The American Classic Kimberlite review: a budget gravel tire with an upscale ride!

American Classic is not new to producing cycling products as they’ve been doing so since 1982. They went away for a while, but now they’re back and making tires. Tires that can sometimes be as little as half of what competitor’s tires cost.

What do they cost, you ask? Just $45.

You have four to choose from in that price range, the Wentworth, the Udden, the Aggregate and the Kimberlite. They are now offering MTB tires as well. In fact, our UK Tech Editor, Jessie-May covered those MTB tires a little while ago, check it out.

So, are these tires any good for such a low price point? I currently have a set of their Wentworth gravel tires that I mounted on my Masi all-road bike in the 650bx47, brown wall flavor to find out.

American Classic Wentworth

The Wentworth on the Masi

At this point, I have more than 500 miles on the Wentworth. So far, they have been everything I expect from a tire like this.

But on to the tire I chose to review. It is the least aggressive of their gravel collection, the Kimberlite. The Kimberlite comes in four sizes, 700c x 35mm, 700c x 40mm, 700c x 50mm, and 650b x 47mm. I chose to get the tire in the 700c x 50mm size so I can review it on my Rivendell Clem Smith Jr.

I use the Clem on a daily basis, so why not, right?

American Classic Kimberlite on Clem Smith Jr

American Classic Kimberlite on my Clem Smith Jr.

Clem Smith Jr

Clem Smith Jr

Yeah, I know what you’re thinkin’ “you don’t race on that bike!” And “you don’t really “need” a gravel tire on that thing”. You would be right on both points. But, addressing the second point (because the first point, is obvious), I put a gravel tire on the Clem just to simply add to the superb versatility that already exists on this bike.

For those of you that don’t know, the Clem is a great “all-arounder” of a bike. I’ve ridden regular roads, fire roads, bombed some downhill trails, single track, and more obviously, run my daily errands on this bike.

So it benefits greatly from having a tire that has a fast-rolling center ridge and mildly aggressive side knobs for true “mixed-surface” goodness, like the Kimberlite. An ATB tire if you will.

Mounting

American Classic Kimberlite weight

Kimberliite tire weight.

The Kimberlites are 120tpi and weighed in at 621gr, which is pretty good but still a bit hefty. Not a Rene Herse tire weight for sure, but also not a $90+ tire either. The WTB Venture would be a more suitable comparison. The Venture, in the 700x50c size, 120tpi (light/fast rolling) comes in at 617gr and costs $76. So there is a tiny, bit of difference in weight between these two tires. My impression is that you are basically trading weight for durability and puncture resistance with the Kimberlites.

Plus, is the 4-gram difference worth the $31 (per tire) difference? No, it’s not… not to me, at least.

The new American Classics seem to have a more supple sidewall making for an easier mounting tire. The Kimberlites set up fast and easy on the Velocity Cliffhangers that are on my Clem. The internal width of these rims is 25mm and once the tires were installed and inflated to 32psi, they measured true to size at 49.9mm.

American Classic Kimberlite tread closeup

American Classic Kimberlite tread closeup

This might be a good time to mention that if you bought the $35 version of the American Classic tires when they first launched, last year (as I did), you may have been underwhelmed with both the claimed size to actual size issue or a serious casing wobble….or both, like me.

First Version Wentworth

First ($35) Version of the Wentworth

In my experience, the new version of the tires fixed both of these issues. The beads set flawlessly, the tires (both the Kimberlite and the Wentworth) measured true to size, and the casings while rolling, were wobble/distortion free.

New and Improved

American Classsic Kimberlite

700x50c Kimberlite in the handsome new brown wall.

The newer version of the American Classic Gravel tires yields an extra $10 over last year’s model (now $45 total per tire). They also offer a very handsome “brown wall” sidewall that was added to both the existing black and tan wall options. this applies to all of their gravel tire line.

For the Kimberlite, an extra size (35c) was added to the line. The extra $10 per tire results in a better-built tire with “more attention to quality control at the plant”, American Classic says.

Kimberlite close-up

Stage 5S Armor

Stage 5S Armor

Photo c. American Classic

Stage 5S Armor is the tire construction that creates the puncture resistance of their gravel-specific tire. On the American Classic website, it states that they combine “120tpi casing fabrics, Rubberforce G thread compounds, a tubeless-ready coating as well as a Nylon 105 bead-to-bead fabric.” They say that these steps make for a tire that is lighter, faster, and more cut, tear, and abrasion resistant than their original Stage 5S Flat Protection.

