Review – IRC Tires Boken Tubeless Gravel Tyres

A gravel biking tyre is distinctly different from a mountain bike or a cyclocross tyre – it should be at least 40c in volume and have a tread pattern that is capable of handling both rock strewn trails as well as gravel and sand. The IRC Boken Tubeless Tyres are a great example.

I fitted the IRC Boken Tyres to my Kona Private Jake – set up tubeless on a set of Stan's NoTubes S1 Crest wheels. They were quick relatively easy to mount up, although I did have to put an extra wrap of rim tape on the rim to create a tighter seal. The tyres felt robust and well made from first inspection.

The tread pattern on the Boken is a fine 'micro-diamond' design, and not as aggressive as some gravel tyres that I have tested, such as the Vee Tire T-CX, or the WTB Nano. The clear virtue of this is that the tyres are notably faster rolling and better for asphalt and light gravel sections than many, though predictably it does mean traction is slightly lower on slippery and loose surfaces compared to more aggressively knobbly competition.

The added volume in a gravel tyre means it is capable of taking significant impacts, without pinch-flatting. Being tubeless obviously also helps in this pursuit, and it allows you to further increase the contact area by running the tyres at a lower pressure. The IRC Boken Tyres come in 36c and 40c widths – the latter profile has fast become my preferred tyre size for cyclocross and adventure bikes.

Through repeat testing on summer Isle of Wight trails, the Boken tyres have been impressive. They feel fast on the tarmac, and fast on the hard pack off-road sections. As mentioned, they struggle a little on off-road mud and rock in wet conditions, due to their finer tread pattern; but this is always a compromise on an 'adventure bike' tyre, as you want both on-road speed and off-road performance. The Boken find a pretty good middle ground in my opinion.

Overall, the IRC Boken Tyres are an impressive introduction to the IRC brand. They are well built, durable, puncture-resistant, and fast rolling tubeless tyres; providing consistently good performance in a wide range of 'gravel' conditions. These will certainly remain on my Private Jake for the rest of the summer and into the autumn months; I trust they will continue to provide great performance in a mix of challenging conditions.


The IRC Boken Tubeless Tyres were provided by IRC Tires for testing and review

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