Schwalbe has a long history in tyres, going all the way back to 1973. At the time, Ralf Bohle was the head of a bicycle distribution company in Germany that had just switched its focus from exports to imports. Intent on finding a high quality tyre manufacturer to supply the German market, Bohle discovered Swallow-Tires in Korea. A simple translation of swallow into German (i.e “schwalbe”) gave rise to the new brand.
Schwalbe’s tyre catalogue has grown considerably since then, as has the business, which now enjoys global recognition. The company has tyres for every riding discipline, including spiked tyres for snow and ice, along with specialty tyres for wheelchairs.
Schwalbe introduced the One a few years ago, a road racing tyre with low rolling resistance. Since then, a number of versions have been created, the most recent of which is a gravel-oriented design dubbed the G-One. Available to suit all popular gravel-grinding wheel sizes (650b/27.5”, 700c, and 29” wheels), the G-One features a subtle tread pattern comprising a repeating series of shallow cylinders.
The G-One range is divided into two categories for 2017: G-One Allround tyres have a tall tread pattern and wide sizes (e.g. 700x35c and 700x38c) while G-One Speed tyres have a lower profile tread and narrower sizes (e.g. 700x30c).
The G-One Allround and Speed tyres are further divided into Evolution and Performance versions that differ in terms of tread compounds, materials and construction, thread counts, and tubeless compatibility. Buyers will find that the Evolution version offers higher thread counts and tubeless compatibility, and makes use of materials that are more sophisticated than the Performance version, accounting for the extra expense associated with these tyres.
I was immediately impressed with the G-One, and after spending a few weeks on G-One Allround Performance tyres (700x38c), I would recommend them to any gravel rider that must contend with dry and dusty conditions.
On paved roads, the G-One rolled really well. Indeed, it was so smooth and quiet that there were times when I had trouble discerning the performance of this tyre from a dedicated road tyre. The only time I noticed the tread was when I was leaning the bike over into a corner.
The G-One was quick to shine off-road, offering a surprising amount of grip on dry, sandy terrain. As a result, I found myself riding familiar tracks at higher speeds and attacking the bends more aggressively. The G-Ones were always sure and reliable and inspired my confidence unless I strayed into deep puddles of loose sand.
I used 40psi in both tyres and it made for a fairly seamless transition from paved to unpaved roads. I might have been tempted to try lower pressures, however a small pinch-flat on my first rocky ride was enough to dissuade me. In this regard, it’s worth noting that the Performance version of the G-One is not tubeless compatible.
Overall, the G-One is a superb tyre for summer riding. The price of G-One Performance tyres may be more attractive than the Evolution version, but I’d opt for the latter for its tubeless compatibility. As for the decision between Allround or Speed tyres, that will depend on the riding terrain and the rider’s needs, but I expect most gravel-grinders will gravitate towards the wider versions provided by the Allround range.
Price: G-One Allround Performance, AUD$69/US$50; G-One Allround Evolution, AUD$99/US$73-85; G-One Speed Performance, AUD$69/US$44; G-One Speed Evolution, AUD$99/US$81-88.