The Hutchinson Touareg tyres deal well with loose gravel, rocks and roots - they're a gravel tyre for the more gnarly end of the spectrum and proved to be confidence inspiring. They roll reasonably well on the road given their off-road capabilities, but they are quite hefty when compared with slicker tyres tailored to the more road focused models on the market - so we'd only recommend them if you intend to hit the trails more often than the road.
'Gravel riding' conjures up a very different image depending upon who you ask. For some riders (predominantly based in the US), it's long stretches of unpaved gravel road. For those who live in cities, it's quite a lot of road miles followed by some fun in the woods, whilst for me - based on the Surrey/Kent border (often travelling into Sussex) - it's pretty much light trail use with a healthy dose of rocks and roots.
Cyclists whose gravel rides include very little road and plenty of trail features will want a more off-road suited tyre than those who need to interrupt their trail sectors with large sections of road. Therefore, upgrading the often quite slick tyres specced on a gravel bike to something a bit more knobbly is a good idea.
Hutchinson's Touareg tyres aim to meet this need. They've got a smooth, chevron style tread down the centre designed to make them feel acceptable on the road, but they don't prioritise this sort of train. The Touareg takes notes from Hutchinson's mountain bike tyres, so next to the chevron style strip, there's an intermediate line of small-block style knobs before larger, more widely spaced knobs adorn the outside strip.
The outside knobs are joined together buttresses which run down the wall to strengthen the structure.
These tyres carry a 127 Thread Per Inch count. This puts it in a category with the more supple gravel tyres on the market - with the Bontrager GR1 Team Issue and Maxxis Rambler EXO TR tyres both on the higher end at 120. Hutchinson has added a hardskin textile grid reinforcement layer to protect against flats.
These can be run as clinchers or tubeless. I tested them in both guises. As a clincher, they saw me through a three-hour gravel ride over the Sussex downs (lots of chalk and rock) with no flats, and the tubeless set-up was simple - the supple rubber snapped on to a Shimano GRX rim without issue.
These tyres come in a 40 or 45mm width (in the 700c version). There's also a 650b version in 47mm, with a tan sidewall. I had the 700c model, in 45mm. Swapping this on from a 38mm Schwalbe G-One, I immediately felt much more confident on the more technical sections.
Riding on these tyres, I was suddenly able to tackle a short, steep climb and drop-off ledge that had been bothering me for weeks without any issue at all. There's no doubt that I felt more capable when riding techy terrain.
On dusty, chalky trails these tyres behaved themselves impeccably, and I had no unexpected skids. They're not really designed around mud-shedding, and I'd think twice about hitting the wet chalk of my local trails on these - for that, I'd really want something more cyclocross inspired, with wider spacing for better performance in the slip-and-slide.
On the road, the tyres felt smoother than I had expected based on the profile. However, this clearly isn't their chosen habitat and I'd advise those planning to mix their road/off-road riding to the tune of 50/50 to look for something with less off-road capability.
For the riding that I'm doing on gravel bikes - predominantly off-road - these were absolutely spot on. They're also extremely reasonably priced, at £33.
The claimed weight on these tyres is 550g. Tyres often deviate slightly from the claim. However - both of my tyres tipped the Cycling Weekly office scales at 630g, which is a uniform 14 percent increase on the claim. I weighed the tyres on two separate sets of scales to be sure since it seemed like quite a vast increase.
Swapping between the Hutchinson Touareg tyres and the less burly Schwalbe G-One tyres (claimed 460g for 38mm), my bike was notably heavier. For the increased confidence these tyres provided with me with off-road, it's absolutely a weight penalty I'm willing to pay - but those chasing off-road QOM/KOMs - as opposed to using gravel riding to switch off from training, heart rate monitors and power meters - may be less inclined.
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