Is a MTB tire the fastest and best tire for Gravel racing?

Alternate theory, the bean counters at Schwalbe came in and asked all the product managers to reduce their BOM by x%, so they made a higher margin, cheaper tire, assuming most buyers care less about 2 watts and more about the marketing.

Also, to Joe’s point, nearly everybody can measure the weight of a tire. Nearly nobody can measure the rolling resistance.


Schwalbe has (had?) a comprehensive tire testing suite: Being There: Inside Schwalbe Tires Testing Lab - Road Bike Action

I suspect the simplest explanation is that Schwalbe uses a different size and type roller, combined with the size difference between the two types of TBs/RRs tested.

Is the difference between a 2.25 SG TB and a 2.1 SR TB enough to account for 3.3w-2.4w increase in the BRR crr? Maybe, one example I noted is that going from 42->38 for the Specialized Pathfinder Pro is +3.5-2.7w.


I absolutely can.

To expand a bit on this:
See the answers from Joe and Pabst - maybe they just wanted to address another feature a bit more and mostly rely on marketing.

Case in point - tire manufacturers (not only Schwalbe) rubber compound names (or rather, marketing claims manifested in catchy marketing names) are always super obfuscating. Never using terms like “Budget” or “Slow but grippy” or “Faster but slippery”. It’s always “Performance”, “Race”, “Super…”. And you as the customer now have the fun task to derive which is the moniker for “Cheaper Budget construction” and “actual best performing in terms of rolling resistance etc.”.

Also - as far as my comparisons show - Schwalbe is one of the most notorious in overshooting the spec weight of their tires. A bit of tolerance is expected. But Schwalbe is nearly always way over. So much Rubber has to cost. And not only as a weight penalty. So - should they actually test their pre-production tires and see maybe a tiny bit of performance gap with the so called “race” compound it may never manifest in the real world… But that’s all speculation on my part.

What I really see (despite Schwalbe being an OK brand with some very OK tires) is marketing obfuscation all around.


Anyone know if a 2.2 Race King will clear the Rudy?

There‘s also a 2.0 shield wall puregrip version of the conti race king. I can’t find much info on these tires but mounted them anyway. They were 60g heavier than the 2.2 and possibly a bit slower due to the stiffer sidewall. Was quite a fun ride regardless.

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Put the 2.2 RaceKing on my Cannondale SuperSix Evo SE, on 25ID front wheel. for the Traka 200.

Worked really well, rolled fast. Did rub through all the paint and some of the carbon under the fork though.

I wouldnt have noticed the difference on any area except the 3 big descents and massive potholes.

Would I run it again? Probably, in a dry, rocky situation. Any kind of mud really messes up the forks.

I wouldn’t consider rubbing through the paint and carbon as “working well”.

Sure, it might have been fast, but I wouldn’t want to mess up my bike in the case of some mud (which happens pretty often tbh, especially in more northern parts).


I tried the Terra Hardpacks today on fine crushed gravel/ cinder/ golf cart path gravel. I wanted a bit more cornering grip than the Terra Speeds. These seem to carve moderately better and are more confidence inspiring than the Terra Speeds, while they seem to roll about the same off-road as judged by power/speed on Strava segments. They aren’t as confidence inspiring as something like a CrossKing MTB tire though, so limit any expectations.
The downside is, out-of-the-box, they are not good for spirted road cornering. As you would expect with the square edge, they are reluctant to lean and then uneasy on the cornering edge. They seemed better after some break-in miles.


On the maybe too close to the frame to definitively too close to the frame scale, that’s gonna screw up your paint. The tire / rim moves around a bit, that’s gonna be slapping the fork all the time.
The 2.0 PureGrip tire is pretty slow too.


You’re right, if there was more clearance, it would have been perfect.

I will defo give the thunder burt a go. a bit narrower (2.1), might help my forks a bit.

Any intel from this group if the 2.1" Racing Ray and Ralph measure around 51mm or so like the Thunder Burt? I’ve measured the 2.35 and they measure small, so guessing that it’d be the same with the 2.1

Like some others, wondering if this could be a good setup where you want a little more grip and flat resistance than the Thunder Burt.

@kcgx - old post, but what was clearance like on the rear for the MOG with the Race King? You mentioned the front being the biggest challenge, plenty of room on the rear?

BTW - Not where you’d told me to ask, but ended up getting a frame recently, so building up now.

These were a hypothetical top contender for me but given the poor cornering would probably lean towards sticking with Thunderos and bumping up to a 48mm once I have a frame that allows for it.

I find it surprising that Vittoria has stuck with their poorly performing line up, excluding the Corsa NEXTs, the Mezcal 44 that Lachlan rode is their fastest, you would think they could make the Terreno line up to be faster than the Mezcal 44.

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I just ordered the 48 thundero’s, as well as 1 Thunder Burt to try them out. 1 Thunder Burt because I expect it will fit fine in the front (Checkpoint) but not sure about the back.

I’m currently running G-one RS’, and quite like them. But they size a little on the small size (43-44mm), whereas the thunderos look like they’ll be 4-5mm bigger when mounted. Then of course the Thunder Burt a few mm bigger again.

But overall I like the higher volume tires, and hopefully it is increasing performance more than hurting it.

The pedaling feel of larger tires on pavement and smooth gravel is unmotivating (slow feeling) even though I know better, keeping it a little narrower gives me the lively feel I like, apparently without sacrificing much speed on the rough stuff.

This is exactly how I feel with ThunderBurts. The gravel events (not races because I’m slow) are generally 25-50% road - so I feel like my TBs are overkill. I have 40 Thunderos, 45 Terra Speeds (that i haven’t tried yet) and the 2.1 TBs.

If you did an event that was 50% mild gravel / 10% easy singletrack / 40% tarmac, what would you choose?

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I think I’d go with the 45 Terra Speeds.

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Just made the same decision…was debating b/t 42 S-Works Pathfiners, 44 Thundero, 45 G-One RS, and 45 Terra Speeds…went Terra Speeds. Will report back in a week or two. Coming from 38 Gravelking SS which I had zero issues with but just needed some more volume.

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Is it actually really fast in the real world? Wondering if I should try a TB to complement my Pathfinder Pros. I don’t think I will have enough clearance to run Race Kings.

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Has anyone tried a 2.1 thunder burt super ground long-term as a 50/50 or even 60/40 road/offroad tyre?