The Hutchinson Tundra tyre is a gravel tyre designed for wetter conditions, with the Hardskin version being the most durable Hutchinson offers. As an all-around tyre, it places itself in the best gravel tyres category, although it will struggle for traction when the sun is shining.
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Compared to some other brands, Hutchinson has less to offer within the gravel sector, with the micro-treaded Override and only slightly deeper tread of the Touareg. The range has now been expanded with something that is most needed in the range, a tyre designed to work on a wider variety of trail conditions and surfaces. The Tundra is available in two sizes, 700x40 and 700x45 which is the version that we have to test. Both are available with the option of the reinforced black sidewall, or the tan-coloured Hardskin that we have. Both versions are bi-compound and feature a 127 TPI casing.
Hutchinson Tundra Hardskin – Construction & Installation
The 700x45 hardskin version has a claimed weight of 580g, with our pair a little under at 568g and 570g. Mounting and inflating the tyres with sealant was very easy, with no struggle to get the tyre on the rim, and it was inflated easily with just a track pump. The wheels and rims used for testing were Deda Elementi with 23mm internal rim width. Despite the quoted size, when inflated, the 700x45 tyres measured 48mm at the carcass and 51mm at the widest point of the tread on what is a reasonably narrow rim, so if your tyre clearance is limited, this would be worth bearing in mind. It has a very pronounced tread, both in the depth and also the profile, having far more edge tread knobs than other Hutchinson tyres, or the majority of gravel tyres in general, which gives the tyre a more square look. With the tyre mounted on the bike, especially in the larger 45mm size, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a narrower mountain bike cross-country tyre.
The centre of the tyre has a closely packed tread design, and while the Tundra will never be a true race tyre, I was surprised that it did roll quite well, and exceeded exaptations. It won't trouble some of the fastest tyres available, and there was certainly a big difference using the very fast Schwalbe G-One RS over the same period, but during testing, I did several 100km+ days and bikepacking trips on at least 50% road on most, and at no point did it feel excessively draggy.
Hutchinson Tundra Hardskin – Performance
The dry summer that we've had has impacted the ability to test it in conditions it was designed for, and it has been used on lots of dry days. Despite being wide, and with a deeper tread than many tyres, it struggled with traction on loose, dry tracks with the rear spinning out far sooner than I would have liked, and fairing less favourably than other semi-slick tyres. It does perform much better through the corners with the tread having real benefit.
Although this summer has been mostly dry, there have still been times it was used on terrain that it is designed for, and then it starts to shine and deliver the performance you would expect. On wet grass or a mix of soil and grass, they grip well uphill and delivered enough traction to get me up climbs that would normally have me walking. The tread will pack with mud if it is thick, but also clears quickly when moving back to a firmer surface or when speed builds up.
The Tundra also delivers impressive grip up rocky tracks, dry or wet. It also managed one very long, and rough byway that I rode during an overnight trip that scaled inclines and large, loose rocky sections in a manner that was more like a mountain bike than a gravel bike. The extra width would have been a key factor, and that also gives the ability to run lower pressures with less risk, but the tread design will play the largest part.
Hutchinson Tundra Hardskin – Durability
The Hardskin version has also been perfectly reliable and has not punctured, or shown any loss of air to suggest a sealed puncture during use. This has included many high-speed rocky descents to push the strength and durability of the design, and I believe the Hardskin casing is one of the strongest available for a gravel tyre.
The stronger casing does come with drawbacks, although weight is not one. The sub-600g larger volume tyre is around 50 grams per tyre heavier than the race-focused G-One RS, and for riders looking for a more all-around tyre, this is an easy penalty to bear. The main drawback is the less responsive feedback, and it gives quite a dull ride from the stiffer carcass.
Hutchinson Tundra Hardskin – Verdict
For riders looking for a tyre they can leave on to tackle all conditions and weather, the Hutchinson Tundra could be ideal, with excellent control through the wetter conditions and at least reasonable rolling resistance that won't make it feel like a tank. There are few other gravel tyres with such an aggressive tread design, with the Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite and Maxxis Ravager being a few of the more major brands, but it is an area that is starting to see new tyres released. Priced at £50 for the Hardskin version, or £40 for the black sidewall reinforced version, it also makes them cheaper than premium options from other brands.
With the options for more aggressive gravel tyres increasing, the Hutchinson Tundra is a tyre that can handle the looser, rougher trail surfaces it is designed for very well, but also it manages to roll fast enough that it doesn't deter from firmer surfaces and roads. In some drier situations, it can't match faster tyres for traction, but when it rains and the trails are softer it starts to excel.
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