I figure (and I might be wrong) that cyclocross riders might have some expertise to share about tires for gravel roads. Any experiences and recommendations would be welcome.
My regular commute will soon include at least 2 miles of gravel road and possibly as much as 8 miles (depending if I want to brave the traffic on the highway). Actually, it will either be 2 miles of gravel + 8 miles of asphalt or 8 miles of asphalt + 2 miles of gravel. For about 5 months of the year, there will also be snow over everything.
I currently ride Continental Town & Country (26x1.9) tires and they definitely bog down on loose gravel. In fact, a newly graded and graveled road is my cycling nemesis (especially if I'm pulling a loaded trailer). The ride is better when a week's traffic has pushed the gravel aside and yielded three mostly gravel-free trails to ride down.
I would like something that floated over top of the gravel rather than digging in. The most extreme example that comes to mind is an Endomorph equipped Pugsley from Surly.
Schwalbe Marathons work suprisingly well on the road surfaces you describe;
have the 42x622 size on my cross check. my wife has the 50-559 size on her bike.
we live in a very rural location, 5 to 8 km of gravel road before paved section. when
the dirt get smoothed out it is almost as good as a paved road, with smooth tire tracks
to ride in. During the winter I use W-106 snow/ice tires, have to put them on in about
MartianOne, maybe you've got larger diameter rims than I do, but I find that my 1.9s just plow a trough in the gravel. There is usually an 8" wide ungraveled shoulder on our roads, but it is soft enough that it feels like I'm riding on asphalt covered with an 1" of sand.
Perhaps if I let some air out of my tires it would help. (I probably ride with them at 40 PSI, but haven't paid much attention to it.)
The Pugsley is looking more and more attractive. Too bad the components it requires make it so expensive.