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review

Panaracer GravelKing Slick TLC

9
£49.99

VERDICT:

9
10
The ideal tyre for rough roads – very fast, very light and yet robust
Lots of grip
Great on poor roads or light gravel
Light
Fast rolling
Can be tough to mount
Weight: 
309g
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The Panaracer GravelKing Slick TLC isn't actually a 'gravel' tyre as such, despite the name, but it excels in any kind of on-road/bad road scenario. It's also very light and has a seriously low rolling resistance its width, which makes it a very fast tyre no matter the terrain. Puncture protection is also pretty solid, despite lacking the ProTite protection of the slightly more expensive 'Plus' version.

We've already reviewed this tyre in the 32mm width and the more puncture-protected (and heavier) 'Plus' 38mm version, and here we are now with the 35mm – a size that's probably becoming a little less popular as ever wider is becoming the norm. Still, there's reason not to discount the middle-of-the-road 35mm option.

Big(ish) in Japan

This is an excellent tyre that's ideally suited to a wide variety of surfaces. It might be gravel by name, but not really by nature – yes, it will do gravel, but these Japanese tyres are at best on rough roads, which is essentially the majority of roads in the UK. As with the other sizes, you get the ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) natural compound which offers low rolling resistance and low wear characteristics.

At 309g per tyre it's pretty light, and only 19g heavier than the 32mm version. Meanwhile the 38s give a slightly bigger jump at 337g, so you could argue these are the sweet spot for weight versus width. Certainly they're a lot lighter than the outgoing 40mm Schwalbe G-One All Round tyres that came with my all-roads/gravel bike, which are about 480g.

This could really be felt on the climbs, where the 171g saving per wheel really made itself known. On recent club rides I found myself near the front of the pack where I'd normally be with my summer bike on 28s, and on the really steep climbs around the Mendips I was even able to get up without dropping into the biggest cog – performance on the road is hardly lacking.

Rock and rolling

As for speed, they certainly feel fast, though the G-One All Round tyres were actually pretty quick on the flats already. That said, bicyclerollingresistance.com scores them very highly in this regard, ranking them at number four in the list with a resistance of 20.4W, which is only just behind the 16.6W of a Continental GP5000 S TR 32mm tyre – that's impressive considering the GP5000 is a pure(ish) road tyre. It's actually slightly lighter than the narrower Conti too, at 309g versus 320g.

As with the 38mm versions, the 35mm comes up big – an actual 38mm on 25mm internal-rim Hunt wheels, which is a fair bit bigger. That's not a bad thing if your bike frame allows for it. Interestingly, the G-Ones actually measure 39mm, which is less than the factory spec of 40mm.

I found fitting these a bit of a nightmare, though that could just be my Hunt rims. Getting that last bit of tyre over the rim was nigh on impossible with conventional means. Tyre levers were useless (I actually broke one before giving up), and in the end it took soapy water on everything and a pair of grippy rubber gloves to roll the tyre over the edge. Not fun.

Inflating them was no issue, however, and a tubeless inflator took both to the maximum 60psi.

> 29 of the best gravel bike tyres for 2021 – get the right go-anywhere rubber

Against my winter G-Ones the Slick+ TLCs don't sacrifice much in terms of grip, and they're similar for comfort – they're pretty plush across rough surfaces. I've been running them at about 38psi and weigh 175lbs, and that seems to be the sweet spot for speed and comfort.

Smooth or chunky?

These are definitely not the things for day rides across proper chunky gravel, though. The tread profile is very minimal, with no pronounced edges to claw their way through loose stones or mud. They work fine when you're just going along, but I wouldn't fancy fast descents or gnarly corners on them. I managed to lose the back end for a second on one fast, gravel-dotted corner, and vowed never to repeat the experience.

On smoother surfaces – such as a tow paths – they're perfect, and just brilliant on any generally crappy roads. Loads of predictable grip gives you the confidence to attack them without fear of coming unstuck.

> The 10 best road bike tyres 2022 – rubber for speed, durability and puncture resistance

During the test I had no punctures, and I can't see any evidence of any cuts or damage after 500 miles. Panaracer offers a slightly beefier version – the GravelKing Slick+ TLC – though there's a slight weight penalty to its slightly denser weave.

Value

At £49.99, the Slick is a decent price. Its closest competitor, in my opinion, is the Schwalbe G-One Allround. If you go for the slightly slower Performance version it's cheaper at £44.99, though the newer and racier Evolution version is £59.99. That said, it's a better alternative if your riding tends towards the gravel end of the spectrum.

