Keen eyes looking at the back of Interbike booths could find new tire models relevant to cyclocrossers, gravel racers and adventure riders. Beyond the Challenge Baby Limus we first saw at Eurobike, there were a few other tires that caught our eye.
Two of them were found in the Panaracer booth. One was so new it wasn’t even labeled with a model name, and the other was just revealed to us in a tiny catalog photo (but we now have a set on our hands).
Panaracer, owned by Japanese conglomerate Panasonic, has its new Gravel King line of tires, and first launched with 23c, 26c and 28c widths, with the 28c pictured below. Everyone has their own definition of gravel, and Panaracer initially took the “rough pavement, fine dirt and gravel” road bike approach with its initial three widths and treads.
The 126tpi Gravel King is lightweight at 270g for a 28c tire, and with a very low profile, smooth-rolling tread and wide-for-road width, aims at the segment that Challenge’s Paris Roubaix and Strada Bianca occupy. The Gravel King retails for $49.99 and is made in Japan.
Now the company has a 32c version of the Gravel King that wasn’t on display at Interbike. We got our hands on an early set, and the new width has a tread that looks nothing like the narrower versions and should answer the “this isn’t a gravel tire” critics. With small knobs and dual continuous ridges on the shoulders, the 32c tire looks to be ready for rougher roads, gravel and dirt. It still features the same 126 tpi casing, and should retail for a similar price. Our test sample weighs 311g in a 32c width—reasonably light for a cyclocross/gravel tire.
Hiding in the booth was also an unlabeled 38c tire that looks to be a nice high-volume cyclocross or adventure/gravel tire. It was a new 700x38c version of the company’s popular Comet mountain bike tire, designed for hardpack conditions.
Expected to retail at just $35, the tire features a tread that reminds us a bit of Clement’s excellent MSO X’Plor tires, albeit with less of a continuous center ridge for more grip at the expense of rolling resistance.
We’re always preaching that tire companies should ignore UCI width rules for cyclocross clinchers, since the vast majority of the market doesn’t race UCI events and could benefit from the better pinch flat resistance and lower rolling resistance (due to lower pressures) afforded by higher volume cyclocross tires. Panaracer has been listening, and the new tire looks like an attractive, versatile option for cyclocross racers with bikes that offer good tire clearance, as long as it’s not muddy. And for the crowd that finds itself exploring the rougher, rocky roads that would quickly eat up a 28c Gravel King, the 38c Comet should be worth a look.
The 32c Gravel King and 38c Comet add to an already diverse offering of tires for the 700c mixed terrain crowd, which now ranges from the monster cross-oriented Fire Cross 45c tire to the 23c Gravel King. Panaracer also continues to offer the CG (Cedric Gracia), Cinder X and CrossBlaster cyclocross tires.
Stay tuned as we test out the 32c Gravel King and await an early version of the 38c Comet tire.
More info: panaracer.com (tires are not listed yet)
Panaracer Gravel King and Comet 38c Tire Photo Gallery: