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review

Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyre

9
£40.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Well mannered, fast-rolling and tough gravel tyre with a universally fine performance
Easy tubeless setup
Good compliance at lower pressure
Brilliant all-round grip
Decent road speed
Robust
Can feel stiff at higher pressures
Slightly narrower than billed
Weight: 
651g
Contact: 

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Goodyear's Connector Ultimate gravel tyre now comes in this big 50mm width, for both 650B and 700C wheels. The 700C version we're testing offers versatile grip, great volume and the promise of a floaty ride. It's great on and off road, and may fit more frames than expected.

The newest Connector Ultimate is built around Goodyear's Tubeless Complete carcass, rather than its heavier and cheaper Premium one. This combines the tubeless bead with an airtight layer, reinforces it with anti-cut sidewall layers, and tops it off with R:Shield puncture protection beneath the central tread.

Available in black or with tan walls, the Dynamic:Silica4 compound is largely the same as the Vector 4Season road tyre's, but tweaked for all terrain use. Unusually, the inside of the carcass continues the sidewall's tan colour.

The tread

The tread consists of a virtually continuous central band of tightly-packed shallow blocks, and it varies in width between 11mm and 17mm. The shoulder has larger, more widely spaced and 2mm high tread blocks. The largest (3mm) Y-shaped blocks provide edge grip every 18mm around the outside of the tread.

2021 Goodyear Connector Ultimate installed.jpg

The Connector Ultimate feels quite supple, but is a very tight fit and takes some effort from sturdy thumbs and tyre levers – at least on my 24mm (internal) DT Swiss rims. Once on I found they both seat easily with a track pump though, popping into place at less than 40psi (maximum recommended is 48psi).

They stayed seated once I'd removed the valve cores for the sealant, too.

The width

On those generous 24mm ID rims, the Connector Ultimates measure just 48mm, though, which surprised me. This could be a bonus for anyone who can't quite squeeze in 50mm rubber, which I accept may be a very small number of riders.

Regardless, the end result is a very well-rounded profile, and a purposeful-looking tread pattern.

> Should you get tubeless tyres? Are they your best option?

The test tyres weighed 644g and 621g, for a total 1265g, which sounds a lot but isn't bad at all – the lightest direct competitors weigh in around 600g. The jump in weight over the 40mm version is around 160g, but of course mass isn't everything.

The ride

At 30psi the Connector Ultimates roll really well on tarmac, but once on the trails they feel stiff and transmit too much vibration. The transition from the smooth centre to the shoulder's bite feels like a bit of a leap of faith, too.

2021 Goodyear Connector Ultimate installed 2.jpg

Dropping to 25psi or less transformed them for me (I'm 78kg, for the record), with the extra squash over bumps and gravelly irregularities noticeably enhancing speed and comfort. The larger contact patch sees some of the shoulder blocks already engaging, meaning direction changes feel far more confident too.

With their tough carcass they don't have the flexy, sidewall-folding feel of the lightest tyres either, yet they still avoid feeling sluggish. The Connector Ultimates are quite willing to change pace when stomped on, and that smooth central tread makes sustaining speed far easier than with some of the more knobbly competition.

> 25 of the best gravel bike tyres — get the right go-anywhere rubber

On every dry surface I found, these tyres excelled – even pushing as hard as I could, there were no nasty surprises. My test period was largely dry, but from the few sloppy, wet areas I did find, the Connectors found grip and cleared mud quickly from their tread.

The protection

So far I haven't experienced a single cut or puncture, and my time with the Connectors has been fuss-free. It's also been quicker than I expected, based on their weight – on the road they roll significantly faster and more quietly than some equivalents, even on a heavier, less aggressive bike.

One local 3-4 minute gravel and tarmac Strava segment was 19 seconds faster on the Goodyears, for instance, which I'm sure was largely due to the higher speeds on the tarmac section. Hardly scientific I know, but I wasn't expecting to even get close to my previous day's time.

The Connector Ultimate is amazing value at £40 – the similar Maxxis Rambler EXO TR for instance is £54.99, and only a little lighter.

Overall

These large volume, mixed-terrain gravel tyres are built to last. Get the pressure right and the Goodyear Connector Ultimate is a comfortable, compliant, swift, grippy and very durable tyre.

Verdict

Well mannered, fast-rolling and tough gravel tyre with a universally fine performance

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyre

Size tested: 700c x 50mm

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?

Goodyear says: "The Connector is capable of tackling any terrain. A versatile tread pattern featuring tightly-spaced center knobs combined with aggressive side knobs is mated to our Tubeless Complete construction. The result is a fast rolling, highly tractable, all-terrain tire ready for everything from backroads to singletrack."

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

Goodyear says:

The Connector is based on Goodyear's Tubeless Complete carcass, a tubeless bead combined with a multi-compound air-tight material layer.

The sidewalls feature an anti-cut layer, and the tread centre line is protected by Goodyear's R:Shield puncture protection strip.

The Dynamic:Silica 4 rubber compound aims to provide great grip and longevity.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

The sidewalls feel both pliable and very tough.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Fast-rolling on tarmac or hardpack dirt and gravel, with reliable grip when banked over in the loose stuff.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Seemingly immune to the effects of sharp gravel and rough trails.

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

Our 700 x 50mm pair averaged out to 632g each, which is light for the width.

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

Large volumes and low pressures always offer great comfort.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

At £40, it's bit of a bargain given the size and quality.

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

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

True multi-terrain effectiveness, durability.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Stiff at higher pressures.

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

Maxxis' Rambler EXO TR in the same 700 x 50mm size is a little lighter, but costs £54.99.

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

No tyre is all things to all riders, but Goodyear has done a great job covering the most essential bases with the Connector. It's a good weight, easy to fit, robust and durable, plus it rolls quickly on almost everything yet gives sufficient shoulder grip to keep you out of trouble in all but sloppy mud. Find the pressure sweet spot and it's a match for most alternatives. It's extremely good, and a nine.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 49  Height: 178cm / 5'10"  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 with Campagnolo Super Record 12s  My best bike is: BMC SLR01

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb, Riding with my children, using both a child seat and trailer bike

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