Best gravel tyres 2023 - fast and grippy rubber for all conditions
While gravel cycling is still very much a new concept, the basic fundamentals pertaining to tyre choice hold true across all disciplines. The terrain you ride and the time of year will have a huge impact on tyre choice and it all depends on what you want to get out of the gravel riding you do. Depending on the tread pattern, the best gravel tyres will sacrifice outright speed for grip while the reverse will aid with speed but lack when it comes to traction. Some tyres will offer a happy medium between both speed and grip so there's a lot to look for and take in.
The tread pattern isn't the only variable that will affect how your gravel bike performs. The tyre size you pick and the amount of pressure will alter the characteristics and comfort. The choice between 650b and 700c tyre sizes is an important decision; both have their pros and cons. What about running a tubeless tyre set-up? Ditching the tube in favour of sealant is another variable to consider and one we will get into more detail about later in this feature.
Finally, there is aesthetics to consider. These days most of the best gravel tyres are available with either black or tan side walls but this has no effect on the tyre's performance characteristics.
Go to the trouble and expense of swapping out your wheels for the best gravel wheels and slotting them into the latest and best gravel bike could all be for nothing if your tyre choice lets you down leaving you deflated, spinning in the mud and going nowhere fast.
While it can be overwhelmingly expensive and intimidating when looking for the best possible rubber compound, we've crafted this buyer's guide to help you make the right decision. Keep reading to learn more about the best gravel tyres or skip to the bottom for answers to the most frequently asked questions about what to look for when buying a set of off-road-specific gravel rubber.
- Kenda Flintridge Pro SCT TR 700x40c tyre
- Challenge Getaway Handmade gravel tyre
- Hutchinson Overide 700x38 tyre
- Hutchinson Tundra Hardskin gravel tyre
- Schwalbe G-One RS tyre
- Schwalbe G-One R tyre
- Vittoria Terreno Zero TLR G2.0
- Vittoria Terreno Dry gravel tyre
- WTB Vulpine TCS Light tyre
- WTB Resolute TCS Light SG2 tyre
- Halo GXR gravel tyre
- Maxxis Receptor gravel tyre
- Maxxis Rambler Folding SS TR tyre
- Teravail Rutland 700x42 gravel tyre
- WTB Byway TCS Light/Fast Rolling SG2 tyre
Kenda Flintridge Pro SCT TR 700x40 tyre
The Kenda Flintridge is most at home on dry ground in the sunnier months of the year. This is obvious from the tyre's low profile centre, which is also ideal if you are on the hunt for a pair of tyres that offer little rolling resistance.
There is little or no noticeable transition from the centre to the edge of the tyre tread. This helps to eradicate that horrible vague feeling that no one enjoys and boosts confidence when cornering. Of course, the Flintridge profile is going to find its limitation in the mud, but that is to be expected.
In our review, the 700x40c tyre behaved well when it came to seating on a rim and was most agreeable when set up as tubeless. Despite being the TR and the lighter variant of the Flintridge range, this tyre isn't the lightest but instead gives an overall reassurance allowing you to drop the tyre pressures a smidge for comfort.
- Read our full review of Kenda Flintridge Pro SCT TR 700x40c tyre.
Challenge Getaway Handmade gravel tyre
Handmade in Italy, the Challenge Getaway is a premium tyre with bags of pre-fight hype. The Getaway is available in 36mm, and 40mm widths, with a 45mm in the pipeline. We slotted in the 700x40c for the test period.
The tan-walled rubber tops the Challenge gravel tree as the most aggressive full-treaded option. Whilst nowhere near the tread of a mountain bike tyre, it has a taller centre than their other offerings and it's clear that this tyre is built for speed.
The Challenge is constructed with a supple 260TPI SuperPoly Corazza Armor casing with Aramid beading. It also benefits from the brand's Ganzo PPS2 puncture protection system sandwiched between the casing and a relatively soft compound rubber. Not the easiest to fit and seat, but this iteration is markedly improved over the stubborn Challenge tyres of yesteryear.
The ride quality is truly a top draw, too. The extremely supple carcass adds a level of grip and comfort that has to be ridden to believe. The tyre deflects with the trail moulding itself to maximise grip and feedback.
- If you like the idea of handmade rubber, read all the details of the Challenge Getaway gravel tyre.
