Best gravel bike tires: grip and volume for your off-road rides

When it comes to riding off-road, tires are all important. Here's our pick of the best gravel tires on the market to suit different terrain, conditions, frame clearances and budgets.

Gather together a bunch of off-road drop-bar riders and you can guarantee it won’t be long before the conversation turns to gravel tire choice.

Tread style, 700c or 650b, tubeless setups, or the tan sidewall debate – there’s a lot to take into account when selecting a new set of gravel tires.

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The fact that tires do wear out means that you get more opportunities to experiment and try different options. Switching between different tubeless setups might be a bit of a faff, but what works for you might not necessarily be the preference of the next gravel rider.

Regardless of personal taste, there are a few things that everyone wants on their list: puncture protection, grip, low rolling resistance, low weight, and good value.

Of course, like anything, it might not be possible to get all of these at once, so a compromise is required, based on your priorities, riding style and conditions.

If you’re reading this in anticipation of getting your first off-road steed, you’ll want to check out our best gravel and adventure bikes too.

Our pick of the best gravel tires

Below is our pick of the best gravel tires. Read on for more about what you should look for when choosing the best gravel tire for your bike, the terrain and your riding style.

With each bike is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.

Donnelly Strada USH

Best gravel tyres

Fast rolling but it doesn’t compromise on grip

  • RRP: £65 / $70
  • Review score: 9/10
  • Pros: fast-rolling, effortless tubeless setup, more grip than you might expect
  • Cons: carcass isn’t the thickest
  • Sizes: 700c x 40c (tested), 700c x 32c, 650b x 42c/50c
  • Tubeless ready: yes

The Strada USH tires from American brand Donnelly (formerly Clement) definitely sit more towards the smooth and fast end of the off-road tire spectrum, but these also have some features that help reduce the compromise between speed and grip.

The smooth chevron-patterned central spine sits next to a wider-spaced, more pronounced shoulder tread.

The Strada USH stood up well in review, converting to a tubeless set up seamlessly, and excelled when riding at speed across dry, hard-packed trails and darting on and off-road. For riders looking to tackle more MTB-esque terrain, a tire with a bit more bite would be a better option.

Read more: Donnelly Strada USH review

Buy now: Donnelly Strada USH at Wiggle from £46.99 or from Amazon US for $52.74

Hutchinson Touareg gravel tires

Best gravel tyres

Hutchinson’s gravel tire range takes a nod from its MTB offerings

  • RRP: £33 / $64.99
  • Review score: 8/10
  • Pros: great grip, confidence-inspiring, cheap
  • Cons: heavier than claimed
  • Sizes: 400c x 45c (tested), 700c x 40c, 650b x 47c
  • Tubeless ready: yes

Hutchinson’s Touareg gravel tires have a shallow chevron-style tread down the middle, with intermediate knobs on the shoulders. Larger still, there is a more widely spaced tread next to the sidewalls.

On review, when replacing a set of Schwalbe G-One tires, we immediately felt more confident on more technical and steep terrain, and these tires really excelled on dusty dry and chalky surfaces. They’re definitely more for off-road orientated riders seeking to tip the road/off-road balance in favor of trails, but if you’re riding in conditions in the wet and on mud, you might want something with more aggressive tread.

They retail at £33 / $64.99, although the claimed weight was some 80g lighter than we measured in our review.

Read more: Hutchinson Touareg review

Buy now: Hutchinson Touareg tires at Chain Reaction Cycles for £27.99 or Amazon US for $50.49

Bontrager GR2 Team Issue

Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel Road Tyre

More costly than most, but your chances of a puncture will be reduced

  • RRP: £49.99 / $64.99
  • Review score: 9/10
  • Pros: fast rolling, good grip, puncture resistant
  • Cons: pretty pricey
  • Sizes: 700c x 40c (tested), 700c x 35c
  • Tubeless ready: yes

Although they are pretty expensive compared to many other gravel tires that we’ve reviewed, the performance of the Bontrager GR2 Team Issue tires was enough to garner a nearly perfect score. A combination of low rolling resistance, generous grip (especially considering the low profile tread) and great puncture resistance make this tire is a great choice if you have £100 / $130 to spare for a set.

>>> Check out our pick of the best gravel and adventure bikes under £1000

The puncture resistance comes courtesy of Bontrager’s hilariously named ‘Inner Strength’ lightweight nylon insert, which allegedly provides enhanced sidewall protection, proving handy against the worst flinty gravel on our test testing grounds.

