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Hutchinson Touareg Gridskin gravel tires review

Hutchinson’s Touareg gravel tires are now available in the French brand’s new weight and eco-impact reducing ‘Gridskin’ construction. How does it ride?

Hutchinson Touareg gravel tires
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

Hutchinson’s Touareg Gridskin is a handmade user and eco-friendly gravel tire that’s great for boosting frame feel and confidence off-road in dry or intermediate conditions. They perform well on the road although they are nearly double the price of the standard Hardskin

For

  • Frame-flattering feel
  • Surefooted, damped control
  • Easy sealing
  • Stickier shoulder grip
  • Reduced eco-impact
  • Distinctive ‘naked’ look
  • Reasonable weight

Against

  • Much more expensive than Hardskin
  • Limited size options
  • Clogs quickly in mud/clay
  • Steady on the road

These limited-edition tires take the tenacious dry/hard grip and smoothly damped ride feel of Hutchinson’s best gravel bike tire - the existing Touareg - and adds a new reinforced layer to save a lot of weight and significantly reduce the number of manufacturing processes. The result is a much more expensive but more responsive and more eco-friendly tire that’s great for summer off-road control.

Construction

Hutchinson was one of the first brands to create a truly tough and bombproof tubeless all-road tire in the Sector, which was our high-speed go-to in early gravel races. There’s a lot of that tech transferred into the Touareg, too. As usual for Hutchinson, the tires could be fitted without levers and popped into place on rims and sealed perfectly the first time even with casual track pumping. They’ve stayed settled and bleed/burp free on both Hunt hooked and Zipp hookless rims even when rallied hard at 30psi. 

The Gridskin construction also saves a ton of weight over the standard heavyweight Hardskin Touareg’s (630g in 700 x 45mm) bringing the Gridskin down to a more competitive sub 500g mark. The center tread is raised and constant enough to roll okay on the road, and then the tiny blocks open up and increase in size progressively towards the edge for more bite. The outer shoulders also get a skin of soft 50 duro rubber compound to give a stickier cornering/off-camber edge. As a result, while the tread fills up pretty quickly in soft conditions, it still hangs in there if summer dust turns to slip and slide roots and wet rocks.

Performance

It’s the obviously quiet and damped ride feel that’s the standout character of the Hutchinsons though. While the Gridskin are only available in 700 x 40mm (Hardskin come in 700 x 45mm and 650 x 47mm), they still have a lovely composed float and compliance that calms nerves as you bank in skittering gravel corners and soothes the sharp edges of bigger rim dinging rocks. While you’ll appreciate this most for speed sustained off-road, it also gives a really silky, frame flattering ride on the road. That can make them feel slower than they actually are unless you’re benching them against wattage numbers or known pace riders, but as said previously they actually roll okay.

Hutchinson Touareg gravel tires

The Gridskin construction saves weight gives the tire a confidence-boosting suppleness (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The Gridskin construction also lets Hutchinson remove three extra steps from the handmade French construction process, reducing waste and energy consumption to lower the eco-impact. The Gridskin’s don’t have a ‘hot patch’ name badge either. They come mounted on minimalist recycled card packaging, and if you’re in Europe the French manufacture will reduce shipping footprint. 

Despite having hammered them really hard over chunky terrain on wide rims at low pressure, the naked construction has held up totally fine too with no cuts, punctures, sealant weeping or other signs of carcass stress. They are £30 more per tire (so nearly double the price) compared to the Hardskin version though.

Verdict

Hutchinson’s Touareg Gridskins are a bike-flattering, terrain-smoothing, control-boosting, easy-fit tire that rolls okay on the road but really come into their own on drier, technical off-road trails. They’re significantly lighter, more responsive and easier on the planet than the standard Touaregs. They’re nearly double the price and only available in one size option though. 

Tech Specs: Hutchinson Touareg Gridskin Ltd. Edition tires

  • Price: £62.95 / €59.90
  • Weight: 480g (700 x 40mm)
  • Colors: Naked Gridskin
  • Sizes: 700 x 40mm 
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg