Panaracer Gravel King SK 40 Tires: Checkpoint-
The Gravel King tires by Panaracer are marked “SK” here in this instance which identifies them as the treaded version of the tire. This is the version we were most interested in trying out here as many gravel riders also find themselves on dirt roads at times. There is also sometimes a benefit to handling looser gravel with a treaded tire versus a smoother, file tread tire, since the smoother tires tend to lose lateral stability in deeper gravel. Now that we have had the Gravel King tires around for a while, it is time to check in and see if these tires do handle the gravel and dirt like a regal monarch or if they are perhaps just a pretender to the throne. There is a post with technical data and first impressions which you can go back and check out HERE.
Last time I checked in on these tires I told you all that they were very fast tires for their size. I still feel this is true, but they are also very comfortable tires when run tubeless and when you adjust your air pressures down a bit. The Gravel King seems to continue to roll quite fast for me even at pressures that are up to 10 psi lower than I normally would use with other tubeless tires. For instance, I usually am found running tires in the 40-50 psi range, but with the Gravel Kings, I have never pumped them up beyond 40psi, and typically I am into the mid-30’s. Keeping in mind that I have the wide, very supportive WTB KOM i25 rims here, so that obviously makes a bit of a difference. Once I get these on another wheel set, I will see how this plays out.
One of the effects of using the wider WTB KOM rims has been that the Gravel King tires tread area is a tad bit more flattened out. That said, the tread is still significantly crowned, and this makes those lateral running tread blocks on the edges of the Gravel King’s tread pattern non-effective. They almost never touch the surface of the road. Running rims with a narrower inner rim dimension will only exacerbate this characteristic even more. I have found that running into deeper sand, loose dirt, and perhaps deeper gravel at times will bring those knobs into play, but those are the rare cases, and not the norm for my riding areas. It seems then that you basically are running almost all the time on those tightly packed, little square knobs lined up down the center of the tire.
This tends to make the Gravel King feel a little squirrelly, especially on loose gravel on the rear tire. I have had the rear end of my test bike step out numerous times, but it is predictable and I got used to it. If you are cornering at speed on loose gravel, beware that the Gravel King may give you a little more excitement than you bargained for here.
The Gravel King comes with a puncture protection dubbed “Anti-Flat Casing Tech” and on one of my test outings, I was afforded the opportunity to test this out. I was cruising pretty fast on a local bicycle trail on my way out of town to the gravel roads when I came across a section of trail strewn with broken glass shards. Of course, the biggest, baddest piece laying there was the one I managed to run directly over with the rear tire. It almost didn’t puncture, but I could actually hear the casing tear and the tire (and myself!) crushed the glass to bits. Not before I put about a third of an inch log cut into the tire though. That wasn’t a good day, but I did find out that it takes a pretty gnarly chunk of glass to defeat this tire.
I managed to patch the tire from the inside and it has been going strong since. The tires seem to ward off some tough, urban debris that I have managed to find since then with aplomb, so other than the instance with that big chunk of glass, things have been trouble free. The tires hold air quite nicely, by the way, and this is with Caffelatex sealant.
Next up is a switch to a different wheel set and more gravel miles. Look for a final vedict on the Gravel King tires in about a month.
So Far……The Gravel King SK 40mm tires made a great first impression with their easy to set up tubeless performance and day to day ability to hold air pressures. The ride feel is cushy, since you can dump a bit more air pressure than usual, and they still remain one of the easiest rolling tires I have yet tried. The only downside is that they stretch a bit after tubeless set up and may not fit many bikes out there. (Ours are 43.11mm wide!) The tire casings seem pretty robust and tough. Dirt tends to pack into the tread especially if that dirt has any moisture. The tires also tend to feel loose and squirrelly on loose gravel. That said, the comfort and speed these tires have is top notch. For a Quick Review of these tires done by our contributor, Grannygear, CLICK HERE. For another Quick Review- this time on the narrower, lighter 32mm Gravel King SK tires, CLICK HERE.
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.