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Best gravel bike tyres in 2021

All the best gravel tyres in one place

Schwalbe G-One R gravel tyre

If you’re looking for a list of the best gravel bike tyres then here it is. We’ve tested a wide range of gravel bike tyres over the years, but these are the ones that truly impressed our test team.

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Gravel riding covers a broad range of ride experiences. Hard-packed dirt roads may be as smooth as pavement, rocky roads may have embedded rocks or loose gravel, and some so-called gravel rides may take cyclists onto stretches of singletrack.

There’s a lot of terrain out there and many different tyres to suit the varied surfaces you may encounter when you leave the tarmac. As a result, choosing the right set of tyres for your bike, and the type of riding you typically do, is key.

If you’re also looking to upgrade your ride, you can check out our buyer’s guide to the best gravel bikes, while we’ve also got a round-up of the best gravel wheels tested by the BikeRadar team.

What to look for in a gravel tyre

When choosing gravel tyres, reflect on where you’ll be riding. Consider how much time you will spend on tarmac versus gravel or dirt.

Think about how smooth or rough your roads are and what ‘gravel’ means in your neck of the woods. Smooth and fast? Rough and rutted? Rocky roads that shred fragile tyres? These are just a few of the possibilities.

There’s no single right answer and tyre choice will always contain an element of compromise. Tyres suited to looser surfaces or mud will inevitably be slower when you take them on tarmac, while tyres at the lighter, slicker end of the spectrum will be out of their depth on tougher terrain.

WTB Riddler tyre and 1x drivetrain on a gravel bike
There’s no one tyre to suit all when it comes to gravel.
Wilderness Trail Bikes

Your gravel bike setup will also partly dictate which tyres you can run. How much tyre clearance do you have, and what wheel size are you running?

The width, and hence volume, will have a large impact on the ride quality, as well as the tread profile. If you intend to run a tubeless setup, then make sure the tyres are tubeless compatible.

Here are five key things to consider when choosing a set of gravel tyres. You can also read our full buyer’s guide at the end of the article.

Wheel size

Are you running 700c or 650b wheels? Smaller wheels will typically leave room for wider tyres if you’re limited on tyre clearance.

Tyre width

What is your preferred tyre width and hence volume? Choose wider tyres to be able to run lower pressures for greater comfort and technical capability.

Tread pattern

From a low-profile file tread or slick tyre all the way through to aggressive, mud-shedding tread with shoulder knobs, the tread pattern is probably the most important element of your tyre choice, and will be dependent on where you ride and the trail conditions.

Puncture protection

Light and supple or durable and tough? Look for extra puncture protection if you plan on heading into more remote areas on a bikepacking trip or know you ride on surfaces that tend to wreck rubber.

Tubed or tubeless?

While tubeless tyres are nearly universal in the gravel bike world now, make sure your chosen tyres are compatible with a tubeless setup before buying, if you intend to use sealant inside your tyres, rather than inner tubes.

The best tyres for gravel riding in 2021, as rated by our expert testers

  • Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M: £55
  • WTB Exposure: £49.99 / $59.95
  • Bontrager GR1 Team Issue: £49.99 / $64.99 / €49.99 / AU$79.99
  • Continental Terra Speed: £59.95 / $64.95 / AU$92.99 / €62.49
  • Hutchinson Sector: £45 / $79.99
  • Maxxis Rambler EXO TR: £46.99 / $49.99 / AU$79.99
  • Schwalbe G-One R: £70
  • Teravail Cannonball Light and Supple: £50
  • Vittoria Terreno Dry TLR: £45
  • WTB Resolute: £44.99 / $59.95 / AU$69.99
  • Donnelly X’Plor MSO: £65 /$72 
  • Kenda Flintridge Pro: £37.99 / $54.95
  • Michelin Power Gravel: £49
  • Terrene Elwood: $65
  • WTB Nano: £44.99 / $59.95
  • WTB Riddler SG2: £55

Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M gravel tyre
The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M offers plentiful grip without feeling sluggish.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £55 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×35, 40, 45mm and 650b x 45, 50mm
  • Weight: 500g (40mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Super-grippy compound; impressive puncture resistance; sturdy; confidence-inspiring ride at lower pressures; can be tricky to seat during setup
  • Best for: Year-round reliability across all surfaces

One of the best all-round options for gravel and bikepacking tyres, the Pirelli Cinturato M offers plentiful grip and great puncture protection.

