I’ve already wrote two posts about Panaracer tires: first about Gravelking AC/Mud version, good for all round, with nice grip and good speed; second about Gravelking SK which is very fast gravel tire for dry conditions and also so fast on tarmac. This post is about their third model: Gravelking (slick). Yes, without any add-on in name. Is is good tire? Is it fast, what about grip?
First of all I must say, that it will be really quick review, because I used these tires for short time and couldn’t test each aspect. You may want to ask me: why for short time? Well, after few rides I realized, that they are not best option for me. But they are not bad, they are very, very good. First advantage: these tires are very light. I tested 700x38c version: the biggest that I can use on my CX frame (Planet X XLS). According to Panaracer, these tires weight about 340 grams. Real weight was about 330 grams per tire – amazing result, because a lot of narrower tires (35c or even 33c) are much heavier and close to 400 grams.
They are light, because they are close to road slicks – don’t have any knobs, any additional, big pattern to provide good grip in terrain. But they are also not strict slicks, because tire surface is rough, with tiny pattern. In effect, these tires are very, very fast. I tested them on mixed road: about 45 km, a lot of tarmac (good and medium quality) and some so irritating cobblestones parts. I made few personal records on Strava, and I really didn’t try to do that! On some parts, these tires were much faster than road-specific like Continental Grand Prix 4000 SII in size 700x28c which I used before. It’s amazing, how fast are these tires and how well they roll on many surfaces. If you are looking for something like “road plus”, they can be great choice – also, you can use other widths like 23c, 26c, 28c 32c and 35c.
About width: real width was about 38 mm on my DT 460b rims and it was close to maximum on that frame: without knobs of course. I don’t have enough space to use more gravel-specific tires with similar width and additional knobs for cornering. Gravelkings also provide a lot of comfort: on mentioned cobblestones parts, I felt like on mountain bike instead of CX/gravel/road… Really, it was great (and probably because of that, I was faster). These tires are tubeless compatible, so you can use them even if you are heavy and want to use very low pressure. They have anti-flat casing, but according to other reviews, you should be careful about sides: as with other Gravelkings versions, sides are most vulnerable to puncture. During my tests, I didn’t have any punctures, pinch flats etc.
Ok, but what about gravel riding? Well, it’s the most important thing: they called Gravelkings, but they are definitely not for each gravel and not for everyone. They are slicks, don’t have knobs and you will feel that quickly: lack of grip. Sand, mud or wet conditions: you can have problems. On dry, everything is ok. On good, beaten gravel road everything is great, so you have to remember that. I think, these tires are excellent choice for bad quality roads, a lot of good gravels (like on USA), but not for mixed riding on unknown roads. SK version are much better then and provide more grip.
What do I think about Panaracer Gravelking? It’s great tire if conditions are good for it: bad quality roads, tarmac, good gravel without sandpits and of course without mud. In such conditions, is so comfortable, very fast and reliable. In other cases, doesn’t provide enough grip and SK version will be better choice. Of course if you think about riding in real mix, with some dry, you should choice AC/Mud version. It will be slower, but provides a lot of grip. Slick version can be excellent choice as tire for “road plus” bike. Many road tires are available in max 28c, 30c, sometimes 32c widths – for many CX and most of gravel bikes is nothing special. With Gravelking 38-40c you are still very fast, with a lot of comfort.