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The Teravail Sparwood tyre rolls fast on byways, gravel tracks and dry singletrack and can maintain a decent pace on the tarmac. Its width helps it float over loose surfaces for better control too. While not the cheapest or lightest, it is a very versatile tyre for plenty of applications.
The Sparwood we've got here is the Light and Supple model, which means that it does away with the bead to bead puncture protection found in the other version. Going light and supple is an option if your rides are unlikely to see the sidewalls taking a hammering.
Both options of the Sparwood come in 29in (700C) x 2.2in and, like the test tyres, 27.5in (650B) x 2.1in.
The gravel tracks around my way are running dry, dusty and fast, and the Sparwoods have proved their worth. The minimal diamond tread running around the centre of the tyre offers enough traction when the stones are packed hard together so you can really get some speed up when the terrain allows.
As I said, the overall width of the tyre helps a lot too. With a wide platform of rubber on the ground, the Sparwood just floats over the surface, ironing out the bumps and also stopping it sinking on small, loose gravel which can upset the handling.
Teravail recommends the Sparwood's use with an internal rim width of 23mm so you get a tyre profile that doesn't create a lightbulb shape, narrow at the rim while bulging out near the tread.
I fitted them to a pair of Prime Kanza wheels with a 24.5mm internal rim width (32mm external) and the tyre profile looked nicely rounded.
Tubeless installation was easy enough, after a quick blast from a charge pump got the tyre beads to snap onto the rim. Because of the width of the tyres and rims it wasn't easy to get things seated with just a standard track pump; for this method I had to insert an inner tube, get both beads seated and then remove one side to remove the tube. From then on, with only one side to seat, things locked into place just fine.
Once sealant had been added, the Sparwoods held onto pressure just fine with just a small top-up before each ride.
So, back to the grip and stuff.
Like I said, they are fast in a straight line, but they also do well in the bends. Moving out towards the shoulder, the knobbly bits get bigger and are spaced further apart. When leaning the bike over, this tread adds some extra bite if there's lots of small aggregate in the compacted gravel or in the dirt if you are tackling some dry singletrack.
I found the overall balance of tyre width and tread makes the Teravail feel like a very stable tyre.
They really are only suitable for firm surfaces, though. Once the rain arrives and things get wet and muddy, they don't really have the grip to cope. On trails through woods or fields the tread can quickly get overwhelmed when it can't shed the mud, so they become almost slick, which makes climbing difficult.
If the gravel tracks you ride are compact and firm, though, you should be okay for the majority of the UK's weather conditions, and might even be able to use them year round.
Bridging sections of gravel together by riding on the road, you'll find that the Sparwoods roll well here too. At 610g it's no lightweight race tyre, but they don't feel too stodgy either.
Even at Teravail's recommended maximum pressure of 55psi they still provide a cushioned ride on the tarmac.
For the type of riding I do, the Sparwood has proved itself to be durable. There are a few sections of gravel where the aggregate becomes larger and jagged, but I haven't had any issues with sidewall damage.
It's the same everywhere else really. No issues with punctures apart from one caused by a large thorn, and the tubeless sealant managed to sort that out.
When it comes to price, the Sparwood comes in at a fiver less than the £60 Rene Herse Juniper Ridge tyres; they are over 100g lighter, but the Sparwood is about 5mm wider.
WTB's Byway is noticeably cheaper at £43, and it is a lighter too by a fair chunk. The tread pattern of the Sparwood will get you through tougher conditions than the near-smooth central tread section on the Byway, though.
Overall, the Sparwood is a good all-round tyre that offers decent levels of grip, rolling resistance and puncture protection. It's not cheap but neither is it over the top expensive.
Well-made gravel/road crossover tyre that works best in dry and firm conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Teravail Sparwood tyre
Size tested: 650B
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?
Teravail says, "The Sparwood has bikepacking deeply ingrained in its DNA, and is ready for any surface. The 2.1' casing supports a perfect balance of low rolling resistance, reduced weight, and excellent maneuverability in a stable 27.5' diameter tire. Whether navigating routes comprised of jeep roads, twisty singletrack, gravel tracks, or paved connecting sections, the Sparwood is ready for the ride."
A good all-round tyre especially suited to drier and firmer conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
LIGHT & SUPPLE
When extra puncture protection isn't necessary, our light and supple casing offers decreased weight and a comfortable, ultra-supple ride quality at lower pressures when set up tubeless.
RIM DIAMETER: 584
IDEAL RIM WIDTH: 23
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A good all-round gravel tyre that can turn its hand to plenty of different surfaces.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Fast rolling on the gravel and road.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a bit weighty compared to some of the opposition.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
I've mentioned a couple of similar tyres that we have tested from WTB and Rene Herse, and the Sparwood kind of sits somewhere in the middle at £55 rrp.
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
The Sparwood delivers on performance, comfort and durability for the majority of UK conditions (if not all of them in the wet), and while it isn't exactly the cheapest or lightest it is a good all-rounder.
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!