There’s a lot of history spun up in these tires. With a tread design crafted by Joe Murray decades ago, the Rock N Road has been recapturing interest with the resurgence of gravel and mixed-surface adventure riding.
When framebuilder Bruce Gordon starting building touring bikes with big tire clearance, he wanted a larger tire to fit his bikes. The original 700x43c Rock N Road bikes and tires were a precursor to the modern 29er mountain bike. The new 650b version takes the same ethos and applies it to the smaller size, plus adds a tubeless kevlar folding bead.
Made in Japan by Panaracer, the Rock N Road tires sealed up well on a pair of Stan’s NoTubes rims. Getting them to seal isn’t idiot-proof, but if I can do it with a floor pump you probably can, too. I installed these wheels as an experiment on a Specialized Tricross that was designed for 700c wheels. Because the diameter of the 650x43c version is very close to that of a 700x28c tire it was a good fit and didn’t drastically affect the bike’s handling.
On the road the thin, supple sidewalls paired with the low pressure afforded by the tubeless setup give a comfortable, forgiving ride. The tread pattern might look retro but it rolls really well on smooth pavement while still allowing for some bite when the going gets soft. The gum sidewalls look fantastic but the tires are available in all black if that’s more your style. The Rock N Road tires are available straight from Bruce online or at your local bike shop.
Price: $57 each
More info: bgcycles.com