45 to 55mm Gravel Tire Recommendations

Since more bikes seem to be able to fit bigger gravel tires, I thought this could be a good discussion similar to the XC tire threads.

I have a Salsa Cutthroat with 30mm internal hookless Roval Control Carbon rims. I’ve been running Continental Race King Protection 29x2.2 and have been generally happy with them. I wonder sometimes if it’s too much tire though…I end up floating/fishtailing on mud and they seem to really drag on pavement (even though rolling resistance is pretty low per BRR). I get that no one tire will be perfect for every scenario but it’s fun to try new tires (yeah, I’m weird :rofl:)

Gravel routes around me (Northeast US) typically include tarmac, small and large gravel, and single track. I’m trying to find a good all around tire in the 45-55mm range to try. Any tips or feedback are appreciated!

I’m not sure about the single track, but for the tarmac and gravel would consider the Pathfinder Pro 47mm. You could still use the Conti’s if there are days you plan for more single track.


oh boy. you forgot to mention that you ride in all conditions too :sweat_smile:

Currently I’m running the RH Fleecer Ridge (2.2 or 55mm) on my Hardtail. Tried mounting them on 28mm id rims - wouldn’t seat tubeless. I have them on 23mm id wheel now that suits them better imho. They were too squared off to my liking on the 28mm id and the sidewall was too exposed. I guess they aren’t optimized for wide rims so wouldn’t bother in your case with such an expensive tyre. Before the RH I ran Maxxis Forekaster (the old one) in the front and an Aspen in the back for a bit more traction in all conditions.

Maxxis Aspen is what I’d try front rear if you want to go fast but still have a bit of traction on those singletracks. New XC mudtyre from Maxxis in the front when it gets wet. 2.2 is the absolute minimum for 30mm id imho (depending of tyre of course).

Are you bike-packing or racing multi-day events? If so, I’d probably stick to a fast 2.2-2.35 tire and not worry about it - Race King, Thunder Bert, Aspen, Rekon Race, etc.

If you’re racing one-day gravel, or JRA on gravel, then maybe…
Spec’d Pathfinder Pro comes in 47mm (no S-works in that size, sad-banana). I’d probably go with the S-works version in 42 for racing.

Conti Terra Speed might be available in a 45mm now. I can’t find it on their site, but BRR has a review. I run the 42mm version and it’s fast. BikeTiresDirect shows next batch available in June, for whatever that’s worth. Again, I might pick 45 for JRA and definitely the 42 for racing.

Schwalbe Big One? It’s bigger than you asked about, but should be pretty fast as it’s a semi-block/file-tread.

Rene Herse Hatcher Pass, if you want to try a super-supple “slick” tire.

1 Like

I have a pair of Schwalbe Thunderburts 2.1" mounted to a 650b wheelset. Very fast for a “MTB” tire.

1 Like

I found the Pathfinder Pro 47s on sale at Backcountry. Ordered 2 sets. One going on my wife’s Cutty

1 Like

This was what I encountered in my ride on Sunday! Roughly 24 miles tarmac, 40 gravel, and 3 single track. There was peanut butter mud too. I think the perfect tire would have had unicorn hair in the casing :rofl: :unicorn: :mountain_biking_woman:

1 Like

On 25iw the pathfinder sworks 42s measure out to 45 for me.

1 Like

it’s not too many conditions and I just wanted to make a joke but yeah, missed. It’s just too many conditions to have the optimal tyre. You can favor hardpack and tarmac and go with a slick or favor rough gravel and singletrack and go with a tyre with more thread. That’s personal preference of course. I ride RH 44mm slicks on 30/70 gravel/asphalt and they are super fast. If my distribution would be the other way around I’d be on a tyre with more thread that still rolls fast on tarmac. The Conti Race King Protection seem pretty well suited for what you did last sunday. Maybe try the Speed King on the rear or the aforementioned Pathfinder in 47mm?

