Found: Compass Touring & Gravel Bicycle Tires for Any Road

Compass Tech 700c and 650b performance gravel and touring bicycle tires

As part of Bicycle Quarterly, Jan Heine routinely tested bicycle parts that weren’t readily available to the U.S. market. At times, he’d import small batches for their readers, including tires from Grand Bois and Challenge. Now, he’s decided to produce their own under the Compass brand.

The range is made for them by Panaracer, but are their own exclusive molds, designs and tread patterns. The center section uses straight ribs, and cornering grip is provided by chevronned ribs, all very low profile. Six sizes are available, each getting its own name inspired by some of their favorite bits of riding:

  • Cayuse Pass 700C x 26 mm
  • Chinook Pass 700C x 28 mm
  • Stampede Pass 700C x 32 mm
  • Barlow Pass 700C x 38 mm
  • Loup Loup Pass 650B x 38 mm
  • Babyshoe Pass 650B x 42 mm

Roll on for more tech details…

Compass Tech 700c and 650b performance gravel and touring bicycle tires

The tires are designed with “very supple” casings to maximize comfort and reduce rolling resistance. They’re performance tires first, but with 3mm thick tread sections, they’re designed to be durable, too, and hold up to back road adventures.

All models are available in an Ultralight with either black or tan casings and folding beads. Some are also available in standard clincher skinwall versions (below). Weights range from 182g up to 392g depending on version. The lightest is the 700×26 Cayuse Pass, which is remarkably light for such a wide tire. All the better for climbing up those big mountain passes.

Compass Tech 700c and 650b performance gravel and touring bicycle tires

Check out the full line, and the rest of their offerings, at


AdamB - 03/03/14 - 4:38pm

Jan’s products are always top notch. These tires are not driven by marketing nor a desire to sell you more stuff. They are made by a lover of bikes and long, challenging and beautiful rides for like-minded riders.

Gunnstein - 03/03/14 - 5:55pm

“The center section uses straight ribs, and cornering grip is provided by chevronned ribs, all very low profile.”

Saint Sheldon says road tires “have no need of any sort of tread features; in fact, the best road tires are perfectly smooth, with no tread at all!” but most tires have these features “for cosmetic and marketing reasons” because otherwise they would be hard to sell to “unsophisticated cyclists”. I love you Sheldon – RIP.


Will - 03/03/14 - 6:31pm

That may be true for riding only on pavement. Venture offroad, even if only dirt road, and even tiny knobs or ribs like that will help.

MattS - 03/03/14 - 6:35pm

I’ll take that tread over a full slick anyway. I’m pretty confident it helps
with grip on all but smooth, dry, pavement.

bbb - 03/03/14 - 6:37pm


Yes if roads were perfectly smooth, completely slick tyres would offer the best grip.
Most aren’t though, so the ribs, diamond, file etc. micro tread interlocks with tiny road imperfections thus increasing the contact area. I think…

TheKaiser - 03/03/14 - 7:18pm

According to this article:

“Tread pattern matters, even on the road: The importance of tread pattern is no surprise to the off-road world but common wisdom says it’s a non-factor on the road, where slick treads are assumed to deliver the greatest surface contact with the ground and thus, the best grip. However, asphalt is far from a perfect – or even consistent – material. Certain tread designs can provide a measureable mechanical adhesion to the ground.”

That is based on lab work, and supports what “bbb” said above.

maf - 03/03/14 - 7:26pm

even on unperfect asphalt slick tires are fine. if you doubt it, check competition cyclists or cars.

non-slick are good when its raining, when it’s gravel, etc. slick are fine only in one condition: regular, dry asphalt.

that’s also why our cars ahve various threads and stuff on them. you don’t want them to suck because its raining today,or because this path is gravel.

the linked threads tho are tiny and i’m not sure what advantage you gain from them.those might indeed be marketing stuff, even if they’re nice (making nice stuff with no data to back it up is still marketing).so.. i’d like to see data.

Chris L - 03/03/14 - 9:31pm

I’ve ridden the Grand Bois tires Jan imported in both 700c and 650b. The 700c models were as good as tubulars – and not cheap tubulars such as the Clement Futura. The 650b models are so much fun to ride. Yeah, you don’t feel as fast as on 700c but my average times over my usual loops have’t differed enough to be noticeable. What is noticeable is how much more comfortable I am.

OlyOop - 03/03/14 - 10:06pm

I rode some 700 x 30c Grand Bois on a 50 mile gravel grinder last week, and have 26c on my road bike and 38s on my commuter. They roll great and feel fantastic (just this side of Dedas or Challenges) although I’ve found them to be flat-prone under my considerably greater-than-average weight. If you ride something like Contis now, you won’t believe how much better your bike feels wearing these. Disclosure: I work part time for Jan, although not through Compass.

Naton - 03/04/14 - 7:29am

I was going to write a bunch of things, but let’s just leave it at this.

I want these tyres.

anon - 03/09/14 - 2:19pm

Why pay more for Compass tires when you can achieve the same results for less from a set of Soma tires, also made by Panaracer?

Jimi - 03/11/14 - 1:26pm

Anywhere in the UK to stock these?

will - 03/13/14 - 4:57pm

been really happy with serfas tuonos. come in 700×32 and 38 slicks, pretty light and fast rolling on pavement. they have a wire bead, wish they came in a folding version and pretty cheap at $30 or so.

Serge - 06/03/15 - 3:40pm

Building a bike around the 650b x 42 right now! Its going to be so much fun!
I am buying these tires!
Gratuliere Jan!
Deine Artikeln über Randoneurs haben mich inspiriert!

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