Rubberforce G

Rubberforce G is what American Classic calls its tread compound. Stating that it is designed specifically for their gravel and off-road tires. The website states that the “high structure and high specific surface area (SSA) of the carbon black provide excellent abrasion resistance, high tensile strength, and good tear and cut resistance for off-road adventures.” According to American Classic, the final compounds used, are specific to the riding discipline of the tire that it’s used for.

How do they Ride?

American Classic Kimberlite while riding

So far, I’ve only put roughly 300-350 miles on the tires, mostly paved riding, but there are hardly any signs of wear. The Kimberlites have been a great choice for the Clem, giving me the safety of a large tire-to-ground contact patch, with excellent puncture resistance, as well as the versatility to use the bike on mixed terrain.

Kimberlite on the Clem Smith Jr.

Kimberlite and Clem

So far, it’s exactly the tire I wanted it to be for this bike.

American Classic Kimberlite tread close-up on gravel

Tread pattern

The Kimberlite seems to roll as fast as my WTB Horizons, a tire that has a smooth center as well but with a smoother herringbone tread pattern on the shoulder.

Cornering is good on the Kimberlite, both on paved and hardpack trail riding. Taking corners on one of my favorite paved winding, downhill descents resulted in many ear-to-ear smiles as the speeds were climbing with zero hesitation while fully trusting the tire’s cornering abilities.

Plus the Clem is just so damn fun to descend on.

Kimberlite Tread still looks new

Still looks new

The tires are really fast on hardpacked dirt trails, while only faltering and losing traction on soft, rutted climbs and the occasional slide while cornering on loose-over-hard surfaces.

I’ve also taken the Kimberlites on the shoulders of some paved trails around my neck of the woods, to hit some fine gravel and see how they handle the occasional “goat-head” thorns that are abundant in my area. I rode the gravel shoulder for about 40+ miles or so and had no instances of goat-head punctures.

American Classic Kimberlite

American Classic Kimberlite

The American Classic Kimberlite

Conclusion

I am thoroughly enjoying the performance of this tire. The value-to-performance ratio is outstanding. While riding the tire, I never once found myself excusing bad behavior by thinking “well, it’s a $45 tire Ron, what did you expect?”

It doesn’t ride like a $45 tire. The puncture resistance, aesthetics, and tubeless compatibility are on par with its competitors. Sure, it’s a bit hefty, but is it really? Compared to other tires, it is very competitive in the weight category.

But still, I know how important “rolling mass” is to performance, and if tire weight is your biggest concern when picking a tire, then you may want to look elsewhere. But keep in mind, gravel is not forgiving, so if you do seek a lighter option, you may not get the casing durability of the Kimberlite. Just saying.

All in all, I absolutely would recommend this tire to the masses. It has been a great tire, period. Not just a “great tire for the money”… no, it’s just a great tire. The low cost is the icing on the cake!

Check out all of the American Classic tires available by clicking the link below.

AmClassic.com

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6 Comments
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TypeVertigo
2 months ago

Nice that the Kimberlite is a great performer. I’ve got the 28 mm tanwall Timekeepers, and those have been a perfect first entry into road bike tubeless tires: affordable, easy to mount and seat/seal, and just good to ride on the road. Jom of GravelCyclist has even put them on light gravel duty (fire roads).

American Classic’s rubber is awesome for what you pay for their tires.

Ernest Fitzgerald
Ernest Fitzgerald
2 months ago

American Classic “makes” tires the way that numerous other companies “make” saddles. They don’t. They order them to spec from a factory, probably in Taiwan.

Chris Clinton
2 months ago

Ernest,
You are correct that many brands do not produce their own products. Our factory in Taiwan is one where some of those brands come to have their tires produced. We decided it was time to offer our own brand as well. Thus the American Classic tire line.
So, unlike many tire brands, we produce our own brand of tires in our own factory. This allows us to offer American Classic tires at lower prices compared to other brands. And it allows us to make quick changes in production so we can continue to offer better riding experiences.

jonathan
jonathan
2 months ago

OK. And practically every other company orders tires from the Panaracer factory

Dinger
Dinger
2 months ago
Reply to  jonathan

..or Kenda, or Cheng Shin, or Vee rubber or any of a number of others. The question to consider is, was it made bu the engineers and designers who conceived, designed, sampled, tested and approved it, or was it made by the guy who put the materials into the mold and pushed the “go” button?

Dinger
Dinger
2 months ago

“weighed in at 621gr”
” The Venture, in the 700x50c size, 120tpi (light/fast rolling) comes in at 617gr.”

That difference is well within the margin for error on a given tire in this size range. It’s probable that if you weighed 10 samples of this tire, some would be heavier and lighter by about that much.