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Verdict: 
Quite possibly the perfect tyres for gravel bikes, not bad for traditional cyclo-cross and fun, lots of fun
Weight: 
493g
Surly Knard 41 tyres
9 10

Fatter tyres for road bikes have gained acceptance and are pretty much the norm now, the same thing's happened to mountainbike tyres, and now, finally, cyclo-cross is getting a bit of chubby action with tyres such as this Surly Knard.

This has been nudged forward by more and more cyclo-cross bikes being used for anything but cyclo-cross, in the traditional sense of racing around for an hour on a Sunday, and ridden instead for commuting, mixing it up between tarmac and dirt, and just heading off into the horizon. It's something that's spawned a new genre of bikes labeled for Pro-Commuting, Adventure, Gravel, All Road or whatever a manufacturer cares to calls their bike that sits somewhere between a cyclo-cross bike and a rugged tourer. The sort of riding where a more general type of tyre is required, less specific to slithering round in grassy mud, unencumbered by a tyre size rule, and more of a do-it-all tread.

The Knard 41 fits into this new role perfectly. With a 700x41mm carcass the Knard is significantly beefier than the normal mid-30's width cyclo-cross tyre, and should offer both more comfort, grip and all-round versatility.

Despite a stated weight of 465g individual tyres seem to vary quite considerably from this, the test pair came in at 477g and 509g each, so if weight bothers you then be that annoying person in the bike shop with the scales. That aside they're not a noticeably heavy tyre for such a big hoop of CX rubber and rotating them up to speed isn't perceptibly any draggier than a standard cyclo-cross tyre. They could even be described as chirpy for their girth.

Tread pattern isn't particularly sophisticated, comprised mostly of simply patterned aggressive square blocks with only the edge knobs being rectangular to allow for lean and grip in the corners. There's not much wrong with square knobs though. It's a tread that happily copes with just about anything you care to rumble it across, be that tarmac, dirt, gravel, grit, sand, grass and even mud. It's not going to excel in any specific terrain because it's not designed to, but if your route from A to B crosses a variety of terrains, counties or countries then the Surly tyre will roll merrily along and nary put a foot wrong. The Knard can get a little bit out of its depth when the going gets proper cyclo-cross muddy, but the tread clears pretty well despite all the knobs and the extra footprint of a 41mm tyre over a normal slim CX tread means it can find grip well out the reach of thinner tyres and you can survive much more slop than you thought possible.

A lot of more traditional cyclo-cross bikes might struggle to fit a 41mm tyre in the rear triangle, but if you can't find room for the Knard out the back there's nothing wrong with mounting one just on the front, there should easily be room inside your 'cross fork. Even just levering the Knard onto the front wheel can make a big difference to the ride feel of your bike; with an appreciable increase in comfort - you could almost call it suspension - and adding more confidence and control off-road too. But you might need to compensate with some extra air in the rear tyre, for while the fatter Knard will happily float over and soak up lumps and bumps the skinnier rear tyre still has to deal with them, and at a faster harder-hitting speed that the chunkier more forgiving Knard encourages, pinch punctures are inevitable.

If your CX/Gravel Grinder/Adventure/Bridleway Basher/All Road bicycle has room front and back then shoeing it with a pair of Knard 41s will allow the bike to live up to its marketing dreams. The volume and tread of the tyre will take you pretty much anywhere you'd care to go, and cope with the added weight of luggage should you wish to go along that pack trail. Obviously you'll have to take care over anything outrageously rocky, but they'll get you further than a lot of 700C off-road tyres.

And on top of all of this they're just a lot of fun. If you're used to tip-toeing about on a pair of emaciated cyclo-cross tyres then beefing up to a set of Knards will change where and how you ride. You can ride harder, faster and with a bigger grin on your face, especially If your penchant is to take your CX down inappropriate trails more suited to mountain bikes. Slipping a set of size 41s on will release quite the agro side to your usually delicate cross bike.

But they're not just for adventuring and mucking about, if you're dong a cyclo-cross race that's not hindered by a 33mm tyre size ruling you could do worse than try the Knard or two. Depending on the course that fatter tyre could be used to an advantage, allowing you to take faster, shorter and more aggressive lines over lumpier course features whilst others are mincing around them on their scrawny fragile tyres.

Verdict

Quite possibly the perfect tyres for gravel bikes, not bad for traditional cyclo-cross and fun, lots of fun

road.cc test report

Make and model: Surly Knard 41 tyres

Size tested: 700cx41

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

This is a similar Knard tread Surly previously introduced on a 29 x 3in casing, made up of low, closely spaced knobs, an effective tread for going fast over varied terrain. Surly chose 41mm because it's meaty enough to conform to the ground surface, absorb irregularities and provide a decent sized contact patch. Both the 27 and 120tpi casings do a good job and feel lively, though the 120tpi is lighter, more supple, and features a folding bead.

A sized down version of a fat tyre for your CX bike indeed.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

ETRTO: 700c x 41mm (622mm ETRTO, 41mm casing width) (Note: 23–30mm recommended rim size.)

