Review: Liam Friary
Photography: Cam Mackenzie
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Pirelli, one of the biggest players in the car tyre industry, has been making bicycle tyres for a few years now too. With off-road riding becoming more and more popular, it makes sense that we’d start to see some Pirelli rubber aimed at gravel riders. The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC is a new addition to Pirelli’s gravel bike tyre lineup. The Pirelli Cinturato gravel tyres have been about for a while now and have been a staple for many gravel riders. I’ve been a big fan of theirs.

Basically, the Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC slots in the range around the Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M (Mixed terrain). For reference, there’s also Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H (Hard terrain) and Pirelli Cinturato Gravel S (Soft terrain). So, now there are two tyres that cover the ‘mixed-terrain’ class but there’s a key difference splitting the two – Gravel RC suits dry conditions better while the Gravel M is the better choice for wet conditions as its tread pattern is more optimised to clear mud. The Cinturato Gravel RC has a tread pattern inspired by Pirelli’s Scorpion XC RC mountain bike tyre. With gravel riders bridging the gap closer to XC mountain biking, I think this makes sense and will work well for the gravel market.

The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC have been laced up to a Canyon Grizl for two months now. I’ve opted for the wider 700x45c, but they do also offer a 700x40c as well. I like a wider tyre footprint as it means you can run slightly lower pressures and they’re capable of ploughing through anything you can throw in front of them. As mentioned, I use and have tested the Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M and have rated them as they perform well, are strong with relatively low rolling resistance, have decent puncture resistance, and have a compound that offers lots of grip. To clarify, all Pirelli’s gravel bike tyres come with the same compound and construction. The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC are tubeless-ready and has a 60tpi casing with an extra layer of bead-to-bead protective fabric and a single compound Pirelli SpeedGrip compound. They aren’t light, weighing in at just over 590g each (700x45c), which is a lil’ heavier than other gravel tyres – but keep in mind the reinforced casing here. Personally, I’d rather have the added protection of reinforcement over saving some measly grams, especially when venturing off on remote gravel roads. And most punctures on road are from sharp objects but on gravel, punctures are from sidewall cuts so it’s good that there’s an extra layer of protection there. Pirelli calls this TechWALL Gravel which is a cut-resistant 60tpi fabric all over the perimeter of the tyre whilst still offering a supple ride.

These have performed well on most of the terrain thrown in front em’. As the sealed road turns to gravel and eventually single-track, the rougher and rowdier the better for these tyres. They eat up loose terrain and the lateral grip is there to save you. Tilt the bike into any corner, and this tyre hooks up; the transition to the shoulder knobs and good tread depth is on-point. The versatility of the thread is good and can transition from one terrain to another. Perhaps the standout factor is efficiency – these get up to speed and hold speed well which means none of your efforts is wasted. This is important when it comes to off-road riding where it takes more energy to ride on rougher terrain. On ascents and under slipping rocks they have excellent traction, and I’ve been impressed by these tyres on the road. While they’re not road tyres by any means, they do hold speed on the tarmac well. Again, this is important as gravel riders often transfer on sealed roads to gravel sections.

The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC are well suited to all sorts of gravel riders. However, they are well suited to the ever-growing long-distance gravel events and would be well suited to riders wanting high performance and strong protection in these events. I’ve flogged myself with some epic long-distance rides lately and these tyres stood the test even when I didn’t. It’s hard to see exactly where the Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC sit in the line-up as the Pirelli Cinturato Gravel M is a perfect tyre that suits a lot of terrain and conditions. However, those who want an all-out gravel racing tyre that blends speediness with robustness should consider the new Cinturato Gravel RC. Overall, they’re an excellent tyre from one of the world’s most renowned tyre makers.