Schwalbe's new G-One Bite Microskin TL-Easy tyre is an addition to its do-a-bit-of everything all-rounder range, with bigger knobbles and a more pronounced shoulder making them more suited to gravel and hardpacked trails. They are pricey, though, and I'm not massively convinced about their longterm durability on the gravel tracks.
- Pros: Fast on multiple terrain, great grip on gravel and dry trails
- Cons: Expensive, puncture-prone off-road
When Dave tested the standard G-Ones back in 2016 he was very impressed, four-and-a-half stars impressed, and called them, 'Fantastically capable all-rounder tyres for roads, ruts and rocks.' With the G-One Bite, the ruts and rocks can be bigger but without really sacrificing too much on the road. It's a very clever balance.
On the tarmac they roll smoothly. You certainly don't feel like you are riding a treaded tyre and there isn't any extra road noise so riding to your off-road adventure is never a chore.
Cornering grip isn't as good as a slick road tyre, but I never felt out of my comfort zone leaning them over for a bend or circumnavigating a roundabout. I'd scrub off a little more speed than normal, but nothing like I would for a cyclo-cross tyre, for instance.
Gravel & mud
When you get to the gravel or hardpacked trails, though, the fun really begins. Living near Salisbury Plain, the network of gravel tracks I have on my doorstep includes hardpacked perimeter paths used for manoeuvring military tanks and lorries, and the loose aggregate routes that criss-cross between them.
There are 40mph descents and tough climbs and the G-One Bites never put a foot wrong, no matter what type or size of gravel I'm riding over. Grip feels really good and even if things start to move around beneath you, it's always a controlled slide before the pronounced shoulder knobbly bits dig into something to steady the mayhem.
Their 40mm width means they don't sink into the small pea-sized stones that can almost stall a thinner tyre, either.
Now things have started to dry out and the local forest trails have started to harden, the Bites have shown their worth here too. As long as the going is pretty firm, they grip well as you carve a line between the trees and roots, and on short, sharp climbs the tread digs in to stop wheel spin way better than I was expecting.
If things are wetter, the mud quickly builds up and they become slick, so for every metre the wheel travels you've probably done four. It's not really what they are designed for, so it's no biggy, I just happened to ride along a boggy bridleway for about two miles and I thought I'd share the misery.
What's in a name?
Apart from G-One Bite, you'll see there's a little more to the tyre's title. So what's going on?
There's Microskin, for one. This is a fabric layer that's added to the carcass to help it hold air without a tube, especially at high pressures. It certainly seemed to work as they required no more topping up of air than any bike running an inner tube setup.
The whole tyre has a very supple feel about it, especially the way it absorbs bumps – even when I had it pumped up to 70psi if it was going to be a long tarmac section to the start of the gravel shenanigans. So reducing the porousness of the sidewall hasn't had any repercussions.
TL-Easy replaces what Schwalbe used to call TL-R or tubeless ready. TL-R tyres weren't actually tubeless, but they could be made to be with a bit of faffing around.
TL-Easy tyres use a monofilament texture on the sidewalls, which ensures an extremely light tubeless conversion, according to Schwalbe. Plus, even though the use of sealing liquid is still necessary, fitting is as easy as with genuine tubeless tyres. In fact Schwalbe has replaced all of its tubeless tyres with the T-LE versions.
Fitment was certainly quick and simple just using a standard track pump, with the bead popping into place with little issue. One of them I had to fettle a little bit to get it to sit right, but no more than I've had to with some tubed tyres.
The Kona Rove DL test bike I was riding (review to come) was crying out for some lighter tyres, so I fitted the Bites (with tubes as the wheels weren't set up for tubeless) and again installation was simple. In fact the ride wasn't even that much different.
My only issue with the G-One Bites is that I picked up quite a few punctures over the test period, in both tubed and tubeless guise. The tread just seems a little bit fragile compared to the cheap, basic Schwalbe CX tyres I've been hammering around on the same gravel for the best part of a year plus the 2017 edition of Dirty Reiver, without a single flat.
The Bites are covered in quite a few tiny little cuts between the knobbles after just 200 miles of off-road riding, and considering the £58 price tag could become expensive over the course of a year.
Slipping seamlessly into value, let's take a look at the competition...
Panaracer's GravelKing SK tyre is a good place to start, especially as David Arthur gave them four and a half stars, and he knows a thing or two about off-road tyres. They are bit wider than these Bites at 43mm and they are priced at just £39.99.
The Kenda Cholla Pro also scored well thanks to its off-road ability, and can be had for £37.99.
It's not all one-way, though, as the high-scoring Clement X'Plor MSO tyres are 60 quid.
So, where does this leave us? I reckon if you want an excellent performing tyre on gravel and firm trails without sacrificing quality on the road, the Schwalbes are definitely worth the investment. They are brilliant tyres that just work, but you have to accept that they aren't going to be the most durable option.
Grippy performance on tarmac and gravel at the cost of durability
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Schwalbe G-One Bite MicroSkin TL-Easy
Size tested: 700x38C
Tell us what the product is for
Schwalbe says, "This G-One feels pretty good on the road, but its true strength comes through off-road. G-One Bite is constructed for more off-road use than its stablemates. The open tread design and strong outer blocks provide stability when cornering and deliver this G-One the perfect 'Bite'."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The most advanced tire technology. Tubeless is the best choice for all ambitious cyclists. Tubeless tires offer clear advantages in speed, comfort, grip and especially puncture resistance. For MTB, ROAD, TOUR and WHEELCHAIR.
TUBELESS EASY ROAD
Revolutionary design. Now Tubeless Easy is possible for high pressure tires.
Perfectly adapted to the specific purpose.
The very best possible highest grade materials latest technology.
Compared to Panaracer GravelKings they are about 20 quid more expensive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For gravel use they are very hard to beat, while still being very good on the road.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Off-road grip and speed on the road.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? If I could get a good deal on the price.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
When it comes to performance the Bites really can't be faulted, on the road but especially off it. For that performance you do sacrifice durability, and I don't know if I could cope with writing off a £58 tyre so easily. That knocks their excellent score for performance down a point.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike 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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!