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I’ll be honest, when the Panaracer Gracia XC tires showed up on my desk I figured they’d end up on my commuter — at best.
Simply going off of the tread pattern’s appearance, they reminded me of some type of “town and country” recreational tire, and definitely not something even close to trail-worthy.
Man, was I wrong. The Gracia XC is a surprisingly consistent tire that seems to find traction in almost any dry condition, front or rear, without the normal rolling resistance that’s usually accompanied by such performance.
This may sound like an 8-year-old with a brand new pair of shoes, but these tires are fast. Yes, the “D&G” knock-off tread pattern down the center is a bit silly, but somehow they pulled enough performance out of Cedric’s initials to make the end result of an impressively low rolling resistance tire hard to argue with.
An interesting side effect of the centerline is a noticeable Lazy-Suzan-like feel when turning at low speeds on rocks; not a bad thing at all, but the quickness and ease of steering the front wheel in situations like that took a little bit of getting used to.
Okay, so what’s the big deal with a tire that sounds like it’s just a heavy semi-slick? Well, for one, it actually stops under braking, which wasn’t expected given all the above-mentioned characteristics. Obviously it isn’t a semi-slick, so simply having some kind of tread in the centerline will help find traction, but adding to the explanation is Panaracer’s new Combo Compound, which boasts a new proprietary soft compound mixture that’s at the base of each knob, encased by a “hard shell” compound for durability and low rolling resistance.
Climbing traction, as well as both high- and low-speed cornering, were all quite consistent on dry trail, whether it was hardpack, loose decomposed granite or through rocky sections. The one place this tire shouldn’t be, however is anywhere near muddy conditions. Though the tread pattern itself quickly shed mud, as soon as the Gracia XC even smelled wet dirt it got squirmy on me.
The Cedric XC’s aren’t labeled as tubeless or tubeless-ready, so we made a quick call to figure out what the story was. Panaracer’s official stance on running these tubeless is that, per Jeff Zell, they “feel the tires can be run this way with sealant, but that they haven’t been extensively tested for tubeless applications.”
That said, I easily mounted these up tubeless with sealant, rode them hard, and didn’t have any issues.