Last updated January 21, 2021
While gravel and adventure bikes started out with road-sized 700C wheels, many now use smaller diameter 650B rims which allow a much fatter tyre for greater grip and comfort but are roughly the same overall diameter. We've rounded up and tested the very best 650B gravel tyres for both wet and dry conditions, so whether you're upgrading or converting, we've got it covered.
The best 650B gravel and adventure tyres
All these tyres have been tested by us here on off-road.cc or our friends at road.cc and all have scored over four stars out of five on test, so you can rest assured that anything we recommend here is up to the job. Either scroll away for the whole list or click on the link below to jump straight to that tyre:
If it's larger diameter 700C tyres you are after, click here to go straight to 'the best 700C gravel tyres'
The Maxxis Rambler EXO TR offers masses of grip and, perhaps unsurprisingly given the size, a very smooth ride. It is also decent on road with very few, if any, weaknesses. Traction offroad is unbelievable, and I found myself acing climbs I'd thought were impossible on a gravel bike – in fact, I soon went looking to tricky tests, and it impressed on them all.
It's versatile, too – it copes well with everything form wet moorland to rock and loose gravel to muddy bridleways.
The Continental Contact Speed Reflex is a fast-rolling 'all roads' tyre with a racier pedigree than many. Quick rolling, grippy and compliant, it's also available in a wealth of sizes and widths, from 20in through to 700C. The 'micro-diamond' tread pattern extends to the skinwall sidewalls, for additional protection.
If your gravel bike has to do a bit of everything on firm surfaces from Tarmac to dirt roads and knackered back lanes, they're a good option at a very sensible price.
If you want a tyre that does everything from Tarmac to singletrack, the Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite is not for you, but if you're riding mostly off-road, then they're well worth a look.
The Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite is the most aggressive in Schwalbe's gravel line, and features larger knobbles not only the other G-Ones but most other gravel tyres as well. This results in excellent grip but increased rolling resistance, meaning they're best for those who venture way off the beaten path – not those thrashing dry, hardpack surfaces at speed.
The large shoulder tread makes muddy corners easier, and the added rear traction really comes in handy. The Ultrabite is perfect if you take your gravel bike to slippy fields or even muddy singletrack.
Panaracer's GravelKing SK tyres are tubeless compatible and feature a tread pattern that excels both on and off road, with a tough carcass that can withstand some abuse.
The GravelKing comes in a variety of widths and tread patterns, but this SK (Small Knob) is probably the pick of the range for the latest generation of adventure bikes like the Kinesis Tripster AT, Mason Bokeh or Open UP.
Underneath the tread is an anti-flat casing and AX Alpha Cord, which provides the tyre with the toughness and durability it surely needs for riding in the rough and potentially a long way from home. It certainly displayed a reassuring toughness during my varied and demanding testing.
The Kenda Flintridge Pro is a tough gravel tyre for dry, fast-rolling conditions. It's easy to fit to tubeless rims, offers low resistance on and off-road and, even in this less-protective version, it's robust. It struggles in muddy conditions, true, but nevertheless it's a good all-rounder.
The Flintridge Pro is at home when it's warm, dry and sunny, with a fast-rolling centre tread that's consistent and offers low resistance – both on sealed roads and across hard-packed loose surfaces.
This consistent tread continues across the tyre for a smooth transition that limits vagueness in corners. The outer shoulder knobs are relatively small; they find traction in deep, loose, dry conditions, but they aren't large enough for decent grip when it's wet and muddy.
The Maxxis Re-Fuse is an excellent choice for mixing road with gravel or dry-ish off-road riding. Tubeless-ready, with oodles of volume, it means you really can choose fast, grippy and puncture-proof.
WTB's Horizon TCS is a fast-rolling, super-grippy and super-comfortable tyre that excels on the road and is capable of tackling dry off-road trails to inject some adventure into your routes.
The Vittoria Terreno Zero tyre is a new move into the gravel market and it's a good opener thanks to a reasonably grippy compound; they're smooth, quick rolling on and off-road and offer loads of puncture resistance. The lack of knobbles does mean you'll be limited to dry stony trails, though, with no option to take in a bit of the local soft tracks.
The Terra Speed is Continental's gravel tyre designed for dry and loose conditions and it certainly works, making the transition between tarmac and gravel barely noticeable. It's grippy, robust and surprisingly supple for such a tough tyre.
The Teravail Sparwood tyre rolls fast on byways, gravel tracks and dry singletrack and can maintain a decent pace on the tarmac. Its width helps it float over loose surfaces for better control too. While not the cheapest or lightest, it is a very versatile tyre for plenty of applications.
The Rene Herse 650x48 Juniper Ridge tyres have a knobbly tread that has been designed to roll well on the road too. I was sceptical, but to be honest, they are pretty good, giving a boost to your average speed on those tarmac sections between the tracks and trails. They can feel a little fragile, but in use our tester had no issues whatsoever.
The 48mm Switchback Hill is the widest 650B tyre that Compass makes, and too wide it ain't. It's super-comfortable, fast-rolling, tubeless-compatible, off-road-capable and light. There's really not a lot wrong here. At a time when people are doing roll-down tests to see if it's worth switching to 28mm tyres from 25s, our advice would be to skip a few sizes and fit a pair of these, if you can. They're great.
For exploring the “road less travelled” as it is often called, WTB’s Byway is a decent choice providing as it does fast-rolling speed for road and hardpack gravel, with only wet grass and mud finding the limits of a slick tyre for off-road duties.
There will be plenty more options added to the list over the coming months so keep an eye out for new tyres appearing. Let us know in the comments if there is a tyre you'd like to see us test.
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