Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The Dirty Reiver is perhaps the toughest gravel event in all of the U.K. Covering a parcours of 200 kilometers with 3,500 meters of climbing, it’s a true challenge set in the Kielder Water and Forest Park, one of the most remote places in Europe.
At various times windy, cold, rocky, smooth, muddy and always far removed from civilization, the Dirty Reiver is a truly multifaceted challenge. Proper tire choice for the variable climate and road conditions of this gravel grinder is essential—the difference between a good day and one that’s much less so. Should you opt for more tread for mud and loose sections? Or less for more speed over the smoother trails of Kielder Forest? It’s a tough dilemma. But with so much varied terrain, there’s no truly correct answer to this equipment riddle.
Luckily, the Panaracer GravelKing line has tires purpose made for just about every kind of terrain, no matter what the day’s conditions are shaping up to be. All riders of the Dirty Reiver can more or less agree on a couple things: you want a high volume tire in the 38mm+ territory, preferably tubeless to run at lower pressure for a smooth ride over bumpy terrain. It’s a mixture of how you ride and the trail conditions that determine the rest.
Cold is almost always a given here. And rain can just as readily be in the forecast, leading at times to muddy patches. Riders anticipating a mud-fest, or wanting even more grip through loose gravel, can opt for the expert slop clearance of the GravelKing EXT’s more aggressive tread, featuring a zero slip grip compound. An anti-flat casing provides extra protection against sharp rocks—because the last thing you want to be doing when it’s cold out in the middle of nowhere is fixing flats.
If things are looking less muddy, or you want to maximize speed over the tamer, smoother sectors of road, turn to the GravelKing SS with its smoother, diamond pattern center for off-road speed, with aggressive side lugs for traction through corners and when transitioning from one terrain to another. The SS+ model steps up the already reliable puncture protection with a bead-to-bead layer of ProTite puncture material.
But the best choice might be somewhere in the middle. The GravelKing SK falls between the EXT and SS in terms of tread, making it something of a go-anywhere tire that’s comfortable in just about any terrain. A ZSG Natural rubber compound and an AX-α special low rolling resistance casing ensure that it’s plenty fast and built to last, no matter the conditions.
There’s almost never a perfect tire solution to match all the terrain on any given route. But the Panaracer GravelKing line has something to help you get as close as possible for whatever the day holds.