Best gravel road tires tested – part 3

Top tires for varying conditions, surfaces, and riding styles

Gravel Tires
Best Rravel Road Tires Tested — Part 3

In this installment we look at top tires from Hutchinson, Terrene, Soma, Ritchey, Vittoria, and Maxxis.

After a great reception to the first two parts of RoadBikeReview’s Gravel Tire test, we went out to see if there were more tires that piqued our curiosity. Thankfully, we found six more great options, many of them new models launched this year. Because gravel riding conditions vary so widely, it’s lucky that there are so many great tires on the market. Some are aimed squarely at those who head to local singletrack trails, while others are perfect for smooth, dirt roads. Many reside somewhere in between.

If you didn’t read the first two installments, please take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 to get a sense of our ranking system and how we tested the tires, as well as other great tire options. All weights listed are actual, measured on a Feedback Sports digital scale. All widths were taken while mounted on a 19C rim at 40 psi.

Also included is our Road to Rowdiness or R2R rating with 1 being a road tire and a 10 being a mini mountain bike tire. Hopefully this will help you focus on tires that will best suit your mixed surface riding needs. For those doing occasional forays onto dirt road connectors, look to the lower end of the spectrum. If you’re looking to make your local mountain bike trails a bit more challenging, fit a pair of R2R Rating 10 tires on your bike and shred on. For just a touch more perspective, a 5 would be a fantastic, fast-rolling gravel race tire.

Soma Shikoro

The brown sidewall on Soma’s Shikoro looks great.

Soma Shikoro 42mm

One look at Soma’s Shikoro lets you know that it’s aimed at smoother roads or straight-line riding on gravel. With loads of puncture protection, the Shikoro is a great option for winter riding on a cross bike, especially if you opt for a small size and add some fenders to the mix. They mounted up tubeless quite easily and ran a tad undersized on rims with a 20mm internal width.

On the road, they rolled well and were far more comfortable than I anticipated. They’re not in the realm of Compass’ Bon Jon Pass, but they come remarkably close while adding a lot more protection from punctures. It’s not surprising that the Shikoro tires did require a bit of tip-toeing around loose corners, but once through them, they rolled up to cruising speed quickly.

Aesthetically, the brown sidewall is mega classy in my opinion. If you’re keen on a pair of tires that will keep you rolling and not by the side of the road fixing a puncture, check out the Somas. If you need something a bit more off-road worthy, you might consider the Cazadero, also from Soma.

Width: 39mm | Price: $60 | Weight: 491g | R2R Rating: 4 | More info at www.somafab.com

Ritchey WCS MegaBite

Ritchey has breathed new life into the MegaBite with a wider tubeless casing.

Ritchey WCS MegaBite 38mm

Ritchey recently reworked its long-produced MegaBite with an extra aggressive tooth profile and a lighter, more supple, tubeless-ready casing. Originally designed for cyclocross applications, the WCS MegaBite is a fantastic all-round tread pattern for those who like a rowdy tire that still rolls well.

As the name implies, the MegaBite delivers great grip when descending or climbing a steep pitch, braking, or leaning it over in the loose stuff. Because of this slapping on a pair of MegaBites is a fun way to ride mountain bike trails on your ’cross or gravel bike. Just don’t overdo it, as this Ritchey tire is also quite light at 405 grams. You need to pick your lines carefully. That said, I never punctured these Ritchey tires.

If you’re looking for a fun, quasi-mountain bike tire but your bike can’t handle WTB’s Nano 40 or Bruce Gordon’s Rock ‘n Road, the MegaBite should be your first port of call. Likewise, it would also work really well on bumpy cyclocross courses where extra volume would keep attacking the corners with confidence.

Width: 37.2mm | Price: $50 | Weight: 401g | R2R Rating: 8.5 | More info at ritcheylogic.com

Vittoria Adventure Trail

Vittoria’s Adventure Trail is a tough, even beefy, tire that’s perfect for puncture-prone riders or extended trips.

Vittoria Adventure Trail TNT 38mm

These fast-rolling tires from Vittoria are certainly up for the adventure mentioned in its name. They are the heaviest gravel tire we’ve tested, but still within 10 grams of WTB’s Nano 40 and 20 grams of Bruce Gordon’s Rock ‘n Road. Both of those competitors though are wider and with far meatier treads than the Vittoria. That extra weight though contributes to exceptional air retention and puncture resistance.

Measuring 38.2mm on a 20c rim, the Adventure is a nice width, likely to fit on many ’cross bikes. The TNT in the model name stands for “Tube, No Tube” and is Vittoria’s nomenclature for tubeless-ready and thankfully not a precursor to an explosion while riding.

On the dirt the Adventure Trail is surprisingly sure-footed tire when climbing on small, loose gravel over hardpack dirt. As mentioned before, it doesn’t have any large knobs, but its burly casing bumps up its R2R Rating considerably. Vittoria’s take on a gravel tire is perfect for dirt road touring, as well as gravel races where punctures are seemingly inevitable.

If other tires in this test are thoroughbred racers, Vittoria’s Adventure Trail is all about the riding, for hours or even days at a time. It’s meant to last and let you put your focus on pedaling off into the sunset.

Width: 38.2mm | Price: $37 | Weight: 565g | R2R Rating: 7 | More info at www.vittoria.com (not listed on the US site)

Continue to page 2 for more of Part 3 of the RoadBikeReview gravel tire test »

About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview.


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