Just call me Nostradumbass...
Remember when I got all bent out of shape about cheating pro cyclists and predicted (with astounding clarity) that we were entering a bizarre period of historical revisionism regarding former "winners"?
Well, my Magic 8 Ball has again been proven right. This time, it's my rant about the "gravel-specific" marketing hooey. See, per Mark at gravelbike.com (who was gravel before gravel was cool), Panaracer's coming out with their (wait for it, wait for it) GRAVEL KING tire!
Don't get me wrong. I like Panaracer tires. In fact, had I not gotten blog-lazy at the end of 2013, their good ol' fashioned Pasela would have made my Tried and Liked list for last year. But Gravel King? Really? Seriously? Like, no fooling? A file-tread clincher that comes in only 700x23, 700x26, or 700x28?
Granted, I don't have the tires in hand. Maybe Panaracer's come up with some kind of miracle casing or tread compound that really does make some kind of difference on rough surfaces compared to every other skinny file-tread 700c clincher out there (being a real blog unlike this hack operation, gravelbike got some to test, so we'll see what they say after a few miles). But my dark, chewy, cynical center says that what Panaracer has really done is put "gravel" on the label so that road-Freds can feel like they're getting in on the trend without having to replace their zero-clearance race bikes.
The funny thing is, with the false confidence of a tire that says "gravel" on it, I'm sure plenty of these gravelfied Freds will head off the paved path and do just fine -- because they would have done just fine on their old tires, too. But who am I to point out that the emperor -- excuse me, king -- has no clothes?