In early 2020 I was preparing to ride the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder, a 5-day stage ride based in Sisters, OR. My road bike won’t make that gravel ride, and with 7 bikes in the garage I did not want yet another bike. So I decided to ride it on my mountain bike. However, the heavy knobby tires that work so well on rough terrain are not optimal for gravel. They are just not efficient enough, especially for doing 350 miles in 5 days.
Note: these are tubeless wheels, Reynolds Carbon AR, size 27.5″ / 650 / 584.
Gravel rides are a “thing” now, so there are lots of tire options. After reading a bunch of reviews I opted for Schwalbe G-One Allround tires. They make 2 sizes for my bike: 40-584 and 57-584 (note: 584, 650 and 27.5″ are all the same wheel size, just different ways of measuring it). One seemed a bit too skinny (40mm = 1.6″), the other a bit too fat (57mm = 2.24″). I wasn’t sure which would be best so I ordered a set of each.
First, I installed the wide ones. They installed and sealed neatly without the need for my compressor. Rode them around the block, pumped them up to 5 PSI below max. They held pressure overnight and I rode them the next day on a gravel road (John Wayne Trail from Rattlesnake Lake toward Snoqualmie Tunnel). Ran about 35 PSI rear, 30 PSI front. They did fine and I could feel how much lighter and faster they were.
Failure the First
Next ride, I hit the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. About 40 miles in, I could hear the rear wheel losing air. It had a puncture with sealant spraying out. The sealant eventually did its job and I finished the ride (10 more miles) and made it home. I inspected the tire from the outside, there was no obvious damage, so I removed the valve stem and added another ounce of sealant to replace what it had lost.
Failure the Second
The OTGG was cancelled due to COVID, so I flew out to Moab to meet Stefan for some biking. On day 1, riding the easy Bar M Loop Trail, the front tire flatted. Sealant spewed out, then after a long moment it did its job. I used my hand pump to replace some of the lost pressure and we finished the ride.
Failure the Third
Now it was 2021 and I was preparing to ride the Cascade Gorge Grinder that had been cancelled the prior year. So I installed the skinny G-One Allround tires. At least, I tried to. After completing the first and inflating it to 5 PSI below max pressure, I set it aside to work do the second. About 10 minutes later, BANG! The tire I had set aside blew off the rim. Upon inspection, the bead had ruptured internally without any exterior evidence of cuts or damage. I use only smooth plastic tire “irons”. Chalk it up to manufacturing defect.
So I reinstalled the fat ones.
Failure the Fourth
Next ride, I went out on the same pavement that I ride my road bike. After a few miles I heard the familiar dreaded sound of the rear tire losing pressure and spewing sealant. This time, it never sealed. I stopped and rotated the rear wheel so the puncture was at the bottom so the sealant could gather there. All the sealant (I use 2 full ounces) spewed out and it went completely flat. I had to walk home.
Schwalbe’s G-One Allround tires are so fragile they repeatedly puncture, even on paved roads that my road bike can handle with 700×23 tires. They seem to impair sealant from doing its job, and I also encountered a manufacturing defect that caused one to blow off the rim even when seated and sealed, and below its max recommended pressure.
Needless to say, I’m never buying Schwalbe tires again. I’ve never had these problems with Maxxis tires (knock on wood!).
Note: I’m now using Maxxis Ramblers size 47-584 on this bike, for gravel rides. Fingers crossed!
For knobbies I’ve used Maxxis Ardents, and now use the DHF / DHR combo. Both have been great; good traction, easy installation and no flats. Of course, they’re heavy with higher rolling resistance. But when you need rugged knobbies, those aspects are less important and these are great tires.