We had a few pair of Schwalbe Gravel tires show up for review from our German friends and thought we would distribute them to some of the local riders, send them out for a long weekend and get their feedback.
Schwalbe G-One Bite TLE Gravel Tire Review By Bill
The Schwalbe G-One Bite is one of the more popular Schwalbe Gravel tires in the lineup. The G-One Bite is constructed for more off-road use than its stablemates. The open tread design and strong outer blocks are designed to provide stability when cornering and deliver this G-One the perfect “Bite”.
After riding gravel for 3 days in the Pennsylvania hill country on the Schwalbe G-One Bite TLE, (TLE stand for tubeless easy) aboard my Niner RLT9 Alu, I can say these tires perform very well on loose gravel, and especially well on hardpack doubletrack a.k.a farm roads. These tires even roll nicely on asphalt; I had to ride a bit of road to get from gravel sector to gravel sector, and they seem to be fast with the nice little hum you would expect from the tread pattern but nothing loud or annoying. I was running these 700×40’s with about 35-38 psi and I weigh about 160 lbs. The initial installation on my Bontrager Aeolus Pro 3V Carbon clinchers was a snap. I mounted the tires with-out the valve cores and inflated with my compressor till the tire seated, the hook up was immediate. I then deflated, added my sealant, installed the valve core and they re-inflated perfectly. This is much appreciated since there wasn’t any residual mess from the sealant to clean up off the wheels and tires.
The tires hook up nicely on looser gravel climbs out of the saddle, as well as seated. The gravel I was riding was very dry, but as for riding in the mud, I would think with this particular tread pattern design they wouldn’t be as good. The tread pattern is small knobs that are closely spaced which I believe would act more like a slick than for traction. They might be okay in something tackier, but it’s obvious these tires weren’t designed for muddy conditions. With the right tire pressure, these tires felt nice and smooth evening out the chunk of the gravel and non-paved roads. I think the G-One Bites are a good all arounder on gravel, double track, and twisty-turny hardpack dirt since they do have those side knobs which the G-Ones do not. However, adjusting tire pressure is always a key ingredient in having a good not only for finding the correct ride quality but is also key for us old-timers so that it doesn’t take 5 minutes to be able to stand up straight after the ride is over.
Bill is masters stud who can shred gravel, rip single track and and is standout athlete in the masters XTERRA race scene. When not bickering with Nate during group rides you can also find him hiking, backpacking and sipping bourbon.
Schwalbe Ultrabite TLE Gravel Tire Review By Nate
Created for off-road use, the Ultrabite is a more aggressive gravel tire from Schwalbe. The aggressive tread design impresses with its compact “tape knobs” in the middle of the tread and provides full grip and unrivaled traction. The strong outer blocks provide the rider with safety at all times when cornering. The G-One Ultrabite’s off-road performance is noticeably enhanced by the stable construction and progressive Tubeless Easy technology. The tire is completed with the versatile Addix Speedgrip compound. The tire comes in widths of 40mm and 50mm; the G-One Ultrabite is perfectly suited for use on gravel roads, forest tracks, and even in challenging trail conditions.
Let me start this review by saying I am a fan of Schwalbe Gravel Tires. Their G-One Allround came on a set of wheels I bought and at first I wondered about the wider tire with the little more knob. These were, after all, a 40mm, which was a bit wider than I had been using up until that point, this was mostly because the frame I was riding would not accommodate much more than a 38mm tire. I was pleasantly surprised with the smooth roll of this tire, even with the little bit of knob to it, and I have also become a convert to wider is better, in most cases.
All that is a little background to set up my review of another Schwalbe Tire, the Ultrabite TLE. As the name suggests this tire has a good bit more bite to it than the Allround, and even a bit more bite than the tire Bill talks about above. I mounted these 40mm tires to a set of Stans Grail; the set up was smooth and easy. Again, I was super impressed by the smooth roll from a tire that I expected to have a bit more drag to it. The reason for this smooth roll is that Schwalbe uses the same knob as the Allround in the middle of the tire, although spaced a bit further apart; then Schwalbe adds some bigger lugs on the sidewall for the BITE. Again, I am running about 35psi in these tires. Not only would these tires be great for a rougher gravel event, but I am thinking about using this tire for some early season non-UCI cyclocross events.
It is better for traction, control, and comfort. I will add that in most cases I run my tires at about 35 psi, sometimes a touch lower if it is more of a technical gravel event and sometimes a bit higher if there will be longer road sections; I weigh in at about 156 +/-lbs. I like a smoother less chattery ride, hence the lower pressure than some of those I ride with. I believe that over a 100k gravel race for instance all that “chatter” from too high of pressure causes a low level of fatigue and discomfort that saps energy. What feels like a good pressure one hour into an event is really taking its toll in hour 3 and beyond in my experience.
This tire will do a good job at shedding any mud or dirt it comes across in gravel, or on a cyclocross course due to the spacing of the nubs. I think this is key to any good tire, how well will it shed the course from the tire to keep you connected to the surface. Keep in mind the tire trifecta; traction, control, and comfort. Schwalbe nails the trifecta on the G-One UltraBITE. If you are looking for a tire to transition from gravel season to some early season cyclocross events, the Schwalbe Ultrabite is it.
Nate is a gravel rider, triathlete and a 5-time masters state cyclocross champ and a big fan of cuffing his pants and wearing Rapha apparel. When not working out 3 times a day you can find him searching for local craft beers and bourbon.