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  1. #1
    Jack of all (bike) trades
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    Offroad with narrow, high pressure tires

    Hey guys, general newbie, and first-timer to the cyclocross board. I figured you guys would have the most insight into this question...

    I recently did a long ride (185 Miles from Boston to Gorham, NH). My final destination was a lodge that lies about 1/3 mile from the road. The path from road to door is a snowmobile path with varying degrees of incline, mostly medium-sized gravel with some hard-packed sections and some bigger, loose gravel interspersed. The bike I took for the trip was my Trek 2300 road (racing) bike, with 25mm slick tires at roughly 100-110 psi. I had about 15 lbs of hear on my rear rack.

    I had originally intended to walk my bike along this last stretch, assuming there was no way I'd make it up. It started raining heavily about 8 miles from the end of the ride, and I just wanted it to be over, so I rode up the trail, along with my riding partner who was on a surly touring bike with 28mm slick tires.

    We both made it up this trail without issue. It was wet from the downpour, and during the whole thing, the only time I lost traction was on a wet wooden sleeper that I had to hop onto and over that was retaining the trail. It was slightly after peak leaf-peeping time, so there were plenty of wet leaves on the trail, too.

    My question is this: why were we able to make it up so easily? I would've expected the narrow high pressure tires would have dug a rut and gotten stuck, especially on the steeper parts. I've gone up the same trail on my mountain bike in similar rainy conditions and not felt any more in control. Did I somehow gain stability? Or did I just underestimate the traction of wet rubber?

    My apologies if these seems like a very long-winded post to ask a silly question... I guess it is.

  2. #2
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    I dunno, doesn't seem surprising to me.

  3. #3
    antisocialite dirtyphotons's Avatar
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    i ride my road bike on dirt and gravel plenty (i also have cheap heavy wheels that i don't mind truing once in awhile). 25mms can handle a lot more than they're normally used for.

    one of our local road races has a mile of gravel per lap (4 lap race).

    if i know i'm going to do a lot of offroad i'll usually go with 28s, but that's more for comfort than performance.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Because when fashion conflicts with function, I vote for function.

  4. #4
    M_S
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    Haha, I remember when this came up on the road forum. Some people went into conniptions.

    "yeah, you can do it, if you want to destroy your rims and tires omg!!!"

    Then of course cyclocross and Paris-Roubaix came up.

  5. #5
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    If you had tried some aggressive cornering, or hard downhill braking, or hit any big rocks at speed, you would have wished you had bigger, low-volume, knobbied tires. But for a short ride up a clean trail, you did just fine.

  6. #6
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    Ever since mountain bikes came along about 30 years ago people have just sort of assumed you needed really huge tires off road. You don't, you just proved it.

    It isn't a big deal. My recommendation is that you go to 28's at 80-90psi the next tire change and notice that except for perfect, glass-smooth road, they aren't any slower than the 25s and ride even smoother.

    Good bikes can do anything a crap bike can do, just better.

    Ron

  7. #7
    Senior Member DDYTDY's Avatar
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    I and many others run road tires up the Auto Road on Mt Washington. I've also rode Jefferson Notch Rd (a dirt mountain pass) with 22mm tubulars.

    No Problem!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronsonic View Post
    Good bikes can do anything a crap bike can do, just better.

    Ron
    Well said!

    As for road bikes off road, its fun! Every so often I'll end up commuting on my road bike with 23c tires. I normally end up down by the river, and well, its fun to get muddy Sure, you have to watch out for projecting objects, but all in all, its a hoot. Also have a fixed conversion with 38c tires and a front brake. So long as the hills aren't bigger than the gear, its a hoot

    -Rob.

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