© Velo Collection / Getty Images
Challenge is a bicycle tyre manufacturer, founded in 2000. The family-run company develops and produces handmade tyres with a performance focus. Challenge manufactures tyres for road, track, cyclocross and gravel disciplines.
The company was somewhat born out of the demise of one of its predecessors, when Clément Tyres ceased trading in 1995 after its owner, Pirelli, pulled out of the cycling industry. Determined not to see top-quality handmade products - that were used by the likes of Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Felice Gimondi - disappear from bike shop shelves, Max Brauns saw an opportunity.
Brauns, alongside his son Alex, took over the factory and resumed production of handmade tubular tyres for other brands. With the licencing of the Clément name from Pirelli at an impasse, the pair launched Challenge in 2000. The brand name was inspired by the fact that launching a new high-end tyre brand would be exactly that - a challenge!
In the following two decades, Challenge has helped to innovate handmade bike tyres for the performance areas of cycling.
With its factory based in Thailand, Challenge has been able to tap into the country’s rubber and natural latex resources to handcraft tubular and clincher tyres.
From its road tyre beginnings, Challenge gradually expanded its range, with the addition of track, time trial, triathlon, gravel, cyclocross and mountain bike tyres. Alongside its growing product catalogue, it also began distributing to more territories than ever before as the 2010s went on - the figure now sits at around 40 countries. Alongside its historic base in Italy, Challenge has a multi-million euro production factory in Thailand, headquarters in Switzerland and another office in the USA.
Despite resisting the tubeless movement for most of its lifespan, Challenge eventually launched a tubeless-ready version of its Gravel Grinder and Strada Bianca tyres in 2019.
1995 - Clément Tyres ceases trading
Arguably one of the major moments in Challenge’s short history occurred before it was even properly launched. Without Pirelli’s - and in turn, Clément’s - departure from the industry, Challenge wouldn’t have had a void to fill and a factory to use.
2000 - The Challenge name hits the market
After a few years of building tyres by hand for other brands, Challenge finally went it alone in 2000 and hasn’t looked back since.
2019 - Challenge joins the tubeless revolution
Despite priding itself on its handmade, high-quality tubular and clincher tyres, Challenge finally hopped onto the tubeless train in 2019, launching a pair of tubeless-ready gravel tyre models.
"I've won two [now three] World Titles using the Team Edition tubular including the Grifo in Bogense 2019. They give me confidence and the performance advantage I took for when I'm choosing my tires."
© Challenge Tires
Cyclocross: Challenge has a broad range of CX tyres that suit all terrains, from frozen ground with the Dune to tackling mudbaths with the Limus - available in clincher, tubular or tubeless-ready forms. The Grifo is seen as the CX all-rounder and comes in tubeless-ready and tubular forms.
Gravel: The Strada Bianca combines Challenge’s herringbone tread pattern with larger volume and gravel-specific construction whilst the Gravel Grinder has aggressive shoulder knobs to tackle muddier terrain. Challenge’s gravel range also includes the Almanzo and Getaway models.
Road/TT/Tri: Challenge’s Criterium RS comes as a tubeless-ready tyre with some of the lowest rolling resistance on the market for the greatest performance boost. The standard Criterium tyre is also performance-orientated and comes in a tubular form. Meanwhile, the Strada and Elite are strong all-rounders squirted to a wide range of road conditions.
© Velo Collection / Getty Images
Current sponsorships: Ineos Grenadiers (Cyclocross), Trinity Racing (Cyclocross), GT Krush Tunap, Thibau Nys, Felipe Lloret, Marion Norbert-Riberolle, Paola Panzeri, Sean Sakinofsky, Florian Sury, Dimitri Schevchenko, Jiri Parizek, Sergio Abad, Steven Le Hyaric, Erin O’Hagan
Previous sponsorships: Team Fortuneo-Oscaro, CCC-Liv, Marianne Vos, Ben Tulett, Ben Turner, Katie Compton, Maghalie Rochette, Zoe Backstedt, Elynor Backstedt
Choosing the right gravel tyre for your bike can seem like an overwhelming choice at times, with all of the tread, tubeless and pressure options available. In this video Jeremy explains the key points you should use as a guide to match the right kind of tyre to the type of off-road riding you do.
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