- Buy now: Challenge Getaway Handmade TLR Gravel Tyre from Tweeks Cycles for £66.40
Hutchinson Overide 700x38 tyre
What the Hutchinson Overide tyres lack in tread depth it easily makes up for with pace, designed to rip on dry and hardpacked trails. This tyre is obviously as much use as a chocolate fireguard in the sloppiest conditions - but that is not its intended playing ground, anyway. It is more of a heavy-duty all-road tyre than a true gravel thoroughbred, perfect for rides that feature some tarmac.
The Hardskin bead to bead protection in these tyres means they are well-protected from cuts, while the Bi-Compound offers grip on tarmac and gravel alike. There are plenty of width options available from 35mm to 45mm in the 700c guise, and with 650B x 47mm. The 38mm is available in both black and tan wall options so there is sure to be an Overide for your bike.
Setting these tyres tubeless is effortless and we found that they hold air and sealant with ease.
- Read the complete review of the Hutchinson Overide 700x38 tyre.
- Buy now: Hutchinson Overide Tubeless Folding Gravel Tyre from Wiggle for £36.99
Hutchinson Tundra Hardskin gravel tyre
The Hutchinson Tundra is a fit-and-forget tyre for year-round use, featuring a class-leading cornering grip that boosts rider confidence and traction. It comes in two sizes; 700x40c and the 700x45c we've tested. You have the choice of the reinforced black sidewall or the Hardskin tan wall, and the 127 TPI casing has the right mixture of compliance and strength that is mated to a dual compound rubber.
In terms of aesthetics, the Tundra has more in common with a cross-country mountain bike tread than many gravel-spec tyres on the market. This transfers on the trail to better grip in a variety of terrain and conditions. The taller aggressive side knobs are more pronounced giving it the square appearance once mounted on the wheel.
Where it lacks in speed, it more than excels in versatility. The square profile digs into the trail, and it rolls surprisingly well considering. The extra width opens up the terrain with ease, allowing the use of lower pressure with no puncture risk. The price and versatility of the Hutchinson Tundra should rocket this up to the top end of many gravel rider's must-have lists for very grippy rubber.
- Read our full report on the Hutchinson Tundra Hardskin gravel tyre.
Schwalbe G-One RS tyre
Much like in the world of cars, anything that carries the RS moniker is typically built for one thing - racing. This G One RS tyre is no different. Schwalbe boasts that the RS variant has 20% less rolling resistance than its sibling the G One R that it evolved from. This 700c race rubber comes in 35, 45 and 50mm widths and is amongst the lightest gravel tyres you can purchase.
The slightest ramping in the tread means Schwalbe suggests running them in opposing directions front and rear. The smooth tyre gives you no surprises in the grip department allowing you to be tempted into finding the limits. The G One RS does have the lightest puncture protection layer on the top edge of the tread, marketed as V-Guard. This will warn off the little holes, and the Schwalbe will rely on the sealant to work its clotting magic before dumping all the air.
This is a mighty fine gravel race tyre that will surprise even the most accomplished riders with its grip, especially for its semi-slick tread pattern.
- Looking for gravel race rubber? You need to read the full review of the Schwalbe G-One RS tyre.
- Buy now: Schwalbe G-One RS Super Race V-Guard Evo TLE Folding Tyre from Merlin Cycles for £62.99
Schwalbe G-One R tyre
Schwalbe has one of the most impressive and comprehensive gravel tyre line-ups available. You have the pick of numerous tyres to suit any terrain or riding style. The G-One R is the fifth tyre in the gravel line-up and has a new tread pattern. No pimple tread design of old, this latest iteration has a ramped pattern aimed at racers. Its carcass layup has been borrowed from their premium Pro One road tyre.
Talking of carcass, it is constructed with 'Souplesse' 2-layer, 67 TPI carcass around the full tyre with the addition of Schwalbe's own V-Guard puncture resistance layer. The supple carcass provides ample support whilst offering bags of comfort and feedback. The G One R comes in sizes 40 and 45mm widths for 700c wheels.
You can expect good levels of traction in a multitude of conditions and surfaces. The boomerang tread design is fairly deep and hooks up in everything from mud to loose gravel at braking and turn-in.
So it's light on the scales and fast in the shale. What is not to like? Well, these attributes will cost a pretty penny. But the Schwalbe G One R is as near perfection as you can get so you can expect a wallet-whacking price tag.
- Get all the details of the Schwalbe G-One R tyre in our review.
