Currently only one size and very sticky on road, but super surefooted and bomber tough when you’re off the tarmac
- Excellent ride feel
- Surefooted traction
- Impressively tough
- Low-pressure happy
- Tubeless bliss
- Slow on road
- Only one size
- Slightly high price
Zipp has always done a limited range of road tyres, so it’s no surprise it has issued a gravel tyre to go with its new wider 303S and Firecrest wheels. The company has followed the same focus on control and comfort to boost overall speed rather than just drag-race dynamics. We've been putting it to the test to see how it compares against the best gravel tyres, and the result is a tyre that rewards on the roughest routes and boldest lines, but gets easily bored on tarmac.
Unlike any other tyre we can think of the Tangente Course currently comes in just one 700x40mm size. The 127TPI carcass only comes in a tan wall style too, but unlike some natural rubber sidewall designs, you still get full edge-to-edge Aramid weave protection. Zipp has also used a radically soft 55 Duro compound for the central close-packed mini chevron tread and even softer 50 Duro compound for the mixed intermediate tread and the widely spaced twin knobs that sit low on the outer shoulder.
Zipp certainly gets full marks for user-friendliness. The tyre has popped onto every rim we’ve used it on first time with just a track pump. It’s hookless rim compliant and we’ve run it as low as 28psi on 25mm internal Zipp Firecrest wheels in aggressive singletrack or off-camber situations with no folding or burping issues. It also feels really well-damped and smoothly controlled on rougher surfaces and sucks the sting out of sharp edges and impacts all day long.
The full carcass protection does mean it’s on the higher side of average weight and together with that damped feel, it’s not the most responsive tyre in terms of acceleration. The soft compound means it drags more than you’d expect from the tread on tarmac too, particularly if it’s hot. The more we transitioned from road to gravel and back again, the more it confirmed that the tyre actually picked up speed off-road. Not just subtly either, we’d sometimes gain a couple of gears - and pretty much always one clock down the block - when moving from hot asphalt to loose cinder. Once we’d realised that, we started really relishing upcoming rough sections and even planning routes accordingly to maximise dirt time.
Perversely, while the tread looks more road-focussed, the compound means it’s actually a lot more surefooted than more MTB-style treads in harder rubber recipes and we soon got used to cranking the G40s right over without a care on a wide range of loose rock, gravel, loam, root and even sandy surfaces. Even when eventually glued up with clay, it still managed to stay.
The densely packed tread adds extra protection too and even on a 400km bikepacking mission around the often technical, flinty, thorny, rocky King Alfred’s Way route in the south of England we had zero puncture, slash or tear issues. It’s been the same ever since too, shrugging off everything we’ve thrown at it without even showing much sign of wear to the soft compound rubber.
With its initially dull feel and sticky roll, the G40 doesn’t make friends straight away, particularly on the road. But start riding where a gravel tyre is supposed to go, and the Zipp comes into its element. That damped feel lets you tank through rocks, roots, sharps - all the stuff you’d normally shy away from - without a worry. It also lets you drop pressure lower than most tyres to amplify that ability and turn previously hesitant bikes into properly hench and confident mini MTBs. That sticky rubber compound means you don’t have to hit the brakes going into turns or gear down hitting loose climbs either. Well not until it’s seriously wet and sloppy anyway.
With just a single size option, it's a fairly specific tyre rather than a gregarious all-rounder, but if you make your fun (and/or your racing speed) by pushing hard where everyone else backs off and you’re happy to pay a little extra and pedal a little harder to get that gain, then you’re going to love it.
Tech Specs: Zipp Tangente Course G40 gravel tyres
- Weight: 478g
- Price: £64 / €72 / $65
- Size: 700 x 40C
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