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Verdict: 
A fast and capable gravel tyre ideal for exploring trails and good for cyclo-cross too
Weight: 
310g
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Last year I tested the 28mm Panaracer Gravelking tyre and found it ideal for rough roads and winter cycling, but Panaracer have since added a 32mm version with a knobbly tread pattern and it excels on dry gravel tracks.

Its name and time of launch suggest it's been inspired by the growing gravel riding and racing scene, hugely popular over in the US where there are miles upon miles of gravel tracks. While the UK can't boast the same number (though Wales and Scotland have a fair few) and gravel racing hasn't made the trip across the Atlantic just yet, the idea of mixing up road rides with a dose of off-road terrain has caught on. As well as Panaracer meeting this demand, bike manufacturers are also stepping up with a new category of road bikes with big tyre clearance (check out our buyer's guide to adventure and gravel bikes).

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The Gravelking can handle dirt and mud yet is a reasonably swift tyre on the road too. First impressions are that it looks very similar to some cyclo-cross tyres, and at 32mm wide it is inside the UCI's maximum width rule for 'cross racing, if you care about such matters. It's constructed with a 126tpi (threads per inch) casing and weighs 310g. That's a pretty good weight for a tyre of this size and build; there are plenty of much lighter cyclo-cross tyres in a similar width, but Panaracer have given the Gravelking a beefy sidewall and build to ensure it can cope with some abuse.

The tyre tread features rows of low-profile blocks along the central section, with longer blocks on the shoulders. It's reasonably close in appearance to other cyclo-cross tyres, but the Panaracer does have a lower profile than most of the popular dry weather CX tyre choices.

That close arrangement of central blocks ensures the tyre zips along the road at a decent lick. You certainly notice the weight when making sudden turns, but it's only just over 60g heavier than the 28mm Gravelking, so the penalty isn't a huge one. The big volume provides plenty of comfort and, run at a low pressure, ensures the Gravelking just soaks up every ripple and divot in the road. You don't get as much cushioning as some of the much wider tyres, and you can't take quite the same liberties when busting along a rocky track, but it balances the demands of a tyre that is speedy on the road with enough capability when heading into the trees.

It's on mixed surface riding that the Gravelking excels. Ride along the road for a while, spot a bridleway sign, turn off the road and just head down a narrow dusty (or more likely squidgy) track and simply see where it goes. The tyre opens up your riding choice loads, so if you want to explore away from your usual roads, the Gravelking gives you the ability and confidence to do just that. Durability has been good, too, with the tough sidewall standing up to punishment when riding through rocky terrain and running low pressures to find traction in softer conditions.

I found some gravel tracks in the shape of the Fosse Way through the Cotswolds, and mixed in some bridleways and muddy tree-lined trails in the local woods, where I usually take a mountain bike, to make a nice testing loop. The Gravelking, as expected, excelled best in the dry, and on the dusty Fosse Way it ripped along the loose gravel with plenty of control. The tyre also does well on the dirt but can struggle when it's muddy - on the flat, momentum and a smidgen less pressure can get you through, but it can be a bit squirmy. It's worth experimenting with tyre pressure to suit your weight, and also the ratio of road to trail you expect to encounter. I happily took on a 100km ride recently with a third of it on trails and in the woods and it was one of the most enjoyable outings I've done in a long while.

While the Gravelking isn't as fast as a regular slick tyre, if you desire the ability to add in a good dose of gravel, dirt or grassy track to your riding, this tyre provides the ideal blend of traction and durability for most trails you'll encounter in the UK. You could use them for summer cyclo-cross racing, they're fast and light enough, but you could happily use them on a tour, audax ride or on one of the new breed of adventure/gravel bikes and go explore some trails.

Verdict

A fast and capable gravel tyre ideal for exploring trails and good for cyclo-cross too

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Panaracer Gravel King

Size tested: 700 x 32

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?

Panaracer say: "Looking for a tire that's more tread aggressive and wider than the mixte-tread narrower Gravelking? The 32 might just be the tire you need for the more hardcore roads. Aggressive knobs, natural rubber compound, puncture protection breaker and a special low rolling resistance casing make the Gravelking a go-anywhere tire."

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

SIZES BEAD ETRO TPI WEIGHT

700 x 32c Aramid 32-622 126 320g.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
7/10
Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

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

Really good tyre for mixing up road and off-road terrain, with good rolling speed and reasonable weight. Comfort is good too.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Plenty of grip and comfort on dry gravel tracks and singletrack, but they do struggle in the wet.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

For their intended application there's nothing to dislike. They're going to work best if they suit your local trails and tracks and the amount of off-road riding you want to do.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

While they're not as fast as a regular slick tyre, if you want the ability to add in a good dose of gravel, dirt or grassy trail to your riding, the Panaracer Gravelking tyres provide the ideal blend of traction and durability for most trails you'll encounter in the UK. They're fast and light enough for summer cyclo-cross racing, but you could also use them touring, on an audax ride, or stick them on one of the new breed of adventure/gravel bikes and go explore some trails.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

 

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

15 comments

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badback [302 posts] 3 years ago
0 likes

How did you find it for resistance to pinch punctures ? (Running Schwalbe Land Cruisers at the moment which seem a lot better than some cross tyres I have tried)

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skull-collector... [144 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

Putting them on was on of the most difficult things I have done. Pinched about 5 inner tubes before I managed to put a set on.

So stiff!

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bigant [43 posts] 3 years ago
1 like

Nice if you could add a pic of it mounted an inflated.

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crikey [1251 posts] 3 years ago
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Panaracer do a semislick tyre called the Mach SS which is £15. It's quick enough on the road and has bigger side knobs than these as well as the advantage of being half the price...

