Hutchinson Tundra Gravel Tyre Review

First of all, if you are reading this in a nice dry dusty part of the world where winter means the weather gets a little colder, there’s occasional light rain but you know you can put your ride off until the next day as it’ll be dry, then i feel I need to explain the winter conditions in the UK.

Unless you are in the far north of the union which gets lots of snow then riding conditions in the UK from December to April (and sometimes beyond) can range from damp to full on emergency flood, this means the trails that were dusty in July and August could now be a swamp resembling farm slurry to a deep clay field with the potential to mould a complete terracotta army. In short it is VERY muddy. I get a lot of messages, mainly from the US asking why I ride on these trails as “it trashes them man, we don’t abuse our trails, why do you ride in the weather?” and I always replay that those trails have probably been there and used since prehistoric times and they’ll stand up to many more thousands of years use by foot, horse and tyre. (hooves do a lot more damage, but that’s a whole other debate) and as for riding in that weather? well, it’s the only one we’ve got and it you wait for it to stop raining, it could literally be weeks before your next ride.

In order to ride these trails and stay upright and not spend most of the time lying on the ground you need a decent mud tyre. one that can also handle riding on tarmac without too much rolling resistance. This is difficult for tyre designers, a nice tall knobbly tyre with a soft compound is ideal for squidgy off road conditions but literally sucks on tarmac and those tall knobs will move around when leaning the bike through corners and feel very disconcerting. To date, in my opinion the WTB Sendero is the best mud gravel tyre, however it’s only available in 650b/27.5″ size. There’s no out and out mud gravel tyre in 700c. So you can imagine how happy and curious I was when Hutchinson sent me a pair of their Tundra tyres to try out.

Hutchinson are a French company and so I hoped this was reflected in the design rather than one designed in California!

Labelled as designed for “mixed, rocky and muddy” conditions I popped them on my wheels, and it was a pop, they were a dream to seat on a set of DT swiss rims with no tubeless issues since. They are stated as 700×45 and on 25mm internal rims they measure just under 46mm so pretty bang on. They have a lower central chevron pattern that’s quite well spaced out and a taller knobblier edge on each side to help cornering. They are available in black or (the essential) tan wall versions

Riding, I was instantly surprised how well these tyres roll on tarmac, they emit a soft whine as they scoot along but I’ve never felt that they were holding me back even at off road pressures (approx 32psi front, 35psi rear) and the side knobs that I thought might cause concern when leaning the bike hard over have never been an issue and I don’t even think about it now when changing direction quickly. Would this mean they were more tarmac than mud though? I needn’t have worried, these tyres are great in my local conditions. They grip in the local deep leaf litter, clay and sandy soil very well. if you can keep pedalling they will dig in and find grip add some climbing technique, and I’m no expert, they will continue propelling you forward or upward. They won’t win out in every situation, not even a moto x tyre backed up with an engine will but I’ve been surprised at the conditions they will work in. The tyres also clear sticky mud quickly, something essential for me as the local clay soil clogs tyres and eventually will stop the wheels rotating!

I’ve had these tyres on the bike since the beginning of December and it’s now mid January so I can’t comment on the longevity of the compound but given that they roll so well on tarmac I don’t think they are super soft and will not wear out quickly. really though, where they excel is off road and after all that’s where all the fun is. So are they a contender for best mud tyre compared to the benchmark Sendero? I’d say yes they are and they come in the more popular 700 size. I would say watch your sizing though if you have clearance issues with your frame. 45mm is pretty wide when the tyre is mud covered and starts dragging stones through the frame before they have chance to clear. Hutchinson has you covered there with narrower widths available though and I’ve seen the tyres for as little as £38 each in places which is a bargain in the world of £90 gravel tyres!

For a great all round late Autumn, winter and early Spring tyre you’d be very wise to consider the Hutchinson Tundra gravel tyre.

For a good look at the tyres and how they ride check out the video below

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