Best gravel bike tires 2023 – fast-rolling yet grippy rubber for drop-bar dirt road rides

Best gravel bike tires: Specialized Pathfiner Pro
(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Since they're the only part of the bike that actually contacts the ground, tires are arguably the most important component on any gravel bike, and choosing the wrong rubber set-up can be the difference between precise dirt road grip or constantly slipping out of control. 

Gravel biking covers a huge range of riding environments, and just one ride can see a decent mix of tarmac road stints, prolonged loose-gravel tracks, and even root-infested sections of singletrack where a cross-country bike wouldn't be out of place. As such, the best gravel bike tires have to perform throughout a wide range of scenarios, and depending on your geographical location and desired riding style, striking a vital balance between rolling resistance, off-road traction, and puncture protection.

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For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.

To find the best compromise between rolling speed, ride comfort, and off-road grip, we have listed some of the best gravel bike tires currently available.

If you're looking to upgrade your wheels, or just want an additional set-up wearing a different type of tire then be sure to check out our guide to the best gravel bike wheels. 

Best gravel bike tires

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Specialized Rhombus Pro tire

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Does everything at a bargain price

Specifications

Weight: 575g
Sizes: 700x42mm

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price
+
Decent roll speed
+
Outstanding edge grip

Reasons to avoid

-
Single size only
-
Heavy

The Rhombus is one of Specialized's latest gravel tires and comes specced as standard on the brand's Diverge Evo, the flat-bar version of the flagship Diverge gravel bike. 

The Rhombus uses Specialized's 2Bliss technology for easy tubeless setup and features a 60tpi carcass to protect from sidewall slashes. The center tread consists of tightly packed siped knobs in a varying arrowhead design, while there are bigger square-edge knobs closer to the edge of the tire. 

Because of this design, the Rhombus is an excellent tire for riding in pretty much every scenario. We found this tire is for riders who aren't afraid to take their gravel bike on singletrack which most riders reserve for mountain bikes due to their confident cornering traction. The closely spaced center tread doesn't seem to add too much drag and we were able to carry good straight-line speed too. The fact that this well-sorted package comes in at such a great price is the icing on the cake too. 

Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC

(Image credit: Pirelli)

Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC

Mountain bike tech meets a gravel mold

Specifications

Weight: 540g (700x40C)
Sizes : 700 x 35, 45, 45mm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent puncture protection 
+
Fast-rolling considering grip levels
+
Good range of usable widths

Reasons to avoid

-
No 650B option
-
Average pricing

The Gravel RC is the latest edition to Pirelli’s Cinturato gravel tire lineup, and it sets to target major events like the World Gravel Series. 

By utilizing tech borrowed from Pirelli’s Scorpion XC RC tire the Gravel RC brings exceptional sidewall protection through a bead-to-bead cut-resistant layer of nylon named ‘Techwall Gravel casing’. What's most impressive is the protection comes without a sacrifice to the all-important ride feel and the Gravel RC is comfy on the trail. 

The tread pattern itself includes tall side knobs to provide high levels of grip at lean angle extremities, while the shallower center knobs are in place to ensure the average speed is high. The rubber compound has also been taken from Pirelli’s XC line and then slightly modified to further increase the rolling speed with only a slight decrease in grip. 

Gravel RC tire comes in three 700c sizes - 35mm, 40mm, and 45mm. All sizes are also available in either black or tan wall sidewalls for those who dig the classic look. 

It’s worth noting that regardless of your Gravel tire desires the complete Cinturato Gravel range includes everything from soft terrain mud pluggers to asphalt speed demons, all of which are well worth considering.  

WTB Nano 700

(Image credit: WTB)

WTB Nano 700

Fast and grippy loose gravel destroyer

Specifications

Weight: 530g
Sizes: 700 x 40mm

Reasons to buy

+
Tan wall adds to the vibe
+
Great grip across all conditions 
+
Perfect all-rounder

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one width option
-
Not all options are tubeless ready 
-
Not for riders favoring the road

WTB’s Nano 700 has a tread pattern that echoes those of the 1990s, and it just so happens it still outperforms many of WTB’s ‘modern’ gravel blends too. 