Overall

Though it's the 'Slick' part of the name that counts more than the 'Gravel,' these tyres will handle practically anything you can throw at them on road. They're also very fast in a way that will make you wish for better clearance on your road bike, with incredibly low rolling resistance and very low weight for their width. Comfort is excellent too, and though I found fitting a struggle, me (and my rims) could be in the minority here.

Verdict

The ideal tyre for rough roads – very fast, very light and yet robust

road.cc test report

Make and model: Panaracer GravelKing Slick+ TLC

Size tested: 700x35

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 Slick TLC is for cyclists looking to expand their cycling horizons. Need a fast tyre with a bit more bulk for comfort, sportives or even cross riding? The Slick is the perfect tyre for those looking to take their road bike onto some of the rougher stuff with the convenience of Tubeless Compatibility. Tubeless compatible, when running at less than 60psi.

"Anti-Flat Casing and AX-a Advanced Extra Alpha Cord technology mean you'll be getting a lightweight tyre with fantastic puncture protection, whilst the ZSG Natural Compound will provide excellent traction even on the slickest of treads. Perfect for the rides that go from the cycle track, to the road, to the towpaths."

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

Tubeless Compatible (up to 60psi)

ZSG Natural Compound

AX-a Advanced Extra Alpha Cord

Anti-Flat Casing

Sizes: 700 x 32c / 700 x 35c / 700 x 38c / 27.5 x 1.50 / 27.5 x 1.75 / 27.5 x 1.90

Colours: Black/Black, Black/Brown

Made in Japan

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Not the easiest to mount in my experience, but easy to inflate with a tubeless-specific inflator.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Very light, very low rolling resistance and exceptional grip on any road surface.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I've only been testing these tyres for about 500 miles, but so far they look like new and I can't detect any cuts or damage.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10

Very light for their width.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

They size up wide, so you're getting a bit more volume over a similar 35mm tyre, and the casing is pretty supple - no complaints here.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

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

They make riding across bad surfaces a joy, and you'll want to use these tyres on every road bike you own.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The low rolling resistance is a standout feature.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The difficulty in mounting them to Hunt's 42 LGD wheelset.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Against one of the most (if not the most) popular gravel tyres around - the Schwalbe G-One Allround - they fare well. The Schwalbe is a pricier alternative whether you go for the Performance or Evolution version in a 35mm width.

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 overall score

If it weren't for the slightly challenging fitting experience, I would happily give these tyres five stars (a first for me). All-round performance is some of the best I've ever seen, and provided you don't stray too far from the road, you'll be smiling for many miles.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'4  Weight: 175lbs

I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,

Add new comment

16 comments

Avatar
RingoStingo | 5 months ago
0 likes

 Panaracer has 'beefed-up' these tires, somewhat.  The latest (Jan. 2024) set of 35c GravelKing TLC tires, weighed 341/343 grams. These latest vintage tires weigh more than an earlier set of 38c tires from 5-6 years, prior.  They have always been a great tire for me, used on Tarmac/Gravel routes.  

Avatar
jonnyvelo | 5 months ago
0 likes

These are the most puncture prone tires I have ever ridden. They offer no protection fro flints. my summer tire, Conti GP 5000 S, offer significantly more protection. Your reviews are superficial and don't cover the miles needed for an honest review of this critical factor. Less reviews in more depth please.

Avatar
quiff replied to jonnyvelo | 5 months ago
1 like

Agree about the punctures. Disagree about less reviews. It's fewer.  

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Crashboy | 2 years ago
0 likes

Wow: I must have been very unlucky with mine - my 38 mm (with tubes) pair of these were re-named "Panaracer Puncturekings" after I had repeated and multiple punctures in each wheel on my usual roads....I really wanted them to work - they looked so cool! - so I bought the Panaracer Flataway tyre liners: (apparently kevlar, but looks like cotton wool, and seemed to protect like it too...)eventually a thorn that would have been laughed off / not even noticed by a Schwalbe Marathon ripped a gaping hole in the tread - so I gave up with them after less than 250 miles.
They are lovely looking tyres, really light and quick, grippy in the dry, and comfy at the range of pressures I tried, but seriously, all I had to do was use a sharp tone of voice near them and they would puncture.