The aggressive tread features widely-spaced, angular knobs with a smoother central line, balancing rolling resistance on smoother surfaces with grip and mud shedding when the trails become more challenging.

A sturdy, reinforced sidewall helps the tyre maintain rigidity at lower pressures to avoid any squirmy sensations or rim damage, while giving excellent puncture resistance.

With no fewer than five widths across 700c and 650b wheel sizes, there’s a size for everyone, as well as black or tan sidewall options.

WTB Exposure

5.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
We were seriously impressed by WTB’s Exposure as a plump road tyre with gravel potential.
Andy Lloyd
  • Price: £49.99 / $59.95 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×30mm, 36mm
  • Weight: 305g (30mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Easy to set up; versatile all-road and light gravel tyre; only available in skinnier sizes
  • Best for: Rougher roads and dry hardpack

Hang on, that’s not a gravel tyre, we hear you shout. You’re right, it’s not, but if your gravel riding is biased towards poor-quality roads and smoother tracks, a tough classics-style road tyre is a viable option.

The Exposure is one of relatively few tyres with a 30mm option, meaning it’ll fit many road frames, even those with rim brakes, while offering more comfort and durability than a pure road tyre.

It’s not a good option for proper loose gravel or mud, but for dry-packed dirt and potholed back roads, it’s an excellent choice.

Bontrager GR1 Team Issue

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
Bontrager’s Team Issue GR1 tyres come in 35mm or this 40mm width.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £49.99 / $64.99 / €49.99 / AU$79.99 as tested
  • Size available: 700×35mm, 40mm (tested)
  • Weight: 410g
  • Highs/lows: Well suited to loose, dry conditions; not bad in the wet; not meant for mud
  • Best for: Three-season use over mixed terrain

The GR1 Team Issue is a good all-rounder with a tightly packed low-profile block tread that shines in loose, dry conditions on varied surfaces.

Built on a 120 TPI casing, the GR1 includes lightweight nylon inserts in its construction for extra sidewall puncture protection.

Continental Terra Speed

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Tyre and rim
The Continental Terra Speed gravel tyre is good for dry conditions.
Simon Bromley / Immediate Media
  • Price: £59.95 / $64.95 / AU$92.99 / €62.49 as tested
  • Sizes available: 650b × 35, 650b × 40, 700c × 35, 700c × 40
  • Weight: 450g (650b × 40 claimed weight)
  • Highs/lows: Fast and excellent for dry-ish rides; Not suited to mud and no wide options
  • Best for: Dry, mixed-terrain riding which isn’t too rocky

The Terra Speed sits alongside the Terra Trail in Continental’s gravel tyre line up. We found it to be a reliable, fast-rolling, excellent tyre for dry conditions, thanks to its low lugs, low weight and the German company’s BlackChilli compound.

The shallow lugs unlock speed on tarmac roads, but the trade-off is less grip than some other gravel tyres. The Terra Speeds do hold up on damp trails, but they wouldn’t be our first choice for cutting through deep mud.

When it comes to wear and tear, the Terra Speeds have held up well, and we’ve logged over 3,500km on these tyres. However, we would suggest opting for more robust tyres if you are regularly riding over rocks and roots.

The Terra Speed is tubeless-ready and we found it fitted to rims easily.

