The first complete new tread design we’ve seen from Challenge in years, the all-new Getaway feels exactly like what I’d hope for from Challenge gravel tires… supersizing the supple ride quality of their handmade cyclocross tires. The 40mm only size and low-profile tread isn’t going to suit every gravel bike rider, but those that come from a cross background will likely appreciate the fast-rolling grip & riding-on-a-cloud feel delivered by the high thread count, unvulcanized construction.
All-new Challenge Getaway handmade tubeless gravel tires
Like most of their gravel offerings before, Challenge’s new Getaway gravel tire builds on the best traits of their popular cyclocross tires. That means handmade-in-Thailand construction and a durable polyester casing with flexible puncture protection. Now it’s really just like scaling a cross tire up a bit more, and topping it off with a new versatile fast-rolling open tread design.
Handmade gravel tire – Tech details
From a tech perspective the Getaway gets new Corazza Armor construction that is a reinforced two-ply 260tpi SuperPoly casing for durable sidewalls, with a bead-to-bead latex coating that keeps air in and things like thorns out. It also gets Challenge’s black HTLR Chafer aramid bead protection that protects the softer sidewall from abrasion against the rim.
Under the tread there’s an upgraded Ganzo PPS flexible, tighter-weave fabric puncture protection insert (think: kevlar) that is said to be both lighter and more puncture-resistant than previous versions of PPS.
The natural rubber itself is a new SmartPlus compound developed for gravel with a higher durometer for longer wear, without making much sacrifice in grip or vibration damping.
The new Handmade TLR Getaway is designed to be used with Challenge’s own recommended Smart Sealant, developed to work best with and protect the natural rubber of the tire. Challenge lists a weight of ~460g for the new 40mm wide tire. Our two test samples split that at 455g & 461g.
Review: Challenge Getaway gravel tire first rides
The first impression of mounting a Challenge handmade tubeless ready (H-TLR) tire always seems a bit of an obstacle to overcome. Not pre-formed in a mold at high temperature like regular vulcanized tires, new handmade Challenge tires lay flat. And it can be a bit of a fight stretching the two beads onto a rim the first time.
Careful technique & a bit of finesse will get you there, though. My personal hints are to: 1. always start opposite the valve (or rather finish at the valve); 2. stretch, pinch & center the tread over the rim once one side is on, and 3. use a velcro strap (or a zip-tie) to secure one side of the bead as necessary while you work around the other side.
The important thing is though, once the tire is stretched, installed & ridden you generally won’t have any difficulty managing it on the side of the road if you get a flat and need to put a tube in. The tires stretch into shape and become much easier to get on and off, after a short time.
Now, back to the Getaway… the highlight here really is the feel of the soft & supple 260tpi polyester construction. Running tire pressures around 35psi, this tire offers plenty of support, yet still feels like it is folding over irregular surfaces as you’d expect with 10psi less air. The large 40mm volume seems to strike a balance between feeling like a low-pressure handmade CX tubular (think 20-25psi) sticking to the ground, but without the squirm you get at those lower pressures.
The new tread is fast-rolling with effectively continuous center knobs, feeling especially quick over hard surfaces. Mounted on a 23mm internal set of Hunt 35 Carbon Gravel X-Wide wheels, the Getaway casing measured 40.3mm wide. But the widest edge of the shoulder blocks themselves are a bit narrower, between 37-38mm across.
Those widely spaced shoulder knobs are said to offer reliable cornering grip, but it’s not infinite. I’ve ridden the new Getaway on some wet gravel, and damp dirt transitioning into mud, and straight-line grip has been great. But at the same time, the connected-to-the-ground feel of these handmade tires invites you to push limits. And I had fun playing around on some hardpack gravel, and definitely found the point where those shoulders quickly all broke loose going hard and fast into a tight corner – resulting in some very exciting two-wheel drift. It’s probably best to find that point, so I can hold back from it in the future.
What about durability?
One thing I can’t attest to is how this tire will stand up to a rough life out on chunky gravel roads, that often devolve into mountain bike tracks. I’ve only had the tires for a short while, and as much as the tech details talk about new armor & puncture protection layers, the tires just feel so supple in hand that I have to imagine they can’t last forever.
I have been riding them fast on this titanium Lynskey Pro GR gravel bike that’s been taking me on a number of mixed-surface and bikepacking adventures. Note: Keep an eye out for that full review in early 2021…
And, I’m going to keep riding them hard and fast to find out more… because that smooth, tubular-like ride is just so hard to argue with.
Challenge Getaway gravel – Pricing & availability
The new Challenge Getaway is available in only one version for now, 700c x 40mm with natural tan sidewalls. The $86 / 78€ gravel tire is available now, but seems like it is going to be in short supply. Shops & distributors have snapped up all of Challenge’s first production run, and they’re already telling dealers to make pre-orders soon to get in on the next batch.