Read more: Bontrager GR2 Team Issue review

Buy now: Bontrager GR2 Team Issue tires at Cycle Revolution for £49.99  or from REI for $65

Buy direct from Trek for $64.99 

Panaracer Gravelking SK TLC

Best gravel tyres

Tan sidewalls are certainly on trend

  • RRP: £39.99 / $54.99
  • Review score: 10/10
  • Pros: fast rolling, good grip and durability
  • Cons: less suitable for wet mud
  • Sizes: 700c x 38c (tested), 700c x 35c/43c
  • Tubeless ready: yes

Scoring a mighty 10/10 in our review, the Gravelking SK TLC tires from Panaracer earned a spot in our Editor’s Choice in 2019. This model is the more aggressive version of the standard Gravelking, with more tread towards the sidewalls to give extra grip.

Used along the center of the tire is Panaracer’s ‘Zero Slip Grip Natural Compound’, which is designed to reduce rolling resistance but without the compromise on durability that you can experience with some similar compounds.

The central, transition tread makes this a good choice for rides that take in a lot of paved road as well as off-road riding. But if you’re riding through pure mud, you’ll need to opt for more aggressive tread.

Read more: Panaracer Gravelking SK TLC review

Buy now: Panaracer Gravelking SK TLC at Pro Bike Kit from £28.99 or from Competitive Cyclist starting at $44.99

Buy now: Panaracer Gravelking SK TLC at Tredz for £35.99 or Jenson USA for $49.99

WTB Nano 40c TCS

Best gravel tyres

The WTB Nano tread is distinctive, both in rubber and printed along the trail

  • RRP: £44.99
  • Sizes: 700c x 40c/2.1″
  • Tubeless ready: yes

WTB, or Wilderness Trail Bikes, was there at the dawn of mountain biking in the United States, so it’s no surprise that they were one of the few pioneers of gravel tires too. They’ve got a pretty extensive range of tires in both 700c and 650b from fat slicks to aggressive tread, and the WTB Nano is one of their best known.

This unique tread is available at either 40c width as a gravel tire or 2.1″ as an XC 29er MTB tire. A dashed, flat central ridge is flanked by directional aggressive knobs that offer loads of grip when you come across the inevitable mud puddle,  without being sluggish on paved liaisons.

Buy now: WTB Nano 40c TCS at Wiggle for £30.99 or from REI for $40.39

Buy now: WTB Nano 40c TCS at Tredz for £30.99 or from Amazon US for $50.89

Vittoria Terreno Wet G2.0

Best gravel bike tyres

More bite than most make these a great winter gravel tire choice

  • RRP: £47 / $53.99
  • Sizes: 700c x 31c/33c/38c
  • Tubeless ready: yes

Although they are marketed as a cyclocross tire, the second generation of the Vittoria Terreno Wet makes for a great winter gravel tire, especially for bikes where clearance is limited. With widths of 31, 33 and 38c, these fit cross bikes and even some endurance road bikes. Alternatively, they allow space for fenders on bikes that may have tighter clearances.

The aggressive and well-spaced knobs on the Terreno Wet make light work of slippery mud and tricky trails, but at the cost of some speed on the road. As they are cyclocross tires, you may find that they wear pretty quickly, due to the soft compound for use on grass and mud rather than harder roads, but that’s just one compromise you have to make for great all-weather grip.

Buy now: Vittoria Terreno Wet at Wiggle for £32 or from Competitive Cyclist from $43.19

Buy now: Vittoria Terreno Wet at Amazon US starting at $43.19 

Teravail Rutland

Best gravel bike tyres

You’ll find a good range for both 700c and 650b wheels with the Rutland tread

  • RRP: £50 / $65
  • Sizes: 700c x 38c/42c/47c/2.2″ 650b x 47c/2.1″
  • Tubeless ready: yes

If you’re looking for a wide range of width options for both 700c and 650b, the Teravail Rutland tires are hard to beat. These black or tan sidewall tires feature pretty aggressive tread which make them great performers on greasy gravel paths or grassy fields for extra confidence and grip when the conditions get a bit tricky.

If this much tread is a bit much for your terrain or conditions, check out their other gravel tires, including the Sparwood and Cannonball.

Buy now: Teravail Rutland tires at Leisure Lakes Bikes for £50 or Jenson USA for $60

Buy now: Teravail Rutland tires at Sigma Sport for £50 or from Competitive Cyclist starting at $55

Continental Terra Trail ProTection BlackChili

Best gravel tyres

The Terra Trail tyres are available in two compounds

  • RRP: £59.95 / $64.95
  • Sizes: 700c x 40c 650b x 40c
  • Tubeless ready: yes

Made with the same puncture-resistant BlackChili compound that we know from Continental’s road tires, the Terra Trail tires are the German brand’s first gravel-specific offering, alongside the faster rolling Terra Speed.

