Panaracer GravelKing celebrates 10 years with range redesign

New compound, puncture protection tech and bead – plus new racing X1 version which is claimed to be the fastest GravelKing yet

Ten years ago, ‘gravel’ just meant small stones. Now it is a hugely popular and rapidly evolving category with its own culture, community and racing scene – not to mention increasingly specialist gravel bikes.

Panaracer is proud to have identified gravel as a thing back in 2014 when the first GravelKing tyre was launched and now the Japanese brand has a decade of experience to draw on – which is exactly what it says it has done with the all-new 2024 line-up.

I spoke to Panaracer’s global go-to guy Jeff Zell – that’s what's on his business card – for a bit more background on the new version of what it’s fair to say is an icon of the burgeoning gravel scene.

“The 10th anniversary of the GravelKing is a really big deal to us, because we were one of the first, if not the first to identify gravel as a category and actively pursue it when other people were clueless about what gravel might be and didn’t understand it,” says Zell. “Of course it’s now something that’s very well known and accepted, which is why the category keeps growing.”

Although the GravelKing has been updated over the last 10 years, the speed at which gravel wheels and rims have evolved has, according to Panaracer, necessitated a reworking of the range from the ground up. Ten years ago, the original spec was designed around a rim with a 17mm inner width. Now it’s based on a 25mm internal rim width which is, says Zell, “a good place to be at the moment. There’s wider rims, but they’re outliers at the moment.” 

So all the moulds are new, but there’s more to the 2024 version: Panaracer is claiming better hookless rim compatibility, ease of mounting, and design specs that are more in line with where gravel is going in the future. There are new compounds, beads, and puncture protection in the new lineup.

Starting with the new compound, Zell explains: “Over the last two years we’ve been working to develop new versions of what we used in the original GravelKing to come up with what we call ZSG Gravel. ZSG stands for 'zero slip grip'. The concept behind it is that the consistency or feel of the rubber doesn’t change in really extreme cold or really extreme hot within regular riding parameters. And that’s very important for people. The less you think about a component on your bike the better off you are.”

Panaracer also claims lower rolling resistance for the ZSG compound, calling the new GravelKing X1 “the fastest GK ever… hits all the important points for gravel riding and racing today.”

Next up, the bead: “Beads had to change because of the advent of hookless rims,” says Zell. “Yes, clinchers are out there but mostly bikes come with hookless rims at a certain pricepoint.”

Panaracer GravelKing detail

There are more advantages to the new bead and its proprietary BeadLock technology, as Zell outlines: “With this bead customers should be able to mount the tyre onto 80 per cent of hookless rims out there with just a floor pump and no compressor. We’ve had really good results in development with this and I think it’s something that puts us ahead of the pack.”

The third key area relating to the GravelKing redesign is puncture protection. Says Zell: “In the old GravelKing we used a material that we developed called ProTite, which is a really tightly woven manmade fibre with additives that work to keep the mesh flexible without allowing foreign objects to penetrate it easily. We’ve taken it a step further and developed a fibre called TuffTex. This allows the high-thread-count casing to be a little more supple while retaining puncture resistance. Compared to ProTite it reduces punctures by about 14% so it’s a significant improvement.”

And finally, as you’d expect, Panaracer has evolved the range of sizes available. Previously – and perhaps incredibly – the GravelKing started in a 700x23c size and went 23, 26, 28, 32, 38, 43. The new range starts at 30c and simpler sizing takes it up to 50c (SK version only) in increments of 5.

How many 700x23c GravelKings did Panaracer sell last year? “More than you might think,” replies Zell. “In South East Asia where they’re still using older road bikes a lot, that was a wide tyre. Bike companies hadn’t changed geometry, chainstay and seatstay widths and if you could get a 25 in that was pretty massive. But all of that has changed pretty quickly.”

As before, 26in, 29in and 650b wheel sizes will be covered.

Three Panaracer GravelKing tyres in their boxes

So that the latest GravelKing isn’t confused with the outgoing version, the branding and packaging has also been redesigned. The new tyre comes in a “rounded cubic” box and uses all environmentally friendly materials.

There are three different specifications that are designed to cover all gravel scenarios: the GravelKing standard; the GravelKing+ (plus), which is the strongest, most puncture resistant version and the GravelKing R, which is lighter, faster rolling and more supple than the standard and plus models.

The new GravelKing range is available from March 2024. See Panaracer's website for all the details and prices.

Shop now