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The Vittoria Barzo has a solid reputation among mountain bikers owing to attributes such as its reliability, speed and front-end assurance. While some pair it with a Mezcal at the rear, using it at both ends is the safest bet you can make - both as a racer and weekend rider. I've spent thousands of miles training and racing with this tire and have never been let down. In fact, the Vittoria Barzos were faultless when I raced the technically demanding Absa Cape Epic in 2016 and 2017.
The tread pattern is burlier than some of the other options in the best XC tire space but the Barzo still provides sterling straight-line speed. It's also got pretty decent clearing channels so can perform well regardless of the weather and terrain — even in muddy conditions.
Like the Vittoria Mezcal, the Barzo is also available in three distinct sidewall colors: tan, plain black and anthracite. Some markets, such as South Africa, also get it with a special Cape Cobra compound for enhanced puncture protection. It gets Vittoria's proven 120tpi nylon casing and can be had in the choice of TLR, TNT (pictured here), and rigid bead casings, complete with Graphene 4C compound.
Tire widths are pretty comprehensive. The 29-inch version comes in widths of 2.1, 2.25, 2.35 and 2.60in, and Vittoria still caters to those who ride 26- and 27.5-inch wheels. Designed for ‘technical XC’ the Barzo features a center tread with an alternating ridge design and progressive sipe angles to help bolster traction, while moto-style lugs comprise the shoulder section in a v-formation for cornering grip.
With a relatively open tread pattern, it clears mud with aplomb but it's still a low-profile tire, and you'll quickly find the limits of adhesion in dry and dusty terrain - conditions where the tire is most at home.
The beauty of the Barzo's compound and tread pattern is its ability to excel in almost all conditions. For a fully lugged tire, it rolls with the eagerness of a semi-slick, while still providing braking and cornering traction. It's also got pretty decent clearing channels so it's exceptional in muddy conditions, too, but it's in dry and loose conditions – hardpack trails in particular – where it really excels.
The evenly spread, siped tread does a sterling job in keeping you upright and allowing you to push harder through corners. Grip levels are predictable so there are never any trust issues with the front end, and the tread pattern also makes for a great companion at the rear.
The bonus with this particular tire comes in the form of exceptional sidewall protection. I'm yet to puncture using a Barzo and have probably done upwards of 6,000 miles in various guises – impressive for a 700g tire.
The Vittoria Barzo is the most complete XC tire on the market. It's fast, grippy, and reliable and is very resistant to wear, meaning it will last you ages. As far as protection goes, the 120tpi nylon casing is supple but strong enough to ensure the sidewalls are well looked after, which provides the peace of mind satisfaction all mountain bikers crave. While there are lighter, perhaps somewhat livelier options available, the Vittoria Barzo is exceptional in all conditions and the only tire I trust based on the thousands of trouble-free miles I've spent using them.
Tech Specs: Vittoria Barzo 2.25
- Price: $76.99 / £63.49 / €60
- Wheel size (inches): 26-, 27.5-, 29-inch
- Compound: Graphene enhanced 4C compound
- Carcass: TNT 120tpi (Cape Cobra)
- Dimensions: 2.1, 2.25, 2.35, 2.60in
- Weight: 700g (TLR 29 x 2.25 tested)