Challenge Getaway tyres review – Cycling Weekly
- Extremely supple
- Fast rolling
- Good mud shedding capabilities
- Difficult to mount
- Limited size options
Price as reviewed:
The Getaway is Challenge’s most aggressive handmade gravel tyre to date and is designed to have much better mud shedding capabilities than its colleagues – although the low profile tread is still oriented more for speed than for slop.
Although perhaps best known for its cyclocross tyres – ridden to success by Tom Pidcock amongst others – the Italian brand’s gravel range has a firm following, particularly amongst US gravel racers.
A tyre needs to be significantly more robust for gravel riding and racing than it does for cyclocross. The long distances and often remote locations mean that any assistance can often be quite a while away.
As a consequence, robustness has been one of the top priorities of the Getaway and technologies such as a “Ganzo Puncture Protection Strip” and “Corazza Armer Layer” have been included to toughen up the tyre.
This doesn’t mean no attention has been paid to the ride quality, though. With a hand-built construction and a 260 TPI (Threads Per Inch) carcass, the Getaway promises to deliver a high degree of suppleness.
You don’t get a great amount of choice between different versions of this tyre. There is, in fact, only one size: 700x40c and it’s tan wall only. Although it would be nice to see a little more choice, if there’s only going to be one version of a tyre, that’s going to meet the needs of the majority of people.
While some manufacturers have taken to simply painting the sidewalls of their tyres various shades of tan, with the Getaways you are actually getting the real deal – these tan sidewalls come courtesy of an authentic naked carcass.
In terms of the tread pattern, the knobs are very tightly packed down the centre of the tyre but as they transition to the shoulders of the carcass, the spacing becomes significantly wider. The intension of this design is to offer low rolling resistance when riding in a straight line on the centre knobs, while also incorporating good mud shedding capability on the shoulder knobs to help them hook up in the corners.
Making the ride even more rapid is the very noticeable domed profile of the tyre – even on a set of rims with a wide internal width of 24mm. This means that the actual contact patch of tyre is relatively small when travelling straight, which lowers the rolling resistance while providing the bump absorbing benefits of a larger tyre. It also increases the relative size of the contact patch when the tyre is lent over in a tight corner.
Being handmade, these tyres are quite different to other tyres you might have experienced. These lie completely flat when they aren’t mounted on a wheel, rather than retaining a semblance of their shape as other tyres do.
This flexibility does make the Getaways a bit of a struggle to mount as the tyres had a tendency to just flop back off the rim, once I had gotten them partially mounted. The final stage of getting the tyres onto the rim also proved a little difficult as they were quite a tight fit on my DT Swiss G1800 rims and necessitated the use of my burliest tyre levers.
Getting the bead to pop onto the rim didn’t prove a challenge. But once they were initially topped up with 40 psi and given a good shake and spin, they did still leak air and were essentially flat after leaving them for 30 minutes.
I pumped them up a second time and took them for a 2km spin around the block, which seemed to sort them out. With a 90km road ride that afternoon and only my gravel bike immediately to hand, I was still nervous about leaks, I made sure the tyres were sitting at the max pressure of 40 psi before heading out.
I needn’t have worried. The local spin had done the trick and I returned with essentially the same pressure as I left with and I was struck by how well the tyres performed.
The suppleness of the casing was outstanding – even with the tyres at a far too high 40 psi, and outside of their intended focus on the road. I didn’t feel jarred going down the heavily pitted roads that were the product of some suspect routing, it really was incredible just how smooth the ride was – even with such high pressures.
I did have to put in a little more effort than I would have on a road bike with narrower slick tyres, but I wasn’t struggling to keep up – most impressive for a 40mm tyre which is pitched as Challenge’s more aggressive and grippier offering.
Taking the pressures down to a more reasonable 25 psi front / 27 psi rear and popping onto some trails, the Getaways were able to display their true level of cushioning. In terms of comfort and absorption of bumps, it felt like riding a 50mm tyre – but without the associated drag of a wider casing. They were super plush.
One thing to bear in mind is that although the Getaways might absorb chatter as well as a 50mm, they offer the same amount of protection from rim strikes as a typical 40mm would. So, if you are going over very rocky terrain – and not just wanting so smooth out more moderate trails – going for a tyre with a wider casing would still be wise.
Bombing down the bridleways, I found the level of grip to be respectable – around what you expect from a tyre with such a tightly packed centre tread. They don’t hook up as well as a more aggressive and open tread on loose, rocky climbs, but the compound is tacky enough and the casing supple enough that grip on large rocks that stay in place is really quite good.
On hard pack trails with a winter coating of slop, the widely spaced shoulder knobs did a great job at shedding the mud. This has the dual benefit of meaning you aren’t hauling as much clag around with you while also ensuring that the side knobs are clear and therefore better able to hook up in the corners.
In deep muddy conditions where there isn’t a hard pack base, these tyres didn’t offer much in the way of grip. In these situations, you would be better off going for one of Challenge’s cyclocross offerings.
I set the tyres up with Challenge’s own Smart Tubeless Tyre Sealant, which is said to have been designed so that it will seal cuts up to 6mm, remain liquid after inflation with CO2 and won’t cause harm to the handmade tyres. Other than the problems with leaking air in the initial setup, I had zero issues with punctures or loss of air during the test period.
At £83, these are undoubtedly premium tyres. They are twice the price of the Panaracer Gravelking SK TLC gravel tyre, which intends to provide a similar level of grip and speed and so impressed our tester that it received a full 10/10.
However, the Getaways do provide a sublime level of suppleness and if that is most important to you, then these are a great choice. But if your focus is more on the budget than on the performance, then these aren’t going to be the tyres for you.
An incredibly supple tyre which is also very fast rolling. You get the cushion of a much wider tyre, and the speed of a narrower one. The Getaways are most at home on hard pack and the widely spaced shoulder knobs clear mud well when there is a coating of slop. The tyre does have weaknesses in deep mud and loose rocky climbs, but that will always be the case for a tyre which has a focus on speed. It was a struggle to get onto the rim, and it did take a 2km cycle before the tyre reliably held air. After that it was pneumatically flawless.
Weight: 469g (measured)