The Flying V tread pattern is positioned in a formation that channels speed through the knobs with as little energy loss as possible. The height of the knobs themselves prefer loose surfaces over tarmac, but their toothy nature does a stellar job of digging in while pedaling or braking. The light/fast casing does a good job of balancing weight and protection, and there’s also a tougher ‘SG2’ version for riders seeking even more puncture resistance. 

Available in all black or tanned sidewalls for those wanting to revisit the 90s. Be careful though, one of the Nano 700 options isn’t tubeless-ready. Sizing is limited too and the Nano 700 is only available in 700x40, luckily it's a dimension that works well for its intended use.  

Teravail Cannonball gravel tire

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Luxurious ride feel at a great price

Specifications

Weight: 550g (700 x 47mm 'light and supple'), 630g (700 x 47mm 'Durable')
Sizes: 650B x 40 and 47mm, 700C x 35, 38, 42 and 47mm

Reasons to buy

+
Easy straight-line speed
+
Good value
+
Stable at low pressures
+
Luxury ride feel

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Lack of cornering tread
-
Not winter ready

We really liked the Teravail Cannonball's easy speed and exceptionally smooth and comfortable ride feel.

Aimed at dry conditions the Cannonball's chevron-style tread pattern is a naturally fast roller, but it's the casing that's the standout ride characteristic here; the sublime carcass feel brings hovercraft-like properties to the trail that allows you to float over ruts and cobbles with the utmost comfort and control. This does come at a slight weight and acceleration penalty, but for riders seeking durability and floaty speed this is one of the best options currently available.  

Two casing options provide the choice between weight and sidewall protection too, and while the 'durable' option does add around 70g over the 'light and supple' casing we think the tougher one would be great for racing thanks to its additional puncture protection.  

While we tested the 47mm version the Cannonball is also available in 35, 38, 42, and 47mm widths. Plus there's a 650b option in both 40 and 47mm girths for those rolling on smaller hoops. Oh, and they're decent value too. 

Maxxis Rambler

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
A gravel-MTB crossover

Specifications

Weight: 660g
Sizes: 650bx47mm, 700x38, 40, 45, 50mm

Reasons to buy

+
Decent all-round grip
+
Impressive roll
+
Silkshield toughness
+
Smooth at the right pressure
+
Super easy setup

Reasons to avoid

-
Hefty weight
-
Not for slop
-
Needs a wide rim

The Rambler has existed for a few years now, but Maxxis recently introduced a 50mm version for riders who want to get more aggressive on their gravel bike. 

The Rambler's center tread uses a close-spaced mix of rough top crosses and depressed bricks, and on the shoulders, there are ramped L knobs and siped mini-MTB blocks. Riders can choose from two carcass options: Maxxis's standard EXO or SilkShield, which offers greater protection against punctures and slashes. 

We've tested the Silkshield carcass and found that because of the thicker rubber, riders need to lower their pressure for a smooth, responsive ride. On the other hand, the EXO version is more supple and compliant at higher pressures and lighter. 

This tire brings a MTB-style tread design, good protection, and a variety of size options to gravel riders for a fair price.

Vittoria Terreno Mix

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
All-rounder tire designed for mixed conditions

Specifications

Weight: 512g
Sizes: 700x31, 33, 38mm

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive wet grip
+
Large-volume
+
Good high-pressure roll

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Slightly numb
-
Binary cornering grip

Vittoria makes four versions of the Terreno for drop-bar bikes, and this is the all-rounder version. 

Available in four sizes, the Terreno Mix uses Vittoria's TNT casing and features a centerline tread block featuring arrow-shaped blocks. There's a single row of shoulder knobs, which require us to lean the bike fairly aggressively to get the best grip. The Graphene infused G2.0 compound helps with wet conditions traction though.  Like the other Terreno tires we’ve used, these tires have a damped and solid feel rather than floated and buoyant. 

