The Best Gravel Bike Tires (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Make your ride that much smoother with these top-rated gravel bike tires
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BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON January 13, 2021
For die-hard bike racers, road bikes conquer the pavement, and for backcountry biking, mountain bikes are the king of the hill. For most of us, though, we are somewhere in between. Maybe you’ve got a mountain bike that’s a bit too rough for smooth city streets, or maybe you’re seriously interested in trekking bikes. Whatever the case may be, gravel bike tires present the perfect compromise between trail and asphalt tires to scratch that itch we all seem to have. Want to commute with your bike over sidewalks and walking trails? The perfect set of gravel tires are just waiting for you to call their name. Check them out, give them a try, and you may just be surprised at what you find. The improved traction alone is enough to make them a worthy investment for any serious bike rider. It makes your ride safer and altogether more enjoyable — so long as you find the right ones. To help you pick out the best gravel bike tires, we’ve listed the top options along with some tips and tricks on identifying the right set for your ride.
Offering a distinct tread and an effective wiring system, these tires are a quality choice overall. Made of sturdy material, they are built to last.
- Comes in multiple sizes
- Solid black provides a sleek look
- Reflex wire is sturdy and reliable
- Puncture protection only works well on gravel roads
- Only available between 24 and 28 inches
Affordably priced and available in multiple sizes, these tires are constructed out of high-grade, dense rubber material.
- Strong tires that don’t take on damage easily
- Includes strong steel beading
- Comes in several sizes
- Grooves can get small pebbles stuck
- Tread is relatively basic in design
- Flat-resistance wears down with time
Coming in a compact format, these folding tires are reinforced with Kevlar for added strength. They feature a sidewall for added durability.
- Lightweight and easy to install
- Can handle pressures between 55 and 75 pounds per square inch
- Available in many sizes
- Lacks complete puncture resistance
- Incurs damage due to limited tread
- Can be hard to put on rims
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Benefits of Gravel Bike Tires
- Enable you to ride on multiple surfaces. The hybrid nature of gravel bike tires makes them inherently versatile. You can use them for a lot of different sports and purposes and ride them on gravel, mountain trails, and concrete, thanks to the unique design.
- Work in all sorts of weather. Gravel bike tires are some of the most versatile options on the market. The tread balanced with the tires’ surface area makes these safe options regardless of the weather conditions.
- Slow natural wear and tear. When you use a mountain bike tire on pavement, the tread will wear down more quickly. Conversely, a road bike tire will get punctured on a trail quickly. Gravel bike tires wear down more slowly than other tires used on multiple terrains.
- Come in multiple styles. Since gravel bike tires refer to the blend of road and mountain designs, you can get these tires in all different sizes and types. This lends riders the opportunity to customize their bike to maximize function and durability.
Types of Gravel Bike Tires
Road-Style Gravel Tires
When it comes to any kind of crossover, like with gravel tires, the design will often favor a certain style. Gravel tires are essentially a mix of the features on both a road and a mountain bike tire. This type of gravel tire has less of a groove. It is less likely to get caught up in pebbles. It lets you move more smoothly since there is limited friction between the tire and the ground. These are suited for those who deal mostly with pavement and only hit the trails sometimes.
Mountain-Style Gravel Tires
This type of tire is ideal for those who focus mainly on trail riding. The difference is noticeable through the extra tread. Though the hybrid nature of gravel tires makes them less likely to have deep grooves, mountain-style tires have a much more noticeable tread than other types. You can get this type of tire in any size. Keep in mind that the nature of these tires is to wear down more quickly when used on pavement, and the transition to concrete can be difficult.
Tires of this sort are those evenly balanced between the virtues or road and mountain bikes. It is usually marked by a low tread that is consistent across the tire. It provides a reasonable level of friction when used on pavement without slowing down. The evenness of the tread limits the wear and tear. When used on trails, the grooves offer a good grip on the ground including roots and muddy terrain.
With roots in Germany, this business focuses on outdoor sporting equipment with a wide range of supplies. It has grown into a widely known name in the cycling industry. A leading offering is the Continental Mountain Bike ProTection Tire.
A part of the company Ralf Bohle GmbH, this German business is a dedicated tire supplier that focuses on smaller-scale parts. It is a leading name in bicycle and wheelchair tires. One of its top offerings is the Schwalbe Big Ben Raceguard Wired Tire.
