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.What the road.cc scores mean
Good scores are more common than bad, because fortunately good products are more common than bad.
In the UK our gravel routes tend to be rather muddy, especially in the winter, and that's something this tyre is designed to address. The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel S tyre offers decent tread depth to cope with soft conditions and a compound that feels grippy on all kinds of terrain. Its overall weight means it can feel sluggish against similarly sized gravel tyres designed for fast, hardpacked surfaces – but on the whole that is a compromise worth coping with. It's also slightly pricier than some of the options in our best gravel tyres buyer’s guide – but a bargain compared with others.
The Gravel S sits alongside the Gravel RC, which is designed for gravel racing (and was tested recently by George), the Gravel M for mixed terrain, and the Gravel H with its minimal tread pattern designed for hard, compact surfaces. All of them share the same compound and construction, with the only differences being the tread pattern.
The S has the deepest tread, with directional blocks of rubber covering the mid-section, with even chunkier blocks on the shoulders for increased cornering grip.
It works well on wet and sloppy gravel tracks and byways, getting plenty of purchase in the soft surface, which gives you the confidence to carry more speed in those kind of conditions than the majority of gravel tyres currently available on the market.
Even when the ground is drying out and the mud becomes sticky the Gravel S still works. It bites into anything it can and it doesn't clog either, so you don't have to worry about ending up with 'mud-slick'.
When riding pure muddy trails, like singletrack through the woods or whatever, the tread can get a little overwhelmed, but we are talking more mountain bike tyre conditions at that point.
As George said in his review of the Cinturato Gravel RC, the SpeedGRIP compound is a gravel-specific design which uses the polymer matrix of Pirelli's mountain bike-specific SmartGRIP compound, but has been tweaked to lower its rolling resistance.
Pirelli has tried to focus on creating a tyre that works on the gravel, but as the majority of us need to ride road sections in between, this makes sense. Considering the tread they roll pretty well on the road, though cornering ability is limited because of the shoulder knobbles.
Out on the trails the grip levels are good, and the tyres feel reasonably supple considering the 60tpi (threads per inch) construction and TreadWALL tech. This adds protection to the whole tyre, from sidewall to sidewall, and it seems to work – I never had an issue with punctures during a good few months out on the gravel trails.
At over 550g the Gravel S isn't ever going to feel like a quick tyre, but they didn't feel overly sluggish either. In fact, as long as they are rolling they accelerate easily and having the grip that they do they let you travel faster in poor conditions than a less treaded tyre would. And I wouldn't necessarily be using these in the dry, summer conditions where weight and speed is probably more important.
They were very easy to set up tubeless. The Pirellis are compatible with both hooked and hookless rims, and it was easy to pop them onto the wheels with just thumb pressure, following which they inflated straight away, popping into place with just a standard track pump, which is always a bonus.
The sidewalls aren't porous either. Even on the initial application, no sealant leached out, and the tyres were just a few psi down when I checked them the morning after.
Pirelli only offers the Gravel S in 700C and widths of 40mm (as tested), 45mm and 50mm. With the knobbly tread, though, they do look wider and beefier than they are.
At £57.99, they're similar in price to other tyres like this, just a few quid more than some we've tested.
The deepest tread option available in Panaracer's line-up, the GravelKing EXT+ TLC, only goes up to a 38mm size, but on the whole I was impressed when I tested them. Though the tread isn't as deep as the Pirellis, they are quite a bit lighter, and slightly cheaper at £54.99.
It's great to see brands bring out tyres that are more suitable to the UK's winter conditions, and the Gravel S is a very capable choice. It's weightier than the lightly treaded tyres that take up a lot of the marketplace, but it's very good at what it does, and I'd say well worth buying if you want year-round grip.
Very good tyres with grippy tread for proper UK conditions, and reliable and durable too
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Pirelli Cinturato Gravel S
Size tested: 700x40
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 S is the gravel tyre for soft and muddy terrain it is a versatile model that delivers a safe cycling experience in adverse weather conditions and on technical tracks at the very limit with mountain biking. Cinturato™ Gravel S in the suggested model for those looking for a reliable tyre which is easy to crontrol and safe in every condition. Grip and safety are prioritized rather than the pure speed of racing-specific models."
It is, indeed, capable of coping with muddy conditions.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Sizes: 700c x 40/45/50mm
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A gravel tyre that copes with typical UK winter conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tread is deep enough to be grippy in muddy conditions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Feel a bit sluggish from a standing start.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are slightly pricier than the opposition, but in the same ballpark.
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
Not the lightest, but that is offset by the confidence they inspire in wet and muddy conditions. A grippy tyre that rolls well off-road and is resistant to punctures too, it's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!