Panaracer Comet Hardpack Tires: Quick Review- by Grannygear: I saw the Comet Hardpacks at the Panaracer booth at Sea Otter when I was in the middle of my Warbird gravel bike build and I thought, “That is a good looking tire for real dirt roads.” See, we have very little gravel here and a lot of the dirt roads are not really well maintained, so they tend to be a bit rowdy. So having a decent knobby tread pattern, more so, say, then the typical file tread, the Comet Hardpacks seemed to be a contender.
And the 38C size was good for me too. They looked more like a downsized micro-knobbed MTB tire rather than a scaled up cross tire. I have had them on my Warbird long enough to pretty much have the rear tire 80% worn out. I have no mileage count…sorry. But it has been a good deal of pavement and dirt all mixed together. I have ridden single tracks at 5mph, climbing out of the saddle up switchbacks, and screamed down at 30mph on broken pavement with sandy patches. And with a few negatives only, the general impression has been very, very good.
Stats: I weighed them at 478g and 467g ea. They are not rated for tubeless use, not having a bead that Panaracer intended for that purpose. The casing is not a premium one, say like is used on the Panaracer Gravel Kings (which are tubeless rated) but the Comets only retail for around $35.00 MSRP each which is really quite good in a day and age where most tires are well over fifty bucks. I had come from a Specialized Trigger Pro 38c which actually measured out at 35mm on the 21mm internal rims I am running. To my surprise, the Comet Hardpacks measured at a full 40mms wide. BONUS ROUND! Of course, if you look at the hot patch, it does say 40-622 so why they are labeled as 38s I am not sure.
Compared to the file tread based Trigger Pros, the Comets were immediately slower feeling on pavement. But as soon as the dirt began, I was impressed by the level of traction. The extra volume allowed me to run 35psi most all the time and I could go below that (and have) by 10psi if the trail is bumpy enough although with tubes in there, you need to dance light on your feet at those pressures. At 40 PSI on the road, they are still a bit noisy, putting out a mild growl when you are on smooth bike paths, etc. I took them and raced them at the Crusher In The Tushar event where honestly I should have run a faster tire, but they sure were great on the faster, looser corners.
As you can see from some of the pics, we have some rough roads here and that pushes a ‘gravel’ or cross tire pretty hard. I have not managed to hurt the casing on these despite some pretty tough hits. I have taken them where they really did not belong and have never had them let go on me. I have been surprised how tenacious they have been, not breaking free and spinning when hammering a gear out of the saddle as long as I did a decent job of balancing body position.
I would say these are quite good as long as you are not terribly committed to tubeless use or you do not require a fast feeling tire for smooth surfaces. And, if your tire needs tend to swing to something a bit more aggressive than a typical file center tread tire for gravel use, then for the price they are a bargain. I would love to see how these would be a with a higher TPI casing and a tubeless ready bead. And if the tread could be massaged to roll just a bit faster on smooth surfaces without losing any performance, it could be a perfect tire. As it is, I am willing to overlook those small negatives for what they do give me…great volume, traction, and confidence in the dirt.
Note: This review was submitted by Grannygear and Riding Gravel was not paid nor bribed by Grannygear or Panaracer for this review.