Definitely sturdy rather than sprightly and easy to skid but fast-rolling, bomber-tough, smooth at low pressures and still corners okay off-piste
- Very fast rolling once it’s going
- Stable and surefooted at low pressures
- Tank tough and impressively puncture proofed
- Workable grip when you lean it
- The sturdy build takes some accelerating
- Easy to skid or spin off-road
The Pirelli Cinturato Gravel tyres come in two types, with Pirelli skinning the same sturdy base carcass with two different toppings. The H stands for Hard Terrain and makes a speed-boosting rear match to the M (Mixed) front, or as a tough-but-quick front and rear set for tamer conditions or more confident riders.
Italy is rapidly establishing a reputation for seriously tough terrain on its gravel events and Pirelli has built its Cinturato Gravel tyres with that in mind. The twin-ply carcass is overlapped to be triple under the tread footprint. A nylon anti-puncture blanket is then wrapped from bead to bead with another reinforcing wrap around the base of the tyre to just above the rim. We tested the standard black wall version but there’s also a brown wall ‘Classic’ option too.
The Gravel H uses a low, flat, very closely spaced, tiled tread pattern over the centre with a slightly detached line of small blocks on the shoulders. Both gravel tyres get a custom ‘SpeedGRIP’ rubber compound derived from Pirelli’s MTB tyres too.
The weight of the 700x40mm sample we tested was 475g, which is level with WTB’s similar Riddler and lighter than the Panaracer Gravel King SK and the Schwalbe G-One AT in the same size.
With a reasonable weight and minimal tread drag, the H picks up speed easily and smoothly for a long as you can keep building the watts. That makes it naturally fast but the heavily damped and grippy carcass doesn’t feel springy or lively like thinner, more fragile, borderline-road carcass tyres can. It’s impressively stable and supportive, even at Pirelli’s sub-to-mid 30psi recommended pressures, so you don’t have to back off when trails get rockier or more potholed.
While braking or stamping power down hard makes them skid or spin, a little finesse gets you a surprisingly long way in greasy/loose conditions. If you can get them onto their limited shoulders without the flat-topped profile sliding out, they bite okay too but it’ll always be a tyre for coaxing - not carving - round loose or damp corners.
Pirelli has already earned itself a reputation for tough tyres with a lengthy lifespan, and the carpet of tread tiles further reduces the chance of anything pointy finding its way through to the nylon protection. The damped and reinforced feel mean we’ve had no pinch punctures, despite regular thumps off the rim and we’ve had no slash wounds from trailside sniper rocks either.
Definitely damped rather than springily-dynamic and needs care in slippery conditions but if you’re after a fast-rolling, reliable tyre that can be bludgeoned through trouble without worry, Pirelli’s Cinturato Gravel H takes some beating.
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