Teravail Washburn Tyres
Browse any gravel cycling discussion group and there is one question that’ll frequently pop up; ‘what mud tyres for my gravel bike?’ When the weather switches from summer straight into mud season, I now simply abandon all attempts at trying to negotiate my gravel bike down muddy singletrack or unpaved farm tracks. No matter how knobbly the tyre, it will quickly be overcome by the conditions and I’ll end up shouldering my bike and walking to the nearest road. Round here at least, mud season insists that if I wish to continue riding in the woods and bridleways, then the mountain bike has to come out. Proper clearance, ‘real’ mud tyres and dare I say it, just a lot more fun for sliding about in the mud.
My gravel bike doesn’t go into hibernation, it is still the most used bike in my collection and the genre I love more than any other. I’ve come to accept the limitations rather than fight them. So while others are busy on the first wet weekend switching their tyres for Senderos or Mud Kings, I’m reaching for the semi-slicks. Winter gravel riding for me is a mix of quiet country lanes and hardpacked fire road transitions. Keep the speed high and the body warm!
Slick in the middle, with a dash of rowdy on the outside
So, the new Teravail Washburn makes more than a passing nod to WTB’s Byway. It too features a slick centre line with subtle knobbly edges for cornering grip. It’s a classic gravel tyre design, somewhat neglected in the recent chase for more and more aggressive tread patterns. And the perfect tyre for the type of ‘gravel’ riding I chose to do through the winter.
On test here is the 700×42 version of the Teravail Washburn, using the brands’ ‘light & supple’ casing finished off in the ever popular tanwall. I’ll go against the fashionistas here and say I actually prefer black tyres. Which often have the benefit of being just that little bit more durable too.
The Washburn is available in 700c x 38mm, 700c x 42mm (tested here) and 650b x 47mm sizes, with the option of two casings.
Teravail’s 60 TPI ‘Durable’ casing has a woven nylon composite reinforcement between the outer rubber and inner casing. Teravail says this design prevents tearing and abrasions, while a fine nylon weave under the tread helps protect against punctures. The ‘Light and Supple’ casing I have here, negates the sidewall protection in exchange for a better ride quality and lighter weight.
Weight wise, Teravail claim 530g. My scales weighed this pair of tanwall Washburn tyres at 541g and 542g respectively. It’s not just me who has packed on some Lockdown Weight then…
I set up all my tyres tubeless (do people really still choose to use tubes?!) and like other tyres I’ve used from Teravail, these mounted to my rims with ease. No struggling and even inflated with just a basic track pump, no need to fire up the air compressor! I have had great results with Squirt SEAL over the last 18 months, it works great and has a long life before it finally dries out. The Washburns have stayed inflated during my rides, but both will always be flat the following day. There’s no obvious signs of sealant escaping through the sidewalls, but they’re losing pressure somewhere… even with an extra splash of sealant, they’ll still be flat by morning.
Before the Washburn I was using the WTB Nano, a very popular tyre for those who want a middleweight performer that’ll roll well both on and off the road. They’re quick, but the Washburn is lightning on the road. Teravail aim the Washburn at gravel racers and it’d perform brilliantly at an event like the Dirty Reiver where the surface is rarely anything but fast rolling gravel. For multi-surface events like Grinduro, you’d be very brave to consider the Washburn!
Anyway, back to my main interest of the Washburn: Winter. These tyres perform brilliantly as a rough road (British country lane) and fireroad cruiser. The 700×42 casing is beautifully plump, offering loads of ride comfort on the rough, pot holed roads of my local riding. They roll fast enough to keep my average speeds close to real road bike speeds on the road and maintain similar velocities when dive into the forest along fire roads.
Wet weather performance on the road and hard pack is surprisingly good, the progressive transition lugs designed for off-road cornering grip also happen to double up as effective drainage channels to keep that centre line clear of water. Off-road performance in the mud is surprisingly not their strongpoint, but they deal with it a lot better than I expected. Some might argue that knobbly tyres just give mud something to cling on to, so do away with them and you’ll have less of a problem. It may be a semi-slick, but the small and widely spaced side-knobs do find grip when you least expect it.
The Washburn tyres arrived just as the weather here in Suffolk switched to monsoon season, so my dry weather experience is seriously limited. What I will say, from experience on tyres like the WTB Byway and Specialized Trigger is that the Washburn should prove to be a rapid, ‘non-technical’ gravel tyre. I wouldn’t choose them if a lot of my riding was on dirt, but for ‘dream gravel’ they’d be champion. The side knobs are a little more aggressive than a Byway, offering a little more grip in corners. Just don’t plan on getting too rowdy.
Overall, I’m really pleased with the performance of the Teravail Washburn tyres. The 700×42 is a great all rounder, offering a plush ride over rough trails and ample speed on road. If you have some big winter miles planned on our nasty British lanes, or some audax adventures, I’d recommend the 700×38 will save you some rolling weight and no doubt offer a little extra speed.
Looking at keeping your speeds high but need a little more bite up front? Consider pairing something like Teravail’s Cannonball or Rutland on the front with a Washburn on the rear. So long as you’re not hitting wet or loamy trails, you’ll fly!