Specialized S-Works Pathfinder in review

The Specialized Pathfinder is a gravel icon that shouldn’t be missing from any gravel tire group test. How does the speed- and weight-optimised S-Works version stack up? With the smooth central tread and grippy shoulders, the tire seems to meet all the requirements, but can it hold its own against the competition?

Specialized S-Works Pathfinder | 445 g | € 60,00 | Manufacturer’s website

Specialized have landed a real hit with the Pathfinder. Hhardly any other tire has dominated gravel racing in recent years as much as the American brand’s model. And that’s no coincidence. The smooth central tread promises high rolling efficiency on asphalt and hardpack. When things get a little more demanding, the grippy shoulder knobs take hold – at least that’s the theory.
And this is where the S-Works version comes in. Specialized say it’s even lighter and faster, so it takes the wind out of the sails of critics of the heavy Pathfinder. It certainly looks somewhat different compared to the predecessor, with the stylish tan walls and unique tread making the tire a real eye-catcher.
And fitting it doesn’t detract from the positive first impression because the S-Works Pathfinder easily pops onto the rim and seals just as reliably.

Justifiable hype or just hot air? – Specialized S-Works Pathfinder

The Specialized S-Works Pathfinder is designed for racing, and it shows, because its ride feel is determined by US style gravel races. With its round profile, the tire performs convincingly on asphalt and hardpack, it feels agile and it’s relatively efficient, generating a rolling resistance of 15.3 W, though this makes it 3.3 W less efficient than the Schwalbe G-One RS.
On rougher gravel, however, its performance quickly declines. Here, the Pathfinder tends to lack traction, and it can’t keep up with the best all-rounders in the test in wet conditions, either. However, it navigates gravel corners in a playful and agile manner when it’s dry, which is exactly what the tread pattern is designed for.
Though average, the puncture protection is surprisingly good for a lightweight race tire. On the other hand, it behaves significantly more like a race tire in terms of compliance, placing in the back third.

Tire Characteristics

intended use

  1. asphalt/hard pack
  2. trail

rolling resistance

  1. slow
  2. quick

pinch protection

  1. low
  2. high

puncture protection

  1. low
  2. high

handling in wet conditions

  1. slippery
  2. grippy


Speed and racing, that’s the corner in which the Specialized S-Works Pathfinder belongs. Thanks to decent rolling efficiency and tread designed for asphalt and hardpack, the tire is particularly convincing in dry conditions. However, it’s somewhat lacking in versatility, as it cannot always keep up with the competition off the beaten track where the very smooth tread tends to lose traction.


  • cleverly designed tread pattern
  • light for a gravel tire of this width
  • feels good on asphalt and hardpack


  • rapid loss of traction in wet conditions
  • mediocre puncture protection

Made in Thailand | Tested size 40-622 | Tire width in mm¹ 42,69 | Tire height in mm¹ 39,33 | Tire height + Test rim in mm² 84,65 | Weight 445,3 g | Price € 60,00
1 measured dimensions with 2,5 Bar, 2 Test rim: ZIPP 303s 622 x 20.3C (Rim height 45,32 mm)

For more information head to:

In our introduction of the best gravel tire on test you can’t just find our most interesting findings and our overall conclusion, but a good view on all tires tested.

All tires on review: Challenge Getaway (Click for review) | Challenge Gravel Grinder (Click for review) | Continental Terra Speed (Click for review) | Continental Terra Trail (Click for review) | Maxxis Rambler (Click for review) | Maxxis Receptor (Click for review) | Panaracer Gravelking (Click for review) | Panaracer Gravelking Slick Plus+ (Click for review) | Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H (Click for review) | Pirelli Cinturato Gravel RC (Click for review) | Schwalbe G-One Allround (Click for review) | Schwalbe G-One R (Click for review) | Schwalbe G-One RS (Click for review) | Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Pathfinder | Specialized S-Works Tracer (Click for review) | Vittoria Terreno Dry (Click for review) | Vittoria Terreno Mix (Click for review) | WTB Riddler (Click for review) | WTB Byway (Click for review)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of GRAN FONDO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality cycling journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words: czajac Photos: Jan Richter