Ah, the long dusty roads of Kansas, the white ribbons of the Strada Bianche… these are the dreams on which we are sold ‘gravel’. Off we go, out the door, clippy gravel shoes and not quite baggy shorts, into… British gravel. Basically, crushed fireroad hardpack and mud. The dust dream is stolen from us, and instead we slither and slide gingerly through corners, more winter cyclocross league than Kansas dustbowl.
But now, there is a tyre for us. It’s not a full monster cross mountain bike tyre, it’s a gravel tyre, but with a bit more knobble. It’s for technical trails and wet gravel. It’s for mud, and sploosh. It’s the Hutchinson Tundra.
- Tundra (Tan Wall) 700×40 & 700×45 = £49.95 / €54.99
- Tundra (Black) 700×40 & 700×45 = £39.95 / €44.99
The Tundra calls for a more swampy, greasy, moist environment. It is not limited to capricious weather conditions, however. The design of its knobs as well as its large volume of grip have been meticulously thought out in order to be able to accompany the pilot in technical passages and difficult conditions: taking angles, singles, roots, slopes.Hutchinson
For those of a certain age and income, ‘singles’ may recall the ability to buy a single cigarette. We don’t think that’s what’s being referred to here, even if gravel is allegedly a more relaxed niche of bicycle sports. You may enjoy other elements of the very direct French to English translation in the press release. Apparently the French call the knobs on tyres ‘pave’, which translates as ‘cobblestones’. So, here’s some technical blurb for you, along with technical coloured pencil drawings:
‘Inspired by the Black Mamba, we find on the Tundra these cobblestones in “bee wings”, two oblique cobblestones that follow each other. We also identify a radial band which crosses the tread from one edge to the other: it ensures traction on one side with this front line which will bite the ground (in green) and on the other braking (in red). We also removed the cobblestones that could hinder traction or braking and looked for empty spaces.‘
‘The Tundra is not just a “mud” tyre. It has been thought out for a “gravel ride” as a whole, to allow the cyclist to go through complicated places but without being intended only for these chaotic passages, which never represent the whole of a gravel ride. In the specifications, performance aspects were also important. Navigating passages on dry and compact terrain is quite possible with the Tundra, also thanks to the different pressures.‘
‘These side studs are the Hutchinson signature. These are sidewalls that we know well on the XC range: cobblestones that we saw appear on the Cobra and which were optimised on the Skeleton, then taken over on the Kraken. They have been designed to go low on the sides and play the role of real “strengths” to ensure the rigidity and support of the cobblestones, like the buttresses of a cathedral.
The Tundra is available as either 700x40C or 700x45C, in tan wall or all black, with tan walls costing a little more. They’re tubeless ready and both colours have bead to bead puncture protection built in, 127tpi casings, and dual compound rubber. Claimed weights are 490g for the for the 40C and 580g for the 45C. We’ve been sent some tan wall 700x45C to test, so we’ll be getting them out onto our northern gravel just as soon as we can. If it stays dry and dusty for the next three months, you know who to thank.