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Unleashing the Gravine: Challenge Tires’ Newest Gravel Beast

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire header
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Challenge Tires rounds out its gravel offerings with an all-new Gravine gravel tread. The Grifo-like design aims at muddy, rugged gravel terrain without compromising ride freedom. It may be knobby, but there’s still plenty of speed.

So, how does it stack up against its brethren in the Challenge gravel lineup?

Read on and find out!

Challenge Gravine gravel tire — What is it? 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire side
(Photos/Jordan Villella)

The Gravine is Challenge’s most aggressive gravel tread to date. Yes, their Challenge cyclocross lineup has several more aggressive tires, but they typically max out at 33mm (or up to 38mm), exclusively for playing in the mud.

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire close up

The Gravine is the tool (tire) for more intense gravel sections, gnarly gravel racing, AND muddy conditions. The tread is reminiscent of the Challenge Grifo cyclocross tire but much more sharp and aggressive in design. 

A Tire for Every Condition

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire out of the box side
(Photo/Cory Benson)

Challenge takes some cues from the cyclocross discipline and the importance of the function of each tread design. Though one tire might be the fastest on paper, that doesn’t mean it’s the fastest for the conditions. Challenge knows the importance of a healthy quiver of tires with a similar casing feel but different strengths. 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire super close up

Take the Challenge Dune, for example; it’s the fastest (IMO) of their ‘cross offerings, but try to race that at a muddy Koppenbergcross. You’d be looking for a Limus at the first sight of the pits. Challenge is expanding its gravel offerings, giving the riders a differing tread, with the choice of 40-45mm widths they know (if they are familiar with the line) and a better chance at taming conditions on race day.

What is the tread? 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire out of the box
(Photo/Cory Benson)

The knobs on the Challenge Gravine are 2mm tall with no rounded edges. There are some slight hatches on the dots and chevrons, but this doesn’t seem functional.

The sharp profile helps the tire bite into the terrain when it’s soft and delivers braking power when rolling downhill. The cornering and side knobs reminded me of the Challege Flandrien, not in shape but in placement. Having the knobs low on the shoulder helps immensely when surfing through rutted muddy bogs. It can get you out of a jam and let you hop onto a less saturated section in tractor pull-style mud sections. Plus – the open-tread design offers pretty good mud/dirt shedding and self-cleaning. 

Let’s Talk Casing 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire
(Image/Challenge)

Construction-wise, the Gravine shares a similar poly-cased carcass as the Challenge Getaway but adds some new tech. It arrives in Challenge’s Handmade Tubeless Ready (H-TLR) construction. The casing is a wide 260TPI polyester ply with a bead protection outer strip. This strip is the same on the Getaway XP and enhances tire longevity against the rim by stopping the effects of chafing or rubbing against the rim’s bead hooks. 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire woods

Since this is a gravel-focused tire (unlike ‘cross), it comes in two versions, Gravine and Gravine XP, both available in sizes 40 and 45mm. The Gravine XP features heavier-duty Corazza Armor Gold (same as the Getaway XP).

Challenge’s Corazza Armor Gold adds a bead-to-bead layer of tightly woven material, reinforcing the tire, hoping to reduce flats. 

What’s the Compound?

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire front

Gravel, road, and ‘cross races have different demands; the tire compound should reflect that. The Gravine has a gravel-specific tread compound made of a special higher durometer rubber. Challenge calls this ‘SmartPlus rubber.’

The SmartPlus rubber has increased wear resistance and enhanced durability compared to others in the Challenge lineup. It also offers improved shock absorption, better grip, control, and reduced rolling resistance on gravel. 

Where does it fall in the Challenge Gravel lineup?

New Challenge Gravel Grinder tire reshaped for better control, sidewall
Gravel Grinder

Challenge’s gravel lineup in tread order: Strada Bianca, Gravel Grinder, Getaway, and now Gravine with the most aggressive tread.