The Terreno Mix is a jack of all trades but a master of none, it will work for both tarmac and dirt riding and offers impressive wet weather grip if ridden right. The Graphene compound offers a long lifespan, and the tire is offered at a great price point.  

Hutchinson Touareg gravel tires

(Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
Fast-rolling French rubber

Specifications

Weight : 490 to 585g
Sizes : 700x40, 45mm and 650bx47mm

Reasons to buy

+
Low rolling resistance tread pattern 

Reasons to avoid

-
Large casing sizes could prove too tight for some frames 

Hutchinson classifies its Touareg as a multi-use off-road tire, suited for both gravel and cyclocross. Available in three sizes, the Touareg varies from 40 to 47mm in width, although we would always recommend going widest if your gravel bike’s frame clearance allows.

The casing is 127 tpi, which makes for a supple tire with relatively low rolling resistance. In terms of tread design, there is a chevron arrangement of small blocks in the middle, to aid with both climbing traction and braking.

Along the Touareg’s tire edges there are larger tread blocks to assist with cornering traction, giving you the confidence to lean these gravel bike tires through tight switchbacks.

In terms of rubber compound, the Touareg is primarily 60 ShA durometer grade rubber, for durability, with its edge blocks being 50 ShA, making them suppler, improving grip when corner posturing at moderate lean angles. 

Puncture protection is good, with Hutchinson’s textile grid embedded into the Touareg’s casing. This technology has been proven in XC mountain bike racing and should provide more than adequate puncture-proofing, for any gravel bike route.

As one would expect from a French tire product, style is not a forgotten feature, and the Touareg gravel tires are available with tan sidewalls.

(Image credit: Panaracer)

Panaracer Gravelking SK

Still one of the best options out there

Specifications

Weight: 360- to 590g
Sizes: 26x2.1mm, 650x48, 53mm, and 700x28, 32, 35, 38, 43, 50mm

Reasons to buy

+
An immense range of casing sizes for all frames and terrain types 
+
Proven tread pattern

Reasons to avoid

-
Very little, tread appearance might be too unusual for tire aesthetic purists 

The Japanese tire brand is best known for its colorful treads, but with the Gravelking SK, Panaracer proves that it also has gravel-riding product prowess.

Whatever your gravel bike frame and fork combination, rest assured that there will be a Gravelking SK tire fit for your purpose. Panaracer markets a huge variety of Gravelking sizes ranging from 26-inch to 700c. Riders can get tan sidewalls too as well as colored options if you're feeling particularly brave with your styling. 

All the Gravelking tires use Panaracer’s natural compound ZSG rubber and feature a unique tread pattern, with interlacing rectangular tread blocks. The Gravelking SK tread pattern might look like a rubberized version of a Tetris gaming screen, but it guarantees incredibly low rolling resistance and surprisingly active braking performance.

Panaracer’s ProTite shield also delivers puncture protection, by embedding an epoxy-infused yarn deep within the casing. 

(Image credit: Specialized )

Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready

If you have the bike handling skills, Pathfinder brings the speed

Specifications

Weight : 480-555g
Sizes : 700x38, 42mm and 650bx47mm

Reasons to buy

+
A very fast tire on dry hardpack routes 

Reasons to avoid

-
No narrow sizes for gravel bikes with tight clearances 
-
Not the grippiest option for those loamy autumn forest trails 

From the company that produces the Diverge gravel bike comes an equally speedy off-road tire. The Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready has a distinctive slick center section, revealing its intention to deliver low rolling resistance.

Although the bald middle patch might make it less predictable when happening upon some slick roots or moss-covered forest terrain, this is a tire that rewards skillful gravel riders with very high average cruising speeds.

The Pathfinder’s tread pattern does not contain any raised edge blocks or sipes, but if you are going to be rolling a lot of miles on fast country roads, there are few tires with a better efficiency index. If your gravel bike becomes a weekday commuter between those epic weekend adventure rides, these are ideal dual-purpose tires.

