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review

Panaracer GravelKing Slick TLC

9
£49.99

VERDICT:

9
10
The ideal tyre for rough roads – very fast, very light and yet robust
Lots of grip
Great on poor roads or light gravel
Light
Fast rolling
Can be tough to mount
Weight: 
309g
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This product has been selected to feature in road.cc recommends. That means it's not just scored well, but we think it stands out as special. Go to road.cc recommends

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The Panaracer GravelKing Slick TLC isn't actually a 'gravel' tyre as such, despite the name, but it excels in any kind of on-road/bad road scenario. It's also very light and has a seriously low rolling resistance its width, which makes it a very fast tyre no matter the terrain. Puncture protection is also pretty solid, despite lacking the ProTite protection of the slightly more expensive 'Plus' version.

We've already reviewed this tyre in the 32mm width and the more puncture-protected (and heavier) 'Plus' 38mm version, and here we are now with the 35mm – a size that's probably becoming a little less popular as ever wider is becoming the norm. Still, there's reason not to discount the middle-of-the-road 35mm option.

Big(ish) in Japan

This is an excellent tyre that's ideally suited to a wide variety of surfaces. It might be gravel by name, but not really by nature – yes, it will do gravel, but these Japanese tyres are at best on rough roads, which is essentially the majority of roads in the UK. As with the other sizes, you get the ZSG (Zero Slip Grip) natural compound which offers low rolling resistance and low wear characteristics.

At 309g per tyre it's pretty light, and only 19g heavier than the 32mm version. Meanwhile the 38s give a slightly bigger jump at 337g, so you could argue these are the sweet spot for weight versus width. Certainly they're a lot lighter than the outgoing 40mm Schwalbe G-One All Round tyres that came with my all-roads/gravel bike, which are about 480g.

This could really be felt on the climbs, where the 171g saving per wheel really made itself known. On recent club rides I found myself near the front of the pack where I'd normally be with my summer bike on 28s, and on the really steep climbs around the Mendips I was even able to get up without dropping into the biggest cog – performance on the road is hardly lacking.

Rock and rolling

As for speed, they certainly feel fast, though the G-One All Round tyres were actually pretty quick on the flats already. That said, bicyclerollingresistance.com scores them very highly in this regard, ranking them at number four in the list with a resistance of 20.4W, which is only just behind the 16.6W of a Continental GP5000 S TR 32mm tyre – that's impressive considering the GP5000 is a pure(ish) road tyre. It's actually slightly lighter than the narrower Conti too, at 309g versus 320g.

As with the 38mm versions, the 35mm comes up big – an actual 38mm on 25mm internal-rim Hunt wheels, which is a fair bit bigger. That's not a bad thing if your bike frame allows for it. Interestingly, the G-Ones actually measure 39mm, which is less than the factory spec of 40mm.

I found fitting these a bit of a nightmare, though that could just be my Hunt rims. Getting that last bit of tyre over the rim was nigh on impossible with conventional means. Tyre levers were useless (I actually broke one before giving up), and in the end it took soapy water on everything and a pair of grippy rubber gloves to roll the tyre over the edge. Not fun.

Inflating them was no issue, however, and a tubeless inflator took both to the maximum 60psi.

> 29 of the best gravel bike tyres for 2021 – get the right go-anywhere rubber

Against my winter G-Ones the Slick+ TLCs don't sacrifice much in terms of grip, and they're similar for comfort – they're pretty plush across rough surfaces. I've been running them at about 38psi and weigh 175lbs, and that seems to be the sweet spot for speed and comfort.

Smooth or chunky?

These are definitely not the things for day rides across proper chunky gravel, though. The tread profile is very minimal, with no pronounced edges to claw their way through loose stones or mud. They work fine when you're just going along, but I wouldn't fancy fast descents or gnarly corners on them. I managed to lose the back end for a second on one fast, gravel-dotted corner, and vowed never to repeat the experience.

On smoother surfaces – such as a tow paths – they're perfect, and just brilliant on any generally crappy roads. Loads of predictable grip gives you the confidence to attack them without fear of coming unstuck.

> The 10 best road bike tyres 2022 – rubber for speed, durability and puncture resistance

During the test I had no punctures, and I can't see any evidence of any cuts or damage after 500 miles. Panaracer offers a slightly beefier version – the GravelKing Slick+ TLC – though there's a slight weight penalty to its slightly denser weave.

Value

At £49.99, the Slick is a decent price. Its closest competitor, in my opinion, is the Schwalbe G-One Allround. If you go for the slightly slower Performance version it's cheaper at £44.99, though the newer and racier Evolution version is £59.99. That said, it's a better alternative if your riding tends towards the gravel end of the spectrum.

Overall

Though it's the 'Slick' part of the name that counts more than the 'Gravel,' these tyres will handle practically anything you can throw at them on road. They're also very fast in a way that will make you wish for better clearance on your road bike, with incredibly low rolling resistance and very low weight for their width. Comfort is excellent too, and though I found fitting a struggle, me (and my rims) could be in the minority here.

Verdict

The ideal tyre for rough roads – very fast, very light and yet robust

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Panaracer GravelKing Slick+ TLC

Size tested: 700x35

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Panaracer says, "The GravelKing Slick TLC is for cyclists looking to expand their cycling horizons. Need a fast tyre with a bit more bulk for comfort, sportives or even cross riding? The Slick is the perfect tyre for those looking to take their road bike onto some of the rougher stuff with the convenience of Tubeless Compatibility. Tubeless compatible, when running at less than 60psi.

"Anti-Flat Casing and AX-a Advanced Extra Alpha Cord technology mean you'll be getting a lightweight tyre with fantastic puncture protection, whilst the ZSG Natural Compound will provide excellent traction even on the slickest of treads. Perfect for the rides that go from the cycle track, to the road, to the towpaths."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Tubeless Compatible (up to 60psi)

ZSG Natural Compound

AX-a Advanced Extra Alpha Cord

Anti-Flat Casing

Sizes: 700 x 32c / 700 x 35c / 700 x 38c / 27.5 x 1.50 / 27.5 x 1.75 / 27.5 x 1.90

Colours: Black/Black, Black/Brown

Made in Japan

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10

Not the easiest to mount in my experience, but easy to inflate with a tubeless-specific inflator.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Very light, very low rolling resistance and exceptional grip on any road surface.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

I've only been testing these tyres for about 500 miles, but so far they look like new and I can't detect any cuts or damage.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
9/10

Very light for their width.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
 
8/10

They size up wide, so you're getting a bit more volume over a similar 35mm tyre, and the casing is pretty supple - no complaints here.

Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

They make riding across bad surfaces a joy, and you'll want to use these tyres on every road bike you own.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The low rolling resistance is a standout feature.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The difficulty in mounting them to Hunt's 42 LGD wheelset.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

Against one of the most (if not the most) popular gravel tyres around - the Schwalbe G-One Allround - they fare well. The Schwalbe is a pricier alternative whether you go for the Performance or Evolution version in a 35mm width.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

If it weren't for the slightly challenging fitting experience, I would happily give these tyres five stars (a first for me). All-round performance is some of the best I've ever seen, and provided you don't stray too far from the road, you'll be smiling for many miles.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 39  Height: 6'4  Weight: 175lbs

I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,

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