Having loved the Teravail Rutland tyres I was intrigued to test something else from their range for summer. The Tripster ATR V3 takes up to 50mm tyres in 650b so I thought I’d test the limits with the Teravail Sparwood in 650b x 2.1inch (53mm)! The Sparwoods only come in a 29er/700 x 2.2″ so the 700c Cannonball is the same tread pattern in narrower gravel sizes in 700c.
The Sparwoods are a big volume low tread tyre and the same tread as the narrower Cannonball, the Sparwood was designed for tour divide racers (on MTBs). Having always historically run narrower tyres I am finding that modern wider tyres produce far less drag than you might expect and I keep going wider. I like the comfort and grip they give with little compromise to speed on or off road. Not long ago I was racing mountain bikes on 1.95″ tyres and now I am riding 2.1″ on long road rides funny how things change! The first impression is the Sparwoods roll fast and feel light on the climbs (strava can attest they climb fast). They set up easy enough tubeless with a high pressure pump and comparable to the WTB tyres I have been running.
The first test ride was to hammer them on my standard ‘tyre destroying descent’ towards the Bowbeat Wind farm near my home in Scotland. This hits 60kph on rough, sharp gravel and they survived unscathed giving me immediate confidence they are tough! 3 months later and they have still not so much as burped any air, nor do they show signs of wear. Despite this strength they feel supple and comfy and not heavy and damp like the Panaracer Gravel Kings for example. This reflects the great quality I found with the Rutlands too.
In terms of ride they are quite a rounded profile (even running on wide 24mm internal rims) giving a narrow contact patch on road, this means a good speed with little tarmac buzz especially when at higher pressures. Off road the minimal side lugs do eventually hook up on lose corners but they do feel sketchy at pressures over 35psi. It really is at the lower pressures you notice the impressive grip and comfort from these 53mm compared to the WTB Resolutes in 42mm I was running before – so vary the pressure according to route!
The 53mm 2.1″ width is MTB terrain and exceeds even the massive recommended limits in the rear of the Tripster ATR V3 so after a few rides I opted to run a narrower 47mm in the rear to prevent any unwanted rubbing from flex in corners. I stuck with the 2.1″ on front and this was the ideal combo giving comfort but maybe a tad more speed.
Altogether if your bike can handle the width, then the Sparwoods make a great high volume – low profile, reliable and strong summer tyre. They offer a lot more grip than I thought at the lower pressures, while many will find the volume more than they need (or their bike can fit) I would recommend them if they do fit. I think running a 2.1″ on the front makes a lot of sense to soak up the bumps and buzz then something narrower on the back.
I just got some Hutchinson Touregs in 650b x 47x to test next….