Schwalbe G-One Bite

(Image credit: Schwalbe)

Schwalbe G-One Bite

High-performance German gravel rubber - at a price

Specifications

Weight: 420-550g
Sizes: 650bx1.5, 2.0, 2.1" and 700x38, 45mm

Reasons to buy

+
Tire sizes for all gravel riding purposes 
+
Selection of cross-shaped siping patterns gives it great surface feedback 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not cheap 
-
Or the lightest option 

Schwalbe’s tire range is huge and the G-One Bite doesn’t disappoint, offering different wheel size diameters and a selection of widths.

The German tire specialist uses an interesting tread pattern for its G-One Bite. Instead of triangular, square, or rectangular tread blocks, the G-One Bite features round knobs. These are clustered in a row of three along the tire center, delivering traction bite for climbing and braking on loose over hardpack terrain.

Two rows of transition knobs lead to the edge tread, with technically proven siping patterns cut into the respective knobs, depending on where they are placed. The result is very progressive steering feedback as you start leaning the G-One Bite over from its center tread to the edges.

Schwalbe's Snakeskin gives the casing an exterior fabric finish, increasing cut resistance and making the G-One Bite effortless to seat and inflate on a tubeless rim.

Vittoria Terreno Wet G2.0

(Image credit: Vittoria )

Vittoria Terreno Wet G2.0

If you gravel ride under the ever present threat of rain, these are great

Specifications

Weight: 390-500g
Sizes : 700x31, 33, 38mm

Reasons to buy

+
Narrow sizes will prove useful to dedicated wet weather gravel riders 

Reasons to avoid

-
Riders who seek a large air-volume for comfier ride quality, should look elsewhere 

Vittoria’s tire designers provide a great tire choice for those gravel bikers who aren’t afraid of a muddy adventure route but might be limited by frame clearance issues.

With its sub-40mm casing size, the Terreno Wet G2.0 will fit in virtually any gravel bike’s rear triangle. If you frequently take on long rides on muddy roads beneath grey skies, the open tread pattern of Vittoria’s Terreno Wet G2.0 will be hugely beneficial.

Plenty of spacing between the tread allows mud to clear itself during wheel rotation, the Terreno Wet G2.0 prevents clogging. There is a sacrifice in ultimate rolling resistance, but whereas gravel tires with smaller tread blocks might roll faster, they’ll also clog much quicker which reduces grip.

The narrow shape helps the tire to cut into muddy trails, finding any semblance of grip that might be a touch deeper into the compounded sedimentation. Although larger casing tires provide better comfort, in the case of a wet-weather gravel bike ride, you’ll want something that can dig into the surface, a task for which the Terreno Wet G2.0 has appropriate sizing.

Excellently suited to grimy conditions, the Terreno Wet G2.0 also features graphene in its rubber compounds, something which Vittoria prioritizes in its tire formulation and fabrication. The chemical interaction of rubber and graphene enhances the overall properties of its Terreno Wet G2.0 tire in terms of grip and lifespan. 

WTB Raddler

(Image credit: WTB)

WTB Raddler

Mountain bike-inspired gravel grinding

Specifications

Weight: 490-547g
Sizes: 700x40, 44mm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent combination of low rolling resistance and secure cornering performance 

Reasons to avoid

-
No narrow or 650b sizes 

WTB’s Raddler is a good example of semi-slick mountain bike tire technology finding a repurposing to gravel bikes. Enduro mountain bikers discovered the benefit of a rear tire with pronounced edge tread and tightly packed, smaller, center blocks. WTB has successfully migrated that product knowledge from its mountain bike to gravel tire offering. 

The Raddler uses this configuration to deliver sufficient climbing traction on loose surfaces, without robbing too much of your pedal efficiency on level gravel roads. Those larger, rectangular, edge blocks are orientated to face outward and have deep sipes cut into them. As any mountain biker will tell you, sipes allow tread blocks to react to changes in terrain, giving a great deal more dynamic grip when you happen to roll across some roots or rocky bits, on your gravel ride.

