Product Review: Bruce Gordon Rock N Road Tires Jul 2, 2013

RockinRollin-1-655

RockinRollin-2-655

If you need scientific data to support tire purchasing, you need not continue reading. Just look at the pretty photos and move on. This is not a controlled test on rolling resistance, aerodynamics or puncture protection. I don’t do that kind of product review. What I do is actually use something until I feel like I can sign off on its quality, before I choose to write anything.

Let’s look at this tire’s history before we go any further. Bruce Gordon was arguably one of the first builders in the USA to support “gravel grinding”. His bikes were straight-forward, utilitarian beasts that sometimes were painted like an 80′s hotrod, or even adorned with animal print. They are wild. In fact, one of the first BG bikes I ever saw was a flat bar cross bike, with these tires and tiger stripes that was well before any 29′r hit the market. A lot of bikes back in the 80′s couldn’t even fit these tires. There weren’t exactly stock framesets that fit a 700c x 43c wheel, so these stood out from other offerings of the time.

Bruce’s Rock N Road tires are iconic, much like his bikes. Originally designed by Joe Murray, a well-known figure in the MTB community. These 43mm (1.72″) tires were designed to be high-volume, fast rolling and rip through gravel like I rip through a Frito Pie. Are they slow on the road? Of course. They have decent tread. Are they good for loose and sandy conditions? Mostly, yes. They move as fast as you pedal them.

The Rock N Road tire is one that’s at home on chip seal, paved, gravel, rock, sand and just about everything else you can throw at it on a ride. It’ll handle great at 60psi on asphalt and excel at 40psi in gravel. I had a great time ripping through the cedar-topped trails here in Austin, as well as a few gravel roads and even rocky terrain. All save for one flat (snake bite in a rock garden), I’ve yet to have any issues. Let me add however that if all you do is ride sealed roads on your rig, I would go for something else, mostly because you’ll probably wear through the tread too fast.

Puncture protection? It’s not thorn season here in Austin, so I’ve yet to tackle anything like that but I’d say they’re pretty resilient to the normal road and trail debris. Some tire liners would help and I read somewhere that people have been successful at running these on a tubeless wheel. If anyone has insight to that, share in the comments!

If you want a big, fat tire for your cross, touring or even MTB with 700c or 29′r wheels, look no further. $50 a piece is a great deal for anything coming out of the Panaracer facilities in Japan I might add! For the weight-conscious, they’re 540g each. One major note. They’re BIG and wouldn’t come close to fitting on my cross bike, so MAKE SURE YOU HAVE CLEARANCE!

Pick up a pair at Bruce Gordon’s online shop in skinwall or blackwall.

  • James Acklin

    These tires are rad. I rode the DC to Pittsburgh trail on a cross bike with these and Open Pros and they did great. They make crushed limestone feel like tarmac. Only one tiny puncture flat on one of the rougher sections of the C&O, so tire liners would have helped.

  • Bryan Wyatt

    I couldn’t agree more. I have these tires on a surly cross check and could not be more Impressed. Recently I used these tires in a race in Southern Indiana which is pretty much an Alley Cat in the middle of a national forest. It covered 60 miles of single track, gravel/dirt roads, some asphalt as well as some logging roads. These tires performed extremely well because they are able to handle pretty much any terrain you trow at them. If your looking for a tire that is extremely versatile, look no further.

  • hans

    i have these on my rock lobster cross bike. at lower pressure they rip on single track and with a lot of air are really fast rolling on tarmac. in fact, i almost feel like the resistance felt on tarmac when pumped up at a higher pressure is more from the tread catching air as it rotates forward rather than actual rolling resistance from the tire on the pavement. definitely doesn’t fare well when goat heads are lurking though, but that’s what tire liners are for.

  • hurricane_josh

    what’s the 26″ equivalent to these?

  • Alex Mazonowicz

    Excellent tyres – fitted these to my Cotic Roadrat & made it in to a gravel machine. Even rode them in a “race” – http://aucklandbikeslob.com/2013/06/25/the-dual/

  • Ivan Ross

    Do you think these would be too much tread for a suburban commuter bike (90% tarmac)? I want something nice and wide, yet 700c and I love the gumwall aesthetic

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Go with the Jack Brown Blue tires by Rivendell / Panaracer… they’re sooooooo good and they come in gumwall.