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.
Low rolling resistance without sacrificing grip
Works well across a variety of terrain
Comfortable and durable
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The 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.
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 tire 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?
The Cava is made for those gravel rides that include a good dose of asphalt before you hit the good stuff. On the road it behaves just like a slick, so it's perhaps unsurprising that Ultradynamico has its tires made by Panaracer in Japan. 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.
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 a tyre 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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Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty 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 fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.
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