Hutchinson Sector

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
The Hutchinson Sector was designed as an alternative for tubulars on racing cobbles.
Ben Delaney / Immediate Media
  • Price: £45 / $79.99 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×28mm, 32mm
  • Weight: 295g claimed, 280g as tested (28mm), 315g claimed (32mm)
  • Highs/lows: Road tyre that’s tough enough to mix it up on gravel and cobbles; not suitable for serious gravel or mud
  • Best for: Fast, dry dirt and cobbles

The Sector was conceived as a comfy tubular alternative, and it’s a great choice for mixed surfaces where you don’t need the aggressive tread of a fully-fledged gravel tyre.

It’s built to be tough, but the size and construction mean it’s lighter than dedicated gravel rubber, and faster on smooth surfaces too.

Maxxis Rambler EXO TR

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
The Maxxis Rambler is lighter than many competitors.
Russell Eich / Immediate Media
  • Price: £46.99 / $49.99 / AU$79.99 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×38mm, 40mm (tested)
  • Weight: 375g
  • Highs/lows: Lightweight; supple casing; best suited to smoother dirt and gravel, not mud
  • Best for: Smooth, dry hardpack and gravel

The Rambler was Maxxis’ first foray into gravel tyres and the company’s depth of tyre knowledge is readily apparent. This gravel tread is quick and considerably lighter than many of its competitors.

The Rambler’s low-profile blocks are packed tightly down the centre to keep them rolling swiftly with slightly larger intermediate and shoulder knobs for cornering.

The 120 TPI EXO casing is very supple and rolls over uneven roads with ease. While the stated width is 40mm, the actual measurement on our test rims was less than the published width, which makes this a good option for riders who use a cyclocross bike or gravel bike with limited clearance.

The Rambler is best suited to smoother dirt and gravel roads. The low-profile knobs perform well on hardpack and sand over hardpacked roads.

Schwalbe G-One R

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Schwalbe G-One R gravel tyre
The Schwalbe G-One R gravel tyre features a different tread pattern to Schwalbe’s other gravel tyres.
Warren Rossiter / Immediate Media
  • Price: £70 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700c x 40, 45mm
  • Weight: 482g (40mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Easy to fit; straight-line speed and cornering confidence; great puncture resistance; significantly pricier than other gravel tyres
  • Best for: Fast-paced riding over smoother gravel

Schwalbe’s latest release is a gravel racing tyre optimised for tarmac and light gravel terrain.

The G-One R features a dense, fine tread pattern with closely spaced knobs and no defined shoulder.

The tyre gives a smooth, fast and comfortable ride, while the Super Race carcass provides great puncture protection. The carcass – unique in Schwalbe’s gravel tyre range – is also said to reduce rolling resistance.

This is a great all-rounder. The only downside comes with the price, which is significantly higher than most gravel tyre options.

Teravail Cannonball Light and Supple

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Teravail Cannonball Light and Supple gravel tyre
The Teravail Cannonball is one of the easiest tyres to set up tubeless.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £50 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700c x 35, 38, 42, 47mm and 650b x 40, 47mm
  • Weight: 450g (42mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Very easy to set up tubeless; great grip even in the wet; reliable puncture protection; heavier than claimed
  • Best for: Three-season mixed terrain

Opt for the Teravail Cannonball tyres for a supremely easy tubeless setup and oodles of grip even when conditions take a turn for the worse.

The directional, chevron-patterned tread is the same as the brand’s chunkier 2.1/2.2in Sparwood tyre, also flanked by L-shaped shoulder knobs.

Although there are more winter- or mud-specific treads available, the Cannonballs offer impressive grip through slimy mud and puddles, in addition to cornering confidence and a great pace on smooth hardpack and tarmac sections.

Choose between this light and supple version, or a more durable option for added puncture protection.

