Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite gravel tire review – can you have too much grip on a gravel bike?

The most aggressive tire in the G-one range has tonnes of grip in nearly all conditions, offering near MTB-like traction, but does that kill any high-speed thrills on a gravel bike?

Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite gravel tire review
(Image: © Neal Hunt)

BikePerfect Verdict

Easy to fit, super grippy, and tactile tire for the worst winter conditions, but that comes at the expense of speed and agility.

Pros

  • +

    MTB-like front-end grip

  • +

    Tactile feel on a variety of surfaces

  • +

    Easy to set up

  • +

    Works in a wide variety of conditions

  • +

    Great option for those who like to push the limits of gravel riding

Cons

  • -

    The high grip can dampen the fun factor on some trails

  • -

    High grip has an impact on rolling resistance

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Schwalbe’s G-One range is one of the best gravel tire collections out there, and the Ultrabite is the most aggressive version in the stable. Given the current weather conditions in the Northern Hemisphere, this could be the perfect option for making the most of the wet and muddy trails. Its size and construction go some way to blur the lines between gravel bike or 29er hardtail, but can you have too much of a good thing when it comes to gravel bike grip? 

Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite gravel tire tread detail

The G-one Ultrabite is the most aggressive gravel tire in the Schwalbe range (Image credit: Neal Hunt)

Design and build

The first thing you'll notice with the Ultrabite is the size of the knobs compared to other gravel tires. It could easily be mistaken for full-on XC rubber. It features wide horizontal paddles along the center line, designed to increase traction on climbs and improve braking traction. As you move across to the shoulder of the tire, the knobs switch orientation to a vertical pattern. By angling the tread pattern this way, they should hook up well for more lateral grip and less sliding.

To coincide with the Ultrabite's grippy intentions, Schwalbe uses their Addix Speedgrip compound. This was originally designed for MTB use and is the second-fastest rubber mix within that range. Although not the fastest rolling compared to other versions used in the G-one series, it offers a good compromise between grip, longevity, and speed.

Like the rest of the G-one performance range, they use Schwalbe’s TLE (Tubeless easy) tech, which has proven to be one of the most reliable and easily set up systems out there. They have a reassuringly beefy sidewall construction, which helps with sealing and makes for a confident, robust tire if you ride on rocky terrain.

Four versions are available, and I had the largest 50mm width on test. They measured up at 49.5mm wide when fitted to my Elite and Reynolds wheels, which may be too wide for some gravel bikes. If your bike has less clearance there are 40 and 45mm versions are available too, as well as a 650b x 50mm if you run a smaller wheel size.

Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite gravel tire tread detail

With its wide central paddles and near constant edge design the Ultrabite was never short on grip (Image credit: Neal Hunt)

Performance

With its width and large tread, the Ultabite will never be a lightweight option although the 745g weight is perfectly reasonable given its hardcore intentions. As with all Schwalbe TLE tires, fitting and sealing was straightforward, no doubt helped by its stiff sidewalls. I tried them on hooked and hookless rims, and both times, they went on and inflated using a normal pump. No compressors or tricks are required to get them seated correctly here, which is always welcome.

I used the Ultrabite as a front-only tire, largely due to clearance issues on both the Cube Nuroad C:62 SL and Ribble Gravel Ti Pro bikes I had on test, and paired them with a G-one bite on the rear which felt like an ideal compromise. Pressure-wise, I tended to run around 29 to 33 psi, depending on my route. They are comfortable down to the early 20’s, but they roll significantly slower at such low pressures.

The size and construction of the Ultrabite are very close to their MTB counterparts, and this gives a huge feeling of confidence in front-end grip on pretty much any terrain bar the deepest muddy sections. With it fitted to the front, I felt I could push much harder than usual and attempt lines and trails I'd normally skip on a gravel bike, and there lies the problem for me. 

They almost felt like they had too much grip, which may sound an odd thing to say, but bear with me. It encourages you to push your luck, as you would on your trail or XC bike, and it soon becomes apparent that your riding position and the rest of your gravel bike aren't really up to the task a lot of the time. I quite like the feeling of being on the edge of control you get from a gravel bike on mellow trails, and the high grip offered here means you have to push much harder to get the same level of excitement.

While it is noticeably slower than the G-one bite it replaced, it's still relatively sprightly given its size and weight. It's been remarkably robust, too. My local grit stone trails kill sidewalls at an alarming rate, especially when running lower pressures, but there are no signs of wear and zero punctures during testing.

Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite gravel tire on a scale

At 745g they may not be the lightest, but they are perfectly reasonable given their size and construction (Image credit: Neal Hunt)

Verdict

A very grippy limpet-like front option, which works well in a wide range of terrain. If your gravel riding is towards the extreme end of the spectrum, then these are a great option enabling you to push harder and seek out more technical challenges, though at the loss of speed and rolling resistance.

I used them in everything from deep mud to gritty rocky trails, and they worked flawlessly and inspired a level of confidence I'd not had with other gravel tires, but if you are more of a high mileage road-oriented gravel rider, would be better served with the lighter, faster but still grippy G-One Bites.

Tech specs: Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite gravel tires

  • Price: $88 / £65 / €65
  • Sizes: 40, 45, and 50mm in 700c, 650b x 50mm available too
  • Weight: 745 grams (700 x 550mm tested)
  • Details: Super ground casing, Addix Speedgrip Compound, TLE construction
Neal Hunt
Freelance Writer

Neal has been riding bikes of all persuasions for over 20 years and has had a go at racing most of them to a pretty average level across the board. From town center criteriums to the Megavalanche and pretty much everything in between. Neal has worked in the bicycle industry his entire working life, from starting out as a Saturday lad at the local bike shop to working for global brands in a variety of roles; he has built an in-depth knowledge and love of all things tech. Based in Sheffield, UK, he can be found riding the incredible local trails on a wide variety of bikes whenever he can