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Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyres review

The Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyres span the gap between the brand's extensive range of road and MTB tyres, but how does it compare with the best?

Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyres
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

A bombproof, gravel-tyre option for riders of all ability

For

  • Super-easy tubeless setup
  • Stable at low pressures
  • Bombproof construction
  • Centreline pace
  • Decent corner grip
  • Clean fast in filth

Against

  • Feel wooden at medium-high pressure
  • You’ll have to wait for size options

The Goodyear Connector Ultimate is a tough, low-pressure-friendly gravel tyre with a tread that manages to be both fast and surefooted on a wide range of surfaces, delivering a good ride whatever sub-niche of gravel riding you prefer. But how do they compare to the best gravel tyres?

Design

The Ultimate uses the top-spec Goodyear Tubeless Complete carcass (the 'Premium' is the more affordable version) with a full bead to bead layer of R:Armor lightweight nylon protection to fend off cuts and scuffs. The 40mm version is still only 460g which puts it at the lightweight end of the spectrum (Premium is 540g). 

Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyres

The close-packed centre tread disperses into diagonally aligned small-sized V knobs (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

The tread uses an All-Terrain version of the same Silica4 compound as the 4Season road tyre. The close-packed centre strip disperses into diagonally aligned small-sized V knobs out to siped tri-lobe shoulder knobs. It’s currently only available in 700 x 40mm, but there's a 650 x 50mm, 650 x 35mm and 700 x 50mm tyres are in the pipeline in both black and tan sidewall options.

Performance

Despite being loose and pliable enough to coax onto rims with strong thumbs, the Tubeless Complete carcass engages from the first stroke of the track pump. It then swells smoothly until it pops into place at about 30-35psi without any leaked sealant. Our 40mm samples measured exactly that on a 24mm internal rim too. While Goodyear prints a 35-38psi range on the tyre, the armoured carcass means they feel pretty stiff and unforgiving at that pressure. The bead to bead wrap helps stabilise the tyre at much lower numbers than that though and the Connector backed up our previous Goodyear 4-Season road tyre experience by feeling better and better the lower we let the pressures drop. There’s enough armouring in the tyre to regularly bump off the rim without burping or splitting and we tested it down to 25 psi without any trouble. Even at properly low pressures, there’s still enough solid centre tread to hang in with benchmark Panaracer and Schwalbe options when on the road and hardpack, and the Silica4 mix is a good balance of pace and predictability in wet or dry. 

The low weight means it accelerates nicely when asked, and running them at low pressures means connection and compliance are obviously much better off-road, too. Don’t expect them to feel fast off-road though as the damped character gives them a more rock-crawler (rather than rapid and rattly) vibe. Keep revs low and torque moderate though and they’ll tractor through reasonably wet conditions okay. It’s definitely best to get them angled over early in turns before that centre strip starts to slide, but ham it up with your cornering style and they’ll hold a usefully aggressive line in most conditions. If you want a faster option and are unlikely to ride in slop or scree then the Goodyear County gravel tyre gets a slick centre and a reasonable shoulder tread for maximum speed with emergency off-road cornering grip if you crank them right over.

Verdict

Super-easy to set up and seemingly bombproof despite a responsively low weight the Connector is a really easy tyre to live with. The mix of centreline pace, predictable intermediate hold and good edge grip if you get it leant over makes life good on a wide variety of surfaces. You definitely need to ignore the recommended pressures to offset a naturally wooden ride feel though.

Put them in a group situation where you know the normal pecking order though and you’ll be impressed with the promotion up the rankings that the Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyres will give you.

Tech specs: Goodyear Connector Ultimate gravel tyres

  • Size: 700x40mm 
  • Weight: 460g