Vittoria Terreno Dry TLR

4.5 out of 5 star rating
Vittoria Terreno Dry TLR gravel tyres
With a smooth centre line flanked by more aggressive shoulder knobs, the Vittoria Terreno Dry TLR tyre is one of the best on the market.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £45 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700c x 31, 33, 35, 38mm and 650b x 47mm
  • Weight: 450g (38mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Quick on road; grippy compound in wet and dry; many width options; good value; TLR casing susceptible to damage; inflates wider than stated
  • Best for: Fast riding over smooth gravel

Originally designed as a cyclocross tyre, the semi-slick Vittoria Terreno Dry has deservedly earned itself a place among the best gravel tyres on the market.

A low-profile central tread delivers speed when it’s needed, while aggressively-shaped shoulder tread provides grip for cornering.

However, we found the lightweight TLR casing to be susceptible to damage during testing. We’d highly recommend the reinforced sidewall and tread of the TNT casing option, giving greater puncture protection for use on gravel. With that in place, you’re getting a great all-rounder.

Although billed as a dry, hardpack tyre, the Terreno Dry performs well in all but the worst of conditions (look for a more aggressive tyre if you’re encountering deep, sticky mud), serving up a surprising amount of grip even over wet roots.

WTB Resolute

4.5 out of 5 star rating
The WTB Resolute tyre
The WTB Resolute is a pure gravel tyre, not a tweaked road one.
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media
  • Price: £44.99 / $59.95 / AU$69.99 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×42mm (tested), 650×42mm
  • Weight: 450g
  • Highs/lows: Excellent grip off-road; great ride quality; slow on tarmac
  • Best for: Rowdier, more technical off-road riding

WTB has been on a roll developing really good gravel and all-road tyres. The WTB Resolute builds on the success of the popular Horizon and Byway tyres with a more aggressive tread pattern.

The Resolute is positioned as WTB’s all-condition gravel tyre. The tread pattern features small, square knobs that are tightly spaced through the centre to minimise rolling resistance with wide-set intermediate and sturdy side knobs to provide plenty of grip on loose and rocky terrain.

The Resolute is a pure gravel tyre. It suffers from a bit of drag and hum on tarmac but performs incredibly well on gravel and dirt.

If you’re looking for a tyre that’s going to be ridden far away from tarmac on gravel and even singletrack, the Resolute is a great option.

Donnelly X’Plor MSO

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
The Donnelly X’Plor MSO is a great tubeless option for those who frequently ride on mixed terrain.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £65 / $72 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×40 (tested) or 32/36/40/50mm; 650b × 42/50mm
  • Weight: 560g
  • Highs/lows: Easy to install; quick rolling and excellent puncture resistance; heavy and stiff
  • Best for: Mixed-terrain riding

The X’Plor MSOs from Donnelly make for an easy tubeless installation thanks to their stiff sidewalls, but it’s their rare balance of speed, grip and puncture resistance that really impresses.

They’re designed to be used on a wide variety of terrain, so if your gravel rides consist of a true mix of on- and off-road, in the city and out in the country, then you shouldn’t be looking past these.

Unlike some, the Donnellys size up generously. In fact, on our 23mm-wide internal rims, the X’Plor MSO tyres plump up a little over a millimetre beyond the 40mm figure on their sidewalls.

They’re not the lightest option though, and their tough casings mean they aren’t class-leading in terms of comfort.

Kenda Flintridge Pro

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
Kenda’s Flintridge Pro is good in dry conditions.
Russell Eich / Immediate Media
  • Price: £37.99 / $54.95 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×35mm, 45mm, 40mm (tested), 650×45mm
  • Weight: 512g
  • Highs/lows: Durable; good volume; relatively heavy and stiff
  • Best for: Riding over rocky, tyre-shredding terrain

Kenda’s Flintridge Pro seeks to balance speed and puncture protection on any number of varying road conditions.

The tread design uses nearly every tool in the box, with slender rectangles down the middle, double rows of tiny transition blocks and plenty of siping and arched knobs. This is a dry-condition tyre that’s slow on pavement but performs well on sandy and rocky roads.

