After trying these tires on three different bikes over a period of three months on every surface imaginable, it is time to give the final verdict on how they performed. The last update on the Gravel King 40 tires is HERE in case you missed it. This post will be a wrap up on these big gravel tires and will feature the Gravel King on the HED Ardennes+ wheel set.
After running the Gravel Kings on the Project Wide Gravel Wheels featuring the WTB KOM i25 rims, I moved the tires over to a more “mainstream” wheel choice in the HED Ardennes+ wheels. Keep in mind that the HED Belgium+ is the same rim that the Ardennes+ wheels use. The Gravel Kings were quite voluminous on the KOM i25 rims, but moving over to the HED rims did little to dent the big, wide profile of these tires as the measurements at any pressure I used were all over 40mm on these rims. So, if you have a cyclo cross bike that doesn’t have a lot of room for tires over 35mm or so, you may want to look at this model in the 35mm size. There is also a treaded “SK” version of the Gravel King in a 32mm size.
After patching the big cut in the Gravel King I suffered earlier in the test, I was surprised to find that the tubeless performance did not suffer at all. Air retention is still very good, and ride quality did not suffer at all. I did get another puncture, but the Caffelatex sealant I was using sealed the puncture with no issue. I feel pretty confident in both the tire and the sealant which seem to be a good combination. Looking back on the way these tires mount, hold air, and perform as tubeless, I would be hard pressed to say anything negative about them.
Ride quality is really good as well. The very surprising thing I found with these big tires was that the range of usable air pressures was quite a bit wider than it is with many of the other tires I have tested. The Gravel Kind 40 SK was happy at 45 psi on harder surfaces and ran really smoothly with a lot of speed on rougher, loose gravel at 35psi. The narrower HED rims did not seem to matter much in this regard either.
Speed was very good for a tire this large with the type of tread it has. I felt it was every bit as fast as the recently tested Clement MSO 36mm tires, but the heavier weight of the Gravel King was noticeable on climbs and quick accelerations over that of the Clement. That said, a more fair comparison would be with the Gravel King 35 SK, which would then put both tires on an even playing field. In the end, what I found was that you really don’t give much away by having the bigger Gravel King as long as it fits in between your stays.
At The Finish:
This is the tire with the potential to go to just about any gravel event and do well. It probably is overkill for many places that don’t have the loose, deeper gravel that many Midwestern states do, but there is the 35mm and 32mm sizes of the Gravel King SK to choose from if that is the case where you live. The tire performs well in speed, ride comfort, and as a tubeless tire. The puncture protection is there, but it can be defeated if you hit a sharp enough object. The 40mm tire is quite competitive weight-wise with other true 40mm tires, and in fact, this tire is bigger than 40mm in reality. That may be its biggest fault, (no pun intended) since it may be too big for many cyclo cross bikes or other gravel oriented bikes with less clearance for bigger tires like these. Another negative is that the Gravel King really doesn’t fare as well as a “rougher stuff”, mountain bike-ish trail tire since the tread blocks are smaller and so tightly spaced. This also hinders the performance in wetter situations where the tire tread picks up soil and packs it on instead of sloughing it away. Stay on drier roads and this tire shines like no other.
I would be leaving these tires on until I wore them out if not for other test tires coming in, they are that good. By the way, wear has been normal on these so far. No undue wear from paved riding, or chunking off of the tread in loose gravel. Overall, these might be some of the best gravel road tires that have come through here yet.
NOTE: The Panaracer Gravel King SK 40mm tires were purchased by Guitar Ted for this test/review. Panaracer did not request, pay for, or bribe us for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.