I’ve been commuting to work on standard nobbly gravel tyres and been trying to go the shortest way there and back, as you do. Obviously the tyres that work well off road don’t roll that fast on tarmac so i fitted a pair of WTB byways to a set of 650b wheels. The byways roll fine but i just can’t seem to get on well with the smaller diameter wheels. It’s probably just my imagination but they seem to roll less efficiently than the bigger 700 wheels i have.
I’ve been on the lookout for a 700 tyre that wasn’t too narrow, but wasn’t an out and out road tyre that could do some dry off roading, sometimes i take a longer canal based route, but would roll well on the black top. The Hutchinson overides seemed to fit the bill on paper so I decided to buy a pair to try out, here’s what I found.
The tyres have a diamond shape tread pattern that is shallow in the middle and slightly taller on the shoulders to aid cornering traction (designed for dry conditions). they are tubeless set up ready and come in tan wall or black wall versions. I chose the 38mm version and they seated easily on some 25mm internal width rims.
First thing to say is that these are not road tyres. They are designed for hard pack off road/gravel conditions. the type of conditions we get one or two days a year if we are lucky in the UK! So rolling resistance isn’t going to be as good as an out and out road tyre but if i did choose to go a more gravely route they would still work.
One thing that did surprise me when they arrived was the minimum and maximum pressures stated on the tyre side wall. A max pressure of 80psi is fairly standard on this tyre of tyre but a minimum of 43psi for a gravel tyre is pretty high. I usually run my tyres 35-40psi depending on conditions on the rear and more around 30 on the front. Hutchinson do say these are gravel tyres though but even 43psi makes them quite harsh on hardpack trails and doesn’t help with traction when cornering. I did experiment with a lower pressure and they didn’t roll off the rim and did give more confidence when cornering.
Being the UK when we have a dry spell of weather it doesn’t mean that everything is parched and dusty, there will be wet and muddy patches and hitting these at speed did become “interesting” and does make you back off the power some what. Climbing on hardpack was great and the low rolling resistance does equal a higher average speed. Just watch the traction on the rear wheel on wet sections if standing up, you will feel a little less adhesion.
On road these tyres are great. I increased the pressure to around 65psi and as you’d expect they do zip along compared to more nobbly tyres. Having used tyres that have a slightly raised shoulder before and found them quite squirmy on tarmac when leaning the bike over in turns I was interested to see how these performed. I was pleasantly surprised that these didn’t move at all and I’ve been confident to turn into corners and carry speed through without wondering if the bike was going to move under me.
So, for the purpose I wanted the tyres they are great, they roll well and make my commute to work easier. Off road they work well for the conditions they are designed for but they have a limited window of operation in my local area. If you live in an area that gets dry trails they would be a good all rounder especially for frames with limited clearance. The high minimum pressure does make for a harsher ride though if you follow the manufacturers instructions.