The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC tyre is an impressive all-rounder, offering decent speed on the road for something this knobbly without sacrificing grip in the wet. They aren't as good at shedding mud as some, though, or as easy to get seated when setting them up tubeless – and they're expensive.
If you're interested in the Cinturato Gravel RCs, also check out our guide to the best gravel tyres for more options.
The Cinturato Gravel RCs are designed to be used as race tyres across a variety of surfaces, and sit between Pirelli's Gravel H (for hard surfaces) and Gravel M (for softer surfaces).
The tread is inspired by Pirelli's Scorpion XC RC pattern, which has been popular on its mountain bike tyres, and the Cinturatos excelled on all the surfaces I used them on, from smooth tarmac to rough farm tracks and muddy footpaths.
Pirelli has also used its SpeedGRIP compound, which apparently came from its work in the World Rally Championship. This compound is specific for gravel riding, basically taking the SmartGRIP compound used on its mountain bike tyres and altering it to reduce the rolling resistance. It has also slightly reduced the grip, according to Pirelli, but increased the all-rounder nature of the tyres.
While they aren't the absolute best on any of the surfaces I used them on, they were very good on all. They're tyres you can chuck on and not need to worry about changing (within reason); I didn't ever wish I had different tyres on, for any of the rides I did.
On the road they are fairly fast and hold speed better than I was expecting for a set of tyres offering this much grip. They hold the road well in the bends, with enough responsiveness to allow you to corner confidently at speed.
I tested the 40mm version of the tyres, but they also come in 35 or 45mm, so there's scope to size down if you want to reduce rolling resistance.
The tyres performed well on loose gravel too. I used them on a few farm tracks with differing gravel sizes and they handled just about everything well. Their stability in the corners combined with the grip provided by the tread inspires a fair amount of confidence when riding on loose surfaces.
Venturing onto muddy footpaths and even completely off-road through fields felt like the sort of terrain where they perform strongest, which is understandable given the Scorpion XC-inspired tread, with minimal wheel spin in the wet and slippery conditions. Despite the closely packed knobbles, mud shedding was good enough for the conditions I used them in, although if you're going to be be using them in 'ploughed field' conditions more often than not, you could find something that sheds better. That said, they still worked better than most others I have used.
To increase the tyres' puncture resistance for gravel riding, Pirelli has wrapped the entire tyre in its 120tpi TechWALL Gravel fabric. Road punctures tend to happen within the tread, while off-road flats tend to be caused by sidewall cuts, so by wrapping the whole tyre in the same puncture-resistant fabric, Pirelli is combating both. This undoubtedly adds to the weight, but I didn't see any evidence of the tyres being breached, so it seems like it works.
Setting them up tubeless
Throughout the review I had these set up tubeless on a pair of Roval Terra C rims and they held air well. I didn't have any issues with punctures throughout the review, and I didn't notice any leaking sealant either.
Getting the tyres on the rims was simple enough – I managed to get them on by hand without the use of tyre levers. However, once I had them on the rim I found it pretty difficult to seat them, and in the end needed to blast them several times with a tubeless pump and then carry on pumping; even this took four or five attempts on each tyre.
Once on, they held air and sealant well, so luckily there was no need to repeat the process.
At 520g each, they're fairly heavy for a gravel tyre, although that's not too surprising given their off-road pedigree. To put it into context, the Bontrager GR2 Team Issue TLR Gravel Tyre weighs 414g for the same size, but it's far less adept at muddy and wet conditions. The Schwalbe G-One R is a closer match in terms of the all-round qualities of the Gravel RC, but still 40g lighter, hitting the scales at 480g.
At £62.99 the Cinturatos are pretty expensive, too, although as they're the kind of tyres you could happily run all year round you don't need multiple sets, which negates it somewhat.
They're not the most expensive, either. Those Schwalbe G-One Rs are £74, and the Bonty GR2s are £59.99, so not far behind – and Rene Herse's Fleecer Ridge tyres start at £82.
