Sim Works makes some mean green gravel treads

Sim Works is a brand in Japan that collaborates with a handful of well-known manufacturers who share their enthusiasm for creating unique and stylish cycling products that sit just a little outside the mainstream. With longtime pillar of tyre manufacturing, Japan’s own Panaracer, Sim Works offers a line of gravel/adventure tyres they call The Homage.

To be sure, Panaracer makes a lot of tyres for other people, including Compass, Soma, and Rivendell to name just a few. But The Homage seems to be exclusive to Sim Works. The center of the tread features a low-profile diamond-file texture in the center, interrupted with long, equally low-profile blocks aligned in the direction of travel. This pattern gives way to smooth shoulders with a single row of widely spaced, well-supported, and medium-height knobs. It’s a tread that would give a low rolling resistance on a variety of surfaces with a little bite in soft or loose corners. And stop reading this post right now if you want to pretend to crush gravel with your UCI-style cyclocross bike: The Homage’s 43mm width gives enough flotation and comfort for fairly coarse gravel surfaces, but it won’t fit so well if your bike can only squeeze in regulation-sized 33mm rubber. You’ll need a bike with generous tyre clearance.

I would say the cool thing is that The Homage 43mm comes in both 700C and 650B, but I’m probably more excited about the green-tread/tan-sidewall option. Though it’s not quite the same flavour, The Homage harkens back to the green Michelin mtb and CX tyres of the late ’90s. If that not your thing, The Homage is available in black-tread/tan-skinwall and all-black.

The Homage is not marketed as tubeless-ready, though some users have had success on tight tubeless rims like Stans (with sealant, of course).

However, I do wish that this tyre came in a full-on mountainbike 650B x 2.1″ (53mm) to fit bikes like the Open U.P. and 3T Exploro. A 650B tyre that big has a height comparable to a 700C x 33mm CX tyre, so an owner of a dual size wheel-capable bike could switch between 700C and 650B without drastically changing the bottom bracket height. While a 650B x 43 will allow you to float all but the coarsest gravel, the height of a 650B x 53mm gives better clearance on singletrack. Having clipped tree roots one too many times while taking a 3T Exploro over trails more familiar to me via mountainbike hardtail, I am loathe to lower the bottom bracket height.

Currently on the Exploro, I’m running Schwalbe Thunder Burt 650B x 2.1″, a tyre that has a similar theme of low-profile center with side knobs, though overall the Thunder Burt tread is both coarser and taller than The Homage.