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The Hutchison Caracal Gravel Tire Range Could be the Fastest On The Market

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We’ve been hearing a lot from the Hutchinson camp this year. So far, they’ve covered nearly the entire bike racing spectrum. They’ve released a road tire (Blackbird), a mountain bike tire (Python 3), and now gravel. Meet the Hutchison Caracal Gravel Tire and Caracal Gravel Race Tire. 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire
Photo: Jordan Villella

One thing all of these tires have in common is a race and performance focus. That also means they share some similarities in compound, casing, and layup. Each line, whether the Blackbird or the Python, borrows tech from the other. The Caracal takes cues from its road and mountain bike brethren to craft a truly fast gravel race tire. 

What is the Hutchinson Caracal? 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire outside side
Photo: Jordan Villella

The Caracal is Hutchinson’s newest gravel tire range, aimed squarely at speed and performance. The lineup features two tires: the Caracal Race and Caracal. The Caracal tires have the same tread pattern and designs but have two different constructions. 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire top over
Photo: Jordan Villella

Caracal Race features an all-out speed and race focus, forgoing some puncture protection for reduced rolling resistance and weight. The Caracal has a greater range of puncture productivity, and with that comes some additional weight (but not much). 

Like the other Hutchinson tires released this season, the new Caracal Gravel range features the premium’ Racing Lab’ naming. These tires are hand-made in France and the product of Hutchinson athletes’ feedback and testing. The Caracal range took many cues from ultra-distance gravel specialist Ulrich Bartholmoes.

Hutchinson Caracal Gravel Race Tire

Hutchinson Caracal Race gravel tire tech drawing
Image Hutchinson

When creating the Carcal Race tire, the team at Hutchinson wanted to create the fastest gravel tire on the market—years of research, prototyping, and looping in athlete feedback followed. The result is a gravel race tire that outperforms similar race tires from competitors by up to 35% in independent tests commissioned by Hutchinson.

HUTCHINSON_race live
Image Hutchinson

How? It helps that Hutchison also had two high-level (and Olympic hopeful) tires in Racing Lab development at the same time: the Blackbird and the Python 3.

HUTCHINSON_race
Image Hutchinson

The Caracal Race uses the new SwiftEasy casing technology you’ll see on the Blackbird. The cool thing about this casing is that unlike typical tire casings, which overlap at the center of the tread, the new casing is bonded to the tire’s outer layer (see photo above again).

This method means one less casing layer is required at the center, allowing for significantly increased flexibility and performance. Hutchinson claims rolling resistance is reduced by an unprecedented 40% over similar semi-slick gravel tires in the Hutchinson range.

HUTCHINSON_race top tread
Image Hutchinson

The Caracal Race also utilizes Hutchinson’s new high-performance Mach Tread 3.0 compound. This compound is another technology initially developed for its performance BlackBird road tires – covered here. 

To recap, the Mach Tread 3.0 is the fastest compound Hutchinson has developed. Its new formulation offers an exceptional 25% rebound, meaning more energy is returned into forward motion. Not only is the compound faster than its predecessor, but it’s also 10% harder and more resistant to tearing. Hutchinson’s tests resulted in 75% better performance in tear tests, all without compromising grip.

Caracal Tread Pattern 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire top side front
Photo: Jordan Villella

The Caracal tread (or lack thereof) is similar to other dry-condition gravel tires on the market. The center line tread pattern is smooth with a slightly pebbled surface for dry, fast race days. The side knobs are lower on the shoulder and are staggered and grow in size, descending onto the carcass of the tire—more on the tread and performance in my ride review. 

  • Size: 700x40mm size and only in Tan Wall color
  • Weight: 475g *claimed
  • Price: $65.00/€59.99

Hutchinson Caracal Gravel Tire

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire tech drawing
Image Hutchinson

The Caracal has the same fast-rolling tread pattern as the Caracal Race but adds more long-range utility. The casing is a Hutchinson traditional design paired with its Hard-skin bead-to-bead puncture protection layer. This protection adds a little weight (not much) and might raise the rolling resistance (we haven’t seen test data for it). 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire under
Photo: Jordan Villella

The rubber compound is Hutchinson’s steady bi-compound found on the other tires in Hutchinson’s gravel range. 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire weight
Photo: Jordan Villella

The result is a fast-rolling tire with puncture protection that lasts longer for endurance events and all-around riding.  

  • Size: 700x40mm size and only in Tan Wall color
  • Weight: 467g*actual weight
  • Price: $63.00/€54.99

Where do the Caracal Fit in the Hutchinson Gravel Range?

