Panaracer Gravelking EXT Tire Sheds Red, Georgia Clay [Review]

Panaracer gravelking side view

The Panaracer Gravelking is a popular tire tread that’s offered in a variety of sizes and configurations. I’ve been running the brown-walled, 700×38 EXT version on my converted gravel bike since the fall and I found it to be both a good singletrack climber and a reasonable road rider.

Panaracer Gravelking specs

Panaracer lists a dozen variations of the Gravelking tire online, though to be fair some of those feature limited edition colorways and compounds. EXT is said to stand for ‘extreme,’ as in extreme conditions. Specifically the brand says the EXT tread is designed for sloppy and muddy conditions. It’s a unique pattern for sure, with long, blocky knobs in the center; square, ramped transition knobs; and square, blocky cornering knobs. There’s plenty of clear space between the knob sets for wide overall spacing.

The 700×38 size I’m running weighs 420g on my scale which is spot on with what Panaracer claims. Mounted on 18mm internal width rims the actual width ends up being 37mm, just shy of the intended 38mm width. The tire is tubeless compatible and I found them to be extremely easy to install.

Panaracer Gravelking – On the road, and the trail

Throughout my testing I’ve kept the pressure at around 27psi front and rear for a decent amount of cushion and limited rim dings. On tarmac the tires actually feel fast and not draggy at all. There’s very little buzz either, similar to a dedicated road tire.

On dry gravel the Gravelking EXT tire provides decent control, though not the best I’ve experienced. The 38mm width is the widest Panaracer Gravelking EXT on offer, which means it tends to punch through and plow dry, loose stuff that sits on the surface. This is exactly what you want in wet conditions, though the skinny width does demand higher pressures which tend to bounce around through chunkier, dry gravel. The widely-spaced knobs do the job clearing mud quickly and don’t tend to pack up, even in the reddest of Georgia clay.

Panaracer Gravelking EXT rear

Where the tread pattern and its focus on grip really comes into play is on singletrack trails, and specifically on steeper climbs. I found the Gravelking EXT provides excellent climbing grip in the rear and it corners well, especially in hero dirt. (Then again, it’s called hero dirt for a reason.) The ZSG compound measures about 62a on my durometer which isn’t quite as sticky as the mountain bike tires I’ve tested, though it seems plenty sticky for gravel and singletrack without wearing down too quickly. There’s definitely some visible wear on the center and transition knobs after a couple hundred miles of riding but I figure there is plenty of life left for many more adventures.

Over a few months of testing I did get one flat riding on the road, though it was a slow leak that (coincidentally?) followed a fast curb hop or two. Panaracer says the tire features a durable, anti-flat casing that I’ve found holds up well to typical gravel abuse, but perhaps falls short when slamming into square-edged curbs.

Bottom line

The Panaracer Gravelking EXT may not be the best choice for general gravel riding, but for those who want extra grip on singletrack climbs and find themselves riding in sloppy conditions, it could be the right tool for the job.

Party laps

  • Good for muddy conditions
  • Nice cornering and climbing grip on singletrack

Pros and cons of the Panaracer Gravelking EXT tire.

Dirt naps

  • Sketchy handling on fast, dry gravel
  • Narrow width requires higher pressures