Challenge Tires Introduces the “Gravel Grinder” Tire Line Up- by Guitar Ted

The new "Gravel Grinder" tires will come in three versions.

The new “Gravel Grinder” tires will come in three versions.

At Frostbike, and even going back as far as Interbike 2013, Gravel Grinder News has been aware that Challenge Tires was working on a tire with more volume and toughness for the rigors of longer, more punishing events and races. We gave our two cents of advice in both meetings and waited to see what would happen. Now we have the news that Challenge Tires has actually come through on their promise to make a tire tailored to events like the Dirty Kanza 200, Trans Iowa, and others where a stout tire with more air volume than previous Challenge offerings might be desired.

But first, let’s clear up any misunderstandings about the name, “Gravel Grinder” . Challenge Tires actually registered the trade mark and they discussed the tire’s name with Gravel Grinder News and in regard to how that might affect us with the name of this site ahead of the tire being made. We agreed to live and let live, so there won’t be any cease and desist letters fired off to us in this case, unlike what we’ve seen other companies do in similar instances. ;)

Now with that out of the way, here’s the press release!


Gravel_Ginder_60TPI_LDGravel Grinding gets tougher — not harder — with the Challenge Gravel Grinder

The word gravel conjures a different image in everyone’s mind. For some it generates visions of graded dirt highways or deteriorating pavement. For others, they might imagine pebble-covered trails or loose, sandy rural roads. At Challenge, we see these visions as missions and hope to provide the rider with the right tire for each condition. While our current gravel offerings address racers’ needs on moderate courses, we were eager to find a robust solution for conditions particularly tough on tires.

With that in mind, join us in welcoming the Gravel Grinder Clincher, Tubular and Open Tubular to our line. The Tubular and Open Tubular are available in a 36mm width using our legendary 300TPI SuperPoly casing. The vulcanized clincher, intended to be the tool of choice for racers taking on more aggressive conditions, is available in a 38mm width in both 120 and 60TPI nylon casings.

Challenge has been committed to gravel for longer than the industry has declared gravel as its own segment. As a leader in cyclocross technology for over a decade, we take pride in our experience with skinny tires in the dirt. Since releasing our original gravel tire, the Almanzo,  we learned that the length of endurance gravel races, paired with the extreme terrain, demands more from tires than short-format cyclocross races. This led to our using progressively more robust casing materials and longer lasting rubber compounds. We added our Double Puncture Protection System (PPS2) and extra volume for additional float, comfort and durability. The Gravel Grinder is a function of our commitment to leading the charge in gravel and being at the forefront of the technology.

Challenge Gravel Grinder vulcanized clinchers will be available in June and the Tubulars and Open Tubulars will be available in July through international distributors and local retailers.


Gravel Grinder Specs:

Handmade Tubular and Open Tubular

Casing: 300TPI SuperPoly

Bead (Open Tubular): Aramid, folding

Inner tube (Tubular): seamless latex with removable presta valve core

Puncture protection: PPS2 (Double Puncture Protection System)


Vulcanized Clincher

Casing: Available in both 120TPI and 60TPI Nylon

Bead: Aramid, folding

Puncture protection: PPS (Puncture Protection Strip)


Part #


Color (tread/casing)


Suggested Pressure




300TPI SuperPoly Tubular


28” (700c) x 36mm

23-90 psi

1.5-6 bar




300TPI SuperPoly Open Tubular


700c x 36mm

30-90 psi

2-6 bar




120TPI nylon Clincher


700c x 38mm

45-80 psi

3-5.5 bar




60TPI nylon Clincher


700c x 28mm

45-80 psi

3-5.5 bar



* approximate weight. Final weight to follow


We got a look at the Gravel Grinder prototype in February at Frostbike

We got a look at the Gravel Grinder prototype in February at Frostbike

Notes On A Tubular Version: A Tubular version was discussed with us when we visited with Challenge at Frostbike in February. Challenge claimed that they had several requests for a tubular and decided a larger volume (36mm) tire would be ideal, since tubulars have such a good feel and suspension effect. Gravel Grinder News asked about rims for such a wide tubular tire, and Challenge indicated something would be coming, but we don’t have any further information at this point. We can tell you that a very special rim tape based on a 3M design was being worked on that would in effect reduce the amount of time to set up a tubular to mere minutes instead of the normal gluing process which can take days to accomplish. Not only that, but this pressure sensitive tape actually bonds stronger when under pressure, (say from inflation of the tire), and will return to a less strong a bond again when pressure is released, ( when you get a flat, let’s say).

Will tubulars become the choice of racers and enthusiasts of gravel riding in the future? Challenge Tires thinks so. While it could be argued that a tubeless system would work better, Challenge countered with the fact that because they use a latex inner tube in their tubulars, a sealant could be introduced to seal punctures, and if the tape design comes to fruition, as Challenge hopes, replacing a tire in the field due to catastrophic failure, should there be a need, would be far easier and more secure.

It looks as though it is high time we seek out a tubular wheel set!