Hutchinson gravel tire full range
Image Hutchinson

The French tire manufacturer offers five different gravel tires to match the full spectrum of conditions that riders encounter. These include the Override for dry fast tracks with sand or fine dirt, the classic Touareg for all-around riding and daily use, and the Tundra for hardcore technical days out or in wet conditions. But out of those listed above, the Caracal Race is the only option available in the Racing Lab notation and formulation. 

Ride Review Hutchinson Caracal 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire full bike Crux JV
Photo: Jordan Villella

The Caracal arrived just before the launch date, right as Pittsburgh was experiencing early summer weather. We didn’t receive the Caracal Race version early enough to get ride impressions but stay tuned for a head-to-head competition. 

However, the Caracal impressed me right out of the box. It didn’t “feel” like a second-tier tire model. It’s only the more practical of the two in reality. The tire has a supple feel, similar to the Blackbird and Python tires we reviewed earlier. 

Setup

I mounted the Caracals to our Industry 9 SOLiX SL review wheel set with a 25mm internal and 35 external rim width. The tires installed and inflated easily with a floor pump and without the use of tire levers. The casing felt in the middle of robust and thin. This version of the Caracal uses the traditional casing, not the ‘Swift easy’ like the Race version. Still, it feels supple and race ready from the touch. 

Inflated, the Caracals grow to a slightly larger than spaced 41mm, but keep in mind this number is rim width dependent. The shape of the Caracal on the I9 AR40 rims with a 25mm internal looked great. The profile was round and not a teardrop shape like some overly narrow rims can create. 

Ride Impressions – Hutchinson Caracal Gravel Tires

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire outside side
Photo: Jordan Villella

For my rides, I went for all conditions and all roads. I started my rides at 38PSI front and 39PSI rear, and for the road, that was just fine. I felt like I was rolling quickly, and the tires were quite, eating up any road chatter or gravel bits. From the tires the Caracals replaced, I could feel a rise in efficacy and less rolling resistance. My former tires were nearly the same profile but apparently lacking in “free speed.”

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire side
Photo: Jordan Villella

I took the Caracals on kitchen sink-style rides for nearly all my review outings. On the road, they ride very similar to an all-road tire, but the 40mm width takes some getting used to at speed if you’re sizing up. They feel like a dream on the gravel and unmaintained roads, absorbing all the little rocks and imperfections in the pavement. This is where the Caracal soars in. The confidence and excellent supple casing supplies, partnered with a puncture protective casing, give the rider an extra boost. 

In the Forest and On the Trails

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire top over
Photo: Jordan Villella

The Caracal holds its own on single track and technical tracks, but it’s still a dry-weather tire. The slight tread offers much more than expected, especially in dusty and damp conditions. I felt the lower the pressure (more like 35-PSI rear and 33-PSI front), the better the performance, but you sacrifice some solid corning feel on the pavement, as the tire gets slightly bouncy at those pressures depending on rider weight. 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire ultra close up
Photo: Jordan Villella

I found the Caracal grips the solid nicely with the sharp side knobs, especially when they can sink into the ground. This was slightly unexpected but pleasantly surprising. 

The Caracal can survive rocks, roots, and the techy bits. If the rocks are dry, it’s a great companion. The volume is enough to bounce over and through the roots without much rim time. If you do bottom out, however, the casing is resilient enough to take more than a few hits. 

How did the Caracal feel compared to others on the market from my initial rides? They feel like an excellent middle ground between Vittoria Gravel Tires and Challenge Tires—a mix of suppleness and dependability. 

Final Thoughts 

Hutchinson Caracal gravel tire close up tread
Photo: Jordan Villella

The Caracal is worth a long look if you’re looking for a fast-rolling and dependable gravel race and training tire. The tread pattern is similar to the “fast tires” on the market, with a slightly better, lively feel and what looks to be lower rolling resistance. Remember, this is Caracal, not the Caracal Race, so it only gets faster from here. Look back for a head-to-head shootout between these two tan-wall Titans. In the meantime, I’m predicting the Hutchinson Caracal will be at the top of gravel racers’ “must-try tire” list if they can get a set. 

Cycling.hutchinson.com

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23 Comments
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ismo
ismo
19 days ago

I have seen comments that the Zipp XPLR G40 gravel tyre is manufactured by Hutchinson. I wonder if we will soon see a new gravel tyre from Zipp too.

Greg
Greg
19 days ago

Some Schwalbe tires use this 3/2/3 casing layout and have been for a few years now.

