I use only one bike for everything and it causes some issues – different conditions required different tires. Last winter I wrote about Schwalbe X-One: completely disappointing in Performance version and very nice in Evo. These tires was great, but for CX-usage: on light mud, on wet grass etc. Not on tarmac and gravel, because of noticeable changes in rolling resistance. In the spring I decided to change them to something else, something for dry conditions and gravel. Now, after many kilometers and many rides, I can review Panaracer Gravelking SK’s.
I must honestly admit – I didn’t know nothing about Panaracer and their tyres before. It isn’t popular company in Poland, and only few stores sell these tires. I saw information about Gravelikings on few movies, for example from Dirty Kanza (whoow, amazing race!), found new from “second hand” user and decided to try. Weight: producer says, that it’s about 400 grams per tire. I checked them and they are slightly lighter, about 385 grams. Real width is 35 mm on my DT 460db rims, so perfect for not only gravels, but alos a lot of cyclocross bikes. They are not too aggressive: there are small knobs on center, good for gravel and pavement, and lines with bigger knobs on both sides. First impression? I thought that Gravelkings will too unstable on many, many surfaces and on local forests areas. I was wrong.
What about tubeless? In the beginning, I used tubes, because I can’t seal tires without air compressor – it was impossible after using other tubeless tyres and also, I didn’t clean rims in right way. So I used them with tubes, but everything was ok. After about 3-4 weeks I decided to get help from local bike service and use compressor. My tires are not “TLC” version, during contact with Panaracer, they said, that it should work. One condition: do not exceed 60 PSI of pressure. It’s a lot, and I’m not heavy rider, so it wasn’t any issue. First try on compressor without sealant inside tire – and it was ok! I use more sealant than on Schwalbe X-One, something about 50-60 ml per tyre. With tubeless also everything was ok, and I was able to use lower pressure without snakebite flats issues. I used different pressure on different conditions and think great is something about 30-35 PSI on front and about 40-45 PSI on rear. Of course, everything depends on the terrain and rider weight
Rolling on tarmac is very important for me, because I was looking for something like universal tire – for long, mixed trips with not only dirt or grass, but also a lot of tarmas, great or standard road bike tires. I rode some CX 33c tires before and when I tried Gravelkings… whow! They are really, really fast! Rolling resistance is very similar to road-specific tires and in effect, I made some KOMs on Strava with gravel wheelset instead of road one. It’s super-fast on gravel. I tried X-Ones to riding gravel, but it was slooow in comparsion to Gravelkings. Also, holding during cornering is great: of course we must but careful, it isn’t MTB tire, but Panaracers forgive us a lot of mistakes. Disadvantages? Maybe one, but not “true”: they are not CX-specific tires and it’s very noticeable. Riding on sand or mud is very hard: on sand we lost control, on mud tires are clogging up fast and need some time to clean.
What can I say about wear level? Hm… after about 2000 kilometers with a lot of tarmac, they are still in very good condition. Front tire is excellent, rear has few rubs in the middle part, but nothing important, knobs are still very good. Also, in 5 months of riding in mixed conditions I had… zero, yes zero punctures! None! Not only in tubeless configuration, but also with tubes. I’m not very heavy rider, but I’m very impressed, how durable Gravelkings are. It’s completely impossible to achieve on many, many similar tires. Not sure what about riding in autumn and winter, but I will continue my test. It may be good tires not only for one, but two, maybe three seasons.
These few months with Gravelkings was a great time – many, many rides in different conditions, a lot of gravel, forests and also many tarmac kilometers. These tires proved to be great-value and the right choice for my needs. I will continue to use them, but I can recommend Gravelkings in this moment: fantastic tires with good price. Maybe not for mud, but there is also Gravelking Mud version and I’d like to test them. Stay tuned.