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 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 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'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 »
Maxxis' new Ravager is a rowdier gravel option that compliments its Rambler model. We tested a final pre-production sample that was without the finalized sidewall markings.
Maxxis Ravager 40mm
Maxxis' new Ravager model is aimed at more aggressive riding and acts as a compliment to its excellent Rambler model. To make it more adept in the rough stuff, the side knobs in particular are larger and the tire is 100 grams heavier than the lightweight Rambler. A series of small center knobs still allow the Ravager to roll surprisingly well, without the vibrations that larger knobs can cause.
Tested here is a final, pre-production sample of the 120-tpi EXO/TR version that is exactly as production tires will be with the exception of additional sidewall markings. It came in slightly undersized at 39.2mm wide at the widest knob while the casing is a narrower 36.7mm wide. That smaller size didn't keep this tire from delivering flat-free traction on some rocky sections though. While not quite a WTB Nano 40 TCS in terms of mountain-bike-ability (a tire that also measured 39.2mm on our test rim), the Ravager is also a full 90 grams lighter than its more beastly competition.
In winter conditions the Ravager was great. I rode it on dirt, in some mud, on top of snow and ice and it performed exceptionally well. While its name is a bit intimidating, the Ravager is actually a great compromise tire, striking a nice balance between weight, size, price, and traction.
Width: 39.2mm | Price: $64 | Weight: 465g | R2R Rating: 9 | More info at www.maxxis.com
New from Hutchinson is its Overide gravel tire. Light weight, a low-profile tread pattern, and an exceptionally supple casing make it a fantastic dirt road tire.
Hutchinson Overide 38mm
While Hutchinson has produced tubeless cyclocross tires for many years, we were lucky to get our hands on a set of the French firm's new Overide gravel model. It's so new, in fact, that it doesn't yet appear on the company's website. The French firm emphasized fast rolling and light weight with its newest offering.
The Overide surprised with its exceptionally supple casing. Imagine an oversized, high quality road tire and you'll get the picture. The Overide isn't Compass Cycles smooth but I did run higher than expected pressures on the Overide. This is a very good thing and in no way a criticism.
Hutchinson's new tire offered great handling on dirt roads, though it's not up for out of the saddle accelerations in the loose stuff due to its nearly slick tread. If you find yourself on steep roads covered in loose debris, you may want a meatier tread. But if you're down with seated climbing or stick to mellower inclines, the Overide may become a new favorite. It's also a great option for areas with exceptionally rough paved roads.
If your bike won't accommodate the 38mm, Hutchinson also produces the Overide in a narrower 35mm option. At $77, the Overide isn't a cheap tire, but it gives a premium ride. If your roads are bumpy but not strewn with chunky gravel, the Overide is a great option.
Width: 36.8mm | Price: $77 | Weight: 416g | R2R Rating: 4.5 | More info at www.hutchinsontires.com
Terrene Elwood Light 40mm
Terrene's Elwood is a lightweight, voluminous tire with a nice tread pattern for cranking out long gravel miles. While labeled a 40mm, on a 20c rim the Elwood ballooned to a massive 42.7mm wide. At 421 grams, for a tire this big the Elwood is quite light. For perspective, Maxxis' Rambler is 56 grams lighter but also 5mm narrower. Kenda's Flintridge is almost as wide as the Elwood but 50 grams heavier.
Terrene also offers the Elwood in a Tough casing version that adds a claimed 85 grams per tire but also increases puncture resistance. This weight and size, even its tread pattern, makes the Elwood Tough an almost direct competitor to Teravail's Cannonball. In that match up, I'd have to tip my hat to the Terrene as it sells for $20 less. For those riding a 27.5 mountain bike on gravel or on a 650b (the same as 27.5) gravel or rando bike, the Elwood is also offered in a 650b x 47mm size in both Light and Tough casings.
I did manage to flat the rear tire on an especially wet, sloppy day with loads of stones in the road. Running a Tough casing version on the rear of your bike may be a good idea if you are worried about punctures. The upside of the Light casing is twofold. It saves weight and has a suppler casing. That supple casing and the large, almost 43mm width make for Lazy Boy comfort over washboard roads.
Width: 42.7mm | Price: $65 | Weight: 421g | R2R Rating: 5.5 | More info at terrenetires.com