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PANARACER - GRAVEL KING - BIKES ETC - JANUARY 2015

20/01/2015

BIKES ETC

If you're looking for a versatile and tenacious winter tyre, Japanese brand Panaracer's new offering may be for you. These tyres have less in common with chunky off-road knobblies, instead resembling the designs favoured for the cobbles and farm tracks of the spring Classics. And being available in 23, 26 and 28c versions, they're eminently suitable for modern road bikes; the larger volume of the 28c seems a sensible choice, especially as they measure up slightly narrow.

Their robust construction offers superior puncture resistance but they remain supple thanks to a moderate thread count and natural rubber compound, so while not the very smoothest rolling, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart from conventional road tyres. Only the most overenthusiastic wrenching on the brake levers or most reckless of cornering will make them slide. When they do finally break away, they emit a rasping yelp, suggesting the file-like tread is doing a good job of engaging the road's surface. This abundance of grip makes them perfect for disc-equipped riders worried their brakes are producing more stopping power than their tyres can handle.

Their abilities don't run out, with the tarmac either. Even at high pressure they provide ample off-road traction, while the 28c size can comfortably be run fairly soft, further improving comfort and grip. On mucky, wet or loose surfaces they remain unflappable, eating up potholed surfaces or unpaved, graded access roads, without being a drag upon returning to civilisation.