Review: Vittoria Martello Graphene 2.0

Blazing its own trail in a copycat category.

Pro Reviews

A the limit, the side knobs do not buckle or fold over.

The Martello is Vittoria’s All-Mountain tire built to handle aggressive terrain. It’s a no-holds-barred assault on the demanding category with four rubber compounds and maximum tire protection available in the Vittoria  technology arsenal. This new Graphene 2.0 version utilizes the wonder material, graphene to achieve better grip and better durability characteristics.

To state the obvious, it doesn’t look like a Maxxis Minion. In a category where everyone is becoming a look-a-like of the popular tire, Vittoria wanted to forge its own path. The company wanted to utilize its materials and expertise to develop a different tire. One that would be more consistent through a wider range of conditions. After all, the Martello designer and US director Ken Avery designed the original Maxxis Minion tire more than a decade ago.

Vittoria Martello Graphene 2.0 Highlights

  • Size: 29 x 2.35
  • Weight: 1155 grams
  • Compound: 4 different compound layers
  • Rubber Compound: RSR dual-layer compound
  • Tread detail: Progressive siping for predictable grip
  • TPI: 120
  • Flat protection: 2-ply casing and anti-pinch flat inserts
  • Application: Enduro and E-MTB.
  • Price: $69

Weight is 1156 grams in 29×2.35 with full protection.

Pros

  • Incredible handling on loose over hardpack, wet and tricky conditions
  • Good rolling resistance
  • No gaps or cliffs in the grip, thus it’s predictable
  • Highest quality, roundness and consistency
  • Flat protection is A+
  • Comfort is A+
  • Durable
  • Good value

Cons

  • The weight on the 29er version is portly
  • It is not the best tire for loose, powdery conditions
  • Will not be good for mud
  • Not big for a 2.35 tire.

Mtbr’s Take

Given that it’s not a Minion copy, it’s not easy to figure out and summarize this tire. Usually, one can just ride a tire a couple times and say, “Oh doesn’t grip quite as good but rolls a little better.”

So we gave it some time and really got to know it. It doesn’t have the sharp transition to the big side knobs that we’ve gotten used to. But one of our best bike handlers and testers, Travis Bertelsen, summarized it best after he bought the tire on his own accord and rode them with conviction. I asked him why he chose this tire and he said:

“My best friend Petey bought this tire and I got tired of getting my tail kicked on every descent. We’ve been riding together 20 years and he would separate from me on every corner, on identical bikes.” This happened after Petey bought the Martello G2.0 tire.

That’s high praise indeed, as Travis is one of the most brilliant bike handlers I’ve witnessed. It gave me insight and new confidence in this tire.

These $100k plus machines prove Vittoria’s dedication to quality and testing.

Where it excels

Its key strengths are cornering and braking in loose dirt, loam, loose over hardpack, gravel, wet and other tricky conditions. The Martello likes to search for the grip hidden under dust, sand or debris to claw its way around. And the grip is consistent from the middle to the side with always a couple knobs maintaining contact and handing off to each other.

Siping plays a key role too as these cuts in each knob give under pressure and effectively give a single knob more edges to find grip.  Each knob typically has three sipes, increasing in width so they give at different points and progressively deliver more grip.

It doesn’t have a big blocky sharp-edged side knob like many enduro tires, so we don’t think it’s ideal for extremely loose, powdery conditions. Perhaps it can be relegated to rear tire duties there. To this tire’s credit, it doesn’t have that floaty transition between middle and side knobs either, or the falling off the edge of the side knob at the limit. Rather, it’s a consistent, confidence-inspiring grip.

On our test Stumpjumper Evo, we took off the stock Butchers and ran these for hundreds of miles. Improvement was dramatic as we took it to Lake Tahoe and our local steep fire roads and cornered better than ever with a predictable tire that had our back. Sand over rock, gravel over hard-pack and the usual scary stuff were both handled well in cornering and braking limits.

Siping is the key to the Martello’s magic.

Flat Protection

We kept lowering the air pressure to experiment but we never experienced a flat despite a few rim hits.  The Martello may be heavy but the two-ply casing did its job.  And when the tire bottoms out on the rim, there is a tire insert that will take the hit and prevent most tire pinch flats

Comfort

Something we never talk about in mountain bike tire reviews is comfort. It’s a key attribute when reviewing road tires, so we know that it’s a key differentiator.

The Martello is one of the most comfortable tires we’ve used. Comparing identical tire pressures, of course, this tire seems to conform and absorb shock better than most other tires in the market. Perhaps the credit goes to the 120tpi casing or the dual-ply or the four-rubber compounds. We aren’t certain, but it is a smoother tire, in our opinion.

The Graphene 2.0 version exhibited better durability than the previous version.

Durability

After approximately 800 miles of testing, our pair of test tires are worn, but in good shape. As expected, the rear tire is more worn with visible signs of siping wear, but both they look like they have more miles left in them.

Our previous Martello’s without the Graphene 2.0 looked pretty beat after a long weekend in Downieville, California, with its sharp rocks and shale. The new Graphene 2.0 Martello looks fine after a Downieville and a Tahoe trip. So we’re convinced the new compound makes a difference.

And one thing we appreciate is the side knobs have support structure foundation with a different hardness compound. Thus the side knob does not tear off or get undercut at the core after months of use.


And although they spell ‘tire’ incorrectly, the friendly folks of GMBN paint a very accurate picture of the people and infrastructure behind Vittoria Tires.

Bottom Line

It’s not a Minion with the sharp edges that drop off between the center and edge knobs. This makes the Martello a great option in sand, loose-over-hardpack, and wet conditions, where predictable handling is key. It’s a bit heavy and not huge for its stated size, but it delivers consistent, dependable grip for many, many miles.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Price: $69
More info: www.vittoria.com


About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Fizzy says:

    YUP… been running Vittoria tires for years and absolutely love them. Have been my go-to brand since I started mountain biking 8yrs ago and have never looked back. Add to that the fact that their customer service is top notch and you have a winning combination. I have a Goma TNT on front of my current trail bike that has at least 3yrs of hard riding on it, still looks new (and we’re talking 800+ miles a year in NV and Lake Tahoe). In the few months that I have owned this new bike I have gone through 3 different Maxxis tires (DHF, Aggressor and now Ardent), all getting shredded.

    Just waiting for this Ardent to give up the ghost (with less than 500 miles on it) and then will be throwing a Martello on the rear.

  • Teleken says:

    1155 grams Where it excels – Keeping boats from drifting away.

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