Vittoria Mezcal review

Speedy XC racer with surprisingly good cornering grip

2018 Tire Buyer's Guide 2018 XC Tires 29er Cross Country Tires
Vittoria Mezcal Review

G+Isotech is Vittoria’s unique Graphene compound that’s claimed to increase speed, and improve grip, durability, and wear resistance in tires such as the Vittoria Mezcal.

What is it

The Vittoria Mezcal is a fast, dry conditions pure bred XC race tire that has a low profile, densely spaced knob configuration with a defined center ridge tread for low rolling resistance, plus multiple braking and climbing edges and capable side knobs. The sidewall is measurably softer than the rest of the tire, which is designed to enhance grip and cornering traction.

Check out Mtbr’s guide to choosing the right mountain bike tire.

All told, the Vittoria Mezcal comes in nearly 20 configurations, ranging from recently released 29×2.6 and 27.5×2.6 wide trail versions, to super XC pinner 2.1 widths in 26 (yes, 26), 27.5 and 29er. Mtbr tested a 29×2.25 TNT Vittoria Mezcal version that features four compounds (4C) layered together in a way that’s intended to increase overall tire versatility. This includes G+Isotech, Vittoria’s unique Graphene compound that’s claimed to increase speed, and improve grip, durability, and wear resistance.

Vittoria Mezcal Review

The near continuous center tread of the Vittoria Mezcal behaves similar to a semi-slick, easily maintaining speed.

On the Mtbr Park Tools DS-1 Electronic Scale the Vittoria Mezcal weighed 744 grams (34g over claimed weight). When mounted on a Stan’s ZTR Crest S1 aluminum wheels, which have a 23mm internal rim width, actual tire width measured by the Park Tools DC-1 Digital Caliper was 2.22 (versus the advertised 2.25). Mtbr tested the Vittoria Mezcal on a variety of trail types, including hardpack, loose over hard, and rocky high alpine terrain. Keep reading to find out how it performed.

Pros
  • Very fast roller
  • Better than expected cornering grip
  • Easy to mount and take off
  • Easy to set-up tubeless
  • Reasonably affordable
  • Minimal tread wear during test
  • Easy to spot rotation indicator arrow
Cons
  • Not immune to puncture
  • Muddy days best avoided
  • Straight line traction not most secure
  • Heavier than claimed weight
  • Narrower than claimed width
  • So-so hard braking grip


Vittoria Mezcal Review

This Vittoria Mezcal has a low profile, densely spaced knob configuration with a defined center ridge tread for low rolling resistance.

Mtbr’s Take

It doesn’t take a tire scientist to determine best use for the Vittoria Mezcal. With its low profile, densely spaced, small-block knob configuration, and defined center ridge tread, the Mezcal is meant for dry-condition, high speed XC racing. And indeed, it rolls fast – noticeably fast. During testing on a variety of Colorado trail terrain, ranging from smooth kitty litter to chunky no-flow, this 29×2.25 Vittoria Mezcal just wanted to get up and go. The near continuous center tread behaves similar to a semi-slick, easily maintaining speed even when the trail is trying to slow you down.

Check out all the tires in this cross-country tire shootout.

Vittoria Mezcal Review

The Vittoria Mezcal is a tool for the job of going fast.

The Vittoria Mezcal also corners surprisingly well despite its minimalist tread design. The incrementally taller side knobs utilize a dual-shape design with ramps on the slightly more inset knobs to help maintain rolling speed, while the far-outboard knobs are squared off to better claw into terrain. The net effect is a tire that’s comfortable and predictable at aggressive lean angles, but not at the expense of its ultimate goal — crossing the finish line first. Whether it was loose over hard, Rocky Mountain loam, or Colorado chunk, I felt confident diving into tight turns and high-speed berms. And when the Vittoria Mezcal tires did break loose, it was usually predictable and composed, leaving time for correction and/or compensation.

Vittoria Mezcal Review

There’s that rotation arrow on the Vittoria Mezcal.

