After being wowed by the performance of Teravail’s Rutland tread through the winter months on the Stayer Groadinger UG, I was keen to see if any of the more summer-appropriate tyres from Teravail would be equally impressive.
Here, the Sparwood tread in a 650b x 2.1″ sizing was put to the test, set up tubeless on Hope Fortus 23 650b wheels and Mavic Allroad rims, ridden on my long term test bike, the Fairlight Faran, and my own Pinnacle Arkose flat bar gravel bike.
The tyres went on in March, perhaps earlier than I’d choose, but as a result of the WTB Senderos wearing out. On the other hand, this gave me the chance to ride them through the shoulder season and test out the tyres in some wetter, sloppier conditions as well as the drier hardpack of summer.
Inflated with a Schwalbe Tire Booster compressed gas aid, the Teravail Sparwood tyres were an absolute breeze to set up on Hope Fortus 23mm internal wheels, and later on some Mavic Allroad rims (22mm internal diameter). There’s also clear rotation annotation on the sidewall. No complaints here at all!
Mounted on 22mm internal rims, the tyres sized up at 54mm (2.12″), so pretty true to size I’d say.
Size-wise, the Sparwoods are available in either 650b x 2.1″ or 29″ x 2.2″, both chunky tyres that are suited to progressive gravel bikes only: no tight racing snakes here.
Choose between the durable casing (as reviewed here), or the light and supple casing (£5 less at £60/tyre).
Finally, you can choose between black or tan sidewalls. You do you, I won’t judge either way.
Grip and rolling resistance
The Teravail Sparwood tyres didn’t behave as I’d expected; and in a very good way indeed. With a lighter tread than my typical winter tyres, combined with a chunkier width, the results from this test were really fascinating.
The tread is made up of slightly raised, ramped chevron central lugs, flanked by small transition lugs with a staggered spacing. At the shoulders, raised and slanted L-shaped tread help to dig in when cornering.
Most of my riding during the test period comprised of hard pack dirt, rocky trails, dry roots and lanes. This is the kind of riding that the Sparwood tyres have been designed for. The tyres rolled well over the dirt offering sufficient grip but also confidence over more techy, challenging sections. While they did offer a little more rolling resistance on the tarmac, this was a compromise that I was willing to make for a more suitable tyre for the more technical trails.
When things started to get wet, my expectations were proved wrong. I anticipated that the minimal tread of the Sparwood tyre would mean poor performance in the inevitable soggy bits and mucky puddles that you can find here year-round. Combined with the greater volume of the tyre, and hence lower pressures run, I found that the tyre actually outperformed what I expected in the wet. Over wet, sloppy ground, I found the tyre deformed to offer much more grip than you’d expect.
I’m not saying that this’ll make an excellent winter tyre, but for the odd bit of slop the Sparwoods performed surprisingly well.
Even over some pretty rocky, rubble-strewn byways in Devon, city streets in Bristol and techy tracks in the Yorkshire Dales, I haven’t had a single puncture or noticable loss of pressure using the Sparwoods in this ‘Durable’ casing: a solid case for the extra fiver and weight incurred. I’m definitely the kind of rider that prefers a hassle-free, more robust tyre over a light and supple but potentially vulnerable one, so this option suited well, especially with loaded touring thrown into the mix.
After four months of use, there’s no serious sign of wear, either to the tread or sidewalls, which is really impressive, especially considering that I ran them at a lower pressure than most narrower tyres (40mm-ish) I’d typically run. These are optimised for bikepacking, so for heavy use over sustained periods of time you do really need to be able to trust that they won’t wear out super fast.
Sure, the price tag is hefty, but is this true economy when it comes to durability? I am inclined to think so.
The Teravail Sparwood verdict
Taking a look at the user reviews on the Teravail website is a joy, if you needed more convincing. ‘Holy hook up, Batman‘ had to be my favourite, but there are numerous reports of ‘rode them ‘til they wore out, then I bought a new pair‘.
I don’t need to tell you again that I’ve been impressed by these, and would really recommend them to anyone looking for a bit extra comfort and volume over the drier months for mixed off-road terrain. Sure, at £65 they are not cheap, but I think the durability speaks for itself.
The only downside that I can think of would be if you don’t have the appropriate clearance for 2.1″ tyres, in which case there are plenty of other options in the Teravail range that may be up your street. The Cannonball shares the same tread, and is available in sizes from 35mm.
Last modified: 17th June 2021