A popular tyre that’s often available at a relatively low price, the GravelKing SK TLC is a good option for tarmac and light gravel under dry conditions, but quickly comes unstuck when things turn wet, with puncture protection that can leave you feeling deflated.
Panaracer GravelKing SK TLC specifications and details
Hats off to Panaracer for designing a tread that’s universally recognisable: the non-directional, low-profile tread made up of a grid of square dots and dashes along the shoulders is unmistakable.
The tyre is billed as a “go anywhere” option, taking you beyond the tarmac onto loose gravel roads.
For muddier conditions, the GravelKing EXT offers a more aggressive tread with wider-spaced, deeper-profile knobs, and you should look out for Panaracer’s ‘Plus’ tyres if you’re looking for extra puncture protection.
Panaracer GravelKing SK TLC performance
The 38mm Panaracer GravelKing SK TLC tyres inflated easily with a tubeless setup on 23mm internal rims, giving a 38.4mm wide, slightly square profile.
Where the tyres excel is on smooth gravel roads and dry hardpack, offering a great compromise between grip and low rolling resistance. They also really stick on tacky hardpack, shortly after rain.
However, as soon as things start to get any wetter than that, you can wave goodbye to that grip.
Through muddy clay puddles and slop, I found myself often going sideways, which might be a sensation familiar to cyclocross riders, but doesn’t make for the most confidence-inspiring ride, especially when you hit a patch of mud at speed. You can forget trying to turn on really wet mud too.
I did experience a few rear wheelspins on steep, grassy climbs, even in the dry, so if you’re looking for a gravel tyre that can also be used for a few ‘cross races, you’d be better off looking for something with a more aggressive tread.
These tyres gave a nippy sensation on the road, with little drag from the low-profile tread.
I was, however, disappointed with the puncture protection, experiencing a large puncture in the centre of the tread on the first ride, which I had to plug.
I didn’t find the offending item, but the sealant explosion happened along an asphalt cycle track.
Although the tyres held up okay for the rest of the test, that incident didn’t fill me with confidence in their durability.
That said, deputy editor Jack Luke has been using the Gravelking SK+ tyres on his tandem, Cecil. Despite lots of loaded miles on wildly inappropriate terrain for a bike of this type and using inner tubes, he’s yet to puncture on these tyres.
For riders looking for a bit more protection, these could be a good option.
Panaracer GravelKing SK TLC bottom line
As a ‘road plus’ or gravel tyre for riders who tend to stick to well-surfaced fire roads and tarmac, the GravelKing SK TLC could be a good-value option.
However, for those who like to stray further afield and come across more variable conditions, these are limited by both grip and puncture protection.
How we tested
Tyre choice has a fundamental impact on how your gravel bike rides, so we put seven of the latest and best-selling gravel tyres to the test to find out which offers the best grip, speed and puncture protection over the rough stuff.
Keeping things consistent, all of the testing was done on the same bike – a steel, custom-built Mercredi – and on the same wheelset, WTB’s new carbon CZR i23 gravel wheelset featuring 23mm internal rim widths.
The criteria for selecting the tyres to test was a wheel size of 700c and a tyre width between 38mm and 45mm.
Tyres were set up using a track pump and Schwalbe Tire Booster, before heading out onto a local testing loop, as well as various gravel races and events.
The testing loop around Bristol included a real mix of terrain, from gravel tracks to hardpack dirt, grassy banks, rooty singletrack and tarmac, and each set of tyres was tested in wet and dry conditions.
For more tyre recommendations, check out our list of the best gravel bike tyres tried and tested by the BikeRadar team.
Also on test
- Michelin Power Gravel
- Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M
- Teravail Cannonball Light and Supple
- Vittoria Terreno Dry TLR
- WTB Byway SG2
- WTB Riddler SG2
|Price||EUR €50.00GBP £45.00|
|Weight||425g (700c x 38mm width) – actual, 430g claimed|
|Features||Available sizes: 700c x 32, 35, 38, 43, 50mm; 650b x 1.75", 1.9”; 26” x 2.1”
Material: Natural rubber compound for enhanced durability
Colour: :Black or tan wall
Tyre: Tubeless compatible
|Puncture protection||Anti-flat casing for puncture resistance|