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Pirelli's Cinturato Gravel H tyres roll well along the hard terrain that they're designed for, and although not as supple as some, they're hardwearing and robust enough for rocky routes.
The H in the name stands for 'Hard Terrain', with Pirelli saying that this tyre is best for compact surfaces. For muddier and looser conditions Pirelli also makes the M variety – for mixed terrain.
The Cinturato H features an almost smooth centre section to aid rolling resistance, and then bigger shoulder knobs to provide off-road capability. The low, tightly packed knobs around the centre mean that there's a large contact area on the firm terrain they're designed for. Many hardpack gravel tyres feature a similar tread pattern – for example, the Goodyear County Ultimate Tubeless Gravel or Specialized Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss Ready tyres.
The 700C tyres on test are 40mm wide, and the Cinturato H is also available in narrower and wider guises – 35 or 45mm – and also in 650B form, in 45 and 50mm widths.
At 489g apiece on our scales (480g claimed), the Pirellis aren't too heavy, though they're not exactly light. The Panaracer GravelKing SK tyres that they replaced weigh 60g less, but they are 2mm narrower. Schwalbe's G-Ones are often regarded as the benchmark for all-round tyres, and are a comparable weight for a similar width.
Although a lighter tyre is often quicker because of a lower rotational mass, that's of little benefit if you're stood by the side of the track at a standstill with a puncture. To help prevent this, the Pirellis have a reinforced casing construction featuring a woven-fabric bead-to-bead layer. Having puncture protection from bead to bead basically means you get beefed-up sidewalls, which is particularly important on rocky terrain where a sidewall slash would more than likely end your ride.
During a warm month of testing, the Cinturatos have taken a battering on my local bridleways, fire-roads and even off-road trails that they really weren't designed for. The tyres haven't skipped a beat – not one puncture, despite regular visits to rock gardens and flint-filled tracks.
Grip has also been good – as good as I could expect from a gravel tyre, anyway. I've felt confident when chucking the bike into loose gravel or dirty corners and the shoulder knobs bite really well.
The only times I've felt slightly less confident on the tyres is on fast road descents; there's a noticeable transition between the centre tread and shoulder which can be offputting when turning at speed – although it's by no means limited to these tyres. This does, however, give an indication of just how well they roll along – I felt little difference between the Pirellis and a set of 33mm slick tyres.
One area that I feel could be improved is the suppleness of the tyre. If heading off-road then I tended to run the tyres at around 35psi, increasing this to 45 if sticking to the tarmac. Despite the 127tpi compound, it did feel harsher at comparable pressures than other gravel tyres I've used, such as the Panaracer GravelKing ACs.
This is most likely because of the compound and thicker sidewalls, and is by no means a deal-breaker – rather, a compromise that could well be necessary depending on the terrain you ride. This could also be improved if you use wider rims: Pirelli claims that the Cinturato is optimised for wider modern rims, which would increase the tyre volume and aid comfort. I was testing them on a set of rims with a 19mm internal width.
The tyres are also tubeless-ready, which means they can be run at lower pressures without the risk of pinch flats. Fitting them without tubes, they popped onto my rims with relative ease, although they did take some work to get seated properly.
The Cinturatos also seem to be harder wearing than the GravelKing ACs and Schwalbe's G-One Bites, which is an important factor if you require them to do a lot of road miles, as they're not cheap.
With an RRP of £54.99 each they're a fiver less than the quite similar Goodyears I mentioned earlier, but there are cheaper options available, such as the Panaracer GravelKing SKs that David rated highly, now £44.99, and others in the guide below.
Overall, the Cinturato H performs well, in the right conditions. If you plan on sticking to roads and canal paths then I'd probably go for something a bit lighter and with a more continuous tread pattern, such as the Schwalbe G-One, and if you plan on finding wet mud then I'd go for something like the Panaracer GravelKing AC. If, however, you want a do-it-all, fast-rolling, hard-terrain tyre with a bucketload of puncture protection that can cope with rocky conditions, these Pirellis are well worth considering.
Hardwearing and robust gravel tyre for compact and rocky terrain
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H tyre
Size tested: 700x40
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?
Pirelli says, "The Cinturato™ Gravel Hard Terrain is a gravel-specific tyre designed for compact terrain and the hardest surfaces. The tread features low, tightly packed knobs and elevated ability to adapt to the terrain, offering a large contact area and therefore excellent feel while riding.
"The special SpeedGRIP Compound adds features of mechanical resistance and chemical grip without compromising the rolling efficiency. Cinturato™ Gravel Hard Terrain is a high-performance tyre with unique characteristics of grip in all weather conditions, be they dry or wet, plus a high level of puncture protection."
I've been impressed with the Pirellis, although most of my riding has been in dry conditions. I haven't experienced any punctures despite rocky terrain and they roll well on the road.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Pirelli's UK distributor Extra:
Nylon bead-to-bead protection
Weight: 700x35 - 410g, 700x40 - 480g, 700x45 - 540g, 650x45 - 505g, 650x50 - 530g
Roll well on roads and hardpack terrain, grip well in the conditions they're designed for, with just a slightly offputting transition from the centre to shoulder knobs when cornering fast on tarmac.
Hardwearing compound and sidewalls have handled rocks really really well.
They're comparable to other gravel tyres of this width. Good puncture protection from a tyre of this weight.
They could be more supple. The thicker sidewalls don't help, comfort-wise; they're not uncomfortable but Panaracer GravelKings are noticeably more supple.
While £55 isn't cheap, it is the going rate for a premium gravel tyre – and cheaper than some. The Cinturato is very hardwearing and the sidewalls seem robust, so you should get more life out of it than a lot of gravel tyres.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Well. They're designed for hard terrain and that's where they impress – fire roads and rocky tracks are where these are in their element, rolling fast and not letting me down with punctures.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
How robust and hardwearing they are, and how well they roll.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not as supple as other top-end tyres.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They're a fiver cheaper than the Goodyear County Ultimate Tubeless gravel tyres, which are very similar. The GravelKing SKs are £10 cheaper at £44.99, but might not last as long.
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
These performed well on a mix of road and compact off-road terrain, combining good wear-resistance, grip, and robustness without having to compromise on weight.
About the tester
I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...