New Challenge Getaway gravel tire bucks the trend with harder rubber

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Challenge has offered a handful of gravel tires in recent years, but its new Getaway model is the first one that has a tread design that wasn’t based on one of the company’s cyclocross patterns. As such, the Getaway features a lot of things you’d expect from a modern gravel tire that’s designed for a wide range of conditions: a smoother center tread that promises lower rolling resistance, a low-profile open transition area to prevent slipping when initiating turns on looser ground, and an aggressive shoulder tread with bigger and more heavily reinforced knobs to provide more of a shelf to lean on through corners.

The Getaway also uses the company’s trademark handmade open tubular construction with a “gravel-specific” double-layer 260 TPI SuperPoly casing that supposedly provides a smoother ride and improved traction while still boosting sidewall durability, and there’s a strip of additional fabric along the bead to prevent damage from rim abrasion. Challenge even coats the inside of the casing with a thin layer of latex — instead of slower-rolling butyl — which not only supposedly improves tubeless air retention, but also provides a measure of puncture protection.

Whereas most higher-end gravel tires these days are built using dual-compound synthetic rubber compounds, Challenge is using a single natural rubber compound that’s harder than typical.

So what’s unusual about the Getaway, then? Instead of using a dual-compound synthetic rubber compound like most brands (with a harder rubber down the center for durability and softer rubber elsewhere for cornering grip), Challenge equips the Getaway with a harder, single-durometer “Smart Plus” compound made of natural rubber — the hardest of Challenge’s three new rubber formulations. According to Challenge, this natural rubber provides comparable durability, wear, and rolling resistance characteristics as synthetic compounds, but without the need for multiple hardnesses.

The reinforced casing is supposedly designed to help survive stuff like this.

“We are working with the Rubber Technology Research Center at Mahidol University, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Thailand,” explained Challenge technical director Morgan Nicol. “The University was founded in 1888 as a medical school, and while their global reputation is not huge, their specialty in natural rubber compounding development and testing to support local industry is impressive.

“All of our rubber compounds are a bit softer than our competition by category. We get excellent rolling resistance results, but suffer a bit on the durability side vs. our vulcanized and big car tire competition like Conti, Maxxis, and Schwalbe. For the Getaway, we chose the Smart Plus compound that is only about 5% higher durometer than our [medium] Smart compound, but boasts 23% more durability and sacrifices only 2.5% in rolling resistance for a similar road tread compound.”

Challenge is offering the Getaway only with tan sidewalls for now.

All of this sounds too good to be true, eh? Maybe, but maybe not, but we’ll see about getting a test set in for review so we can find out for ourselves.

Challenge is offering the tubeless-ready Getaway in a single 700×40 mm size for now, and exclusively with tan sidewalls. Claimed weight is 460 grams, and retail price is US$86 / €78.

More information can be found at www.challengetires.com.

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