Gravel bikes promise thrills, freedom and a taste of off-road adventure. “Come off the beaten track,” they beckon, “It’s much more exciting in the rough.” So what tyres should you be riding? Read on…
While gravel bikes typically feature disc brakes, slacker geometry and sturdier frames than road bikes, it’s the tyres that are easiest to spot. Look out for larger widths (up to 35mm is common), plenty of knobbly grip and some decent puncture protection.
1. What terrain will you be riding?
This is the crucial question – if you’re mixing some light off-road action with lots of road riding then you’ll probably want a tread that combines plenty of grip on the shoulders with a smooth-rolling centre. On the other hand, if you’re looking to chase mountain bikers down technical singletrack, get tyres with a rugged, proven tread profile. Remember as well that gravel comes in various shapes and sizes.
2. How much racing are you doing?
If you’re racing then you might wish to forgo a bit of comfort:Michelin
We ask because racers are often willing to forgo a bit of comfort in exchange for race speed. Most gravel racing happens in the US, but there’s a growing scene in the UK and the rest of Europe. Events like the Dirty Reiver 200 push riders and their equipment to breaking point.
3. How wet will it get?
Some gravel tyres are better at dealing with gloopy mud than others, so you need to factor this into your buying decision. It’s not always a trade-off between rolling resistance and grip in the wet however: the best tyres excel at both.
4. How long do you want them to last?
All tyre compounds are a compromise between grip, rolling resistance, durability and price. Some tyres do a better job than others at rolling fast, gripping well and lasting thousands of kilometres. They’re likely to cost you more, but are well worth it because they do everything better and keep you safer.
Complete this Michelin survey
So now that you’ve started thinking about what to look for in a new pair of gravel tyres, head over to this Michelin survey and check out their more in-depth series of questions.
You’ll get plenty more food for thought before your purchase – don’t forget to check out BikeRadar‘s tyre reviews for our current favourites – and you’ll help Michelin develop its next series of race-winning tyres.
It’ll only take you five minutes, so go check it out.
(This is a sponsored article, brought to you in association with Michelin)