//www.cyclesuperstore.ie/shop/pc/catalog/medium/pa705macssb.jpg)

3 Peaks worthy too.

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alotronic [590 posts] 3 years ago
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Haven't tried the panaracer above, but have used a set of similar shaped from hutchinson I think on a road bike. All was well until you tried to go around a corner on the road - the deep lugs became very flexy, the tyres lost all traction and it was not a pleasant experience. I took them off after one ride. That shape would be ok for dawdling on a two path or keeping things upright, but not for general road riding. YMMV!

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antigee [513 posts] 3 years ago
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comment "beefed up side walls" grabbed my attention, ride a lot of gravel roads here in Victoria, Aus, and side wall wear is definitely an issue and I think rules out some CX racing specific tyres - will give these a go I reckon

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bob cummings [1 post] 3 years ago
1 like

I live in Kansas in the USA right in the heart of the largest gravel scene in the country. I did the Dirty Kanza 200 this year on the Panaracer Gravel King 32 and had zero tire issues. Finished up 3rd in my age group. I love this tire! I do thousands of gravel miles racing and training every year and this is hands down the best tire I have ever used.

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msholit [3 posts] 3 years ago
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i have the 28mm gravelking and love it, but how does the rolling resistance of the 32mm compare? looking for my next set of tires for the other 'bike'.

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Fish_n_Chips [562 posts] 2 years ago
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skull-collector-not-really wrote:

Putting them on was on of the most difficult things I have done. Pinched about 5 inner tubes before I managed to put a set on. So stiff!

 

These were the most difficult tyre I've put on in my 36 years of riding including sine motorcycle tyres. 2 of us struggled and the tyre looks like a 680c. If I get a puncture, then it's a taxi ride home as I won't be able to get these off. Snapped 2 levers, bent steel lecers, wrecked 3 tubes and scratched my rims.  I should have stopped straight away and bought another set of tyres and binned these.

 

 

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reippuert [108 posts] 2 years ago
0 likes

Just mounted a pair of 40mm SK's on DT R460db rims tubless - easyer than mounting, seating and sealing any tubless  MTB tire on my MTB Sun-ringle Black Flag wheels.

They are replacing a pair of  35mm Compass Extralight (293g AND tubeless) that are just too nice for a autum/winter tire and  because they are beginning to loose traction on trail in the local woods.

Initial impression at 40 psi:

Fast rolling on tarmac, but not as fast as the Extralights (which would have been insane since they are way faster than a par of  25mm veloflex clinchers or pair of 25mm Conti Competition tubs).

Acceleration and wind resistance: is  affected by the added whith (43mm vs 35mm) and  an additional 200g pr. wheel.

Wett weather grib on nice cultured urban gravel trancks, hardpack, tarmac and lots of wet leaves: insane.

Comfort: relly comfortable due to generous volume and reasonable flexible carcase - carcase reminds me of my 27mm Vittoria Pave tubs. aka tough and very nice.

Really looking forward to take the in to the local gravekl yracks in the woods and through the local singletrack courses next weekend. the 35mm Extralight slicks  forced be to get off and walk last weekend - even thoug the tracks and leaves where still reasonable dry (dry season is defenately over now)

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reippuert [108 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
badback wrote:

How did you find it for resistance to pinch punctures ? (Running Schwalbe Land Cruisers at the moment which seem a lot better than some cross tyres I have tried)

My SK40's - imposible to puncture, therad dont wear at all when riding on paved roads.

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kil0ran [1190 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Found these incredibly difficult to get on and was dreading a puncture but actually once they've been on for a while they're easier to remount - popped straight over the rim no problem

On the downside - sidewalls don't appear to be particularly puncture-proof - 2cm cut in mine, right through the carcass, and will need a tyre boot I guess. No idea what did it, can't find a hole in the tube and there wasn't a rapid deflation. Stopped as soon as I felt it. Wondering if it was a leaky valve resulting in loss of pressure causing a pinch in the tyre carcass rather than the tube.

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kil0ran [1190 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes
kil0ran wrote:

Found these incredibly difficult to get on and was dreading a puncture but actually once they've been on for a while they're easier to remount - popped straight over the rim no problem

On the downside - sidewalls don't appear to be particularly puncture-proof - 2cm cut in mine, right through the carcass, and will need a tyre boot I guess. No idea what did it, can't find a hole in the tube and there wasn't a rapid deflation. Stopped as soon as I felt it. Wondering if it was a leaky valve resulting in loss of pressure causing a pinch in the tyre carcass rather than the tube.

So, this turns out to be a rim-specific issue. Swapped them to new wheels and went on easier than the 25mm GP4Seasons they replaced.

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Thelma Viaduct [83 posts] 1 year ago
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bob cummings wrote:

I live in Kansas in the USA right in the heart of the largest gravel scene in the country. I did the Dirty Kanza 200 this year on the Panaracer Gravel King 32 and had zero tire issues. Finished up 3rd in my age group. I love this tire! I do thousands of gravel miles racing and training every year and this is hands down the best tire I have ever used.

Bob. Have you ever used a slick gravelking tubeless? Are they safe to do so? What sizes? Cheers, TV

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Geraldaut [61 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Panaracer Gravelkings are great and really cheap, at least in France you get the all for 20 EUR or less:

https://www.probikeshop.fr/route/cyclocross-pneus-et-chambres-a-air-c4100.html#t=0&manId=164&catId=4100&page=1&display_mode=3&sales=false

 

 

I guess no commission for road.cc but you won't find at a better price (the non-tubeless versions at least)...