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The Panaracer GravelKing EXT+ TLC copes with British conditions really well thanks to a deeper tread than the rest of the range and increased puncture protection. They are well priced too, but wider sizes would be welcome.
They are all great tyres, but due to their lack of tread depth are kind of limited to dry conditions only. By contrast, the EXT+ has a tread around 2.5mm which can cope when the going is soft. A lot of by-ways and the like are a mixture of gravel and mud so can get slippery in the wet, and these have enough bite to still get traction in all but the sloppiest of conditions.
On the flat and the climbs they minimise wheelspin by shedding mud quickly, and the side knobs dig in on the corners giving plenty of confidence to let the bike go and have some fun.
I mainly used them on my favourite loop, which takes in gravel (obviously), grass, mud and clay, and there I found the EXTs very competent. Wet chalk was probably their toughest challenge and while they still slipped around a bit, they were better than a lot of gravel tyres. The quick tread clearance is the main factor.
At some point you'll probably find yourself riding on the road to string together your gravel sections, and these roll well enough. The middle tread zings along well on the hard surface and, while you lose some purchase in the bends compared to a standard slick, the ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) compound is soft enough you don't have to worry about them sliding out.
At 38mm they're wide enough not to sink in soft conditions, but I'd like to see some wider options: 38mm, 35mm and 33mm are the only choices. For my gravel routes I find 40mm about right, and 45mm even better, especially in the winter.
For puncture protection these use AX, which Panaracer says is an extremely narrow cord woven at super-high densities into the casing, and improves resistance to cuts and abrasions. Also, there is ProTite Shield + Plus (yes really, they're obviously double-plus good), which is a reinforcing material wrapped around the whole tyre. That also protects the sidewalls as well as the main tread.
In practice I found these tyres very robust and durable. Various sections of my rides had seen hedge trimming activity, and I never had any issues with punctures or cuts.
The TLC part means they are tubeless compatible, and I found them simple to fit to a range of wheels using both hooked and hookless rims. The sidewalls wept a tiny bit of sealant after inflation, but taking them straight out for a ride saw them seal up quickly – after that I only had to top them up with air once a week.
At £54.99 these are within a fiver of the Maxxis Ravagers, which Jo described as 'sturdy rufty-tufty proper off-road gravel tyres.'
Schwalbe's G-One Ultrabite is cheaper at £43.99, but Jamie wasn't massively impressed, saying they are heavy (571g versus 474g for the Panaracers) and slow rolling.
While personally I'd like some wider options, I still really rate the EXT+ TLC gravel tyres for year round use in the UK.
Limited width options, but they work really well on wet, slippery gravel trails
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Panaracer GravelKing EXT+ TLC folding tyre
Size tested: 700x38
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 says, "The GravelKing EXT+ is built for the most extreme conditions you can throw at it, with the added puncture protection of our ProTite Shield + Plus technology. The tread design is tailored to work best in muddy and sloppy conditions, and the EXT+ will keep gripping through the absolute worst of it.
"The entire tyre is protected by our ProTite Shield + Plus technology, our most complete puncture protection, whilst the ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) compound offers low rolling resistance for an excellent ride and enhanced wear resistance. Part of our hugely popular GravelKing range, the GravelKing EXT+ TLC is the tyre designed specifically for the loosest gravel and mud you can find."
It is definitely one of the better gravel tyres out there for the British weather and trails.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Tubeless Compatible (up to 60psi)
ZSG Advanced Compound
ProTite Shield + Plus
Sizes: 700 x 33c / 700 x 35c / 700 x 38c
Weight: 370g / 420g / 460g
Colours: Black/Black, Black/Brown
Made in Japan
ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) Natural Compound
This compound has the same low rolling resistance as the Ultima compound. Its enhanced wear resistance makes it perfect for a long-lasting training tyre with an excellent ride.
AX-a Advanced Extra Alpha Cord
AX technology uses extremely narrow cord which is weaved at a super high density into the casing for lightness and flexibility. This increased density improves resistance to cuts and abrasions.
ProTite Shield + Plus
Ultra-strong reinforcing material is wrapped around the whole tyre, with nylon taffeta lining the treads to provide added protection against side cuts as well as punctures from dented rims or piercings.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
More capable in the UK's wet conditions than a lot of other gravel tyres on the market.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Very easy to fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing wider than 38mm.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The price is reasonable against other chunky, value for money tyres like the Maxxis Ravager at £49.99 and the Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite at £43.99.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly, if they were wider
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
These bring the ride quality of the other GravelKing tyres with the added bonus of more grip in the wet. Well priced, a decent weight and offering grip in all gravel conditions, these are very good – although widths are limited compared to some brands.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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!