The Tank of Tyres
This tyre is great for its intended purpose. I've been commuting on them for a couple years without any trouble. These tyres are faultless so long as one keeps rubber composition in mind.
The rubber on these tyres is very hard. That density is what provides much of the flat protection found in these tyres. It is also the reason the tyres are comparatively slick when wet and don't wear or grip well when cold. I wouldn't commute on these tyres in a Michigan winter. The hard rubber will be prone to lose traction.
These tyres are not magic. Riding directly through goat-head puncture vine will result in punctures. There are no unicorns hiding inside the tyres. Run over a nail and it will go through. Glass, however, and steel wire fragments don't phase them at all. If the item the tyre rolls over would rather crush or crack than fight the rubber, it will be crushed rather than puncture.
The wire beads are stiff. They're difficult to mount the first time or two. Like most tires they seem to loosen up with wear. The foldable bead is more forgiving. If mounting ease is a major consideration it may be worth the extra money to get the kevlar bead instead of these. Comments about these tyres being prone to snake bite flats are ridiculous. There's nothing a manufacturer can do to prevent user error.
I've tried lots of puncture-resistant tires over the years. I bicycle commute(mostly) daily, 16 miles round trip, year round, so I rack up a lot of commuting miles, along with frequent 30-70 mile weekend rides and the occasional century. Conti Gatorskins are by far my favorite tires for this kind of riding.
The biggest factor for me is that they're quite puncture-resistant yet still roll easily and ride well. They don't have quite the level of puncture resistance of Specialized Armadillos, and they're roughly comparable (at least in my experience) to Bontrager Hard Cases, but they have lower rolling resistance than either of those tires. I run them with a tire sealant (True Goo in Conti tubes with removable valves, at present), which helps a lot with keeping the air in, and with that combination I average perhaps one flat every thousand miles or so.
The only downside to them is that their quality control seems a bit spotty - I've never gotten a bad Gatorskin, but I've seen others that have failed at very low miles. If you're willing to take a slight gamble, though (or make use of REI's amazing return policy), Gatorskins are extremely good tires.
Love these tires
I love these tires! Not only are they puncture resistant, I shaved about 5 minutes off of my commute and I'm able to climb hills a lot easier and faster. They are expensive, but it's worth their price, versus going through a new set every few years. Plus you don't have to worry about having a blowout or puncture in the middle of now where in the middle of the night.
I got these two summers ago and my new job started last year, which doesn't allow me to commute by bike, so I can't comment very much on the gripping portion in the rain. I did the chilly hilly this year and it had rained early in the morning, the road was still wet, but I felt I had good control of the bike in the decents, especially on one decent where there is a stop sign at the bottom of the hill. But other than that, that's about all I've been able to test with these in the rain.
Bottom line is these are worth every penny and I'm going to buy these again on my new bike.
Corners like a champ
Been using these tires almost exclusively for the past year, while on a 49 state tour of the US. I've gone through a few already, and continue to be very satisfied. I rarely ride in the rain, but the few times I have been forced to, they performed quite well, much to my surprise, considering their lack of tread.
I've also had these up to 53mph, while towing a 75 pound trailer, and they were rock solid!
I run mine at the max recommended PSI of 120, and have been getting amazing lifespan on my fronts (6000+ miles), and closer to about 5000 miles on the rear. I assume this is due mostly to the tongue weight of my BOB trailer.
Their flat protection level is hard fr me to call: I've had plenty of flats with them, all on the rear tire, but have also found lots of junk stuck in the rubber that didn't go through, and have run over stuff I thought would for sure flat my tires, but didn't. All in all, great tire for commuting or touring.
Best tire I have ever used
This tire was recommended to me by the touring company that ran my Southern Tier cross country ride in 2007. I was reluctant to spend money on new tires but I was the ONLY person who got no flat tires on the entire 3200 mile trip. Although this tire was a bit difficult to change as it was quite tight on the rim,(I had two flats from valve stem leaks in the tube) I would definitely encourage you to try it. I was religious in checking the tires EVERY night for shards, tire wires from the road, and goatheads (thorns in AZ and NM.) In 2008, I rode the Underground Railroad Route using a new set of Gatorskins, although I could have continued with the old ones. I was one of two or three who had no flats at all. This year, I plan to ride another long ride on the Transamerica Route and will put a pair of these on my new bicycle. You will not be sorry to use these tires.
I run a set of 700x25Cs on my road bike. I ride several thousand miles a year, all year. Approximately 4k of my mileage comes from commuting on suburban streets.
For commuting, they're okay. During winter months, I get about 1,200 miles out of a rear tire. In the summer, it's over 2,000. With tire inserts, I have few flats; however, during periodic maintenance, I'll squeeze out the embedded glass fragments. When the tires have a lot of large-ish cuts (or more than a few deep cuts) from road debris, I'll replace them.
The ride is comfortable, relatively quiet with not much apparent rolling resistance. Thus, I do enjoy having them on during brevets or events like Ride Around Washington.
The tires are much much better than Continental's Grand Prix 4000, also known as the "flat magnet." Ride quality is not as supple as Vittoria's Rubino Pro Tech, but close enough.
Good all around tire
I ride country roads which are one step up from gravel roads and have these mounted on Campy Neutrons. For me the biggest thing about these tires is not punture resistance (which is very hard to measure) but durability. I've used these for a number of years and have had more than a ccouple of punctures. The difference between these and the Michelins I've used is what happens after you fix a punture. These tires just don't split. On a regular tire a bad puncture can lead to a ruptured tire, not with these, and that's important when they cost more than new tires for my first car (admittedly that's going back a ways).
The only con is that since you almost never have to take them off the rim, they can be difficult to get off and on. If you do take them off & on then the next time it's much easier.
I replaced Bontrager Hard Case Race Lite 700 x 23s with Conti Ultra Gatorskins in 700 x 25 and have 150 miles on them so far. The Contis roll easier (at the same pressure) even though they're wider, they weigh 55 grams less each and make my road bike feel like someone installed a suspension when I wasn't looking (far greater "cushion" than the added 2 mm would account for)! My only gripe so far is the tiny little arrow and the word "Rotation" printed on only one side of the tire. If it's important enough to be there, the notice should be both VISIBLE and ON BOTH SIDEWALLS! I suspect this expains why some people's reviews here are exactly the opposite of one another—maybe this directional tire was going the wrong direction! Fortunately, I know someone who has used 'em for years.
I purchased these tires a few months ago and have ridden probably about 1000 miles so far; mostly on paved bike trails, and occasionally on urban streets. I have yet to have a flat, though I've hit a few serious pot holes that I am certain would have sent my old tires to the garbage bin. I've had a few trips in the rain and from what I can tell, they seem fine on less than ideal surfaces. We'll see how my rainy Seattle commute goes this winter, but so far I am a fan of these tires. The only "con" I have found is that they are really difficult to put on - much harder than typical tires, but they are most definitely worth the extra effort. You'll love these tires.
Tire design and choice requires tradeoffs. Do you want grippy or durable? Light weight or puncture resistant? The Continental Ultra Gatorskin tire strikes an excellent balance between these competing goals. It is more durable and puncture resistant than most racing tires, and better handling than most heavy duty tires. It's one of the all-round best tires available for my fast hilly club rides and centuries on roads that unfortunately often contain rough pavement, broken glass, thorns, and other debris.
Also note that the Gatorskin comes in both nonfoldable (wire beaded) and foldable (kevlar beaded) versions. The foldable version offers all the benefits of the nonfoldable version plus it's lighter weight, but it costs a little more. Make sure you're getting the version you want.