- Low rolling resistance without sacrificing grip
- Works well across a variety of terrain
- Comfortable and durable
Price as reviewed:
Gravel is something of an all-encompassing term. However, the reality is that riding surfaces and conditions can vary greatly. In fact so much so it can be like comparing chalk with cheese. Or hard packed grit with muddy loam if you will.
In recent years, in response to the wide range of terrain that falls under the ‘gravel riding’ header, a slew of gravelcentric tyres have hit the market. And it shows no sign of slowing down.
Enter Ultradynamico. The small Connecticut-based brand is a fairly new addition to the tyre game. Its tubeless-compatible Cava model is billed as a minimalist tyre that seeks to blend the low rolling resistance of a slick with the improved traction of a knobbly. It’s available in two sizes – 650b x 47.99mm and 700c x 42mm. There are also three levels of specification – Race, JFF and Robusto. Here we’re looking at the 650b x 47.99 JFF.
If you’re wondering what JFF means, it stands for Just For Fun. This translates to what Ultradynamico calls its most ‘accessible’ offering. This means a tyre with a pretty durable casing, a carbon compound for longer tread wear and no sidewall protection to help promote suppleness. In short a tyre for everyday riding.
In terms of tread pattern the Cava has what’s described as a ‘3D diamond file tread’. According to the brand provides “20-30% more traction than a slick”. What this looks like is lots of tightly packed micro diamonds built around a larger central smooth arrow pattern. It’s a little more aggressive than a semi-slick. A semi-slick with attitude perhaps?
For me, one of the many appeals of a ‘gravel bike’ is that you can ride straight from home rather than having to load your bike into a vehicle and drive to your destination. However, that often means a good dose of asphalt before you head off-road.
It turns out that the Cava is made for such journeys. On the road it behaves just like a slick. It feels plenty fast and reminds me a great deal of the Gravel King slicks that I’ve used a lot in the past. Perhaps unsurprisingly then it turns out that Ultradynamico has its tyres made in Japan by Panaracer. When cornering on tarmac I’m aware of the tread pattern but never to the point where it ‘digs in’ and bites. All in all it makes for a smooth and comfortable ride, ensuring that time spent on the road is far from, well, a drag.
Heading off-road the Cava responds positively to each surface it meets. I’ve selected routes that feature varied terrain but regardless of whether I’m on loose gravel, woodland dirt tracks or sand the tyre performed admirably. On faster sections the Cavas really do float yet provide plenty of grip when needed. Those loose gravel corners never feel sketchy thanks to this impressive traction, giving me plenty of confidence for the path ahead. And on the short sandy sections I encountered the Cava always resists sinking and sliding.
Supple yet durable
On road and off, the Cava JFF feels nicely supple. For tyres that sits behind Ultradynamico’s more expensive ‘Race’ offering, I’m impressed by just how comfortable they feel. I’m also glad that this hasn’t come at a cost as yet – I’ve had zero punctures to date after dozens of rides. Because of this combination of durability and feel I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Cava for a bikepacking trip – or any ride that meant long hours in the saddle.
So who would I recommend the Cava to? Essentially anyone looking for a fast and smooth gravel tyre that excels in the dry. If you happen to need a high-volume tyre that works pretty effortlessly on the road, the Cava is also well worth your consideration.
Price as reviewed: $65 per tyre (£49.89)
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The Ultradynamico Cava is a great all-rounder. Smooth on the road and very assured off it, it’s one of the very best gravel tyres I’ve ridden across a range of dry conditions.
Sizes: 650b x 47.99mm, 700c x 42mm
Weight: 510g, 465g