American Classic Aggregate gravel tire review - solid performance at an affordable price
The relatively low price tag may suggest a budget offering but does the Aggregate punch above its weight?
It’s hard to discuss the Aggregate without constantly referencing its price. There aren’t too many $45 gravel tires on the market. There are even less that perform well. At almost half the cost of some of its rivals the Aggregate is a solid tire that becomes noteworthy when you consider value of money too. It’s not the lightest, fastest or grippiest in its field but it performs strongly enough across all these key areas for it to be in the conversation. Figure in the price and it might just tip the balance, even when viewed against slightly better performing, but far more costly, tires. On a budget, sometimes ‘solid’ is more than good enough.
Value for money
Supple ride quality
Available in three widths and a 650b option
Not quite as grippy as some rival tires
Having started out in 1982 making aluminum bikes and components, American Classic has relaunched in recent times. Initially it’s focus is on tires, offering a range for gravel, road, mountain and city riding, all at affordable prices.
The Aggregate tires are part of its gravel line-up, which currently consists of five models, with treads for a range of riding conditions and terrain.
American Classics Aggregate tire: construction
While tread patterns for road tires occupy similar ground, all being varying degrees of slick, the best gravel tires are different. The sheer variety of surfaces within the gravel nomenclature has given rise to a wealth of sizes and patterns, designed to take the rough, the smooth and everything in between, in their stride.
American Classic has labeled the Aggregate as “the optimal all-around tire for paved, hardpack, and light gravel terrain”. This translates to some pretty mellow looking hexagonal ‘knobs’ that populate the surface of the tire, running down both the centre of the tire and the edges. If you’re familiar with Schwalbe’s G-One All-round tire, then it’s a similar looking pattern. In fact, it's one that’s used by many of the leading tire brands and makes the ‘light gravel’ tire a pretty crowded marketplace.
The tire’s compound is AM’s Rubberforce G, which it says is designed to deliver “impressive grip in the dirt”, which is what any gravel rider is after. It also promises impressive resistance against abrasions, tears and cuts.
Stage 5S Armor construction is also in play; this consists of a 120 TPI casing, a tubeless-ready coating and a nylon bead-to-bead fabric. The goal is a lightweight tire that’s supple yet durable enough to withstand off-road conditions.
The tubeless-ready Aggregate is available in three sizes, 700x40, 700x50 and 650bx47, and three colour options, black, tan and brown sidewall. We’re reviewing the 700x40mm brown sidewall option here, which has a claimed weight of 480 grams.
American Classics Aggregate tire:the ride
The majority of my gravel rides do in fact include some sections of tarmac or asphalt. These vary in length; sometimes it can be a truly mixed ride, with many miles of road used to link together off-road sections, other times it can be far shorter, in essence a brief jaunt to my local wooded trails. During the winter I’ll even use my gravel bike for road rides as the weather, and with it the road surface, deteriorates.
On said roads the Aggregate performed admirably, especially given its lack of any slick tread typically found on all-road tires, usually in the form of a strip that runs down the centre of the tread. However, the knobs were just small enough so that rolling resistance wasn’t overly impacted, and while they were noticeably slower than slick high-volume tires, such as the GravelKing Slicks I’ve ridden a lot over the years, or even the similarly pattern Continental Terra Speeds I’d tried out recently, it meant that I could cruise along without feeling like I was rolling through treacle.
As advertised, this was the case on tightly packed grit paths and smoother woodland trails too. The Aggregate, with its shallow knobs, is at home on the light stuff where grip is less of an issue. However, hitting loose sections of gravel and the grip is compromised as you’d might expect, especially when cornering. This was accentuated after heavy rainfall and as the trails became muddier, the tires began to struggle. But ‘gravel’ has too wide a remit for one or even two tires to cover all the possible riding conditions and it’s only fair to judge the Aggregates across the terrain they’re designed for.
However, across all conditions the construction and compound help create a surprisingly comfortable tire. I’d unfairly assumed that given their price, they might sacrifice a little of the suppleness normally associated with more expensive rubber. But not so.
As you’d expect with any tire, it took a ride or two to figure out the optimum pressure, but once I’d done so they offered a ride feel that belied their budget tag. Are there more comfortable tires on the market with a similar tread pattern? Yes, the aforementioned G-Ones and Terra Speeds to name but two, but both are more expensive and the differences are pretty negligible.
As for puncture resistance and general durability, so far, so good, with zero punctures to date, and no tears or cuts in the tread or sidewall either.
Value and conclusion
There are plenty of minimal tread gravel tires available. The American Classic Aggregate joins the crowd but has a USP that allows it to stand out - its price.
At $45 per tire it’s exceptionally good value, especially when you consider its reliable performance. While it’s not a leader in any category it doesn’t have any obvious flaws either.
And while you’re unlikely to get excited about the Aggregate in the same way you will a tire from a boutique brand like Ultradynamico or Rene Herse, or perhaps even one from Schwalbe or Continental, it allows you to get riding for a fraction of the cost.
For comparison, the Schwalbe G-One Allround tire has an RRP of $88 per tire. In a 40mm width it’s a little lighter at 420g but has a pretty similar tread pattern to the Aggregate.
The Panaracer SK TLC starts at $59.99 per tire and weighs 420g per tire for the 700x38c size. They’re certainly a high-performing tire and received full marks when we received them a few years ago.
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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for twenty five years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He has been a cycling enthusiast from an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a keen follower of bike racing to this day as well as a regular road and gravel rider.
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