Teravail Cannonball 38mm Tires: Checkpoint

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Teravail Cannonball
The Cannonball 38mm tires have been excellent from a tubeless standpoint.

Teravail Cannonball 38mm Tires: Checkpoint-

With well over 100 miles on these tires now and another rider’s input, it is time to update our review of the Teravail Cannonball 38mm tubeless ready tires. These gravel specific treads were recently introduced as the “Official Tire of the Dirty Kanza 200” and are part of a new tire brand introduced by Quality Bicycle Products, a distributor/brand creator based in Bloomington, Minnesota. Our previous introductory post on these treads can be seen HERE.

Tubeless Performance: Since Teravail markets this tire as a tubeless ready tire, it is important to note how it has been holding up in that regard. Based upon years of using tubeless tires and having about a full year or so on another tubeless gravel tire offering, I can say that the Cannonball is a very good tire in this regard…..so far. Of course, when judging how a tubeless tire does, the reputation of a tubeless tire generally lives and dies by how well it resists flatting, resists cuts, and how the tire holds up in general. With that in mind, it must be said that until there have been many more miles and more time spent with these tires, a final verdict on the total tubeless package cannot be given. Still, there is your day to day living with these that can be commented on, and in this regard, the Cannonball tires hold pressure well, and act much like any tubed tire in regard to air pressure maintenance.

Teravail Cannonball
The ride of these tires on the Raleigh Roker LTD test bike was not quite what I expected with the Cannonball tires installed.

Riding Performance: The miles piled up on the tires and I began to perceive that the casings weren’t really breaking in as we have experienced with many other tires. The ride remained a bit “dead” and wooden in comparison to other tires after we’ve had a fair amount of time on them. So, as an experiment, I gave the bike to another rider with my only instructions being that I wanted some impressions on the bike afterward. The report I received was that of a bit of harshness. Then I decided to throw the original equipment Clement MSO 40mm tires back on with tubes. The result was startling.

The Raleigh felt instantly smoother and more composed over chatter. Could it be that the puncture protection belt of the Cannonball tires were to blame? I’ve had the privilege to have had many years of experience with many types of tires, in my riding and as a bicycle mechanic. I have noted that when tires are built with puncture protection, the general rule of thumb is that ride quality suffers. I believe this is what we are discovering about the Cannonball tires. You may have a bullet-proof, puncture resistant tire, but at the cost of a sub-par ride quality.

However; that test was with the American Classic Argent wheels, which by any standard are not on the cutting edge of “wide” rims when it comes to road/gravel use. So, I decided a change was necessary, and it so happens that there were a set of HED Ardennes+ wheels available in the stable which are tubeless compatible. A quick visual comparison saw that the HED rims were noticeably wider internally than the American Classic rims are. Perhaps a wider rim would open up the Cannonball’s casing and render a more composed, smother ride? It was time to make the switcheroo.

Teravail Cannonball
The HED Ardennes+ rims not only improved the width of the Cannonball, but more importantly, the ride was better.

The added benefit to this review would be to see how the Cannonball fared on a HED rim set up tubeless. These rims I have are taped with Velocity USA Velotape and the set up was even easier with these rims, albeit I still needed a helping hand from an air compressor. Bead set up was improved, and the wider rim lent a bit wider casing measurement as well. Now I’m seeing about 40mm, and actually, a bit over that, for width on the Ardennes+ rims. The tubeless air retention has also been even better with these rims/tape than with the American Classic rims.

The big result here wasn’t the aforementioned width increase or the better air retention though, it was that the ride was improved. At similar pressures that were employed previously, there was a noticeably better, smoother ride feel with the HED Ardennes+ rims. Now, I still wouldn’t say that the Cannonball is a “smooth feeling tire”, but it was interesting that a millimeter or two of inner rim dimension width added with the HED rims resulted in a noticeable improvement in ride feel. Something to think about if you are also choosing a wheel set or rims to go tubeless with.

So Far……The Teravail Cannonball tires have lived up to their claims in the weight and width categories, plus their tubeless performance- so far- has been good. Riding them doesn’t set them head and shoulders above all other tires this size for gravel, but the Cannonball has to be in the conversation when it comes to tires to choose, if only because they are tubeless rated. The Cannonball tires are a bit harsher than other tires due to the bead to bead puncture protection belt, in our opinion. That said, a wider rim gives the tire a better ride feel than a narrower one does.

Look for an “At The Finish” update coming in a couple weeks or so.

NOTE: The Teravail Cannonball 38mm tires were purchased by RidingGravel.com for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review, and we always strive to bring our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Discuss and share your questions or thoughts about gravel bikes, gear, events and anything else on the Riding Gravel Forum.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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7 thoughts on “Teravail Cannonball 38mm Tires: Checkpoint

  1. My experience with numerous tires on wide and narrow rims is the same tire, at the same inflation pressure will feel harsher on the wider rim.
    The wider rim does add sidewall stability, allowing lower pressures to be used. But lower pressures increase the chance of pinch flats (even with tubeless tires).
    Go too wide with the rim and the tire sidewall is more exposed to potential damage from rocks and other debris, further increasing the chance of flats.
    And the handling of the bike changes. Some riders may like it. I find it to often make the bike less agile, more resistant to leaning, and track less well (wander) in a straight line.

    Those stiff tire casings and/or treads also increase rolling resistance significantly, regardless of the surface.

    1. Interesting. It was definitely better with the wider rim, (note- only 2mm wider internally), than it was on the narrower rim. The tire still has a nice, rounded profile, so I don’t think it is at a point where side wall issues will be a concern. (And- it should be noted, I have several hundred miles on several similar sized tires on the same rims to confirm that.) That said- point taken.

      Of course, again- we’re not talking wider rims by a factor approaching what we are seeing with mountain bike rims these days, and, it could be argued that road rims were too narrow for this sort of tire anyway. In fact, it seems that 29″er rims from the late 00’s/early teens of this decade fit these 35mm-42mm tires really well. But we don’t have to use those old rims with things like HED’s Belgium+/Ardennes+, WTB, Velocity USA, and others making good tubeless ready rims for gravel going bikes.

      Agreed on the rolling resistance comment.

      1. My go-to rims for 28-50mm tires are 23-25mm wide (external). Have tried 28-32mm rims and not been happy with the ride quality or the handling. Actually preferred old 18-20mm road rims to the latter.

        1. I’d go along with that. I’ll be trying some WTB KOM i25 rims soon which I feel will be about the widest I’d want to use with a 40mm tire. I’m using pressures below 50psi almost exclusively.

  2. What tire pressure were you using and how did that effect the ride quality Is there an optimal pressure range?

    1. John, if you reference the earlier post (https://ridinggravel.com/components/getting-rolling-teravail-cannonball-38mm-tires/ ) you will notice that I started at just over 40psi, and I used a range from the mid-30’s to close to 50psi. At any pressure, the Cannonballs were just plain stiffer than other tires in this genre’. Below 40psi was too low for me, as the tires would exhibit even worse rolling resistance.

      Compared to the new Clement MSO 36mm tubeless tire and the new Maxxis Rambler 40mm tires, which are also tubeless, these Teravails feel positively wooden and rough. I’ve no doubt that they are tough as nails, but at the expense of ride feel and a higher rolling resistance.

      Pick yer poison.

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