Jeffie
Jeffie
18 days ago

Never, ever buy hyperbole from tire manufacturers. And no matter how it tests out, at 40mm max in the IRL it is not going to be nearly the fastest on most courses.

Crumbs
Crumbs
18 days ago
Reply to  Jeffie

Yeah, same exact thought here, this might be the “fastest 40mm tire” but in almost all testing we have done at Silca thats not the fastest size of gravel tire at all.

AJbuilder
AJbuilder
17 days ago
Reply to  Crumbs

what “size” have ya’ll found to be the fastest with testing?

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
18 days ago
Reply to  Jeffie

At 40mm, I’d want this on my Domane(the 38mm listed clearance is extremely generous) to doodle on gravel vs do a planned gravel ride.

Emo
Emo
18 days ago
Reply to  Jeffie

What width is the fastest on most courses?

Jeffie
Jeffie
18 days ago
Reply to  Emo

The right width, carcass and pressure etc vary with each course. “Gravel” is far from a consistent concept.
But rest assured on anything but a pavement like hardpack, the right tire is going to be well over 40mm.

john hancock
john hancock
13 days ago
Reply to  Jeffie

total crap, 38 and 40 work exceptionally well in MOST gravel/forrest service road situations.. If you need wider than that, break out your mountain bike..

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
12 days ago
Reply to  john hancock

Working well doesn’t mean it’s the fastest option though

Jeffie
Jeffie
12 days ago
Reply to  john hancock

“Exceptionally well?” No, they don’t. They suffice at best.

mudmudmud
mudmudmud
18 days ago

You say the tire feels “quilted.” Explain.

mud
mud
17 days ago

haha so quilted went to quite, I think you meant quiet

King County
King County
18 days ago

I read that Tufo has the fastest, or one of the fastest gravel tires out there, as per the test on the Rolling Resistence website,but this Hutch has a smooth middle. The Tufo has grip.

Astro_Kraken
Astro_Kraken
18 days ago
Reply to  King County

a lot of the smooth middle tires test really poorly on BRR. Anecdotally the WTB Byways are slugs both at BRR and my riding.

Jeffie
Jeffie
18 days ago
Reply to  King County

The tread pattern has only a small effect on rolling resistance. It is hard to believe, but the rubber compound is the big thing, followed by the construction of the tire.

theKaiser
theKaiser
17 days ago
Reply to  Jeffie

I agree with you full in terms of the major factors in rolling resistance. In addition to that, I’ve wondered if some of these smooth center tread tires suffer from what amounts to excess (from an efficiency perspective) tread cap thickness. On the center knobbed tires, the rubber between knobs is generally quite thin and can the tire can flex at those points relatively easily, but on some of these smooth middle tires have a very thick, almost “knob height” thickness layer of rubber. Not all designs go that route, but this Hutchinson looks to, and the WTB even more so.

Jeffie
Jeffie
15 days ago
Reply to  theKaiser

it works for the Specialized Pathfinder. The thick strip contributes to making it harder for rocks to puncture, meanwhile the “knobs’ such as they are are tiny but densely packed. So a sharp rock generally will have to cut through them rather than be able to easily get between them where the tire is thinner. Im convinced this is a good part of the pathfinder’s secret sauce… the knobbed areas can flex well, but in effect, are thicker when it comes to dealing with large objects. Ice picks, not so much. So lab results look pretty normal, while Irl it’s widely considered a good pick for gnarly rock courses.

TheKaiser
14 days ago
Reply to  Jeffie

Yeah, that makes sense. You can have a knob spacing that from a flex perspective can allow the thin areas of the casing to move freely with little hysteresis, but from a sharp object perspective, can act more like a thicker solid surface.

Your point about rubber compound being the primary factor in RR, but rubber thickness also being very protective against cuts reminds me of the Schwalbe GreenGuard puncture resistant tires. They are roughly as puncture resistant as a heavy casing equivalent tire, but achieve the puncture resistance with a special rubber layer rather than belts or casing plies. The surprising thing is the green rubber layer they use adds very little RR, seemingly far less than a traditional tread rubber. I suspect it is mostly natural latex and so like a latex tube suffers very few losses.

Jeffie
Jeffie
15 days ago

Why do we need 21 photos of this tire and two diagrams? It’s a pretty run-of-the-mill design in terms of the look of it. This seems pretty odd.

john hancock
john hancock
13 days ago

this design needs two updates. The outermost side knobs coult be 3-4 times as tall. And the smooth center tread, needs ‘mini-grooves’ (siping) to add grip off road…

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
12 days ago
Reply to  john hancock

This is meant to be a fast gravel tire, not the grippiest gravel tire

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