Kenda’s SCT (Sidewall Casing Technology) reinforces the sidewalls against cuts and abrasions, but also results in a stiffer ride than some of the more supple tyres in this test.

If you need a lot of flat protection for chunky gravel roads, the Flintridge is a good option.

Michelin Power Gravel

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Michelin Power Gravel tyre
For a low-profile tread, the Michelin Power offers plentiful grip.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £49 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700c x 33, 35, 40, 47mm
  • Weight: 480g (40mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Excellent puncture protection; easy setup; fast on dry terrain; black colourway only for most sizes
  • Best for: Dry hardpack, loose gravel and tarmac

The Power Gravel tyres from Michelin feature a shallow profile, with a repeating arrow tread pattern flanked by oblong shoulder knobs.

Reinforced from bead to bead, they provided flawless puncture protection on test, even over some challenging terrain.

For drier off-road conditions and mixing it up with tarmac sections, these balance speed with cornering grip, helping you to carry more momentum, but they find their limit in properly wet or muddy conditions.

Terrene Elwood

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
The Terrene Elwood is a tough, smooth-riding gravel tyre.
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media
  • Price: $65 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×35mm, 40mm (tested); 650×47mm
  • Weight: 435g
  • Highs/lows: Fast rolling; excellent ride quality; durable; vague cornering feel on some surfaces
  • Best for: Comfort over hardpack and tarmac

The Terrene Elwood’s centre knobs look like interlocking tank treads. All the edges of these blocks are angled. This design makes it easy for debris to be evacuated from between these tightly-packed blocks, reducing the risk of sharp rocks working their way through the casing and causing a flat.

This nearly continuous centre tread rolls with haste and without much hum on pavement and hard-packed dirt.

You have to be deliberate about leaning these tyres over to fully engage the large edge knobs because the small transition knobs feel vague when gradually leaning into turns. This was more noticeable on singletrack than on gravel and dirt roads.

There are plenty of gravel tyres on the market with 120 TPI casings, but few feel as smooth as these. The Elwoods glide over bumps and ruts, transmitting less road chatter and vibration, while also being quite durable.

WTB Nano

4.0 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
The round profile and elevated centre tread give the Nano 40c great straight-line speed.
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media
  • Price: £44.99 / $59.95 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×40mm, 29×2.1in (52mm)
  • Weight: 535g (700×40mm TCS Light as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Not the best on tarmac; a great choice if your gravel riding takes in loose surfaces and singletrack
  • Best for: More techy off-road terrain

Gravel is a broad church and if your riding is more MTB-lite than all-road, something such as the Nano may be up your street.

The Nano is basically a skinny cross-country tyre and it’s one that works well on looser surfaces, with a useful amount of tread and a nice round profile.

Cornering feel on tarmac is vague, but that’s the trade-off for decent off-road performance.

WTB Riddler SG2

4.0 out of 5 star rating
WTB Riddler SG2 gravel tyre
The WTB Riddler SG2 is a great summer tyre for drier conditions.
Immediate Media
  • Price: £55 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700c x 37, 45mm
  • Weight: 545g (45mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Easy setup; grippy mid-level tread for summer riding on and off-road; inflates narrower than claimed; one of the pricier options on the market
  • Best for: Dry and dusty summer trails

Featuring WTB’s upgraded SG2 puncture protection from bead to bead, the popular mid-tread Riddler is a summer or dry conditions favourite.

The tread consists of a closely-packed central line of square knobs flanked by rows of mid-sized tread and larger shoulder knobs.

Tarmac, hardpack, gravel and sand; the Riddler effortlessly glides from one surface to the next, and even gives an impressive level of grip over more technical features in the dry.

Although the SG2 offers more puncture protection than WTB’s standard line of tyres, it’s not impervious to flats. We found this out the hard way, although the flint hole was soon plugged without too much drama.