Avatar
OnYerBike | 2 years ago
0 likes

For fitting tricky tyres I resort to a "Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack" and find it works great. A tricky tyre will still require a decent amount of force but there will be far, far fewer swear words involved! It's a bit bulky for most people to choose to carry on a ride, although if you like to pack the kitchen sink when cycling you could. But normally tyres loosen up after a few hundred miles, so unless you're very unlucky with punctures, if you need to change the tyre mid ride hopefully it might be a bit easier than the initial fitting.

Would be interested to know how these compare to something like the Rene Herse Bon Jon Pass - superficially very similar (I believe RH tyres are manufactured by Panaracer) but one is twice the price of the other!

Avatar
vthejk | 2 years ago
0 likes

On the very opposite end of the spectrum, I had these on my old Specialized Allez in a 25mm width (no room for 28s on that bike, shocking I know!). Don't think I lost anything in outright speed to the GP4000s I had on before it, but gained loads in overall security (no punctures, slashes or sidewall cuts, like for like to the GP4000s, in very similar conditions). If you're riding in all kinds of conditions and seasons it's nice insurance.

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quiff | 2 years ago
0 likes

I have the 38s (with tubes) on my Fairlight Faran "do everything" bike. Nice to ride on the road, but I am still slightly scarred by the one time I took them on a short gravel section. Punctured twice in 5km (due to hedge cuttings) and spent over an hour changing the tubes because they were so hard to get on and off.  

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RobD | 2 years ago
0 likes

I've got the 38mm (40) of these on my gravel bike, they transformed it into a four seasons bike that I use more than any other. I've found they're good on dry even gravel, thewy make it more fun to ride, but on anything that's more rugged or if it's a bit wet then they start to struggle, but on the road they're lovely, if you're not trying to go as fast as humanly possible then they're great. I've been lucky and not had any punctures on them in about 12 months, but I'm fairly careful with watching what I ride over.

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kil0ran | 2 years ago
0 likes

All the Gravelkings I've used have been tough to fit. Well, that was until I discovered Schwalbe tyre levers and the right technique for trapping the bead in whilst the final section is levered in to place. Loved the SKs in particular, and almost went with these (in 28mm) as my general road tyre but were only available in tanwall at the time. 

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Velophaart_95 | 2 years ago
0 likes

I've got the 32mm versions, and use it as my 'winter road' tyres. No issues at all. They were slightly difficult to put on, and wouldn't hold air at first. However, I put more sealant in than you normally would, and it worked. Now in hibernation until October, when I'll get them out again.

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OrkneyDullard | 2 years ago
0 likes

Great tyres, puncture magnets. My 38mm versions (tubed) were puncturing a couple of times each month after only 2000k or so. The semi-slick versions have been better so far, and I don't notice much difference in rolling resistance.

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Buckland420 | 2 years ago
1 like

I've been using the 32mm versions on Hunt wheels and also found them difficult to fit. I've recently got a second set (after 2 years and 10,000km) and had an easier time fitting them. I think the bead is very grippy with its rubber coating and doesn't move around the rim. This time I made sure the bead was pushed right to the center of the rim to give as much slack as possible. Then to get the last bit onto the rim I worked the slack from the rest of the tire round to the unhooked bit which allowed it to go over the edge. Gardening gloves were a great help with this bit!

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ktache replied to Buckland420 | 2 years ago
1 like

Bit of talc for tubed and the diluted soap for tubeless can sometimes help.

But I understand the pain.

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HollisJ replied to Buckland420 | 2 years ago
0 likes

For what it's worth I switched back to my G-Ones this weekend and the experience was just as bad, if not worse.

So, I'm going to put this down to Hunt's Limitless gravel wheels which are super wide internally and externally, and possibly making it just that bit more difficult to stretch the tyre over the rim.

I went through one pair of old garden gloves, two pairs of washing up gloves and a tyre lever...

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Freddy56 | 2 years ago
2 likes

My go to touring tyre. Great wear and fast rolliung. Switched to mavic wheels and tough to mount but hold tubless well

Avatar
Bobonabike | 2 years ago
1 like

I've been running the 32s, with tubes, on my commuter for years and love them. Very low numbers of punctures. Loads of grip in the dry and wet, and they do seem pretty quick. I run them about 70psi, and plenty comfy for the shitty roads round my way. I did slice one open once in a biblical downpour, when the road was about 2 inches deep with water. But otherwise, I'd recommend for sure.

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