- Buy now: Schwalbe G-One R tyre from Merlin Cycles for £62.99
Vittoria Terreno Zero TLR G2.0 tyre
Vittoria Terreno Zero TLR G2.0 is an all-road tyre designed to cater for the rider looking for a little more cushion for tarmac back lanes and graded gravel paths. It is the slickest option on the Vittoria gravel armoury, but should not be judged only by its slick looks. The whole lineup uses a graphene compound in the rubber mix, and the Terreno Zero TLR G2.0 features a 120 TPI construction with a reinforced casing. Yes, this will add some grams to the scales, but the added weight is what Vittoria claims to improve protection from punctures.
We tested the 700x38c size, but Vittoria also provides the Terreno Zero in other sizes: 700x32, 700x35 and 650x47. The 38mm width is the only option that covers both Vittoria's TLR tubeless ready and Tube/No Tube (or TNT for short) constructions, with the other sizes only offered in the even more puncture-resistant TNT type.
Performance-wise the Terreno Zero sings along the tarmac as you would expect. The volume soaks up rougher roads and potholes with ease. It is great on the hardpacked gravel tracks, too, and was even pushed to dancing through the mud with surprising results. For a tyre with little or no tread to speak of it cuts through the slop and still manages to find impressive amounts of traction for its profile.
- Read all about how the Vittoria Terreno Zero TNT G2.0 tyre performed in our detailed review.
- Buy now: Vittoria Terreno Zero TLR G2.0 tyre from Wggle for £49.99
Vittoria Terreno Dry gravel tyre
From the expansive Vittoria Terreno gravel tyre range, the Terreno Dry is a versatile offering with a hexagonal tread pattern of varying heights to offer surprisingly good traction in all but the slickest mud. This versatile tyre rolls well on the hardpack and tarmac with little noticeable drag.
It comes in a choice of two flavours, TLR tubeless ready or TNT Tube/No tube constructions. Both offer impressive puncture shielding, but the TNT option will give you a smidge more protection out of the two. You can pick the Terreno Dry in 31 and 40mm widths for 700c wheels with a 45mm hitting the market sometime soon. It is also available in 650 x 47mm and even a 29 x 2.1in for bikepacking rigs and mountain bikers.
The bottom line with this tyre from Vittoria is that despite the "Dry" in the name, it actually fairs really well in a multitude of conditions, not just the dust.
- Check out how the Vittoria Terreno Dry gravel tyre performed in our detailed review.
- Buy now: Vittoria Terreno Dry gravel tyre from Sigma Sports for £31.00
WTB Vulpine TCS Light tyre
The WTB Vulpine comes in two variations: the 120 TPI SG2 version pictured here and a slightly cheaper, 60-TPI tyre at £50.
The most noticeable attribute of the Vulpine is just how smooth and quiet they roll on paving, and with their tight tread pattern, they really shine in firm conditions off-road. When they break traction and slide, they are predictable. But the narrow width unfortunately means descending on loose gravel is a step too far for these tyres.
It rolls well and is surprisingly grippy in every condition bar mud, the Vulpine is best suited to the firmer gravel conditions of the US than our twisted view of gravel in the UK. The narrow width could be a blessing for frames lacking clearance, but it holds this tyre back from the performance of similar-styled but wider tyres from other brands.
- Looking for a dry-weather narrow gravel tyre? Read WTB Vulpine TCS Light tyre review.
- Buy now: WTB Vulpine TCS Light tyre from Wiggle for £29.99
WTB Resolute TCS Light SG2 tyre
The WTB Resolute TCS Light SG2 tyre is a true all-rounder. It grips like you know what to a blanket in the wet and yet rolls faster than you might expect on firmer trails. It provides consistent and reliable grip whether the trail is wet or dry can handle pretty low pressures and is impressively resilient.
The 42mm width is your only choice. The SG2 puncture protection layer adds considerable mass to the tyre in exchange for some dependable armour over the standard carcass. This security is what most riders will punt for as these tyres are far more capable than just rolling on gravel. These are available in either black or tan side wall and will only roll on 700c-sized wheels.
If changing tyres isn't your bag then this is as close to the perfect fit-and-forget tyres for UK gravel and light trail duties. If the width allows enough mud clearance these are hard to beat.
- Read our test report of the WTB Resolute TCS Light SG2 tyre.
