Zipp's first gravel tyre, the Tangente Course G40, is a welcome addition to the marketplace. The tread design works well on the majority of surfaces and they are durable enough to take on the rough stuff. They aren't cheap though.
Some gravel tyres focus more on durability/puncture protection while others concentrate mostly on grip, but there are a few tyres out there that focus on performance gravel riding, and the G40 is definitely one of those.
Gravel events are growing in the UK, and while few of them are races that doesn't stop people wanting to ride them fast. For that you want a relatively light tyre that still manages to be robust, and you also need a tread pattern that works on all kind of surfaces – and that is what the Zipp delivers.
The tread is quite minimal on the central section of the G40, which is suited to dry and dusty conditions like you tend to get in the USA where gravel riding is big. With the sun coming out here in the south-west and minimal rain, the trails and gravel tracks have lost their stickiness and are now running fast. The G40s have been absolutely great in these conditions.
The knobbly bits have enough bite to grip on the dry mud and dust found in the woods and also on the small gravel of the local tracks when you are riding and changing direction at speed. The additional deeper shoulder tread increases grip in the bends and brings a bit of extra confidence too.
It all copes well on grass too, and even when the mud is reasonably soft on all but the steepest of hills.
Riding on the road between gravel sections doesn't find the G40s to be sluggish – they roll pretty well and grip isn't too bad either.
At the beginning of the test period it was a very different story, after months of heavy rain. The G40s still worked fine on firm gravel byways and tracks, but on those that are a mixture of gravel and mud things became quite slippery quickly because of the small tread getting full of wet mud.
If you'll be riding on hard-packed surfaces, you'll be able to use these year-round, but if you really like to mix up your surfaces and conditions, you'll need something chunkier for the wetter months.
For what they are designed to cope with, though, they do a very good job.
With a 127TPI (threads per inch) build, the G40 feels supple enough that you can feel what is going on underneath the tyre at all times, which is important on a loose surface.
Puncture protection seems to be pretty good as well. The G40s are tubeless so it's not easy to notice punctures when out on the trail, but after taking them off the wheels at the end of testing to inspect them, there are no holes or cuts in the tread anywhere and they've seen a lot of miles on some rough surfaces.
Zipp has achieved this by fitting a puncture protection strip that runs from bead to bead rather than just under the tread.
> How to avoid punctures
As you can probably guess from the name, the Zipps are 40mm wide which is a size that I find fine for the majority of trails I ride, but many riders prefer something wider. This is the only gravel tyre in the line-up at the moment, but it'll be interesting to see if Zipp releases more size options.
Fitting the G40s was no issue whatsoever, especially to wider rimmed gravel wheels. I used them for the majority of the time on a set of Sector wheels and the initial tubeless set-up went easily with no problems at all.
It took a bit of inflation up to the highest recommended pressure of 65psi to get the bead to fully pop onto the rim, but once in position it remained in place even when the tyres were flat.
Value-wise, they have a retail price of £64.99 which puts them at around the same mark as the Goodyear County Ultimate Tubeless Gravel tyre (£60), the Schwalbe G-One Bite MicroSkin TL-Easy (£58.99) and the Continental Terra Speed at £59.95. All are very good tyres that focus on speed more than out and out grip.
I've also tested the excellent new Michelin Power Gravel tyre, which is £44.99.
Overall, the Zipp G40 is one of the best performance gravel tyres out there, especially when the conditions are dry and dusty. They back this up with good durability, too, so it just comes down to whether you want to pay for it.
Excellent speed and performance on the trails and tracks, especially in dry conditions
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zipp Tangente Course G40 tyre
Size tested: 700 x 40
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?
Zipp says, "Zipp's Tangente Course G40 (700x40c) is a purpose-built tubeless gravel/off pavement tire for smooth control over untamed roads. Grippy for aggressive riding, this tire provides the control and durability demanded by gravel, dirt, rocks, mud, whatever."
The G40 offers impressive performance on a multitude of surfaces.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- High performance gravel and adventure tire
- Aggressive cornering side knobs for excellent control
- Fast rolling center section
- Bead-to-bead puncture protection strip 30-65 psi
- Tubeless Ready, tube compatible
- ETRTO 40-622 (700x40c)
- 127 TPI
- Tan sidewall
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A very fast-rolling gravel tyre with plenty of grip.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
A great balance of suppleness and durability.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
A gravel tyre at around £60 isn't that rare, as you can see from the competitors I mention in the review, but there are also some very good gravel tyres available for quite a bit less.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Depends how cheap I could find them.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A bit on the pricey side at full rrp but their performance on gravel is very impressive.
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!