Review: Vittoria Cross XL Pro TNT cyclocross tire

Tubeless ready mud tire a solid performer in varied conditions

Cross Tires
Vittoria Cross XL Pro TNT

We needed a compressor during initial tubeless set-up, but have had nary a burp or flat since.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Cyclocross Race Bike Shootout series, which also includes reviews of top competition steeds from Trek, Jamis, Specialized, and Van Dessel, as well as SRAM Force CX1 and several wheelsets.

The Lowdown: Vittoria Cross XL Pro TNT tubeless tire

For anyone looking to make the jump to a tubeless tire cyclocross set-up, Vittoria’s Cross XL Pro TNT is a top notch choice. It’s a superb mud tire that also rolls reasonably well on hardpack thanks to a line of tightly spaced center knobs. During several months of testing we had no problem with burping despite running it well below the recommended 45-90 psi inflation range. It’s also become our go-to tread when we opt to take our ’cross bike on “adventure” rides, which include everything from pavement, to mellow singletrack, to occasional hardpacked snow.

Stat Box
TPI: 150 tpi Weight: 450 grams per tire
Size: 700x33c Bead: Folding tire bead
Type: Clincher Tubeless ready: Yes
MSRP: $55 Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pluses
Minuses
  • Sets up tubeless
  • Compressor needed for tubeless set-up
  • No burps at low pressure (<30psi)
  • Slower on hardpack or pavement
  • Great acceleration traction
  • Squirmy feel on tarmac
  • Good mud shedding
  • Weight
  • Firm cornering grip
  • Great in snow
  • Durability
  • Puncture protection
  • Price

Full Review: Vittoria Cross XL Pro TNT tubeless tire

Full disclosure: I’m a staunch believer in the benefits of tubeless tires for cyclocross racing. I don’t like gluing tubulars (or paying others to do it for me) and I don’t like being locked into one tread, which is often the case since I only own one tubular wheelset. So the idea of being able to easily switch between various treads types (mud, hardpack, all around, etc.) without having to deal with glue — and still be able to run low air pressure — is highly desirable.

Vittoria Cross XL Pro TNT

The tire has become our rubber of choice for wintertime adventure rides where conditions vary and extra traction is necessary.

But early CX tubeless tire iterations just didn’t work very well. Low pressure seals were suspect and sidewalls were stiff, leaving weekend warriors like myself in a pickle: Either deal with the hassles of tubular tires to alleviate performance concerns, or make the tubeless leap of faith and hope all that training time wasn’t sabotaged by an untimely burp or worse.

More recently the game has changed as tire manufactures such as Vittoria have greatly improved tubeless tire performance to the point where they’re a legitimate race day option. Once such option is Vittoria’s Cross XL Pro TNT, which the Italian tire maker released in spring 2014. It’s billed as a mud tire that also rolls well, it’s tubeless ready, and at $55 it costs about half of what a high end race day ’cross tubular will run you.

Vittoria Cross XL Pro TNT

Tightly spaced center knobs help improve straight line rolling performance.

For this test, I mounted the Cross XL Pro TNT on a set of Hed Ardennes + tubeless ready wheels that came stock on Trek’s top-of-the-line 2014 Boone 9 Disc cyclocross race bike. (Read a review on that bike.) Using a single scoop of Stan’s sealant the Vittoria’s were reasonably easy to seal, though I did need the help of a compressor and a little soapy water to get a full bead lock.

Trip to the gas station air station aside, the Cross XL Pro TNT experience has been utterly flawless. I ran these tires during several mixed conditions cyclocross races and training rides, and had no burping issues whatsoever despite inflating well below the recommended 45-90 psi range. Typical set-up was 28psi in the front, 30 psi in the rear; rider weight is about 175 pounds when fully kitted up.

The Cross XL Pro TNT is listed at 33c, but when mounted they measured just a shade under 35mm, which help improve traction and lowers rolling resistance. That girth is more than the UCI allows, but of no concern on Colorado’s amateur cyclocross circuit where most of my testing took place.

Come race day, reliable and predictable are the words which best encapsulate these tire’s performance. While by no means super light at 450 grams per tire (plus about 60 grams of sealant), they confidently held tight lines through loose and sometimes muddy corners. The toothy and widely spaced, sloping square edge knobs dug in tight, but never packed up, and didn’t lose traction under hard accelerations. They also rolled reasonably well on hard packed straightaway thanks to the line of the tightly spaced center knobs. And most important of all, they didn’t burp even when run hard into curbs or after a handful of sloppy remounts. (I checked front and rear pressure after racing and there was no air loss whatsoever.) I wouldn’t necessarily use these tires all the time, but for muddy races or on courses with a preponderance of technical terrain, the extra grip’s value is significant.

Vittoria Cross XL Pro TNT

The wide spacing of the side knobs keeps mud from packing up.

I’ve also been using these tires for what I like to call adventure rides, where in the span of a few hours I’ll tackle some tarmac, bike path, dirt roads, and even packed snow or mellow singletrack. Again the experience has been wholly positive. Of course they don’t roll pavement like a set of road tires, but the center knobs do a decent job of diminishing squirminess. The only time they felt out of sorts was when I started pushing them in downhill paved corners.

No you’ll never threaten any Strava KoMs while running this rubber, but who cares when you can confidently ride (and race) a single tire on such a variety of terrain.

For more information visit www.vittoria.com.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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  • Mark says:

    Good review. I found a deal on a pair of these and I’m considering them for the remaining cross season, albeit without tubeless ready rims. South of Colorado in the sandy terrain of New Mexico, mud is far less a concern, but it sounds like the tread and actual width will lend itself to good handling on sandy, technical corners (which I hate). However, powering out hard pack and grassy straights may not be where the advantage is with these tires. But I guess that’s why I’m choosing tubeless over tubulars-I can opt for different tires easily!

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