Casing: 120tpi with Kevlar bead (465g) 27tpi wire bead (650g)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

The 120tpi construction of the folding tyres make them light and supple, and despite oodles of use they're holding up well with little sign of wear.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

For a fat do-anything CX tyre they're brilliant, and a bunch of giggles.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

These tyres have been given a beating and they're surviving well.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10

For the size of tyre, not so bad, and not really noticeable on the wheel.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
10/10

Significantly cushier than your standard CX tyre.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

A fair price for this kind of tyre, the wire bead version at £19.99 will appeal to the more budget and less performance orientated rider.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very versatile, fun and fit-and-forget fat cyclo-cross or adventureverything tyre.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Comfort, grip, 'ride everything' ability, fun.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Won't fit in the back of some bikes.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, muchly.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes. I also want my next CX bike to have the capacity to fit these front and back.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 47  Height: 180cm  Weight: 73kg

I usually ride: It varies as to the season.  My best bike is: The one I\'m on at the time

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, cyclo cross, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Fun

 

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

11 comments

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skull-collector... [144 posts] 2 years ago
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Just got these on my new Surly Straggler. I've done over 300 km on them now, I was unlucky to get a puncture caused by a thorn after the 80th km.

They produce a nice humm, when going over good quality surfaces, and offer very good grip on paths that aren't too rocky.

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Matt_S [291 posts] 2 years ago
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Good stuff. Just got a pair of these that are waiting to be mounted up to my Tripster.

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MNgraveur [93 posts] 2 years ago
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Not sure I see the advantages of these over something like a Clement USH or MSO, both of which are lighter and run faster on pavement and packed dirt/gravel. I ride at least a couple of thousand miles on gravel/year, for whatever that's worth. I've never felt the need for anything wider than 32/35.

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psclarke [15 posts] 2 years ago
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I've 42c Conti Cyclocross Speeds on my Genesis CdA: they're probably a bit slower than the 23c GP 4000s and 28c Duranos I have on other bikes (weight and rolling resistance), but they make up for it in not having to care about road surface.

They float over crappy, broken tarmac so you can take the line you choose, rather than where the texture of the road forces you. So it's generally a nicer ride and in the right situation (long-term under-investment in road repair) getting from A-B is faster.

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happy_otter [9 posts] 2 years ago
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What if you want a do-it-all tire with puncture protection? Any recommendations? All I can think of is the Conti TourRide...

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hylozoist [65 posts] 2 years ago
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psclarke wrote:

I've 42c Conti Cyclocross Speeds on my Genesis CdA: they're probably a bit slower than the 23c GP 4000s and 28c Duranos I have on other bikes (weight and rolling resistance), but they make up for it in not having to care about road surface.

They float over crappy, broken tarmac so you can take the line you choose, rather than where the texture of the road forces you. So it's generally a nicer ride and in the right situation (long-term under-investment in road repair) getting from A-B is faster.

Fellow CdA owner here  1

While these tyres are quite good to ride, I initally found the getting from A-B time considerably slower due to their puncture-tastic properties. Nearly every ride on surfaces from trail to tarmac resulted in a visit from the fairy, until I gave up and lined the damn things with Panaracer Flataway tape. Dunno, maybe it was a bad batch, or just bad luck.

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BlodadTand [8 posts] 2 years ago
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@happy_otter The Schwalbe Marathon Extreme is one to look at. I think they may have been discontinued but are still available from places online like SJS.

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bendertherobot [1435 posts] 2 years ago
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happy_otter wrote:

What if you want a do-it-all tire with puncture protection? Any recommendations? All I can think of is the Conti TourRide...

Vittoria Hyper Voyager at PX.

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johnvile@gmail.com [4 posts] 2 years ago
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Go tubeless with Vittoria Cross XG Pro Cyclocross Bike Tyre, mount for speed or grip, their fairly bullet proof and good value for money. they roll like treacle with tubes in but as tubeless Tyre their fairly quick.
I don't by anything else now. They do just about everything, that said - on road performance is a tad sluggish, but that's the trade off for hearing flint and all manner of nasty stuff bounce of them when your off road.

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Coodsta [113 posts] 2 years ago
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MNgraveur wrote:

I've never felt the need for anything wider than 32/35.

Putting bigger volume tyres on my cross bike was a bit of a revelation, suddenly I wasn't loosing teeth on downhills & I could keep up with my ride buddies who were on MTBs, without loosing too much speed on road. admittedly I'm not a racer any more, unless trying to beat your mates counts.

happy_otter wrote:

What if you want a do-it-all tire with puncture protection? Any recommendations? All I can think of is the Conti TourRide...

+ 1 for the Conti speed rides, they're the best do it all tyre I've come across. they are overwhelmed in anything that resembles mud but for tarmac, forest roads etc they are fine. So far I've been running them on my SSCX bike for about a year & the puncture pixies have only visited once. They are fairly light when you compare them to schwalbe marathons (i have both) saving about 200 grams a tyre or something, but the marathons are indestructible, guess it's down to what's more important to you, puncture resistance/ rolling resistance.

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monty dog [463 posts] 2 years ago
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Just taken my Knards on a 120km offroad spin down to Queen Elizabeth Country Park and back - the majority being bridleways and rough tracks over the North Downs. Ideal tyres for this kind of ride - big volume really helps, particularly where there are patches of deep sand but still rolls at 30kph on tarmac if needed.