Puncture protection is provided by WTB’s SG2 nylon layer, which sits within the casing structure and runs bead-to-bead.

Effectively a downsized and gravel bike-appropriate version of the Riddler mountain bike enduro tire, the WTB Raddler also scores style points, with its choice of either black or a tan sidewall finish.

How to choose the best tire for gravel riding

What wheel size do I have?

Before ordering new rubber you need to decipher the diameter of your gravel bike's wheels. While most gravel bikes roll on 700c hoops, some use a smaller 650b size. 

700c wheels tend to offer the ideal balance between tire width and rolling speed, while 650b setup let you run a wider tire on bikes with limited clearance. Not all bikes are compatible with both though so it’s certainly worth checking. 

The best way to check is to see what’s printed on the sidewall of your existing tires, or by visiting the website of your bike manufacturer. 

What width tire should I get?

The first thing to do when deciding on a tire width is to check the clearance of your frame. The best way to do this is to simply measure the distance between each chainstay, or check out the max tire width published by the manufacturer of your frame. 

But what is the ideal size? Different riders are going to want different width tires to best suit their location and /or riding style, but as a rule, we reckon you should be looking at width’s from 33 to 45mm, they will roll marginally slower than narrower options but the increase in comfort and control is well worth the slight sacrifice. 

It is worth noting that wider tires work best with wider rims, so if you’re wanting to plump up your gravel setup it’s worth checking out our guide to the best gravel bike wheels.

Should I set my gravel tyres up tubeless?

In a word, yes! If your wheels and tires are tubeless compatible we can’t think of one reason why you wouldn’t want them set up so. A tubeless setup allows you to run lower pressures which in turn boots traction and comfort, and it also totally removes any possibility of a pinch flat. 

Tubeless systems do vary in quality and reliability though, so it’s always worth investing in the best tubeless sealant and tubeless valves

What about tire inserts?

Tire inserts have been popular among the best mountain bikes for a while now as they allow you to run lower pressures all while getting increased sidewall support and rim protection. 

But what about gravel? Well, the ability to further drop the tire pressure without any real compromise is a bonus, as it massively boots traction and comfort in nearly every scenario. They're brilliant for racing thanks to their run-flat properties too. We recently reviewed Vittoria’s Air-Liner Gravel insert and it performed well on the trail. 

Tire inserts aren’t without their gripes though, they add rotating weight and even the best tire inserts can prove tricky to install.  

Should I prioritise rolling speed or grip?

This will always be a double edge sword as the tires featuring the bigger, gripper knobs are always going to grip better in the dirt at the expense of tarmac efficiency, and vice versa. 

In our opinion, it’s about choosing what’s best for you and your riding – if you’re riding predominantly on road, then choose a slimline tire that’s going to save you watts on the tarmac. But if your riding is mostly in the wilderness, something with a reliable bite and sidewall support is going to be much more rewarding when things get spicy.

How long should I expect my gravel tires to last?

The longevity of gravel tires all depends on the rubber compound that’s been used and where the tire is mostly ridden. Tires designed to be ridden off-road tend to be made from a softer rubber as this adds comfort and grip on uneven surfaces, the flip side is they wear fast and roll slower when ridden for long durations on tarmac. 

As mentioned earlier it really depends on where you’re riding most, but selecting the right tire for the job won’t only boost performance but it’ll increase longevity too.  

Can I put road tires on my gravel bike?

One of the best things about gravel bikes is their versatility, and nearly every 700c bike is ready to take a proper set of road tires. It can actually be a great option for a winter bike as most gravel bikes will take full-length mudguards too. 

While road tires will result in a fast ride, it’s worth noting they will make riding on anything other than tarmac super sketchy, so it’s best to leave any off-road excursions to chunkier rubber.   

Lance Branquinho
Lance Branquinho is a Namibian-born media professional who graduated to mountain biking after injuries curtailed his fascination with trail running. He has a weakness for British steel hardtails, especially those which only run a single gear. Rides: Morewood Kwela Cotic Simple 26 Pyga 160mm aluminium prototype
With contributions from