Vee Rubber's Rail tyre is designed as a fast gravel/CX choice for smoother or drier conditions, and it excels at that. It's not bad on the road either, with the closely spaced tread keeping it from feeling too draggy. The shoulder tread is aggressive enough to give you a bit of confidence on the loose stuff and they're big enough to take some fairly big hits.
Vee Rubber makes a big range of tyres for every sort of riding, and this one sits in the gravel/cyclo-cross range of three tyres. It's definitely at the gravel end: a 40mm carcass is designed to give you some cushioning and the tread is designed for fast rolling on hardpack rather than grabbing in the mud.
It's a dual-compound tread: the large file-tread centre section is harder, and the larger shoulder knobs softer. That means you get fast rolling and a bit of bite in the corners. It's not the most aggressive of tyres but when you start to lean the bike over on looser surfaces you can certainly feel the shoulder tread start to bite, when more rounded gravel tyres such as Schwalbe's G-One are more inclined to drift.
Fitting the Rails was easy enough, with both tyres up and sealed within about 20 minutes. They weren't an especially tight fit on my WTB rims so they required one more wrap of rim tape, but that's not uncommon. I ran them at around 40psi and that seemed to be about optimum for comfort and keeping the bigger hits from dinging the rims. I didn't have any issues with them losing air either through the carcass or burping out of the bead/rim interface. I used Orange Seal Endurance sealant, which is pretty good at gumming things up.
Overall I've put about 400km into this set of tyres, half of that at the Dirty Reiver, and they're excellent on mixed hardpack surfaces, especially in the dry. They roll well and they're not so heavy or soft in the tread as to feel stodgy or draggy.
Vee Rubber uses its Synthesis woven casing for these tyres, which is lighter and more puncture-resistant than its standard casing, and it gives the tyres a pretty supple feel. They're not super-light at just under 500g, but for the size they're certainly not bad.
There are no obvious holes that sealant has fixed after the Reiver, but what is plain to see is the wear on the tread: the centre file tread has worn significantly, especially on the rear tyre. There's plenty left but the compound is relatively soft, so you'll get through them. That's a trade-off for the amount of grip you get, and I reckon the balance is about right here.
On the road the Rails are decent enough; they're certainly not as quick as Schwalbe's G-One, which remains my favourite all-use tyre, and the raised shoulder makes them scrabble a bit when you lean them over. It depends what your priorities are: if it's mostly road riding with the odd drove road or towpath thrown in, you'll probably be better off with a rounder, slicker big-chamber tyre. But if you want something predominantly for riding off the tarmac, these should be on your list. They'd make a good summer 'cross tyre too. They're pretty good value as well.
Great gravel tyres that roll quickly and bite in the corners
road.cc test report
Make and model: Vee Rubber Rail Tyre
Size tested: 700x40c
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?
Everything about the Rail was designed for speed. From the specialty center and transition knobs for lower rolling resistance to the tapered cornering knobs for quick maneuverability, this cross country tire offers a fast ride.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* TUBELESS READY Yes
* COMPOUND Dual Control Compound
* TPI 120 TPI
* BEAD Folding Bead
* RECOMMENDED PRESSURE 45-85 PSI (3.1-5.9bar)
* ETRTO 40-622
* DUROMETER 48 +/- 2, 56 +/- 2
* WEIGHT (G) 480, 520
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's a very good tyre if you're predominantly going to ride it on gravel-type surfaces or use it for dry summer 'cross. It's not too bad on the road either.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good levels of grip and comfort, easy to seal.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Softish compound isn't that long-lived.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
These are very good gravel tyres. Assuming you want tyres specifically for that, they're more or less ideal. Some others work better as all-rounders.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.