Panaracer Gravel King SK 40 Tires: At The Finish

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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.

Gravel King

The Gravel King 40mm tires on the HED Ardennes+ wheels.

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.

Gravel King

The Gravel King 40 SK is a big, voluminous tire.

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.Gravel King

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.

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

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17 Responses to Panaracer Gravel King SK 40 Tires: At The Finish

  1. Roger Christensen May 20, 2016 at 8:53 pm #

    I liked ’em alot too. Too bad they didn’t fit well on my frame-even tho it was custom.

  2. Boudin May 22, 2016 at 7:51 am #

    Any predictions on how the 35s would play with the wide i25 rims?

  3. Guitar Ted May 22, 2016 at 4:46 pm #

    Hmm……I think I will actually be finding out. My best guess now is that the 35mm tire will actually end up being more like a 38mm wide tire on that rim. If I am right, it will be perfect for what I have in mind. Stay tuned…..

  4. Boudin May 22, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

    Seems to me the ridges along the outside would come more into play.

    • Guitar Ted May 22, 2016 at 9:48 pm #

      Yes, I thought so as well, but there are two reasons that they don’t do a whole lot. One is that they fall down around the curvature of the casing so far that they do not come into contact with the surfaces I typically rode them on at all. Secondly, because of that curvature and how the longitudinal blocks are based on the casing, they are at a poor angle to do much of anything as far as cornering or lateral stability goes.

      A wider rim may cause this to be less of an issue, but even on my KOM i25’s (25mm inner width) I did not see much benefit from this tread feature.

  5. Derek July 8, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    Have been using my Gravel King 40’s set-up on my Hed Belgium Plus rims and loving the ride, now I’ve set them up on my Easton Heist27 rims and put them on my Gen1 Fargo and they’re even better! The wider rim improves their profile and ride quality, 27mm internal rim width seems just about perfect for these tires.

    • JCutt June 12, 2017 at 12:26 pm #

      I have gravelking 40’s on Velocity Blunt SS rims (26.6mm internal) and it’s a great combo for me. Love the volume.

  6. SteveP July 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

    I’ve got Gravel Kings on two different bikes – one set tubed, one running tubeless, which are the 40mm. Both are a great ride, but the tread… somewhat ironically, the tread “loves” gravel. So when you are on a bike path with that hard-packed gravel surface, the tread picks up tiny chips and flings them by the hundreds against the inside of your fenders. It’s like being followed by a tiny machine-gunner

  7. Anthony August 3, 2016 at 2:58 pm #

    I’m in a pickle between the Gravel King SK in 35 and the Clement X’Plor MSO in 32. I’m looking for a gravel oriented tire that can handle some rough stuff along the northshore of MN, but also double as a workhorse commuter tire for daily use.

    How would you say the difference in 3mm stacks up when on rough stuff? Another consideration is the price, GK SK’s can be had for upwards of $15-20 less per tire than the MSOs.

    • Guitar Ted August 3, 2016 at 3:54 pm #

      Anthony, there is no substitute for volume when it comes to rough stuff. The volume gives you options with air pressure over a bit wider range than a skinnier tire will. On pavement, the Gravel King SK, with the puncture protection belt, is really quite a nice tire. The only negative I could think of here is that the tread on a MSO is typically a bit grippier and the GK tends to be bigger than labeled, so be aware of these things.

      • Anthony August 25, 2016 at 8:51 pm #

        Awesome, just the info I needed. Purchased myself a set of GKSKs in 35. Thx.

  8. wheels August 15, 2016 at 8:04 am #

    How are these compared to Maxxis Rambler Exo/TR and Silkshield 700*40?

  9. Erik Elving August 22, 2016 at 4:28 pm #

    How does the size of the 40 mm SK compare to the 40 mm MSO?

  10. Guitar Ted August 22, 2016 at 11:33 pm #

    Erik, by almost any measure and any report I have heard, the Gravel King 40mm SK is bigger than a 40mm MSO.

  11. Morten Reippuert Knudsen November 7, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Just installed a pair of 40mm SK tubeless on a pair of DT R460db rims, by far the easyets tubeless ive ever tried (seated easiely and where airtight without sealent using a SKS rennekompressor).

    havent run the offroad – yet just cumuting on tarmac, pavemet with wett leaves, cobbles, and a few hundred meeters at the time on fine dust/gravel.

    Wett grib seems awsome at approx 40psi (im 85kg ex bike and backpack)
    Rolling resistance is way lower than expected – however i do feel the added wind resistance and weight when accelerating and a loss in pure rolling resistsnace – when comparing hem to my Compass 35mm Extralight (tubeless as well, but a lot more difficult to mount and keep airtigh).
    Suprised that im unable to feeel any vibrations or hear any sound from the knobs on the SK.

    As expected The Compass slick pattern just skates in the woods after the scandinavian autum/winter allrainy days has begun and local trails a full of leaves (besides thos expesive extralight’s are just too nice and fine for winther rides).. Hoping to hit the local trails next weekend on the 40mm SK’s with high expectations – they certainly feel very, very grippy.

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by Riding Gravel 2014