Pirelli Gravel RC Tires: At The Finish – by Grannygear
NOTE: Pirelli Tires provided the Cinturato Gravel RC tires for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout. See the previous post on these tires HERE.
I think I am safe to put out some final thoughts on the Gravel RCs after quite a few hours of riding in the kinds of conditions I think favor these tires. I would not call this a long term review as I do not have a real feel for the durability or wear one can expect, but so far they have remained unscathed.
To recap, I used these on many gravel rides in So Cal where the summer conditions are pretty bad from all the rains, so that means more ruts, sand, and rocks than normal. But to link that all together, I did get onto tarmac enough to see how they roll out when things are paved.
I ran them tubeless, of course, and air pressures varied between 30 and 25 PSI. The lower setting was for days where I was in dirt for most of the ride and the upper was more of an all-rounder setting. At both pressures, the tire was stable, and on the 25mm wide internal Hunt alloy wheels, even at 25 PSI it was not terrible on the road, rolling wise. I am likely 180lbs all in and riding.
As well, that 25 PSI setting was very nice on one longer and rougher day, really allowing for good grip and comfort. The 45+mm casing size was also large enough to allow that lower pressure and not have me worrying about rim strikes as I would with a 40mm tire under the same conditions.
I did a video of that ride and you can see how conditions were. That was a 10 mile climb, and although the tires are tipping the grams scale (both over 600g), on a ride like that where you are struggling for momentum with every pedal stroke in large sections of the ride, casing size and grip matter much more than weight and rolling speed.
Now I found these to have a very acceptable balance of speed and performance on dirt and pavement, not buzzy or draggy, other than the weight factor. And they had, in my opinion, a metric ton of grip while cornering on these loose and dry roads, certainly more than the typical minimal treaded gravel tires that might out pace it on the road. So when I watched a video on You Tube where an Australian rider basically had the complete opposite finding on this tire that I did, it was quite puzzling. Still wondering about that one, but he was comparing it to an even more aggressive tire from Pirelli that I have not used, so his perspective might be coming from that.
Comparing it to one of my favorite tires for summer here, the WTB Resolute in a 42mm casing (more like 43-44), the Gravel RC feels a bit sluggish from the weight and perhaps other factors (casing design or rubber compound, etc), nearly equals it in sand, and tops it in stability over rougher, loose dirt, feeling like it hooks up more solidly under cornering.
My thoughts after many hours and miles with this tire remain:
- Weight is what it is and this is a big tire, in fact as big as my Lynskey GR250 can handle at the chain stays. But volume has its advantages. It is a trade-off that might be very worthwhile.
- Tubeless use has been solid. No casing weeping, etc.
- I find the rolling performance acceptable for paved roads, especially considering how big a tire this is, but don’t expect to win the BWR on a 45mm Gravel RC unless you are a beast. Like me. Hah!
- I remain impressed with the grip for cornering and even braking off road. It was all I ever wanted. But at some point I suppose you could overwhelm the milder center knobs.
- The poise under crappy road conditions, sand, rubble, etc, makes for a relaxed and stable ride, especially at a lower pressure. Speak softly and carry a big tire.
- I have read of puncture issues with this line of tires and I did kill a Pirelli Gravel H tire on the first ride on a set of those, right in the center tread. But these have been OK. However, my riding conditions are not sharp edged, so tire cuts are a bit rare. Editor’s Note: I (Guitar Ted here) have had a puncture with a Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M tire. A seemingly innocuous rock side cut the tire, but fortunately my WTB sealant was perfect in sealing it up. Seemed a bit odd, since sidewall cuts in my neck of the woods are very rare.
And that is where I leave it. If your rides look a lot like my rides and you can run a 45mm (and then some) wide tire, try these and see how they treat you. I am thinking that a 42mm tire, for me, is likely the sweet spot in weight and volume and that is where I will focus my attention soon. I have been compiling tires to try in that size. For me a 40mm tire just barely gets it done and a 45mm tire seems overkill. Thinking, ‘momma bear’.
I wish that this Gravel RC was just a bit lighter both on the scale and under the keen eye of a caliper set so I could add it to that list, but then it would not be what it is. And what it is remains in my mind as a higher volume, quite viable tire for varied conditions, much like my Southern California riding area.
Thanks to Pirelli for the samples at no cost for this review. To learn more about the Pirelli Gravel RC tires see their website HERE.