Challenge Gravine Tech 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire tech
(Graphic/Challenge)

First Impressions – Challenge Gravine  

I was very excited to get the news of a new ‘Grifo-like’ Challenge gravel tire. The Grifo tread (IMO) is one of the most dependable, predictable, versatile, and great all around. You’d spot Grifos in all sorts of CX race conditions.

All you need is the correct pressure, and you’re ready. 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire box

The Gravine is much like the Grifo in that it’s excellently versatile and is a do-anything-tire. Though I’ve only had about two weeks on the new treads, it’s left me with strong positive impressions. 

Installation

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire front

After talking with the crew at Challenge, I noticed my technique for installing the H-TLR was a little off. There isn’t a ‘trick’ to installing them; there is a specific technique, and when done correctly, it is much easier than fighting the tire, as I did previously. It’s a direct result of the supple handmade construction (vs. stiffer, pre-shaped vulcanized tires) and the fact they roll/fold flat before installation.

So, if you have Challenge H-TLR cross or gravel tires, check this video and follow along. 

After the installation, sealant, and inflation, I measured the Gravines on the new Vision 30 SC (23i) wheels. Our test tire is 40mm and pumped to 40mm on the dot. The tire is in the sweet spot for a more road-focused or race gravel frame like the current Specialized Crux or the Colnago C68 Gravel that we recently reviewed.

The volume is enough to balance out the cracked and garbled roads in the winter, and the casing is supple. 

Our 40mm non-XP test tires weigh out to between 456g and 466g – a good bit under claimed weights.

Mixed Terrain Performance

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire close side knob

My ride on the Challenge Gravine was mainly mixed terrain, starting on the road, riding to the gravel, and then singletrack. Much like a very aggressive fresh Grifo, the Gravine was a solid performer. The tread isn’t fast on the road compared to the Challenge Getaway, but it’s not sluggish either. I found the sweet spot for the soggy terrain and the Vision SC 30 wheels to be between 28 and 30psi, depending on the route.

What about Mud?

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire mud clogged

When you hit the soggy winter gravel and logging roads, the Gravine tread is superb. It has more bite on loose terrain, especially on loose leafy dirt climbs I experienced. In deep, soggy, muddy sections, the side knobs engage as much as any tire would. When the course is slightly thin mud with more water, the side knobs allow you to pedal and grip the ruts.

This is very similar to the Flandrien cross tire. 

Self-Cleaning 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire mud shedding

We had to grab that full mud pic above right after the bog.

Once out of the mud and back on the road, the Gravine sheds quickly. I packed it up with mud on more than a few occasions. The center line would always re-appear on the dry gravel after the mud sections, and quickly after; the mud would fling off like a well-designed ‘cross-mud tire. 

Lasting Impressions – Challenge Gravine

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire width

After many miles of mixed terrain and road, I would pick the Gravine over the Getaway for my riding style.

I ride more like a mountain biker; I like to ride single-track on my gravel bike and push the front wheel to the edge of grip.

The Gravine has more bite and adds more confidence to my riding, especially when messing around off-road. As a race tire, I can see the 45mm Gravine front and 45mm Getway rear or even a 40mm combo becoming popular. The Getaway is fast but can wash out in super dusty or wet corners. If you’re a rider heavy on the front wheel and like to push into turns with an aggressive tire, the Gravine could be your new go-to. 

Challenge Gravine Gravel Tire far

We’ll follow up with a long-term review of tread wear and flat protection (as of now, Cory & I are flat-free).

But as far as I can tell, Challenge has a great tire in the Gravine. It’s aggressive but works well on all terrain, muddy or dry. Plus, it has that super supple near-tubular feel of the H-TLR cyclocross tires but maxed out with a larger casing. 

Challengetires.com 

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LozC
LozC
1 month ago

They really don’t like 650b

Ashok Captain
Ashok Captain
1 month ago
Reply to  LozC

Great comment! Cheers.

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