With the growing popularity of gravel cycling, the number of tire manufacturers clambering aboard with their take on a gravel tire continues – which is a good thing. Panaracer released the Gravel King – first in 32mm and now in 40mm tubeless ready. The Gravel King tire with its small tread blocks differs markedly from the tread pattern of the company’s 700c x 38mm Comet Hard Pack tire. Originally spotted at Interbike 2014, how do the Comet Hard Pack tires fare? Click on through to find out…
The Comet Hard Pack tire has been a staple of Panaracer’s MTB tire line-up. Essentially, this variant is a down-sized version of those same tires, but in 700c. Labelled as 38c (or 700c x 38mm as we prefer), but clearly marked on the sidewall with an ETRTO of 40-622, these tires measure 40+ mm wide, depending on the rim they are mounted to. The Hard Packs tipped the scales at 464 / 466 grams each tire – for the folding Aramid bead version.
The Comet Hard Packs are not intended for tubeless use, but they work splendidly in this manner. I mounted them tubeless on two different pairs of wheels – handbuilts with Stans Alpha 340 rims and American Classic Hurricane – both wheelsets are intended for tubeless use.
In the case of the Stans Alpha 340 rims (17mm inside width), the tires measured 41mm wide. For the American Classic Hurricanes (18mm inside width), the tires grew a little more to 42.5mm wide. It took a little effort to get the tires to seal, and by that I mean the usual pancaking technique (, followed by laying flat on a bucket – then repeat pancaking, etc. Only once during the review period did I experience a slow leak, which was quickly rectified post ride with more sealant and a little more pancaking. In all cases, I inflated the tires anywhere from 35psi to 40psi, despite the manufacturer recommending a minimum of 44psi – with tubes.
The biggest negative came when installing / jamming these tires in between the cantilever brakes of my somewhat retro bike. A minor quibble, easily rectified by releasing a little air, then re-inflating to the desired pressure. Bikes equipped with disc brakes will not have this issue.
But the positives far outweigh any negatives. This is an excellent tire that rolled fast over every dirt, gravel, singletrack, sand and hardpack surface I encountered. The rounded tire profile of the Comet Hard Pack provides very good cornering control while maintaining rapid forward motion with excellent traction. On paved roads, the tread pattern of the tires had them howling a little, indicating resistance and a slight loss of speed. However, the Comet Hard Packs are a nice improvement over the less voluminous tires I’d been using previously for our local nighttime gravel road rides.
The Comet Hard Pack tires are tough. I’ve taken some notable hits on them, with no sidewall cuts or other damage evident during the review period. The Aramid bead, folding version of the Hard Pack under review is rated at 60TPI, lesser than other good quality tires currently available. However, in no way did the lower TPI count detract from my perceived quality of ride. As a side note, the Comet Hard Packs are also available in a wire bead, 30TPI version.
Photos and article by Gravel Cyclist.
Jayson O’Mahoney is the Gravel Cyclist: A website about the Gravel Cycling Experience.