- Buy now: WTB Resolute TCS Light SG2 tyre from Wiggle for £34.99
Halo GXR gravel tyre
The Halo GXR gravel tyre comes in the choice of black or tan sidewalls and is available only for the smaller 650b wheels. What it lacks in diameter the GXR makes up for in volume and boasts a portly 47mm width.
The tightly packed central tread allows almost constant contact with the trail surface to boost rolling efficiency. Marketed as an all-rounder, this offering from Halo works well in most conditions but will begin to show its weakness in the slick wet mud, although the shallow tread design will flick mud clean as long as you can keep momentum and the wheels spinning.
It might not be the best option if you ride during the worst conditions in winter on muddy laps, but on a ride that encompasses every type of surface, the GXR is a great option. And, fingers crossed, it soon appears in the more common 700c sizes at a later date.
- Our Halo GXR gravel tyre review is worth a read if you're looking for a good, all-round gravel tyre.
Maxxis Receptor gravel tyre
The Maxxis Receptor is designed for rides that roll on 70% tarmac and 30% off-road trails. With its almost non-existent tread, you can be forgiven for thinking this is road bike rubber. It comes in the choice of two sizes, 700c x 40mm and 650b x 47mm. The carcass is thin and supple and boasts a 120 TPI figure, delivering buckets of feel for the rider.
This tyre is well suited to broken-up and rough back roads with forgiving predictability thanks to its supple sidewalls and light weight. Otherwise, if you ride the hardest and most compacted trails, you might want to pair this with something knobblier up front.
- For more information, read our Maxxis Receptor gravel tyre review.
- Buy now: Maxxis Receptor gravel tyre from Tweeks Cycles for £43.99
Maxxis Rambler Folding SS TR tyre
Boasting a 50mm width, the Maxxis Rambler represents a unique option in the market with few competitors. The EXO TR has a 120 TPI casing for a more supple ride and sidewall protection compared to its stablemate, the heavily armoured Rambler Silkshield TR option. The Rambler is an easy tyre to seat and inflate with only a track pump but be warned it did balloon out to a whopping 52mm when installed on a 24mm wide rim in our test.
This monstrous Maxxis gravel tyre defies all logic with its wide contact patch rolling far better on the tarmac than it will have you believe at first look. But it is when the Rambler gets rampant in the dirt that it truly shines. The air volume, grip and supple sidewall transfer to incredible grip in the corners, impressive braking traction and converts your power down to the trail in most scenarios it is placed. The width it proudly possesses gives it great versatility, at home in wet moorland to rock and loose gravel to muddy bridleways.
Providing your gravel bike frame gives the clearance required to run this beast you will be onto a serious bit of rubber.
- Check our full review of the massive Maxxis Rambler Folding SS TR tyre.
- Buy now: Maxxis Rambler Folding SS TR tyre from Merlin Cycles for £34.99
Teravail Rutland 700x42 gravel tyre
The Teravail Rutland comes in two versions - 'Light and Supple' or 'Durable Bead-to-Bead'. The former does what it says on the tin, while the latter (the tyre on test here) gets woven nylon composite reinforcement between the rubber and casing to prevent damage, paired with a layer under the tread as a puncture shield.
The tread design uses large, spaced-out centre blocks for traction when accelerating, climbing and braking, with ramped edges lowering rolling performance. Shifting your focus outboard, you will find siped transition blocks designed to shed mud, with more free space in this area. The outermost shoulder knobs are staggered and widely spaced to hook up beautifully in the corners. Setting the Rutland up tubeless is hassle-free.
They give impressive grip in a wide range of situations, with good braking stability and hooligan lean angles are achievable if you can hold your nerve. Once you realise it has your back you can really push hard on slippery trails.
- Looking for extra traction? Read the Teravail Rutland 700x42 gravel tyre review.
- Buy now: Teravail Rutland 700x42 gravel tyre from Leisure Lakes Bikes for £55.00
WTB Byway TCS Light/Fast Rolling SG2 tyre
The WTB Byway is a classic semi-slick tyre with minimalist tread adapted for smooth roads and classic gravel sections. The Byway is best at home - as the name suggests - on UK byways. The fast-rolling design will quickly come to its limit if you venture away from the firmer ground.
The Byway is available in a range of widths for both 650b and 700c wheels, including 34mm, 44mm, 47mm and the 40mm we tested. Also offering a range of colours and protection options, all tubeless ready. The one disappointment for riders who like tan wall tyres is that they can't have their cake and eat it, as there is no tan and SG2 protection combination.
