Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.
The Best Gravel Bike Tires for the Mud
Escapism on Gravel Shouldn't Be Restricted by Winter Slop
Over recent years Gravel Cycling has grown at an exponential rate. Road cyclists have discovered escapism and mountain bikers have found a happy medium without the need for excessive amounts of lycra and leg shaving.
Gravel cycling offers something for everyone. Hard-packed dirt roads can be as smooth as tarmac, singletrack adds a fun element whilst rutted, rocky bridleways add to a technical challenge that the hardiest gravel cyclist can test themselves upon.
There are a lot of different terrains out there and many different tires to suit the varied surfaces you may encounter when you leave the tarmac. Winter and periods of bad weather can add further challenge to the fun. Muddy conditions can often push many a gravel tire beyond its capabilities so here is a selection of some of the best gravel bike tires for muddy conditions
Gravel Cycling On the North York Moors
What to Look for in a Gravel Tire
Are you running 700c or 650b wheels? If your frame can accommodate both wheel sizes 650b wheels will offer increased mud clearance and the potential to run wider tires for benefits over rougher terrain.
Wider equals bigger volume and more comfort. The biggest consideration is just how wide you can go in your current frameset. Cyclocross framesets will have generally less clearance than modern gravel framesets as manufacturers have become more creative.
A fast dry-weather low-profile file tread or slick tire will handle very differently to a more aggressive, mud-shedding tread with shoulder knobs, Tread pattern is probably the most important element of your tire choice and will be dependent on where you ride and the trail conditions.
Consider extra puncture protection if you plan on heading into more remote areas on a bikepacking trip or have a history of wearing down tires very quickly.
Are you running tubeless tires?
While tubeless tires are almost a standard in the gravel biking world now make sure any tires you choose are compatible with your current wheel set-up. Especially if you're looking to use sealant instead of traditional tubes.
Be Careful Who You Trust for a Review
We all like to be assured we've made the right purchases. Many riders are seeking collective reassurance on Facebook Groups, particularly regarding the Holy Grail of Gravel Tires. There's always someone that will claim their Panaracer Gravelking SK's are great in the mud despite a closely packed set of knobs that will clog easing and offer little bite to drive you forward.
Panaracer Gravelking SK- Poor Performance in the Mud
Great Gravel Tires for Mud and Year-Round Riding: Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M
Pirelli has only returned to producing bicycle tires over the last few years though has a wealth of experience across motorized forms of transport.
The Cinturato Gravel M is a favourite amongst British Gravel Cyclists accustomed to wet weather and tendancies towards muddy conditions. It's a great all-round option for gravel and bikepacking tyres, with the Pirelli Cinturato M offering plentiful grip and high levels of puncture protection.
The aggressive tread features widely-spaced knobs with a smoother more densely packed central tread for speed on harder ground to balance rolling resistance on smoother surfaces with grip on rougher, softer ground.
A sturdy, reinforced sidewall helps the tire maintain rigidity at lower tire pressures to provide reassurance and puncture protection through the whole casing.
With no fewer than five widths across 700c and 650b wheel sizes, there’s a suitable tire for all.
- Sizes available: 700×35, 40, 45mm and 650b x 45, 50mm
- Weight: 500g (700x40)
- Great for: Year-round reliability across a broad spectrum of surfaces.
Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M Tire for Year-Round Performance
How to Ride Mud Like a Pro
Panaracer GravelKing EXT Plus+
Panaracer GravelKing EXT Plus+- Take Gravel to the Extreme
The Panaracer Gravelking SK is a gravel cycling classic and one of the tires that other companies often compare themselves against. The EXT Plus works to push boundaries further. Muddier, gnarlier, and more extreme conditions are where the Panaracer GravelKing EXT Plus+ comes into its own.
The WTB Sendero
Aggressive Mud Shedding Gnarly Brilliance- Though Only Available in 650b Size
If you're running 650b wheels the WTB Sendero is a great consideration for muddy gravel trails. It's the tire that those of us running 700c wheels really lose out from not being able to ride.
WTB is a brand with deep roots in off-road and gravel riding with a strong line-up of tires that focus on the burgeoning gravel cycling sector. Their Sendero tire is arguably the closest gravel cyclists can get to a mountain bike tire for the gnarliest conditions.
- Sizes available: 650b x 47mm
- Weight: 538g
- Great for: Gravel cycling in the harshest conditions where serious levels of grip are needed.
Check Out Adventr CC's review
- Review: WTB Sendero 650b x 47 gravel tyres - ADVNTR.cc
WTB Sendero, the latest Road Plus offering promises to transform your gravel bike into a psuedo nobbly tyred, drop bar mountain bike.
Send It With the WTB Sendero
Rene Herse Steilacoom to Carve Through the Mud
Rene Herse Steilacoom to Carve Through the Mud
If you're looking for a gravel tire that will excel on a broad variety of surfaces as well as eating mud for breakfast the Rene Herse Steilacoom could be the right option for you. Whilst only available in a relatively narrow 700x 38 variety the Steilacoom has a tread pattern that clears mud well whilst also excelling on faster, hard-packed gravel surfaces.
Rene Herse is one of the few tire companies to offer a multitude of different casings across their range- The Standard casing for value and retaining performance, the Extralight casing takes the performance, comfort, and feel to the next level. The Endurance casing is reinforced for puncture resistance while retaining speed and comfort. If you're riding in rough conditions or need longevity opt for the Endurance casing.
Grab Yourself a Set of Rene Herse Steilacoom Tires for Muddy Gravel Riding
A Pro Cyclocross Tire for Muddy Conditions (and Very Niche)
Riders like Matthieu Van Der Poel and Wout Van Aert know how to ride through the mud; it's what they do best during the winter months. For their cyclocross races, they use some very specialist tyres from very niche specialist manufacturers like Dugast and FMB.
FMB is so specialist they have just a small number of employees to produce some of the highest quality, handmade bicycle tires you could ever wish for. Historically they have specialized in Tubular (glue on) tires for cyclocross racing however they also produce Open Tubular (Clincher/ High Pressure) versions of their impressive Super Mud tire.
Available in 700x 32 and 34.5 only they're narrow but will slice through the mud and offer an exceptionally supple casing. Not as yet available in tubeless varieties.
The FMB Super Mud Tread
Check out Crossjunkie's Review of the FMB Super Mud
Which Tires Do You Recommend for Muddy Gravel Rides?
Do you ride a different set of tires in the Mud? We'd love to hear your opinions on what works