Thierry Crouzet

Automatic translation from French

If anything keeps us gravellists from sleeping, it's the pneumatic issue. We are constantly looking for the comfort / resistance compromise while looking for the ideal combo on road, track and single, combo depending of course on our uses and the playgrounds at our disposal.

I'm not going to tell you which tires to use, I would love to know and for that I would have to have tested dozens of them for months. I just want to tell you where I am after 18 months of gravel.

I started my gravellist life with Specialized Sawtooth 2Bliss Ready mounted as standard on my Diverge (38 mm, 500 g, road / track / single ratio: 40/60/0). After 3000 km on the Florida levees, they were like new and I had never punctured, but I replaced them, because they were too uncomfortable on battered paths, even at 2 bars (the Diverge itself not being very comfortable - it is a racing machine, super playful, but with which I will not go in bikepacking).

In the US, in my corner and beyond to Dirty Kanza, many gravellists swore by the WTB Resolute (42 mm, 460 g, route / track / single ratio: 20/50/30 ). So I mounted them on my Roval C38 , without the slightest concern, especially since I didn't have a compressor and I made them slam at the pump. I told myself that those who had difficulties had never fitted tubeless MTB tires. When inflated, these tires were almost 43mm, I was on the verge of acceptable for my Diverge (and that’s what I was looking for, climb as wide as possible to maximize comfort). I also wanted comfortable tires on all terrains.

WTB Resolute
WTB Resolute

I immediately noticed that the performance was lower on the road (more studs, wider) while remaining very good on land with much higher comfort (in addition to providing better seating, these tires were more flexible). But no luck, I burst on the first outing, picking up a drywall screw in the back. I think I would have punctured with any tire (especially since like a fool I removed the screw before going home). I repaired it with a patch and reassembled the tire, which did not betray me for nearly 3,000 km.

Back in France, I changed the rear tire, keeping the front, and I subjected them to surfaces reputed to be difficult, flint of all kinds, pebbles with a shovel. I didn't puncture any more, but they wore out on the sides at lightning speed. The rear was leaking preventive fluid after less than 2,000 km (which had never happened in Florida). The front end had turned into a semi-slick tire (nothing surprising after 5,000 km).

I was tempted to leave with the Resolute, for their comfort, for their versatility, for their optimal width for my Diverge, but reading a lot of negative comments about them, especially regarding their fragility, I decided to try other thing, why not the ultralight Maxxis Rambler 120TPI Exo (40 mm, 375 g, route / track / single ratio: 20/60/20 ), of which I have read often enthusiastic reviews (I liked their lightness, their renowned versatility, feared their fragility, joked about their narrowness).

When I received it, I started by weighing them, 406 g for one, 428 g for the second. They remained ultralight, but not as much as expected. The installation was almost too easy, practically no tools required. I’ve never seen that with tubeless. But now things got complicated. I was unable to snap them. Me too I had problems to assemble tubeless, not with Resolute, but with Rambler (nobody is immune to the galleys - the diameter of my rims perhaps makes that the Resolute slip there with ease and Rambling too easily).

I started by doubting my compressor, I went to a friend's house, it was no better. I ran home AllBikes 7 who managed to pop the rear tire, but failed on the front. He seemed too big, really too big! A friend told me afterwards that I should have turned the tires over and wait a few days before fitting them (usually I don't need to be as patient).

I have read that there are sometimes problems with some Ramblers, I should have been more careful. Another surprise, the only tire mounted far from measuring 40 mm was around 37 mm. I felt cheated. I dismantled them, cleaned them and sent them back (ProbikeShop did not make me any difficulty - they would be well cons given the cash that leaves them - well, I have not yet seen the money reappear in my account).

Diverge avec Pathfinder
Diverges with Pathfinder

In a hurry to get back on the road, I finally decided to ride Specialized Pathfinder in 42 mm / 540 g because they were available at AllBikes 7 and that a lot of gravel pals drive with (road / track / single ratio: estimated 50/50/0). With their tread, I knew that in the fat they would not be their business, but that they would spin on the asphalt. I was not mistaken. I just hadn't expected that although narrower than the Resolute (41 mm measured, they would however be taller, brushing my frame at around 5 mm).

Given their weight, they will be strong, maybe a little too much, because they spare nothing in my arms on the paths of my scrubland. On the other hand, in urban routes, as tested during the desire line organized by Original Montpellier Gravel in collaboration with Arles gravel , they are celebrating. Perhaps these are ideal tires for the vélotaf. But I, who run away from asphalt, will probably not keep them for long. I prefer softer tires, a bit more clinging, even if they wear out faster (the Resolutes were not far from meeting my requirements). But all that remains uncertain (in addition to subjective). I am in the process of mounting a monstercross which I will use in particular for bikepacking and why not for the engaged gravel, while I will reserve the Diverge for rolling gravel with its Pathfinder.

I think I’m not finished taking the lead with these tire stories.

PS: I need 700C tires between 38 and 42. Other possibilities mentioned by commentators or that I have in my lists. Hutchinson (38 mm, 400 g). Michelin Power Gravel (40 mm, 450 g). WTB Nano (40 mm, 500 g). WTB Venture (40 mm, 500 g). WTB Byway (40 mm, 415 g). Gravel King Plus (38 mm, 360 g).