The aggressive tread pattern in a series of dots across the center and shoulders of the tires has more technical riding in mind.

Available in a 40c width for both 700c and 650b tires, you’ll also find a cheaper version of the Terra Speed but without the BlackChili compound.

Buy now: Continental Terra Trail at Tweeks for £46 or from Amazon US starting at $38.49

Buy now: Continental Terra Trail at Bikeinn for £40.99 or from Walmart for $49.95

What should you look for when buying gravel tires?

Just like Keith Bontrager’s famous quip of “strong, light, cheap – pick any two,” there’s always an element of compromise when it comes to selecting gravel tires for your bike.

You’ll need to consider the terrain you’d like to tackle, what the conditions are like when you ride, and your riding style when it comes to weighing up the options.

That means you’ll have to assess tread pattern, size, volume, durability, tubeless compatibility and puncture protection, alongside price and aesthetics when it comes to scouring the growing gravel tire market.

Tread pattern

Essentially, more tread equals more grip, although at the cost of rolling resistance. The best tread for you will largely depend on the terrain and conditions. If you spend most of your time on roads or light gravel, then a fat slick or file tread may be best, whereas if you mostly enjoy singletrack or fire road bashing that pushes the limits of a gravel bike, a knobbier tire will help keep you upright.

In the wet, deeper and wider out knobs on the tread will add grip and help the tire clear mud, although this can make the bike feel a bit more sluggish on the roads. Therefore, many riders have a preference for winter and summer tires, depending on where you live.

Size and volume

The size and volume of your tires will be limited by the amount of clearance that you have, both in your fork and rear triangle. Opt for smaller 650b wheels (if your frame is compatible) to allow you to up the volume and width of your tires. This greater volume allows for lower tire pressures, which creates a more comfortable ride and also offers improved grip, thanks to a larger contact patch on the ground.

If you’d like to run traditional fenders in the wetter seasons, be mindful that you might need to size down your tires to make room.

Durability

How long your tires will last depends largely on the compound used for the tread and sidewalls, and also the level of puncture protection (more on this later).

The compound used will be matched to the type of riding that the tire is intended for. Cyclocross tires, for example, tend to be softer for use on grass and mud, while more road-focused tires will be made from a harder wearing compound to cope with the harsher surface of the asphalt.

Just like with the soles of MTB shoes, a softer rubber will offer more grip, but will also wear more quickly.

You should think about replacing your tires when you have significant wear on the tread (although just like old school cyclocross riders, this can make for a good summer tire and save you some money), or if you see bubbles of tubeless sealant coming through the sidewalls. There’s nothing stopping you putting an inner tube in the tires at this point and using them on a townie or commuter, as long as you replace them before they become dangerously worn.

Tubeless compatibility and puncture protection

Almost all gravel tires on the market are now tubeless-ready, although it’s definitely worth double-checking before you buy. When you pick up a set to tubeless tires, make sure to chuck some sealant in your cart too. This liquid is poured directly into the tire, or injected through the valve (with the valve core removed) and will plug holes from thorns, staples, and glass on its own, which in the best case scenario can mean that you can carry on without even knowing that you’ve punctured.

You may notice the loss of air pressure between the puncture and the sealant doing its job and you will need to top up on air. In some cases, you’ll need to rotate the tire to allow the sealant to flow to the affected area for a better chance of sealing. Sealant does have its limits, and with more serious punctures and bigger holes, a tubeless repair plug may be required.

If your sidewall has been slashed by an offending rock, you’ll need to boot it and pop in an inner tube to get you home before replacing your tire. Even though tubeless tires rarely puncture, you should still always carry an inner tube of the right wheel size, just in case.

A common misconception is that you can’t get a pinch flat while running a tubeless set-up. If you are using tire pressures that are really low, you run the risk of doing this not to your inner tube, but to the tire itself, especially on rocky terrain. This ‘snakebite’ of the tire is costly and best avoided. Although you can either plug or internally patch the two holes, it often weakens the tire and can cause awkward punctures toward the bead of the tire which are tricky to fix.

Aesthetics

Last but by no means least: the looks. Tan sidewalls are incredibly popular when it comes to gravel tires, although they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Many of these will be available in black too, or some even with colored treads or sidewalls.

Make sure you wash your bike regularly — probably every ride in the winter at least — to keep your components happy and your tan sidewalls looking fresh.

Keeping your bike clean also gives you the opportunity to carefully inspect your bike up close, which can help you identify any potential issues with your tires or let you know when they need replacing.