There is no perfect tire. There never will be one, because a well balanced anything is not about perfection, it’s about any given element being in balance with all of the other elements that make up any one thing. Panaracer has not made a perfect tire with the Gravelking. But they have made a well balanced tire, if you want to go tubeless on your next whatevering bike.
I (james) have been riding this tire for a while now. It’s good on dirt roads, pavement, well packed singletrack, basically anything except loamy soil or mud or wet leaves. No knobs means no bite in that kinda stuff. For everything else they’re great. They’re grippy, roll pretty fast, corner predictably. I have not had them bounce around turns under hard cornering whilst descending at a high speed. So I’d rate them as grippier than most tires, but that’s helped by how low of a pressure you can run when you set these up tubeless.
For years my go to tire was the Panaracer Pasela PT. It didn’t roll fast, but it was grippy. Even decently grippy on ice! The Pasela’s sidewalls were pretty papery though, and they didn’t get along well with rocks. I ran 38mm Pasela’s at about 60 psi, and thought that was nice and low and comfortable. Now I run the Gravelking 38mm tires are 35psi in the front and 40 in the rear. Below that, and they ride well, but there isn’t enough air to keep the bumpy bits from wacking the rim. The tire isn’t tall enough. Probably not an issue on bigger Gravelkings, but it’s worth noting. The sidewalls on the GK’s are pretty substantial. Not overbuilt like a Schwalbe Marathon, but thick and soft, like a good flannel shirt. The thicker sidewall and lower tire pressure helps the tire deflect impacts that would have sliced a Pasela open like a watermelon at a church picnic.
The Gravelkings roll way better than the Paselas, even at half the tire pressure. I assume this is because of two things. One: the addition of Silica to the tread. This allows for better grip while keeping rolling resistance in check. The Paselas have a surplus of grip, but they rolled slower than a Sunn O))) track. My guess is they were developed before silica became a standard ingredient in treads, hence the tradeoff. Gravelkings also use a softer casing, even though its a bit thicker, especially on the sidewalls. There is no puncture barrier in the Gravelkings, but you don’t need it, in a tubeless environment.
The Gravelking is our favorite all arounder tire out there right now. If you ride a lot in the mud, there are better options, but if you are mostly on the harder stuff, and you need a tire between 32 and 48mm, give these a spin.