IRC Boken 36mm gravel tyre review
With a file tread and high air volume, the new IRC Boken tyre works well on dusty bridleways
The IRC Boken tyre provides a subtle ride over rough terrain and plenty of grip in the dry or with surface dampness. But it’s not up to muddier conditions, such as you’d find through the UK winter.
Good tread pattern for dry off-road and gravel rides
High sided for plenty of air volume and lower pressures
Tread runs out of bite when it starts to get muddy
The newly released IRC Boken is a classic gravel bike tyre, with a file tread across its centre coupled to a row of more widely spaced knobs at its edges. Unwrapping the tyre, the first thing you notice is how tacky the rubber feels. IRC emphasises its ultra-gummy compound, designed for added traction.
Like most gravel tyres, the IRC Boken is tubeless ready. Tubeless set-up is hassle free; it’s easy to get the tyre over the wheel rim and I was able to seat the beads and pump up to 60psi without any more effort than it would need to pump up an inner tube. There was little or no escaping air before or after the tyre beads popped into place, even before adding sealant.
The IRC Boken tyre comes in 36mm or 40mm widths. For the 36mm variant, IRC recommends inflation pressure between 45 and 65psi on the tyre sidewall, 40 – 65 psi on its website. Strangely, the minimum recommended on the site for the 40mm variant is higher at 45psi.
As with most wide tyres, running tubeless means that you can comfortably drop below this and realise gains in traction and a less bumpy ride, without the risk of pinch flats. I rode the IRC Boken tyres at 30-35psi without problem. Like most gravel tyres, there’s enough sidewall height to stop bottoming out on roots and bumps at low pressures.
The company says that the IRC Boken tyre is developed for extreme gravel racing. As you’d expect, there’s plenty of grip over rough surfaces in the dry, so they have been fine to ride in the drought of this summer. But the tread doesn’t have enough grip to keep you moving confidently once things get proper damp or muddy.
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Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.
He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.
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