Rene Herse view on shoulder knobs for gravel tires

This is something I have experienced with my gravel bike with Vittoria Terreno Drys. Prior to these tires, my gravel tires of choice were smooth or knobbed Panaracer or Compass/RH. The knobbed Panaracers have a continuous tread line that doesn’t stick out much more on the shoulders. I found them to be otherworldly on gravel and road corners. I like the Terrenos but man, cornering is sketchy. It certainly could have to do with the bike geo or 650b behaviors, and my poor handling, but reading this article gave me pause.


Meh, seems a bit like a marketing spin to me. His whole tire deconstructed idea is interesting, but doesn’t hold water to me. They end up with a casing, base rubber, and knobs on top (regardless of his explanation to the contrary).

What he describes is something of an “inverted or negative tread tire”, which is a real thing. There are a number of negative tread tires from the past and present, that are more like a mega-block with minimal cuts or reliefs (negative space). Here are just a couple of examples:
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What they end with looks more like a medium block tread tire, that has more negative space than positive. It is a nearly standard checkerboard / chevron lug progression that is not exactly game changing to my eyes.

I do think their focus on surface area and lean is a good and interesting one. But I also question their handling abilities. Much of the comments read like a roadie trying to apply roadie corner skills in all conditions (tarmac and dirt), which is not appropriate for mixed surface riding, IMHO.

The dirt side in particular seems to indicate they are not applying bike/body separation to lean the bike more than the rider body. It just comes off as they are not cranking the bike over with a stable waist, which is common and necessary in the MTB and dirt world.

I can vouch for some real differences and improvement in tires with shoulder knobs when ripping down loose and tricky turns of dirt roads. I’ve had confidence inspired rips with perfect hooking up with side knob tires and white-knuckle death grip waiting for a “regular” round tire to find some level of grip despite extreme lean and weighting. Those several tires gave real differences in feedback and grip based on the knobs on the sides, despite being the same course and technique.

I just don’t fully agree with their take aways despite thinking they have some good considerations.


Keep in mind they (Jan Hein) used to say that knobs didn’t help on any gravel…then brought out a tire with knobs.


This sounds interesting, as I’m 99% road and would be happy to upgrade my skills on imperfect surfaces - can you elaborate on this? As an (ex) motorbike rider, leaning the bike and not the body sounds very sketchy :smiley:

I just did some quick searching and found a reference that gets to the point a bit:

In gravel, this is can be done seated by leaning the bike, bottom on the saddle still, but effectively keeping a more level pelvis and more upright back and shoulder position (the body still leans, but to a lesser angle than the bike itself). The goal being to get more angle in the bike, but not shifting the body center of mass too far towards the inner part of the turn, because traction is limited.

In the most extreme conditions of high speed, low traction cornering, I often stand and apply this method, along with heavy weighting of the outside foot, to drive as much force into the tires as possible. When done with the right tire and conditions, you can push those side knobs well into the dirt road and increase traction.

Doing a regular bike/body lean in loose conditions can result in loss of traction and a slide out from either or both ends (depending on rider fore-aft weighting and any other inputs like pedaling or braking).

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do these new tires plane? asking for a friend…

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The reason to lean the bike is to get the side knobs to bite into the ground for added grip. MTB is a good example here.

If riding a road bike with smooth tires on a dirt road, I don’t think there’s any benefit to leaning the bike.

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Agreed, there needs to be some change in tire profile and or tread pattern along as leaned to take advantage.

  • Tires like the Schwalbe G-One don’t matter, since it’s consistent pins.
  • But something like the Panaracer GravelKing SK, Maxxis Rambler and the like benefit from more open and angled knobs as the tire kicks over.

It would be similar to how motocross or flat track racers turn vs street bikes if you have any experience in that.

My reaction. No shit, Sherlock. So, we have a set of shaved knobbies, with a tread pattern that looks like the kenda small block 8 or vee rubber gravel/cx tires or their vee 8/vee 10.

The casing is better material though, for road.

Jan Heine, reinvents the world, to come full circle. That’s probably too harsh, but is where it seems to be going.