The Continental Terra Speed is a fast-rolling gravel tyre, with a combination of grip, speed and puncture resistance that’s hard to beat as an excellent option for mixed-terrain riding.
The Terra Speed sits alongside the Terra Trail in Continental’s range of gravel tyres, with the latter featuring a more aggressive tread pattern for additional grip on loose surfaces.
The Terra Speed’s tread has a series of low-profile hexagonal knobs running down the centre – not quite close enough to be considered a file tread – and a series of chunkier lugs on the shoulder for cornering grip. The Terra Trail shares a similar pattern but with taller lugs.
The Terra Speed pairs a 3-ply 180 TPI ProTection casing, borrowed from Continental’s range of mountain bike tyres, with the German firm’s BlackChili compound. It’s available for 650b and 700c wheels, in 35mm and 40mm widths for both, and with either black or cream sidewalls.
Simple setup, but more size options please
The Terra Speed is tubeless-ready, as you’d expect for a gravel tyre, and tubeless setup has been easy for both sets of Terra Speeds I’ve been running over the past 15 months (I’ll come on to this).
The tyres mounted to a set of 650b Mason x Hunt Adventure Sport Disc wheels without too much thumb-bending and inflated at the first time of asking with a standard track pump.
I’ve been using the Terra Speeds in 650b x 40, but they’re a little undersized (closer to 39mm) at 35psi on Hunt’s 25mm (internal) rim.
I’d also like to see Continental offer a 45mm width for the Terra Speed, particularly for the smaller 650b wheel size. By today’s standards, 40mm is narrow as the biggest tyre in the range, even if the Terra Speed is, as the name suggests, aimed at faster gravel riding.
In use, the Terra Speed has shown itself to be a thoroughly reliable tyre across a variety of surfaces, in the right conditions. It’s lightweight (450g claimed weight in the size tested) and supple enough to feel good on the road, without giving up too much speed (bear in mind, it’s still a gravel tyre), and is surprisingly robust and grippy off-road.
This isn’t the burliest gravel tyre in terms of width or grip, and the tread pattern is fairly minimalist, but the Terra Speed offers plenty of grip across a range of surfaces – dry or damp dirt, rough bridleways or, dare we say it, actual gravel.
There’s enough space between the lugs to provide bite when required and the tyre can also shed a light coating of mud effectively. The Terra Speed can lose some traction on steep gradients with a dusting of loose gravel on top of hardpack, but it’s nothing untoward.
Where the Terra Speeds will struggle is if you’re looking to plough a path through slick or deep mud, but there are chunkier mud tyres out there for that. The same goes for when it’s really wet off-road – this isn’t designed as a high-volume tyre with an aggressive tread for proper off-road riding.
I swapped the Terra Speeds onto my gravel bike in place of WTB’s Resolute tyres. The Resolute has a chunkier tread and offers more all-out grip, but you’re giving up speed to the Terra Speed, which has stayed in place as my go-to option from spring to autumn.
The Terra Speed whips along just fine on the road, helped by the low-profile tread and Continental’s premium BlackChili compound. Most of the roads around here are rough enough that a high-volume tyre takes some of the sting out, but if the surface is silky smooth then there’s enough hum and drag from the Terra Speed to remind you it’s not a road tyre.
If your gravel riding is on actual gravel roads, rather than jumping onto the pavement to link together trails, these are undoubtedly a fast option – something independent testing from Bicycle Rolling Resistance has validated. 35mm or 40mm will be plenty to add comfort and grip, alongside the tread.
Finding the limit
As I said, I’ve been using these for 15 months and am now onto the second set of tyres. In terms of wear, I got around 2,500km out of the original set before the rear tyre started to look fairly bald, warranting a swap.
The wear rate isn’t alarmingly high, particularly as a good chunk of my kilometres have been on the road, but it’s not the toughest gravel tyre out there.
I’ve now logged more than 3,500km across both sets of tyres and have suffered one puncture in that time – a nasty cut on the sidewall from hitting the rim on a rocky descent. It was, in fairness, probably pushing the limits of a tyre such as this.
The cut plugged up at the first time of asking but will need properly repairing – or replacing – in the long-term. If your gravel riding regularly takes in lots of awkwardly shaped rocks or roots, go for a wider, tougher tyre that can be run at a lower pressure
Finally, a word on the cream sidewalls. As good as they look out of the box, they don’t stay cream for long, dulling to a dusky brown after any considerable amount of trail time. Still, it was nice while it lasted.
Continental Terra Speed bottom line
As an all-rounder for the kind of riding now popular on drop-bar bikes – jumping between the road and light off-road terrain – these are some of the best gravel tyres out there. They’re not the outright grippiest or toughest tyres if you’re pushing a gravel bike towards its limits, but are hard to beat as a fast, reassuring option for mixed-terrain riding.
|Price||AUD $92.99EUR €62.49GBP £59.95USD $64.95|
|Weight||450g (650b x 40) – Claimed weight|
|Features||Tubeless-ready ProTection casing BlackChili compound Cream or black sidewalls|
|Puncture protection||ProTection casing|
|Sizes||650b x 35, 650b x 40, 700c x 35, 700c x 40|