with elements of grip than traction which is where the tire can be marked down against the PDX.
Side Tread Placement: PDX 1, Cross XL Pro 1.
In terms of tread openness both tires feature a plethora of large gaps in the tread to allow the tire to bite into and release the mud without clogging up to limit traction. One of the key differences that must be noted is that for the PDX the section between the central tread and outer edges is a little less cluttered which should lead to less likelihood of the tread blocking up with mud.
Tread Openness: PDX 2, Cross XL Pro 1.
Tire Longevity and Puncture Resistance
As performance driven cyclocross tire I wouldn’t expect these tires to last long if I’m using them for anything but racing and cross country rides. Unless you’re commuting over muddy farmers fields (Which would be a dream for many CX riders but a nightmare in terms of cleaning) these tires certainly are not targeted for commuting. Longevity should not be an issue if you’re using for their designated purpose of cyclocross riding and racing and a rider should expect to get at least a couple of winters from both sets of tires without major worries. The only factor which may influence longevity is that neither tire features any significant sidewall strengthening.
Puncture resistance for the Vittoria comes courtesy of their PRB 2.0 puncture stripping within the casing of the tire which is featured throughout much of Vittoria’s tire range and does an excellent job of limiting the need to replace an inner tube on a cold winter day in the middle of nowhere. The Clement PDX seems to have a puncture resistant strip but very little information is publicised on this aspect of the product. Both tires score evenly in this category.
Tire Longevity and Puncture Resistance: Clement PDX 3, Cross XL Pro 2
Tire Weight and Width Options
Rotational weight has some significance in a cyclocross tire so those grams really do count. In their 700c x 33mm width designs the Vittoria Cross XL Pro weighs 440 grams versus 350 grams for the Clement PDX clincher. 90 grams per tire is quite a big difference and whilst the weight of the Vittoria might not seem significantly high when compared to other tires on the cyclocross marketplace, in this area the PDX wins hands down.
Tire Weight: Clement PDX 4, Cross XL Pro 2
In terms of width the Clement PDX clincher is available in a 33mm width tire only. The Cross XL Pro offers riders a little more variety. It is available in a 33 mm version which will suit beginner to intermediate riders for the increased volume. Higher level riders will appreciate the 31 mm width tire which will slice through the mud a little easier
Tire Width Options: Clement PDX 4, Vittoria Cross XL Pro 3
Our cyclocross mud tire review winner was the Clement PDX Clincher based on its lighter weight and more open tread pattern. In a head-to-head comparison, it is the opinion of the author that the Clement PDX is the best cyclocross tire for mud of the two. However, if you’re on the lookout for some mud-specific clincher tires for cyclocross racing and training the Clement PDX and Vittoria Cross XL Pro are both excellent options. They both provide excellent grip and the tire you would choose will likely come down to two factors:
Weight: The Clement PDX offers a lighter weight for race-worthy performance.
Tread: The Cross XL Pro tread is a little more aggressive for the mud and soft conditions making it a slightly better all-around tire.