Based out of the United States, this business was founded by Sam Waze in 1922. It is a major supplier of vehicle supplies ranging from glass products to air conditioners and tires. Among the top supplies is the Bell Comfort Cruiser Bike Tires with Flat Defense.
Gravel Bike Tire Pricing
- Under $30: Tires in this range tend to favor either mountain or road designs. Coming as a single, the tires are usually quite puncture-resistant.
- $30 and up: In this price range, the tire is more likely to be a true hybrid, where it evenly balances both road and mountain benefits. This price represents a single tire.
Any tire, regardless of the terrain it functions on, requires a certain level of tread. For gravel bike tires, the demand is relatively unique. It requires a precise balance between the deep grooves of a mountain bike tire and the relative smoothness of a road bike tire. Whichever the design favors indicates the type. This feature is what offers balance and traction while you are riding.
This is another feature that speaks to the type of terrain for which the tire is suited. Road bikes tend to have a lower pressure to expand the surface area that reaches the ground. Mountain bike tires are quite the opposite. For this reason, gravel bike tires need to be able to accommodate a wide range of pressures. This enables you to select the correct amount of force from the tires based on the surface you are on.
When the tire is inflated, this is the component that holds to the rim. Resultantly, it is pretty essential to the overall function. Especially if you consider how much gravel bike tires transition between terrain, the bead takes on a lot of impact. You want something that’s made out of a hardy metal; something that won’t warp or break.
Finally, a tire is useless if it’s flat, regardless of the style of tire. By choosing a tire that is protected by a layer of material, you can avoid punctures. Opt for something resistant to breakage when you’re making your pick. It’s all the more important when you factor in the added exposure to risk due to the tires going over both rough terrain and pavement.
- Size. Whenever you’re making a tire pick, the first thing to consider is compatibility. Bikes that can handle both road and off-road riding come in all sorts of styles and sizes. Accordingly, check what kind of tire your bike will fit beforehand. Consult the specs of the tires before you pull the trigger.
- Material. Next, you will want to stay aware of the different types of materials used in construction. For one, is the rubber synthetic or artificial? Is it combined with a different textile? Material denseness directly relates to the speed of wear and tear. Opting for something higher in quality will promote a longer shelf-life.
- Durability. The ability to last is a matter of more than the material. It is a reflection of the kind of ground you plan to cover. Think about what kind of ground you cover more often. Is it more off-roading in rough weather or do you spend more time commuting? Depending on the utility, you will want something with more (or less) tread. Road-favoring bikes will need less tread than others.
- Maintenance. Think about how much upkeep it is going to require. There are different issues you could face. The less prominent the tread, the more likely you will puncture it and need a patch (and a tire pump). The deeper the tread, the more vulnerable it is to getting caked with mud and requiring frequent cleanings. Consider which is easiest when making your decision.
Best Gravel Bike Tires Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Consistently practice proper maintenance by keeping the tires clean and inflated.
- Store the bike indoors whenever possible to prevent environmental damage.
- Keep the tires at the proper pressure for the terrain you’re on since most have a pressure range they can handle.
- As with any piece of bike gear, be sure that the tires fit with your bicycle before making your pick.
- Be careful of the tires when transitioning terrain. It is where a lot of damage to tires occurs.
- Limit wear and tear by keeping the tires inflated and riding safely.
- Replace a worn-down tire when needed. Tires replaced together tend to have more even wear-down over time.
Q. What size are gravel bike tires?
Usually, gravel tires are four centimeters across. However, you can find tires ranging between 3.5 centimeters and 4.5 centimeters.
Q. How long do gravel bike tires last?
The length for which gravel bike tires last will depend largely on how often they are used and the style of the rider. In most cases, you can get around 3,500 miles of usage.
Q. How can I choose good gravel for a bike tire?
First, find something that fits your bike. Choose something that works on multiple surfaces, with a tread that favors the type of terrain you are most likely to encounter.
Now that you’re familiar with the nuances of gravel bike tires, you can pick your favorite. It might be the Continental Contact Plus or the value of the Schwinn Cruiser Bike Replacement Tire. There’s a setup for everyone.
Have a story about gravel tires? Hit us up in the comments below. Happy riding!