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by Iain Treloar
May 19, 2020
Panaracer’s beloved Gravelking series has expanded again, with the addition of a speed-oriented new tread pattern designed for dry conditions. The new tyre, offered in two varieties, is called the SS and SS+, depending on whether it’s the variant with beefed up protection or not.
The Japanese company’s Gravelking range has grown to include some of the most popular gravel tyres on the market, with the SK and the slick versions both garnering their fair share of admirers. Fittingly, the SS looks to combine elements of both tyres to create what Panaracer calls a “dryer condition, race day ready and fast rolling tyre … made for riders who want to go fast while maintaining great control, traction and climbing prowess.”
The tread pattern is all new, and looks a bit like if the Gravelking and the Gravelking SK had a baby. A central file tread gives way to a diamond pattern, with more aggressive lugs on the shoulder reminiscent of those on the SK, if they were more tightly spaced.
Learning from the upsides of the existing Panaracer range seems to have been an ethos that informed the development of the SS. Jeff Zell, Panaracer’s “Global Go-To Guy”, says that “it became apparent that we needed a tyre that sat firmly between the slick version of the Gravelking and the more robust Gravelking SK,” with “extensive testing” at events including Mid South helping hone the design.
Like the SK and the slick, the Gravelking SS features a 126 TPI casing with a puncture-resistant belt, as well as the same Zero Slip Grip (ZSP) compound used elsewhere in the range. The SS+, meanwhile, has a bead-to-bead layer of anti-puncture ‘ProTite’ material, giving a little insurance against tread and sidewall gashes in more rugged terrain.
The new tyres are being released in a generous number of different sizes – 27.5 x 1.9” (650B x 48) and 700 x 28, 32, 35, 38 and 43 mm. Across the board they’ll be available in either black or brown sidewall options.
They’ll be priced at US$49.99 for the SS and US$59.99 for the SS+, with the SS weighing in about the same as the Gravelking SK. The SS will land in early June, with the SS+ to follow around a month later.
We’ve requested test samples, and based on my positive experiences with the Gravelking SK – which is to this day one of my benchmark gravel tyres – I’m excited to see whether these live up to expectations.