Tis the season in the UK where just about everywhere is under water, there will have been snow, snow melt and lots of rain, it’s winter after all. Those semi slick tyres that ruled the roost through the spring, summer and into autumn are just not up to the task now and in certain conditions are actually deadly. So what are the best tyres for this time of the year?
Pirelli has one of those fast summer tyres in it’s range called the RC, it also has the Cinturato M (tested here) which is a great all rounder but the winter trails need something more specialised to cope with the conditions. Pirelli have come up with the Cinturato Gravel “S” with the S standing for soft conditions.
On test are the standard black wall version in 700x40mm. They popped onto the 25mm (internal) rims I use with ease, in fact just with a track pump. Your experience may differ as there are a lot of variables at work when seating tyres but in this instance the tyres have stayed on the rim what ever pressure I’ve pumped them up or let them down to. The tyres come with what Pirelli call “techwall” which gives a little more puncture/tear resistance and to date, despite a lot of blackthorn hedge cutting I’ve not noticed any damage or sealant escaping.
The tyre centre tread has some wide spaced knobs that are siped to help spread the rubber as it bites into the soft ground, the shoulder knobs are about twice the height of the centre ones and also siped (almost split)
Riding on these tyres my first thought was that they would not be a great rolling tyre on tarmac given the spaced knobs, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised how well they do roll. Not as fast as a semi slick of course but the penalty for off road grip is low and they bowl along quite happily. This may be down to the 40mm width, they are available in 45 and 50mm too which may give more rolling resistance but offer more cushioning. that said, the tyres run at around 32psi front and 35psi rear never felt uncomfortable on bumpy ground.
As you’d expect, where they do come into their own is in the very soft mud. the knobs cut in and find grip like no other gravel tyre I’ve tried, the relative narrowness may help here too as the tyres cut through the sloppy stuff to find firmer ground beneath. Traction is great and if you can pedal you’ll keep moving forward in all but the slimiest mud. Off camber trail riding and cornering are equally as good giving you confidence to lean the bike further and carry speed through the turns. This comes without the twitchiness on tarmac turns you might find with similar tall knob shouldered tyres.
This tyre is pitched as a soft condition specialist and it is, but I think it’s much more of an all rounder than that. if you are not racing and just want a do it all tyre I’d definitely look at the Cinturato S with perhaps a switch to a wider version for the harder ground in the drier months.
I’ve been using this tyre for around 2.5 months through the worst of the UK weather both on and off road and I can detect no discernable wear yet on the tread, so far so good there but of course I can’t comment on anything longer than that.
I know I’m going to have real angst when it comes to swapping these tyres for a different review set as they’ve been so good, unless those replacements are a tan wall set of the same model which may already be in my shopping basket!
more details on these tyres can be found on Pirelli’s website