Skip to content

Challenge Expectations: Challenge Getaway Gravel Tire Review

The Challenge Getaway is a top choice for racers who demand the best performance. After over 1,000 miles and a successful day at Unbound Gravel, it's my new favorite gravel tire.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Gravel

I used to love Challenge tires. I ran them for everything from fixed-gear alley cats to snowy cyclocross races. But in the last decade, I got into this new thing called gravel and my tire needs evolved. I abandoned Challenge in favor of brands making wider, tubeless-ready gravel tires.

But recently, I discovered Challenge's latest gravel model, the Getaway, and decided to give the Italian tire-maker another shot. I tested the Getaways at the ultimate proving ground — Unbound Gravel — and came away thoroughly impressed. Here’s why the Challenge Getaway is my new favorite gravel tire.

[button]Shop Challenge Tires[/button] 

Challenge Getaway Review

  • Available in 700c x 40mm & 700c x 36mm
  • Handmade construction
  • 260 TPI SuperPoly casing
  • Bead-to-bead Corazza Armor
  • Ganzo puncture protection strip
  • ~450-470g (will vary due to handmade construction)

[product-block handle="challenge-getaway-pro-handmade-700c-260-tpi-tubeless-black-tan"/]

My search for the perfect gravel tire began in January of 2022 when I received an entry into Unbound Gravel, the world’s biggest gravel race. The terrain is notorious for shredding tires, so tires have to balance low rolling resistance and high puncture protection. I looked at the usual suspects: the Specialized Pathfinder Pro, the Maxxis Rambler, and the Panaracer GravelKing SK. All are previous Unbound-winning tires, but ultimately, I decided to try the Challenge Getaway instead.

The Getaway was introduced at the end of 2020, and it was the first new tread design from Challenge in many years. The Getaways were largely unproven, but there were two driving factors for my decision. First, they were in stock at The Pro’s Closet, so I could buy a set for my bike and another for my spare wheels. Second, the Getaway was recently tested by one of my favorite websites: (a.k.a. BRR). It ranked very high for both rolling resistance and puncture resistance. Jarno Bierman, BRR’s founder, actually gives it a 5/5 rating, which is a rare occurrence. The results were intriguing, so I had to try the tires for myself.

Challenge Getaway gravel tire reviewClose up of the Getaway tread. Fast-rolling center knobs plus cornering knobs with bite.

After a few months of testing, and a successful day at Unbound Gravel, I 100% agree with that 5/5 rating. The tread pattern is spot-on for mixed gravel conditions, with tightly packed knobs in the center for speed and taller, wider-spaced knobs at the edges for cornering grip on loose surfaces. On paved and hardpack surfaces, the tires feel stunningly fast, especially when compared to the Specialized, Maxxis, and Panaracer models listed above. That’s an impressive feat since those tires are among the best. A big reason for this speed is the supple, handmade casing.


The Challenge Getaway’s handmade casing

Tire rubber has a lot of hysteresis — it consumes energy as it flexes. As a general rule, the more supple a tire is, the lower the tire’s rolling resistance will be. This is especially true on rough surfaces like gravel. The Getaway is a handmade tire (like most tubular tires) and it has the most supple casing I’ve ever felt in a gravel tire. Like all Challenge tires, the casing is so supple that it actually lies flat when not mounted.

This speedy casing also has two beneficial knock-on effects. First, It provides more traction because it can conform better to loose gravel surfaces. At Unbound Gravel, I was able to descend with absolute confidence in my cornering and braking grip. On steep and loose climbs I could tractor up with little-to-no tire spin. And when I encountered deep mud, I found myself pedaling while many competitors were forced to dismount and run. 

Second, the supple casing provides more comfort. It’s actually quite strange riding a handmade casing for the first time, if you’ve never tried one before. I use 5-6psi more than I do in any other tire. Even pumped up to 43psi, the Getaways still feel plusher than a GravelKing or Rambler pumped up to 38psi. My hands and sit-bones often suffer on long gravel rides, but I was stunned at how good I felt after riding 200 miles at Unbound. Paired with CushCore Gravel inserts, my set-up was so comfortable that it completely eliminated my desire for a gravel suspension fork

Challenge Getaway puncture protection

Challenge Getaway gravel tire review puncture protectionWorry less about punctures. Photo courtesy of Challenge Tires.

Rolling resistance is good, but the other half of the equation is puncture protection. Fortunately, with the Getaway, handmade doesn’t mean fragile. The casing uses Corazza Armor, Challenge’s latest gravel-specific armored casing made with two layers of 260 TPI “SuperPoly” for extra cut protection and durability. Under the tread is an additional Ganzo Puncture Protection strip made of a flexible, tightly-woven, “multi-component fabric.”

I’m confident in saying this puncture protection works because I experienced zero punctures at Unbound, which was frankly shocking. I had some of the most violent rim-outs I’ve ever felt during the race, and near the end, I was getting so tired that I ended up taking some very bad lines full of sharp and chunky rocks. While many competitors flatted, my tires came out completely unscathed.

All this puncture protection doesn't add that much extra weight, either. My test tires weighed in at 458 and 470 grams (the variance isn’t surprising for a handmade tire), which is on the lighter end when compared to many similarly armored competitors. 

Mounting the Challenge Getaway

The Getaway does have one major downside that I need to warn prospective buyers about. It is far and away the most difficult gravel tire I’ve ever had to mount, so be prepared for a mighty battle. The beads are extremely tight and the supple casing is actually so soft and floppy that it’s hard to manipulate onto the rim.

[product-block handle="challenge-smart-bead-seating-tool"/]

Challenge actually makes an inexpensive SMART Bead Seating Tool specifically for installing its tires. It’s essentially a bead jack, and it gives you a bit of extra mechanical advantage to stretch the bead onto the rim. I wanted to try mounting the tires without the tool though, and I managed to do it in 30 minutes using 4 tire levers, an extra pair of hands, and lots of swearing. If you have strong hands and lots of patience, you might be able to do it alone, but after my experience, I definitely recommend just using the tool.

Fortunately, after the tires have been mounted on a rim, the beads stretch a bit and get much easier to work with. This means you’ll be able to unseat the bead later to repair or replace the tire. It loosened up enough that I had no trouble squeezing a CushCore insert into the tire a day later.

There is one small benefit to the super-tight beads. During the initial install, I was able to easily seat the beads with my floor pump, something I haven’t successfully done with any other gravel tire. Is it worth having sore hands to not have to use an air compressor? That’s up to you.  

Final thoughts

Challenge Getaway gravel tire review Unbound Gravel 200The Challenge Getaways got me to the finish line fast and puncture-free.

After abandoning Challenge nearly a decade ago, I’m happy to be riding on some handmade tires again. The Challenge Getaway blew away all of my expectations. It feels (and tests) fast. It has great traction, durability, and comfort. And plus, the tanwalls look amazing on the right bike. I went into this year’s Unbound Gravel nervous about my choice. But after making it to the finish (and even beating the sun!) I think it might be the best equipment choice I made.

I plan to continue using the Getaway for all my upcoming gravel races. The only thing that would stop me from running the Getaways again is how stubborn they are to mount. But I plan to use the SMART Bead Seating Tool next time. I think the benefits of the supple handmade casing, low rolling resistance, and high puncture protection are well worth the struggle.

[button]Shop Challenge Tires[/button]