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American Classic Kimberlite gravel tyre review

The price is amazing but what is the American Classic Kimberlite gravel tyre like to ride with?

American Classic Kimberlite Tyre
(Image: © Josh Ross)

Our Verdict

You can't have everything in a tyre and with the American Classic Kimberlite you trade weight for price and puncture protection.

For

  • Price is two for one compared to everyone else
  • Long life
  • Excellent puncture protection
  • Exceptional warranty

Against

  • Heavy

American Classic entered the cycling scene in the early 80s. American road and track racer Bill Shook developed expertise in high-end aluminium and brought the brand to prominence over the next three decades, but then in 2018, after 36 years, the company disappeared from the market. 

In the fall of 2021, we covered the comeback as well as the renewed focus it brought. Today's American Classic offers a range of low-cost, high-value tyres. Sales are direct-to-consumer, through Amazon, and pricing sits close to half what you might pay for something similar from other brands. 

This winter we spent time with the American Classic Kimberlite tyre, which is an all-road style tubeless-ready tyre for fast riding that transitions on and off of pavement. It's not currently included in our list of the best gravel tyres but we wanted to see if it should be in a future version. If you are looking for an inexpensive go anywhere type of gravel tyre keep reading to see our thoughts on this option from American Classic. 

American Classic Kimberlite Tyre detail of side knobs

Larger side knobs give plenty of cornering grip off-road. (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Specifications

The American Classic Kimberlite comes in three sizes and are compatible with hookless (Tubeless Straight-Side/TSS) rims that follow current E.T.R.T.O. standards. For fast-rolling, there is the 700x40 option, there's also 700x50 for when you need to get rowdy on larger wheels, and then there's 650x47 for the adventure-minded. There are also options for either a black sidewall or a tan sidewall depending on your style. 

Puncture protection, referred to as Stage 5S, is the same on all sizes and colour options. Four of the five layers run bead-to-bead, and then there's an extra protection layer under the tread. What's unusual about this is not the construction but instead, the degree to which American Classic trusts the design. 

Stage 5S flat protection illustration

The Stage 5S flat protection is backed by a discount if it fails (Image credit: American Classic)

There's a two-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship but there's also a road hazard replacement policy, which reads: "If you puncture or tear an American Classic tyre while riding, and it no longer holds air, you can contact us for a claim form for a one-time 50% off the MSRP of the same or comparable product." There is some of the usual small print on both warranties, so double-check the details, but it's nevertheless an impressive show of support for the engineering.  

For the top layer, also considered part of the flat protection, American Classic has a gravel-specific formula. Here, it uses the same Rubberforce G across the full range of gravel tyres on offer. The design focuses on small details that increase the surface area for better abrasion resistance, high tensile strength, and good tear and cut resistance. 

Performance

When it came time to get the American Classic Kimberlite tyres on a wheel, the most notable feature was how tight the bead was. I tend to get the logo close to the valve then adjust once the tyre is in place. After struggling with tyre levers, I got the tyre in place and discovered there was no possibility of rotating the tyre, as a result, the logo remained slightly out of alignment but it did mean the subsequent seating of the bead was easy. As these are new tyres, out of new moulds, there may be some relaxation over time. I take it as a good sign though, a tight bead is good for setup and also for performance with hookless wheels. 

Once on the wheel, I followed the Enve pressure chart (opens in new tab) and settled on 29 psi. That matches the recommendation for my weight when paired with the Hunt 42 Limitless Gravel Disc and its 25mm internal width. This pairing carried me through the next few months of winter riding and a mix of mostly road with gravel roads sprinkled into the mix as and when it made sense. I remained comfortable and there is no sign of wear despite the mileage. 

When it's near freezing and raining, the last thing you want to mess with is a puncture. For that reason, I was grateful for the promise of puncture protection and during my time testing these tyres, I never experienced a puncture. However, all that puncture protection does come with a cost though and that's weight - these are heavy tyres. 

Conceptually close to the American Classic Kimberlite is the WTB Byway. The Byway is a well-known tyre that comes in the same 120tpi tubeless 700x40 with edge-to-edge puncture protection. It also weighs around 100 grams less but it does cost over twice as much. If you are willing to sacrifice the extra weight you not only save money but end up with a very similar ride performance. 

The design of the centre does best with continued forward movement. Pedal your bike straight ahead and it doesn't matter if you find yourself on paved road or gravel road, it's a good experience. It can lend itself to float when you find yourself on mud so either stick to the road in the rain or look for a different option when riding off-road in the wet. There is traction as you corner but in the wet, the transition can feel abrupt. 

American Classic Kimberlite Tyre detail of centre section

The centre uses details to add surface area for better grip and puncture protection (Image credit: Josh Ross)

Verdict

The American Classic Kimberlite tyre isn't a do anything, set it and forget it kind of tyre. If it's wet you'll have a better experience sticking to paved roads. When it's dry, the Kimberlite will handle gravel roads just fine. 

Wherever you use the Kimberlite you will notice the weight. In exchange for the weight, you get high puncture protection that's backed by a warranty. You also get a hard-wearing tyre and pricing that can't be beaten. For the fastest race days, you might consider looking elsewhere but you might also be willing to deal with the weight and not worry about a puncture. 

Tech Specs: American Classic Kimberlite gravel tyre

  • Price: $35.00 - International pricing unavailable
  • Weight: 700x40 565g 
  • Colours: Black, Tan
  • Size: 700x40, 700x50, 650x47
  • TPI: 120tpi 

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Josh hails from the Pacific Northwest of the United States but would prefer riding through the desert than the rain. He will happily talk for hours about the minutia of cycling tech but also has an understanding that most people just want things to work. He is a road cyclist at heart and doesn't care much if those roads are paved, dirt, or digital. Although he rarely races, if you ask him to ride from sunrise to sunset the answer will be yes.
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 137 lb.
Rides: Orbea Orca Aero, Cannondale Topstone Lefty, Cannondale CAAD9, Trek Checkpoint, Priority Continuum Onyx