Also consider…

These tyres scored lower than four out of five stars, but are still worth considering if they suit your riding…

WTB Byway SG2

3.5 out of 5 star rating
WTB Byway SG2 grave tyre
The WTB Byway SG2 gravel tyre is certainly one for dry conditions only.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £55 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700c × 34, 40, 44mm and 650b x 47mm
  • Weight: 470g (40mm as tested)
  • Highs/lows: Fast rolling on smoother terrain; plenty of grip in the dry; great puncture protection; measures up narrow; very little grip in wet mud
  • Best for: Tarmac, hardpack and smooth gravel

For rougher roads and light gravel tracks, it’s easy to see why the WTB Byway is favoured by riders who enjoy ‘all-road’ riding.

The slick central band gives great on-road efficiency, which is bordered by file tread and finished off with more pronounced shoulder knobs.

In dry and tacky conditions, the Byway SG2 offers a good level of grip over hardpack, roots and gravel. However, on steep descents and in wet muddy conditions, grip is limited, leading to a reduced feeling of control.

This definitely isn’t a year-round tyre, but as a faster-paced option, it’s one that shouldn’t be ignored.

Ere Research Tenaci

3.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
Swiss brand Ere Research’s Tenaci tyres are intended for gravel and dirt roads.
David Caudery / Immediate Media
  • Price: £67 / €59 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×30mm, 700×32mm, 700×36mm (tested)
  • Weight: 415g (700×36mm)
  • Highs/lows: Good in the dry; not the lightest

Intended for gravel and dirt, the Tenaci isn’t the most affordable tyre for its weight, but it’s a good performer in the dry that offers grip on loose surfaces without being too slow on the road, thanks to a low-profile file tread on the centre section of the tyre.

The Tenaci features a 120 TPI casing and gets bead-to-bead puncture protection.

Panaracer GravelKing SK

3.5 out of 5 star rating
Best gravel bike tyres
Taking on some serious gravel roads? Panaracer’s GravelKing SK tyres should be on your list.
Russell Eich / Immediate Media
  • Price: £44.99 / $49.99 as tested
  • Sizes available: 700×32mm/35mm/38mm/43mm/50mm; 650 ×1.75in/1.9in (tested)/2.1in; 26×2.1in
  • Weight: From 320g claimed – 562g actual weight for 650×1.9in
  • Highs/lows: Comfy; supple and fast rolling; long side knobs aren’t the best at cornering

Panaracer’s GravelKing range includes a bewildering array of variants, and the SK is a versatile all-rounder that’s aimed at dirt and rough pavement.

Its central small-block tread rolls fairly quickly and works well on dry surfaces. There are better tyres for mud, and we’re not totally convinced by the extended shoulder knobs because they don’t make for the best cornering feel.

Buyer’s guide to gravel tyres: how to choose the best tyres for your gravel bike

Wheel size

Canyon Grail AL 6 WMN gravel bike
Will you opt for ‘standard’ 700c or slightly smaller 650b hoops with chunkier tyres?
Robyn Furtado / Immediate Media

Your wheel size is the first factor to consider when choosing a set of gravel tyres. While 700c wheels are pretty much standard for the best road bike tyres, gravel bikes often use smaller-diameter 650b wheels.

The main reason for using 650b wheels is to be able to run wider tyres on bikes that have limited frame and fork clearance, although the latest gravel bikes are increasingly addressing this with bigger clearances for 700c wheels.

If you’re considering switching from 700c to a 650b wheelset, first make sure your bike is compatible with both wheel sizes.

700c wheelsets tend to be chosen by riders who are seeking efficiency over longer rides, or ride predominantly on roads and more tame gravel tracks.

On the other hand, if tyre width and volume are important, a 650b wheelset might give you the option to size up when it comes to tyre choice.