The Vittoria Mezcal also gets high marks for durability, which is in part credit to the G+ Graphene compound, which according to Vittoria allowed the tire maker to remove some of the material barriers of rubber. Surely there’s some hyperbole in there, but whatever they did with this tire, it’s resulted in impressive tread life. After several hundred miles of hard testing, all knobs were present and accounted for. It’s essentially the same story for the sidewall, which has suffered some scuffing, but is otherwise intact.

Vittoria Mezcal Review

Incrementally taller side knobs utilize a dual-shape design with ramps on the slightly more inset knobs to help the Vittoria Mezcal maintain rolling speed, while the far-outboard knobs are squared off to better claw into terrain.

Where Mtbr didn’t love this tire was under hard straight-line braking and while trying to power up steep, loose terrain. In both cases the rear tire tended to break loose early, meaning you had to plan ahead during rapid speed scrubs, and really focus on keeping evenly-weighted body position during tough uphill grunts. That’s certainly not a deal breaker for a tire in this class. Low rolling resistance comes with a price. But the Vittoria Mezcal certainly benefits from being driven by a skilled pilot. If you’re still learning the nuances of subtle brake modulation and technical climbing, you might want to seek out a tire with a little more center tread bite such as the Hutchinson Toro or Maxxis Ikon, which are also part of this XC tire shootout.

We also managed to puncture both front and rear at almost the exact same time, and neither would completely seal due to puncture size. The fact that both tires failed along the center tread on the same trail section likely means it was a particularly sharp rock (and/or some particularly poor bike piloting). But it’s also clear evidence that the Vittoria Mezcal is not indestructible. Indeed, like all the tires in this class, a certain amount of line choice precision is required.

Vittoria Mezcal Review

On the Mtbr Park Tools DS-1 Electronic Scale the Vittoria Mezcal weighed 744 grams (34g over claimed weight).

Bottom line, the Vittoria Mezcal is a tool for the job of going fast. And while that comes with some drawbacks, they don’t outweigh this tire’s ability to get that job done. It’s a stellar rear tire option, and can be run up front so long as the pilot understands its strength and limitations.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers
Price: $65


More Info: 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 Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, 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 Mtbr 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 life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.


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Wordpress Comments:

  • Teleken says:

    The XC tire reviews have been informative & confirm what most already knew- published tire weights are incorrect and the marketing peeps lied again. Tire weights are like snow reports “8” of new snow” = dust on crust.

  • Maciej Pike-Biegunski says:

    Did you try a Dynaplug or Innovations Bacon Strip? Bet either would’ve sealed the tire in a jiff if you hadn’t.

    I run double casing rear tires and pretty burly fronts but still always carry a tire plug with me-it’s saved several rides (and tires) for me or the people I’ve been riding with.

  • David says:

    What tire pressure did you run for all these tire tests? Please share that information as well.
    If you ran all the tires at the same pressure then that would not be a fair comparison.
    I would expect to run lower pressure on all the tires that came in at 2.2x than those that only came in at 2.1x. This improves puncture protection, climbing and overall handling. Things you appeared to ding the Mezcal on, but without even sharing the tire pressures used. When I switched to Mezcals I had to lower the pressure on them due to the larger volume and likely due to the graphene. I am able to hammer any condition on them here in SoCal. I am running 20 in front and 23 rear . I am 170 fully kitted.

  • RobertW says:

    5% off claimed weight and 1.3% off claimed width is pretty much bang on. Put it on a 25mm rim and it would be spot on width.

  • Irishpitbull says:

    Schwalbe( Ron & Ralph) and Maxxis (Ikon) are always at or below claimed weight on my park scale.

  • Ryan S says:

    “Easy to mount and take off” …never heard anyone say this about Mezcals, lol…quite the opposite in fact. Same with “corning grip” being on the “Pro” side of the list …say what? I ride 29×2.25 Mezcals when I can get them on/off, but only on gravel. Those tires suck on the trails, particularly cornering and stopping. They are tough though, I’ll give them that.

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