We have tested a few comparable tyres that cost less, though, including the Panaracer GravelKing EXT+ TLC at £54.99. Stu found these were also good all-rounders and coped well with UK conditions, but they only run up to a 38mm size, rather than the 45mm offered by Pirelli.
The Maxxis Ravager Folding tyres that Jo looked at last year offer similar off-roading capabilities, if not the same all-rounder qualities, and at 530g are heavier than the Pirellis. They are slightly cheaper, though, at £56.99.
Overall, I was really impressed with these tyres. They are good all-rounders that excel in the wet stuff. I was just as happy using them on muddy footpaths as roads or gravel, and the fact that you can leave them on as year-rounders makes their price a little easier to swallow. The tyres also include some useful innovations from Pirelli, such as the TechWALL Gravel puncture resistance and the SpeedGRIP compound, both of which seem to be well thought through and effective.
Innovative all-rounders that can be left on all year, though they are quite pricey
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Make and model: Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC
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?
Pirelli says: "Cinturato™ Gravel RC is the gravel-racing specific tyre, derived from our experience in the biggest competitions around the World and the feedbacks of our PRO athletes. The tread design is inspired by the Scorpion™ XC RC, focussed on two key features: higher average speed on straight and fast lines, improved lateral grip when off-road cornering"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
- The SpeedGRIP Compound is a gravel-specific rubber formulation born from the Pirelli experience in the World Rally Championship where the performances of speed and grip on and off-road are crucial. This chemical formulation rely on the polymer matrix of the MTB-specific SmartGRIP Compound while lowering its rolling resistance. The gravel application requires good speed and on-off road capabilities, for this reason our engineers tweaked the compound features towards a better energetic efficiency with a little compromise on the grip, the result is a predictable compound with solid performances on and off road.
- Our engineers wisely combined the technologies derived from road-specific reinforced casings with the MTB-specific casings to obtain our most advanced gravel casing whose performances are obtained with the use of special fabric reinforcements and thicker layers of rubber in specific areas of the tyre. On the road the majority of punctures are caused by the penetration of sharp objects while off-road the most common punctures are caused by sidewall cuts, for this reason the TechWALL Gravel features a cut-resistant 120tpi fabric all over the perimeter of the tyre still offering a supple riding feeling.
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Very well made, no sealant leaks, no noticeable punctures, and some well-thought-through tech.
Rate the product for performance:
Impressive everywhere I rode them – fast on the roads and grippy on the rough stuff.
Rate the product for durability:
No punctures throughout the review, and little sign of wear.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
The weight is quite high, but when you consider that they're fully wrapped with a 120tpi fabric to reduce the chances of punctures across the tyre, this is understandable.
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Comfortable on a variety of surfaces.
Rate the product for value:
More expensive than many, but the qualities they have on all terrains and their year-round usability go some way to justifying the additional cost. And they're still cheaper than some, too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well, they excelled on all surfaces I used them on, rolled well on roads, gripped well on the loose stuff, and didn't slip on the wet stuff.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Their all-rounder nature – good on everything they rolled over.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The time it took to seat them; worth it once they're on, but a pain to get seated properly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
At £62.99 the Cinturatos aren't cheap, but they're not the most expensive, either. Schwalbe's G-One Rs are £74, and Rene Herse Fleecer Ridge tyres start at £82.
Bontrager's GR2s are £59.99, so not far behind, but the Panaracer GravelKing EXT+ TLC is £54.99 (but they only run up to a 38mm size) and the Maxxis Ravager Folding tyres are slightly heavier but again slightly cheaper, at £56.99.
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
Many tyres designed for a specific purpose excel at that but are merely okay in other areas. These Pirellis aren't like that. With their ability to run anywhere very well, not just gravel but also tarmac and mud, they're great all-rounders. There are tyres that perform better in a specific field, but few that manage to do so well in all.
Age: 35 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
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