Tyre width

Vernier calipers measuring tyre width
Use vernier calipers to accurately measure tyre width.
Katherine Moore / Immediate Media

The width of your gravel tyres, and hence tyre volume, will make a huge difference to how your gravel bike rides. From narrow 35mm tyres all the way through to MTB-eqsue rubber measured in inches, there’s now a huge range of gravel bike tyre sizes.

Your frame and fork will likely be the key limiting factor to how wide you can go: check your tyre clearances with both 700c and smaller 650b wheels.

The official minimum clearance between tyre and frame/fork is 6mm to pass safety standard ISO-4210. Although you might be able to squeeze a slightly larger tyre in than recommended by the bike manufacturer, this isn’t always a good idea. You’ll reduce mud clearance and could also damage the bike if something gets trapped between the tyre and frame (for example, on the chainstays).

Wider tyres will allow you to run lower tyre pressures, which can aid both grip and comfort. You’ll also increase the contact patch between the tyre and whatever surface you’re riding on.

A narrower tyre will be lighter and may be faster on smoother terrain and tarmac, but there are a lot of factors at play here, including tyre pressure, tyre construction and tread pattern.

Ultimately, tyre width plays an important role in how your bike rides and what it’s capable of. Consider experimenting with different widths to see what feels best for you, with your local terrain and conditions.

Tread pattern

Liv Devote tread
Choose your tread pattern according to the terrain and conditions you’ll be tackling.
Immediate Media

The tread pattern of your tyres can have a huge impact on how your gravel bike handles over different terrain.

The tread typically extends to the shoulders of the tyre, and comes into contact with the ground both in a straight line and as you lean the bike through corners.

Typically, you’ll find a smoother centre line for speed and efficiency, flanked by raised ribs, which may be ramped on directional treads, and with a more pronounced shoulder tread for cornering grip.

Tyres designed for wetter conditions feature deeper grooves and more raised, aggressive tread, along with more widely spaced tread, which helps with mud shedding.

For drier terrain, you’re likely to find a low-to-mid profile tread, or a very minimal file tread, or even slick tyres.

Choosing the right tread pattern for your terrain and conditions will avoid having an excessively draggy tyre in the dry or a terrifying lack of grip in the wet.

Don’t be afraid to mismatch treads with a grippier, more aggressive tyre up-front and a faster-rolling one on the back, as many riders do with the best mountain bike tyres.

Puncture protection

How to repair a punctured tubeless bike tyre
Tyres with additional puncture protection should mean you spend more time riding and less time trailside fixing flats.
Immediate Media

Look out for enhanced puncture protection when considering which gravel tyres to choose.

Many tyre brands offer different options for race use, as well as more durable alternatives for general riding and bikepacking – for example, WTB’s SG2 range, Vittoria’s TNT casing or Teravail’s Durable tyres.

This additional puncture protection may span the tread of the tyre, or also include the sidewalls for full bead-to-bead.

This typically adds a little extra weight to the tyres (e.g. 50g in the case of WTB’s SG2 protection). However, unless you’re after the lightest tyre for gravel racing, it could save you minutes at the side of the trail trying to repair a tubeless tyre.

Tubed or tubeless?

How to repair a punctured tubeless bike tyre
Tubeless tyres come highly recommended, and can easily be plugged if the sealant doesn’t do the job.
Immediate Media

Protection from thorns, lower tyre pressures and a decreased risk of pinch punctures: the reasons for opting for a tubeless setup for off-road riding are pretty convincing.

In our experience, setting up tubeless gravel tyres is also easier than ever, so it’s no surprise tubeless is the preferred option for many gravel riders. That’s the case in mountain biking, too, although road tubeless is taking longer to catch on.

Almost all gravel tyres are tubeless-compatible, though it’s always worth double-checking before you buy, as well as making sure that your wheels are tubeless-compatible, if you’re making the switch from inner tubes.

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At the budget end, some gravel tyres and rims are still not tubeless-compatible to reduce cost, so you don’t want to get caught out there.