The Byway is quick on the road, and on firmer gravel tracks it remains fast and feels supple. The SG2 version has a 120tpi casing offering more flex than the standard 60tpi versions, and it broadly seems to cancel out the extra stiffness of the puncture protection layer.
- Read the four-star scored review of the WTB Byway TCS Light/Fast Rolling SG2 tyre.
- Buy now: WTB Byway TCS Light/Fast Rolling SG2 tyre from Wiggle £19.99
How to choose the best gravel tyres
There are differences between the gravel scene in the UK and that of countries with vast expanses like the US, South Africa and Australia. The different terrain, trails, elevation and weather conditions ultimately affect the bike - more specifically the tyres - and traction is what keeps you upright and planted to terra firma. In this section, we will explain some of the key advances in technology and help you to decide the best gravel tyres for your adventures.
What size gravel tyre do I need - 700c or 650b?
This is a critical starting place when choosing from the best gravel tyres. Firstly the numbers relate to the circumference of the tyre that will fit on your wheels.
The more popular 700c size is shared with road bike wheels. It shapes up close to the size of a 29-inch wheel. 650b is the smaller of the two sizes and equates to 27.5 inches. The two sizes are not interchangeable.
The 700c size tends to offer the best tyre width blend, combining rider comfort, grip, and rolling resistance. The 650b tyre gives an increase in volume and width but tends to suffer slightly more when rolling over trail obstacles - and the added width also creates a slight increase in rolling resistance.
What width gravel tyre should I buy?
The deciding factor of your tyre width comes down to your frame and fork's clearance. The bike manufacturer will offer the best advice; the maximum width is usually stated on their website.
The type of riding style the terrain you ride in most and the featured aggregate will determine what tyre width will suit your gravel bike. As a rule of thumb widths between 35 and 45mm will give you the comfort, grip and feedback for riding off road whilst still zipping along on the road. It's a balance and a fine line at that, as the narrow widths will have less resistance, but the trade-off is reduced control when the tarmac turns to trails.
The wheel's rim width will also affect the width and shape of your tyre. A wider rim will suit a wider tyre, and matching your tyres to fit the best gravel wheels will give the ultimate results.
Should gravel tyres be set up tubeless?
The advances in tubeless technology over the recent years combined with the number of advantages over a conventional tubed setup means this is widely regarded as one of the most cost-effective and performance-enhancing upgrades you can make to your bike.
Setting your tyres tubeless allows you to run at lower pressures, which will increase your comfort, allowing you to ride for longer in rougher terrain. Lower tyre pressures also boost traction on the rear for power delivery, as well as braking and corner grip on the front. But going too low with pressures could cause a squirmy feeling and cause damage to the tyre, rim or both.
What about tyre inserts for my gravel tyres?
Foam tyre inserts first appeared in off-road motorcycles and then mountain bikes and more recently have become popular for gravel bikes, too. In essence, the foam ring inside your tyre adds support for the tyre sidewall, protects your rim and allows you to run with less pressure. The drop in tyre pressure gives benefits such as an increase in traction and a boost to comfort (again, down to a limit). The only major downside worth considering is adding foam inserts will marginally increase the rotational weight of your wheels.
Is tread type important on gravel tyres?
There are a lot of variations in gravel tyre tread type or pattern, with differing sizes and depths. At one end of the spectrum, you have what can only be described as a large volume road-type tyre that is almost slick. The opposite is the knobbly mountain bike-type tyres with substantial tread size and depth. The happy medium is the semi-slick design with a ramped fast-rolling centre tread block with larger knobs on the shoulder for an added bite when leaned over during cornering.
As a starting point, generally the rougher the surfaces you ride, the bigger the tread you will want. The hardpacked ground doesn't warrant as much tread, as this will add to rolling resistance and reduce speed. In mud, loose dirt and gravel a bigger tread will offer more bite and wider spacing between each knob will aid mud to clear the tread when you have momentum ensuring maximum grip.
An age-old tip from mountain biking is to run a different tyre design at each end of the bike. A more aggressively treaded front tyre will give grip and corner control, while a slicker tyre with a lower tread profile in the rear will boost rolling efficiency and therefore speed. To be honest, this is yet to take off to the same extent, and it isn't excepted in the gravel scene in the same way. Gravel riders usually fit a matching tyre front and rear.