The Schwalbe G-One R is a gravel tyre with an all-new tread pattern that moves away from previous G-series versions. It offers an incredible mix of speed and grip that puts it at the top amongst other leading brands. There is little, if anything, to dislike, although the performance comes at a price.
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Schwalbe may not have been the quickest of brands to enter the gravel cycling market. Still, their range of tyres has increased and now cover a variety of surface types and widths, from the G-One Speed to the G-One Ultrabite, with each model aiming to cover a specific riding style or trail condition. The G-One R is the fifth tyre in the gravel line-up and has a new tread pattern, aimed as a race tyre with a carcass layup that's been adopted from Schwalbe's premium road tyre, the Pro One.
The G-One R tyre construction
From launch, the G-One R is available solely in 700c wheel size and in two widths, 40mm that we have on test and 45mm, both being tubeless compatible. The tyre carcass is what Schwalbe call 'Souplesse', the French word for supple, and is constructed with a 2-layer, 67 TPI carcass around the full tyre. There's an additional V-Guard puncture resistance layer on the top with the tread pattern in a boomerang-shaped central tread and near-continuous tread moving towards the edge of the tyre.
Schwalbe claims they've found the holy trinity of superb rolling resistance, good damping and puncture resistance. The claimed weight of the 700x40 is 480g, with the pair that we have to test weighing in at 470g and 492g sitting on either side of that weight.
I found mounting the tyres very simple, and they have been fitted to WTB CZR i23 rims without needing to use tyre levers. While testing, these tyres have been run tubeless and tubed with the Tubolito CX/Gravel lightweight gravel tubes. When used tubeless, they inflated easily with a track pump and once inflated, the tyre measured 39mm in width, being a little less than the claimed width, which is surprising given the internal width of the WTB i23 rim is reasonably wide at 23mm.
How they performed
First impressions when riding on surfaced roads were how quiet and smooth the tyre feels. However, I expected more noise with their reasonably deep tread and no continuous centre pattern. There is no minimal tyre pressure guide given, but I ranged from 30-35 psi with tubes and tubeless while testing. At this pressure, for my weight at around 65kg, they felt very fast on the tarmac.
The real highlight of these tyres isn't on the road, but when things got rough and loose, performance was quite astonishing. The grip on rocks, stone or gravel tracks is outstanding, managing to scale tracks that I often struggle to summit without dabbing.
While testing, I have purposely chosen routes to take in as many different surfaces as possible to see if there are any weaknesses and I'm yet to find a single one. Grassy moorland tracks were no problem, as was mud, managing to find traction in all conditions; the tread also seems to clear dirt well after returning to drier surfaces. Traction under braking was another highlight that I didn't really expect, and on typical loose gravel or forest roads where I might expect some lockup on the back wheel under heavy braking, it kept traction and ultimately allowed shorter stopping distances.
Schwalbe does not give any rolling resistance claims for the tyre, but in my experience, it is one of the fastest currently available. The Maxxis Receptor may be slightly quicker on smooth, dry trails, but a tyre will lose grip far quicker in anything loose or slippery.
The carcass certainly did live up to the Souplesse, or supple name and was comfortable, but it also provides lots of feedback. I could feel exactly when the tyre was starting to drift with no surprises through faster, loose corners. The supple carcass will, in part, be due to the puncture resistance layer that Schwalbe calls V-Guard. For the G-One R, this is a strip under the tread and across the section of the tyre that touches the ground. However, it does not extend to the sidewalls, so while comfort increases, there is a slightly increased risk of a puncture, depending on riding surfaces ridden.
While riding, I have not suffered any punctures, either with Tubolito tubes or tubeless, despite riding some very rocky descents at speed to test the puncture resistance. Official gravel races are limited in the UK, but as a race tyre, I feel the balance between speed, comfort and puncture resistance should suit the few events. One long test ride included a large percentage of the 2021 Gritfest event route, and here, the performance was excellent.
With the two sizes available from launch, both widths should suit most new gravel bikes, and while I am not able to test it, I think the widths could suit a mixed-width set-up with the wider 45mm on the front and narrower 40mm on the rear, assuming tyre clearances allow.
Value and verdict
The G-One R has been nothing short of brilliant in testing, tackling every condition ridden and of all the more race orientated tyres I have ridden, it moves to the top of the tree. For more general but still fast riding, the Vittoria Terreno Dry is a superb tyre, which features a full puncture protection layer, and it is also better in mud or loose surfaces than you might expect but still can't match the grip of the G-One R. Continental impressed with the Terra Trail, which also has a very supple, lightweight carcass design but it was less good in mud or on grass.
For general riding, the price is likely to be the biggest downside. Still, I hope that Schwalbe can create a cheaper version, with a full puncture protection layer that will suit more general riding and bikepacking as the grip and speed the tyre provides would lend themselves to that style of riding.
At a penny shy of £70 for a single tyre, the Schwalbe G-One R is expensive, costing significantly more than most competitors with the Continental Terra Trail at £60 and Maxxis Receptor at £50, and the Vittoria Terreno Dry seeming like a bargain in comparison at £45. Official gravel races may not be that common here yet, but if you have entered one and are looking for a tyre that can deliver speed and grip, nothing I have ridden beats this to date.
If you make a list of attributes you want from a gravel tyre for races, the G-One R will tick all the boxes, and if I were about to take part in a gravel race and given the choice of any tyre, almost regardless of trail surface or weather, the Schwalbe G-One R would be my choice.