1 Like

Joke definitely went over my head sorry…about that :rofl:

I think the Race King was a decent fit for my last ride, but definitely appreciate all the input about other options. I think some organizers take pride in ensuring you always have the wrong bike/tire at some point in a ride :grimacing:

Yeah the Terrra Speed 45 would be a great shout. I’ve been racing on the 40s and really really love them, especially since you say:

The contis will take a puncture before a set of Pathfinder Pros, but the Pathfinders become problematic in the mud much more quickly (though neither is much of a mud tire). Contis also ride more like a road tire on the tarmac and definitely roll faster, but they wear out really fast, especially if you’re doing lots of paved miles.

I much prefer riding on Terra Speed 40s as an everyday and race tire, even though it gets expensive to replace them often. Despite saying they’re more puncture prone than the Pathfinders I wouldn’t say they’re delicate at all - they can take a lot of abuse and a lot of different surface types. There’s only one race near me where the gravel is sharp enough that I step up to Pathfinder 42s, and I think I could probably still get away with riding even that on the Contis if I was riding solo and got to pick my lines instead of following wheels blindly.

Pathfinder 42s are also my bikepacking tire due to being more robust and longer lasting, though for an upcoming ultra I’m going to try the Pathfinder 47s for the first time to get that extra volume.

Not sure where the Terra Speed 45s would fit for me, but since you’re talking about 45 and up it sounds like for you it would be down to just conti 45 or pathfinder 47 anwyay.

Lots of words just to say I have experience with versions of both of those recommended tires: both are fantastic and they are also similar enough to one another that I’m switching between them to account for incredibly minor variations in requirements when actually either one would usually be a great option.

To bring something new into the mix, I’ve seen a lot of love for the Pirelli Cinturato M lately. It will definitely be slower than either the Pathfinder or the Terra Speed, but it seems designed to handle a wider variety of surfaces and conditions, and I haven’t heard anyone say they felt like it was holding them back. Comes in 45 and 50 I think. I may well try it in a 40 as a winter training tire in 6 months time.

1 Like

The Goodyear Connector is available in a 50….never ridden it, but the 40 is still my all- time favorite gravel tire.

1 Like

I’m certainly no expert, but I also ride the René Herse Snoqualmie Pass 44mm slicks and love them. 20/80 gravel/road in my case.


Hm, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, riding in northern New England. Right now, I’m using two different wheelsets, one with 700x45c Pirelli Cinturato H’s and another with 700x50c Maxxis Ramblers.

The Cinturato H’s are pretty good, but when they wear out I’ll probably go with something like the 700x48c Rene Herse Hatcher Pass slick for a little extra volume. I’ve seen and read a fair amount lately where it seems like on dirt roads and chunkier, tire size has very minimal impact on speed but potentially huge benefits in terms of comfort and stability.

On my other wheelset, the 700x50c Maxxis Ramblers were great through mud season, but feel maybe a little slow on hardpack. That said, they’re great for Class IV roads and off-road, so I’ll definitely stick with them until they wear out. After that, maybe I’ll switch to something like a fast XC tire if I can find one in 700x50-53c?

My original plan was to have one set of smaller, faster tires for hardpack and faster stuff, then another fatter, heavier treaded tire for chunkier, more off-road riding. But considering how smooth (and at least fast-feeling) fatter tires are over washboards, potholes, gravel chunks, etc., I don’t think I’m likely to be going with anything under 700x48c for gravel, even for hardpack. I may be an outlier, considering I probably spend more time on single-track and Class IV roads than I do pavement (probably ~10-15% of my time is on pavement), but I’m completely sold on fatter tires.

1 Like

What rim inner width are your Cinturato H’s on and how wide do they measure? I’m intriqued by @KevinKlaes comment above that the 42 Pathfinder Pros balloon out to 45 on 25 IW rims. For hard pack gravel the slick center of the Pathfinder Pros looks appealing.

@rkoswald - the Cinturatos are on Farsports carbon rims, 25mm internal width. It’s been a while since I measured them, but 47mm on a 25mm rim sounds about right. I’ll measure those and 700x50c Ramblers on Roval Terra C rims (also 25mm internal) when I get a chance, just to be sure.


I’ve got Race Kings and TerraSpees…They are not the same efficiency. Not even close.

So, which one is more efficient?

Terra Speed. If I’m riding with my kids, I barely need to pedal. I can make it down my entire block without doing any work. The RaceKings need a little input.

1 Like