Editor’s Note: Our contributor from SoCal weighs in on another tubeless gravel tire choice, the Panaracer Gravel King 40mm width tires.
Panaracer Gravel King 40mm Tires: by Grannygear
here , I was looking to try a tire that went tubeless well and if it was a bit faster rolling on smooth surfaces, then that would be good too. I did not want to give up any tire volume and it if possible keeping traction at a decent level for all our rough dirt roads would be appreciated.While I really liked the Panaracer Comets that I reviewed
I found all that in the new Panaracer Gravel Kings in the 40c size. Mounted on a set of FSA Afterburner wheels, they have been a small but worthwhile improvement over the Comets in nearly every way but one.
I weighed them at 477g/488g each, which compares to the 478g/467g Comets in the same size (although the Comets are stamped 38c, they are 40s). With a 120TPI casing and a tubeless rated bead, they are a notch up in tire construction over the Comets. MSPR is $54.95. The tread is milder looking consisting of five tightly packed rows of tiny, square knobs with some long, nearly solid ridges of rubber on each side. Frankly, I was a bit skeptical about how that was going to work. From Jeff Zell, Panaracer Global Go-To Guy, regarding the rubber compound used on the Gravel Kings:
“The ZSG compound is one of the key reasons this tire performs so well. We developed ZSG to resist changes in temperature and weather so the compound remains the same. Hot or cold, wet or dry. This gives the tire an advantage over traditional compounds that soften up when hot, or harden when cold. The tire stays true to the intent. ZSG is also much more durable and longer lasting than standard compounds.”
I ran them tubed at first so I could compare them to the outgoing Comets. Right away I noticed that they rolled out very smoothly, and at 35psi were very quiet as compared to the Comets. They felt really fast. So far so good. On the dirt, i expected them to be a bit less grippy than the Comets and that is true, but not by much. I notice it mostly when I get out of the saddle and climb something steep. Then I have to work a bit harder to keep hooked up with the Gravel Kings. However, cornering on dirt, sand, crossing cuts at an angle…that all is quite good and I have found my trust in the tire coming up the more I ride them.
Lastly I took them tubeless on the aforementioned FSA Afterburner wheels (thoughts on those coming soon). They set up easily with a hand pump and never weeped one bit. I kept the tire pressures at 35psi. I cannot really say if I can tell the difference in the ride quality running tubeless…maybe…but for me it was to avoid pinching and thorn flats.
I have done multi-mile climbs over dirt passes, pinned them through 30mph corners on road rides, and even set a PR on Strava on one rolling canyon road during a 50 mile combined-surface loop ride. It is a great tire for where I live and how I use my Warbird. Mud…well, no idea but I would think likely not so hot. If I was in the dirt more than the pavement or I was on single tracks, etc, I would run the Comets (as long as tubeless was not a priority) as they have more ultimate grip in the dirt (and likely are cheaper too). But for now, this is my go-to gravel tire for So Cal use. I am very pleased.