Vittoria Cannoli – First Look!

Lots of steps and siping

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Yum! Cannolis and sunset.

Uncle Gomez and the folks from Vittoria Tire recently helped Christmas come a bit early and sent me a pair of Vittoria Cannoli 26 x 4.8″ tires to test out. This is a tire I am pretty darned stoked about. The Surly Bud and Lou’s have been the king of the hill for all around powder riding for several years now. They are not the floatiest, nor the grippiest anymore but they do offer great all around performance for riding in the freshies without being super slow in less extreme conditions. The Cannoli looks to be a serious challenger to the Bud and Lou in this regard.

The casing size is virtually identical to the Bud and Lou with both coming in at 4.7″ on my 100 mm rims at about 5 psi. The side knobs of the Cannoli are 4.5″ from outer edge to outer edge. Bead-to-bead I measured the casing at 268mm wide. Diameter is approximately 770 mm (30.3″). The knobs vary from 5-6mm in height in the center to 7-8mm for the side lugs. The casing is 120 tpi, has a folding bead and feels very supple, especially considering that the sidewalls seem to have a lot of rubber on them. This should help with sidewall durability and definitely helps with tubeless performance. I was able to air up the tires with no sealant and ride them a couple times with little to no air lost over the span of several days. The bead is fairly tight and they popped into place with little effort and no tubeless trickery was needed. The tires I received are from an early production run so all of the above should apply to what is in stores but mine have no hot patches with the Vittoria Cannoli logos and the later production runs will have those on the sidewalls.

Serious paddle wheel action

Looking at the tread design I have a flashback to the days of the Tioga Farmer Johns and the pronounced chevron pattern of the knobs. However there is a lot more going on when you start to look closely at the tread. Similar to the Vittoria’s Bombolini, there are a lot of steps and layers/shelves to the design. From a design standpoint it really interests me to see the top of the knobs “stepped” as well as at the base of some of the knobs. I have talked to some of the guys at Vittoria enough that they have a lot of tricks up their sleeve and this is one that I haven’t seen utilized by other manufacturers much so I am hoping I can get them to spill the beans on what the rationale is. There are also siping on all the knobs to assist in gripping onto surfaces.

Lots of steps and siping
Lots of steps and siping

While I may not know what all the shapes and surfaces are for with the tread design, I can say that this is one of the better riding fat bike tires I have been on. As you would expect from a tire this big and knobby, the traction is phenomenal on the dirt. What surprises me is how well they also roll. I took off a pair of Surly 4.8″ Knards which I generally consider to be one of the best rolling fat bike tires and the Cannoli’s seem to roll with similarly low resistance. For any given pressure there is very little self steer compared to any other tire I have tried in this size range. The tires feel very supple and conform to surface irregularities well but the sidewalls also feel well supported so the tire seems to have less wallow, bounce and fold over when pushed hard when compared to other similarly sized tires. I did a few test hill efforts on a local sand dune to compare the soft conditions drive traction of the Cannoli, Surly Lou and a Vee Tire 2XL and the Cannoli seemed to fall somewhere in between those two (better than the 4.8″ Lou, worse than 5.05″ 2XL) which is impressive. Overall, I am super impressed with the ride of these tires.

Test hill in the background while my bike leans against the part of th remains of the TS Christie which sank 83 years ago along this stretch of Lake Michigan
Test hill in the background while my bike leans against the part of the remains of the T.S. Christie which sank 83 years ago along this stretch of Lake Michigan

You may have noticed that up to this point I have not mentioned anything about the tire’s weight. This may be the only shortcoming I have found with these tires because the published weight is 1,950 g and my two tires came in at 2,023 g and 2,035 g. There is no getting around it, that is a lot of cannoli. That said, while the extra weight is noticeable, it seems to be balanced out by all of the other positive attributes. If my test hill/sand dune results translate to powder riding in the winter, I am guessing this tire will allow me to ride challenging soft conditions when I would be otherwise walking. That in tandem with it being fast rolling and this should be an acceptable tire for groomed trails too. This is all just speculation based on dirt/sand riding but if it translates to snow, this should be a very versatile tire while potentially excelling in the fluffies.

There is a lot to be excited about with the Vittoria Cannoli’s. While I don’t have a ton of time on them yet, my initial impression is that they’re one of the best riding 4.6-5″ tires I have used. Only time will tell if these initial impressions extend onto the snow but I am really looking forward to finding out!

Ed~ Look for Ken’s full review in a couple months and be sure to tune into Ken and Andy for entertainment and information on the more technical side of fat-bikes on the ‘Fat Camp’ podcast.