An Ode to the Grifo Feb 15, 2013


I have a love / hate relationship with this tire. Last year, I had a bad batch. The tread pulled off almost immediately but luckily, they were easy enough to return. I swore them off, claiming they were just popular because of their gum-colored side wall. It took me going to LA and seeing how people rode their Grifos on everything: asphalt, dirt, rock, and even mud (yes, there’s mud in SoCal).


When my Geekhouse was nearing completion, I hunkered down and bought a set, crossing my fingers on the side of reliability and not thinking about the bad luck I’ve had with Challenge tires in the past. In fact, I had to train my brain to think “maybe they’re not meant for over 100 degree, stankin’ ass Texas heat?”. Well, any tire that lasts a season is ok with me but I didn’t even race them, save for one or two times. I did, however ride the absolute shit out of them on all the aforementioned terrain.

victim of a giant roofing nail

I’m a bigger guy, so I have to be mindful of my lines. I can’t just barrel through shit without being light on my bike but at 60 PSI, I’ve yet to pinch flat riding the popular mountain bike trails in Austin. Gravel and rock gardens are no problem and the only thing that finally made me swap them out for a new pair was the giant, hooked-shaped roofing nail (see above) that stopped me from rolling a week ago. One of the Park Tool tire boots did the trick there and I’ve done a few rides on it since then.

I almost prefer the brake-dusted sidewalls to the new, bright yellow coloration. With a bunch of light touring and off-road radness coming up, it’ll be no time before they’re back to their dingy, grey coloration.

The Challenge Grifo 33 is my new favorite cross tire but yes, it took a while for me to come around to them.

  • Your cross bike is one of my favorites dude! 

  • Andy Petersen

    Rode the Fango this year as my race day ‘cross tire and was blown away. They are the best tires I’ve ever ridden hands down especially on grassy courses. I could corner so much tighter than most guys were willing to. I know they’re not the longest wearing tires out there but Challenge tires be on my bike every race from now on. I’ll have to try the Grifo next.

  • Grifo buddies!

  • 60 psi?  You should be running somewhere between 35 and 40 on those to get the advantage of a supple cotton casing.

    • I’m 200 lbs anything lower and I pinch flat in rock gardens and limestone trails. The last time I rode 40psi, I dented a rim. 40psi for mud, grass and anything else that’s “soft”.

    • Podrick_Payne

      John’s right.  CX race at 45ish. But for just riding around and hitting the trails its 55+ or pinchflat. 

  • Maxwell Long

    Appreciate the review. How do they do in terms of puncture flat resistance (road debris, thorns, etc..)? My main cause of flats has been thorns from riding off road, but tubeless might be the only answer to that problem. 

  • Maxxis Razer is The BEST, good rolling aspahlt and in winter grip is great! I recommend!!!

  • lw

    Are you running tubular or clincher?

  • wooooord. 
    My first set was also shit. 
    They really perform awesome on both asphalt and dirt/mud.
    I tried to clean the sidewalls after a few runs.. turned out it is absolutely impossible

  • dang i could have returned those?

  • fango in the front, grifo in the back ;)

  • have these been your commuter tires as well?

  • SAM


  • Why would you ride these on pavement? Great way to prematurely wear out expensive cross tires…

    We’ve all done it before, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, especially an all-around tread tire like this one.

  • Raymond Walker


  • Have you tried the Grifo XS file-treads? They absolutely kick much ass in mixed urban to MTB conditions. So crazy fast on beat up pavement and I can ride them anywhere a XC MTB would go. By FAR the best tires I’ve owned. Replaced with some Panaracer/Rivendell 33s to try and get some extra mileage, but they don’t have that same magic as the Grifo XS. Speaking of the clinchers BTW.

  • Albert Lagunas

    By people in LA, you mean 6 dudes who hang out at Golden Saddle, right?

    • Is it 6? I meant more like 2… ;-)

      No, just the consensus I had from watching races in LA and the random people I met who ride cross bikes there.