REVIEW: Panaracer GravelKing Mud Tires

Panaracer was founded in 1953 in Japan and began life manufacturing rubber products for a variety of commercial and consumer applications. In 1978, the company switched solely to the production of bicycle tyres. Today, Panaracer is still manufacturing only bicycle tires and is the last Japanese manufacturer still producing bicycle tires in Japan. The company feels their domestic production allows them to maintain strict quality control at the highest levels.

Enter the GravelKing Mud

“Built on the same concept as our GravelKing and GravelKing SK models, the Mud version incorporates the same technology on top of a specially designed tread tailored to work best in muddy and sloppy conditions.”

Gravelking Mud tires fit to Lynskey’s GR250 gravel bike.

The GravelKing Mud is available in 700c x 33mm and 700c x 35mm widths, and black or brown sidewalls. The Mud features Panaracer’s ZSG Natural rubber compound, puncture protection breaker and AX-⍺ special low rolling resistance casing.

Panaracer USA kindly sent Gravel Cyclist a pair of the GravelKing Mud tyres in 700c x 35mm for review.

Weight

The sample 700c x 35mm GravelKing Mud tyres weighed 363 grams and 361 grams respectively, a smidge over their advertised weight.

Tread patterns. L: Panaracer Gravelking SK, R: Panaracer Gravelking Mud.

Mounting the Panaracer GravelKing Mud

The GravelKing Mud is touted as a “tubed” tyre on Panaracer’s website. However, we mounted the test samples tubeless with ease, using Topeak’s Joe Blow Booster Pump, filled with Orange Seal Endurance Formula Sealant.

Always dry mount a tyre first sans sealant, to ensure it will seat and hold air. That can save making a big mess and losing a bunch of sealant.

During the review period, the GravelKing Mud was mounted to the American Classic Argent Disc wheelset and American Classic’s Race 29’er wheelset.

If you have trouble mounting a tubeless tyre, these tips can help:

  • Remove the valve core and inflate. This process allows a greater volume of air into the tyre and most times, will pop the tyre onto the bead.
  • If this doesn’t work, apply something like Sleek Beeswax & Mink Oil Furniture Polish to the sidewall. This product is far better than soap and water, and will help seat even the most stubborn of tyres. This product can be purchased from your local furniture store or online.
  • Once the dry mount test has been passed, install your favourite sealant and inflate. Don’t forget to keep a fingertip over the valve if you removed the core. This simple step will retain the air you just inflated; if you’re good at juggling, you can quickly re-install the valve core and still keep some air inside the tyre. Then, inflate to the desired pressure.
Oklahoma gravel on the GravelKing Mud – the dry day before 2017 LR100.

Do the Panaracer GravelKing Mud tyres measure up?

The GravelKing Mud tyres measured 34.5mm mounted to the American Classic Argent wheelset, and 38mm mounted to the American Classic Race 29’er wheelset. The latter is an MTB wheelset with an internal rim bed that measures 24mm in width. Free width!

Riding the GravelKing Mud Tyres

The opportunity to test the GravelKing Mud for its intended use has been very limited. However, an opportunity came about at the 2017 Land Run 100 – check out the Gravel Cyclist race report. Rain, gravel, cold and mud – the perfect scenario for running a mud specific tyre through its paces!

The tread of the GravelKing Mud features four rows of raised blocks spaced in a pattern designed for optimal mud shedding. On the tyre’s edges, another row of blocks provides grip for cornering. The tread pattern is very similar to Panaracer’s cyclocross specific tyre, the Regacross.

Traveling along asphalt / pavement / bitumen, the GravelKing Muds can be heard singing a tune as they roll forward. The singing equates to whining and rolling resistance, as the tyre is not optimal on this type of surface. In its defense, it was never designed for smooth road riding.

Onto the gravel and it is a different story. It rolls very well on gravel, loose packed dirt and limerock surfaces. It isn’t the fastest tyre, particularly in dry conditions, but again, this isn’t what it was designed for. That said, it rolled well enough that I didn’t feel there was a significant handicap in performance during the dry pre-ride at 2017 Land Run 100. For dry conditions, you’re better off riding the excellent Panaracer GravelKing SK.

Scene from 2017 Land Run 100 – Gravelking Mud in its element!

I’ll spare readers of this review the nitty gritty of the 2017 Land Run 100 (read the report here), but let’s just say it was a very wet, cold and muddy affair.

The GravelKing Mud handled the muddy conditions very well. A moderate amount of mud collected onto the tyre during the worst stretches at around mile 30 of the race, but the tyre quickly kicked itself clean as I continued rolling along. Once in a while, stubborn mud stuck to the side knobs of the tyre would take it’s sweet time ejecting clear, but overall, the GravelKing Mud performed as advertised.

Many riders at the race experienced problems with brakes – as in, brake pads wearing at an alarming rate. I assume the tyres adorning the bikes of these riders were packing up with mud and forming what I think of as a “mud retread”. I experienced this phenomenon at the 2017 Middle Georgia Epic, riding the regular flavor GravelKing SK.

“Mud retread”? Imagine a layer of mud, firmly ensconced around the circumference of one’s regular tyre. This layer of mud inherently leads to slipping, sliding and hair-raising control issues, particularly if you’re descending one of the many hills that made up the Land Run 100 course.

I barely touched my brakes. For the most part, I allowed the bike to run its course, but shifted my weight behind the saddle for a little more control during the trickier descents. Unfortunately, my front Go Pro camera was greatly displeased at the deplorable conditions and worked erratically, else I would have captured some of this madness to share.

More of those drier times at 2017 Land Run 100.

Summary

My 2017 Land Run 100 campaign may have gone down the tubes due to the cold rain and near hypothermia, but my bicycle and tyre choices were spot on. My only thoughts that day were staying warm – the bike and Gravelking Mud tyres were the furthest things from my mind. In the muddy conditions of 2017 Land Run 100, you cannot put a price on something like that.

There aren’t a lot of pure mud tyres available for purchase that are suitable for the gravel cycling genre. One’s use of such a tyre may be limited, but if bad weather calls, the GravelKing Mud is the one tyre I will keep in my arsenal for that special rainy day – and a bike with huge tyre clearance.

Panaracer GravelKing Mud’s are a nice deal, priced anywhere from $US 40 – $US 50 depending on where you buy.

Online Shopping Links (Feel free to compare prices)
Panaracer Tires in All Flavors
Click this Link to BUY from Panaracer USA
 
Panaracer GravelKing SK Tire – Tubeless Black/Brown, 700c x 35mm
Click this Link to BUY from Amazon
Panaracer GravelKing SK Tire – Tubeless Black, 700c x 35mm
Click this Link to BUY from Amazon
Panaracer GravelKing SK Tire – Tubeless Black, 700 x 43mm
Click this Link to BUY from Amazon
Panaracer GravelKing Mud Tire – Tubeless Black, 700 x 35mm
Click this Link to BUY from Amazon

Panaracer Tires

2 comments on “REVIEW: Panaracer GravelKing Mud Tires

  1. Panaracer was one of my favorite mountain bike tires. If I had mud out here in AZ I would give them a try.

  2. Hello, what about riding in sand – dry and wet? Non-mud version are terrible (35c) in sands, and I’m looking for something better.

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