The Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel Road tyre finds the balance between low rolling resistance and grip, if it was a tenner cheaper, then it would certainly make the top spot.
Fast rolling resistance
Price compared to peers
The thing with gravel road bikes, is that you want to be able to ride them on gravel and road. It doesn't sound that complicated, but when it comes to choosing what tyres to ride, finding a one that is grippy, puncture resistant and fast rolling can feel impossible. However, promising to tick all three of the above is the Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel tyre, meaning we just had to take it out for a ride.
The Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel tyre is purpose built to roll fast while providing confident traction across all road surfaces. In fact, it's one of the early adopters of the gravel racing scene, and, according to Trek (Bontrager's mother brand) has already earned its stripes in some of the most demanding gravel races.
The shoulder to shoulder low profile block tread patten finds a pitch perfect position between grip and rolling resistance. The bike felt secure leaning in to rapid corners both off and on road. Admittedly I do normally tend to run my tyre PSI pretty low, and thanks to being tubeless ready, the subtle rubber compound of the Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel tyre allowed me to get that malleable softness that I prefer for off the beaten track meandering.
This pressure preference does however often leave me vulnerable to two aspects of tyre ownership, a low rolling resistance and pinch punctures. The later of the two risks was unfounded, not only thanks to the afore mentioned tubeless properties, but because the Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel tyre is bolstered by Bontrager's own tyre protection system 'Inner Strength'.
Bontrager say this 'Inner Strength' is effectively a lightweight nylon insert that provides a strong, supple sidewall protection for added tyre durability, and so far so good. Even the Peak District's finest flinty gravel runs are yet to make an impression on the tyres, either in the centre or side walls.
When it comes to the rolling resistance aspect, low pressure was great for some of the more off than on road rides, but a quick blast around the lanes, canal paths and cycle ways, soon left me wanting less squish and more vavavoom, so I whacked the Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel tyre much closer to their maximum 50psi and the Vitus Energie VR Cyclocross bike I was riding flew.
On this style of terrain the tyres really show their value, rolling exceptionally rapidly, yet still providing sufficient purchase. There was a slight amount of 'pinging' off the odd larger stone, so think I would still ride a lower PSI if it was anything more gnarly, but on the drag strip of a disused railway, this was ideal.
Overall, I really rate the rubber, they certainly felt on a par with my much beloved Panaracer Gravelking SK TLC gravel tyre, but at £10 more, the Bontrager GR2 Team Issue Gravel tyre hasn't quite taken the top stop.
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Hannah is Cycling Weekly’s longest-serving tech writer, having started with the magazine back in 2011. She has covered all things technical for both print and digital over multiple seasons representing CW at spring Classics, and Grand Tours and all races in between.
Hannah was a successful road and track racer herself, competing in UCI races all over Europe as well as in China, Pakistan and New Zealand.
For fun, she's ridden LEJOG unaided, a lap of Majorca in a day, won a 24-hour mountain bike race and tackled famous mountain passes in the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Himalayas.
She lives just outside the Peak District National Park near Manchester UK with her partner, daughter and a small but beautifully formed bike collection.
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