Very often we like to talk about gravel bikes, routes, and events, as we take pleasure from this discipline that allows us to roam fast and free with no constraints. However, we sometimes forget to mention one of the most important components of gravel bikes, the tires, as they can become a game-changer in terms of width, pattern, and materials. On this occasion, we want to introduce the latest release of Hutchinson, the Tundra, a gravel-specific tire that will surely bring much to talk about. We had the chance to try it in person last week at the last edition of Bike Connection Agency, and we were delighted by its grip and how fast it rolled.
The versatile Tundra
In view of the high demands of gravel riders, as the discipline is evolving to more technical environments, the engineers from Hutchinson have designed Tundra. Although it is envisioned as a gravel tire its use is not limited to one kind of riding situation but to year-round riding, from muddy trails to technical rocky descents. All of that is achieved while allowing fast and smooth-rolling speed in either hard-packed gravel or tarmac roads linking single-track trails.
What is new about this model that provides added value to the existing catalog is the carefully designed tread, where every single knob has been placed for a reason. Based on their renowned MTB tires and taking advantage of the cyclocross model Black Mamba, the new layout allows tackling off-camber sections, slippery roots, and loose descents without fear.
The central line of tiny knobs allows small rolling resistance while decreasing the rigidity of the tire on rough surfaces. In this same line, after every other pair of knobs, there is an empty knob, which reduces the chances of sledding and improves the braking efficiency while decreasing the overall weight. As we move from the center to the sides, these knobs are arranged as ‘bee wings’ leaving some empty space for mud clearance but also traction for cornering and braking. Nonetheless, for the ultimate cornering grip, there is the outer tread inspired by their MTB experience. This wall of knobs has been designed to provide safety when cornering and crossing slopes, thanks to its optimum grip and deformation.
As a key feature in Hutchinson tires, the Tundra is Tubeless Ready and uses several technologies to avoid punctures no matter how tough conditions are. There are two versions, a tan wall and a full black one, both coming in widths of 40 and 45 mm for 700c wheels and with 127 TPI casing. It is interesting to note that the tan wall version is made in France, after close collaboration between the development and production departments. In particular, this model is reinforced with a layer of Hardskin textile grid that stretches from bead to bead to ensure optimum puncture resistance. Both models come with bi-compound rubber, being harder in the center to avoid fast wearing and softer on the sides to ensure grip while cornering.
We were unable to find any downsides but all positive impressions when we tested these tires ourselves but. We felt how the bike took off as we accelerated on hard-packed gravel and we could easily cruise through some single tracks doing some fast cornering. The tires felt smooth and, at the right pressure, the grip was excellent. We also noted how the noise of the tire changed as we cornered since the tire changed from working in the central part to the side knobs adding this extra adherence in technical sections. Despite that, we could only test them on dry loose gravel and not muddy forest trails. However, from our experience in cyclocross, the empty sections in the pattern should leave enough space to rapidly get rid of mud and still offer great traction.
The French brand was established by the American Hiram Hutchinson in 1853 under the name ‘l’Aigle’ specializing in coated fabrics. Expert on these products, in 1890 they produced their first bicycle tire and have been a market role model ever since. They have brought new pioneer products and technologies over the years, such as kevlar layers or universal tubeless technology, covering all cycling disciplines with numerous wins in the Tour de France and MTB Olympic Games.
Despite their long history and expertise in tire manufacturing, in the last years, their objectives have changed to focus more on their customers and their needs. As they claim, in a world that is constantly moving and evolving, they work every day to offer a unique riding experience, a moment of pure and raw emotion, that will enable fully experiencing all kinds of cycling, from leisure and mobility to sport and competition.