Made by Panaracer in Japan, designed by Fairweather for XC riding and in stock now at Blue Lug, these tires look incredible. My only question: who in the States will be carrying them? See more at the Blue Lug Flickr!
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.