Gravel bike tires: how to choose them by size and terrain

Gravel bike tires: how to choose them by size and terrain

The choice of tires is always one of the most important given their impact on the performance and riding experience of the entire bicycle. When it comes to gravel bike tires, the choice becomes even more relevant, as the gravel bike can be used as a normal road bike, as a bike for cyclocross and as a bike for all surfaces that are in between these two extremes: gravel, dirt roads, cobbles and off-roads worthy of mountain biking.

Furthermore, compared to racing bicycles, the range of gravel bike tires offers a very varied proposal in terms of size and design of the tread and wheel diameter. Since each type of gravel tire is designed for a specific use, it is necessary to have a clear idea of ​​the type of surfaces that are faced for the most. Choosing a tire that is not suitable for the main use of your gravel bike will negatively impact performance and the whole riding experience.

To every terrain its tread

As gravel bicycles can be used on very different surfaces, the offer of treads is very varied but can be summarized in three main types:

Semi-slick tread for maximum smoothness

The best gravel bike tires for those who travel long distances on asphalt and/or very fine and compact gravel. Vittoria Terreno Zero gravel bike tires are the ideal option for those looking for the riding sensation of a road bike with gravel performance. Designed to attack asphalt and clay surfaces, Vittoria Terreno Zero gravel bike tires feature a tread pattern inspired by the legendary Corsa to ensure superior ride comfort and low rolling resistance. The lateral “scaled” tread pattern of Vittoria Terreno Zero gravel bike tires increases smoothness towards the rolling direction and at the same time adheres to the ground when cornering and braking. Terreno Zero is the perfect choice for routes with transitions from asphalt to clay.

Medium knobbly tread

They use low, small and dense lugs in the middle and higher and larger lugs in the side. The best gravel bike tires for those who travel long off-road stretches in dry conditions and short stretches on asphalt. The more pronounced side knobs offer greater grip when cornering and on technical terrain (roots, stones).

Vittoria Terreno Dry gravel bike tires bridge the gap between all-condition tread and slick tread. The special tread pattern of Vittoria Terreno Dry gravel bike tires ensures excellent smoothness and at the same time traction when braking and cornering. The more pronounced side knobs allow grip even in the most difficult corners.
Terreno Mix uses a sliding tread in the central part to minimize rolling resistance but also guarantees traction when braking. When cornering, road holding is ensured by the alternating and open side knobs. These blocks have been specially designed to allow both a soft grip on pavé and clay surfaces, and an optimal grip on grass and dirt.

Aggressive treads

They use more pronounced and spaced apart lugs. The best gravel bike tires for long off-road stretches in wet conditions (on grass, gravel, dirt), for tackling mud and for the most slippery surfaces.

When developing the Terreno Wet tread, Vittoria worked with the top cyclo-cross athletes to gather their wish-list of performance traits that would make the ultimate wet weather weapon. With the open alternating-lugged design and full siping, the Terreno Wet delivers pro performance, in a range of soft and wet terrain.

Best compounds for gravel bike tyres

Also in this case, the type of terrain that is tackled most affects the compound choice. If you ride mainly on asphalt and compact gravel, it is better to choose tires with a hard compound, as it deforms less, offers greater smoothness, and wears more slowly. If, on the other hand, you pedal mainly off-road, on uneven and unpaved terrain at the limit of mountain biking, then it is advisable to choose tires with soft compounds: they deform better, improving grip and traction, but last fewer kilometres than those with hard compounds. Vittoria best gravel bike tires use 3 compounds within the tread with different degrees of hardness / softness in order to offer smoothness, durability and grip in all circumstances.

How to choose the best tyre size for gravel bike

Even the choice of the width (section) of the tire is by no means trivial, as it affects comfort, road holding and safety. Given the versatility of gravel bicycles, tires can be found on the market with widths ranging from gravel bike tyres 700c x 28 to gravel bike tyres 700c x 40 mm:

  • gravel bike tyres 700c x 28
  • gravel bike tyres 700c x 31 [Terreno Dry, Terreno Mix, Terreno Wet]
  • gravel bike tyres 700c x 32 [Terreno Zero]
  • gravel bike tyres 700c x 33 [Terreno Dry, Terreno Mix, Terreno Wet]
  • gravel bike tyres 700c x 35 [Terreno Zero, Terreno Dry, Mezcal]
  • gravel bike tyres 700c x 38 [Terreno Zero, Terreno Dry, Terreno Mix, Terreno Wet]
  • gravel bike tyres 700c x 40

To find the best size for your gravel bike, you need to know the tolerance of the frame and fork. It is useless to immediately aim for the larger sections without having this information. In general, the more the bike is used on asphalt, the more preferable it is to choose narrow sizes. On the contrary, the more you go off-road, the more it is preferable to use wider and therefore more comfortable tires.

Many gravel bicycles are designed for the use of 650B rims, a format closer to the mtb world than 28 inches road wheels. These smaller diameter wheels allow the use of even wider tires. The resulting advantage is being able to use lower air pressures which result in greater traction and grip. 650B tires are recommended for those who want to tackle very technical and rough routes or for bikepacking lovers:

  • 650c x 47 gravel bike tyres size [Terreno Dry, Terreno Zero]
  • 650c × 50 gravel bike tyre size

Tubeless or clincher gravel tyres?

The choice is primarily driven by the type of wheels in possession. Make sure that your wheels are compatible with the use of tubeless tires. The use of these tires allows you to use much lower air pressure without running the risk of the bead getting off the rim. This results in better grip of the tire. The tire with the inner tube inside (clincher) is undoubtedly an easier system to mount; it allows the tire to be reused in the event of a puncture but since it requires higher air pressure to keep the tire beaded, it offers lower performance than tubeless tires in terms of traction, grip and puncture resistance.

Anti-puncture inserts for gravel bike tires

Given the popularity of tubeless tires also in the gravel world, the need to use protective inserts is increasing. Air-Liner Gravel is the anti-puncture insert for gravel tires that allows you to cushion the strongest impacts and avoid pinching. It allows the use of lower operating pressures and to obtain the best performance from your tires. In the event of a puncture, the Air-Liner Gravel allows you to continue pedaling up to 200 km away, even with the tire completely on the ground.