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  1. #1
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Cross Tires for Dummies

    I demonstrated my total ignorance of tire tread recently on a thread in the racing sub-forum. I'm guessing I'm not alone on this, particularly among beginning cross racers.

    It seemed like it would be a good idea to start a thread that explained several aspects of tire tread in a simple, newbie-friendly way. Every web page I've found seems to assume at least that you can tell the difference between a file tread and a tractor tread or whatever else, which for me hasn't been a good assumption.

    I thought maybe if I kicked something off and people who know what they're talking about added some input, this could morph into a good sticky thread.

    To that end, I thought I'd begin by throwing up some pictures of various tires and ask what you can tell me about it based on the tread pattern. Like, what would you call this tread pattern? What conditions would it be best for? What are its weaknesses? What makes it different/similar to the other tires? Tell me things like that.

    By the way, I'm borrowing all these images from Bike Tires Direct on the good faith that they'd be OK with that as long as I gave them a plug. Go buy some tires from them so they don't get mad at me.


    Schwalbe Racing Ralph
    Type: All around



    Schwalbe CX Pro Light
    Type: All around



    Kenda Kross Supreme
    Type: All around



    Michelin Mud2
    Type: Mud



    Michelin Jet
    Type: File


    Continental Speed King Cross
    Type: All around



    Maxxis MiMo CX
    Type: All around



    Geax Mezcal
    Type: File


    Feel free to comment on just one tire, or a few. Please don't "quote" the pictures.

    If I'm missing some important tire type, let me know.
    Last edited by Andy_K; 09-16-09 at 04:55 PM. Reason: Took a guess at file types

  2. #2
    Village Idiot
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    You're missing grifo and fango.

    If you can only have one set of tires, go for grifos. Good for everything.
    Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    If this thread is for dummies, it's worth saying that the UCI forbids the use of tyres wider than 35mm... The Marathon Extreme - sibling to the Marathon Supreme and the Ultremo racing tyre, but with added durability and off road grip - comes in 35mm: Marathon claim that this is a very fast roller - just a notch behind the Supreme and Marathon Racer. It's meant for adventure touring.

  4. #4
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    http://www.velonews.com/article/85785

    every tire listed will fit in one of these categories

  5. #5
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    what do I want for chicago? clinchers and price is a factor

  6. #6
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonestr View Post
    http://www.velonews.com/article/85785

    every tire listed will fit in one of these categories
    Thanks. Great link. That will be a good start. I'll try to see if I can categorize the tires above to see what I learned.

    That link gives specific evaluations of each specific tire it reviews. What I'd like to accomplish with this thread is to provide something so that anyone who reads it can look at any tire and figure out, based on tread, what type of tread it is and what it will be good (and bad) for. Ideally, they'd also be able to look at two tires in the same category and guess what their relative strengths and weaknesses will be.

    Edit: looking closer, I'm not sure I can tell from that link what differentiates mud tires from all-arounders.

  7. #7
    Oh The Huge Manatee Lithuania's Avatar
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    i was say mich muds are a better option than the grifo for a all around clincher tire.

    then i would go with the racing ralph followed by the grifo.

    then perhaps hutch bulldogs.

    other than that wake me when you are ready for tubulars

  8. #8
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Alright, I took some guesses at the types for each of these. How did I do?

    File tread, I think I understand. It's basically flat with just enough texture to grab a rough surface, so it will be fast on flat, hard surfaces but provide some traction.

    All around? Looks basically like a skinny mountain bike tire. I know mountain bikers would add some further descriptors within this type. I'm wondering about things like tread shape, height and spacing. What effect do they have?

    Mud? Putting the Mud2 in this category was a gimme. From what I've been able to tell, the key here is having blocks far enough apart that they don't collect mud. It seems like skinnier is better. Is short tread also good? Basically, I'm not sure what moves something from "all-around" to "mud" but the distinction seems to be important. My races will all be mudders within a month, so I really want to understand this.

  9. #9
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lithuania View Post
    other than that wake me when you are ready for tubulars
    I've been surprised to see that a lot of the articles that try to address this topic start with a long discussion about whether you should choose clinchers or tubulars and then it always boils it down to, "you should choose tubulars" without qualification or exception.

    I completely believe that, but since I'm trying to make this a discussion for newbs like myself, I'm not sure it's worth even bringing tubulars into the picture other than to mention that as the ultimate destination.

    Personally, I'm at an ability level where it's hard to justify replacing the stock tires that came with my bike, never mind sinking $300+ into a wheelset and another $200 into tires. But I do want to understand my choices so when I replace the stock tires I won't just get tires because they look cool.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ottothecow View Post
    what do I want for chicago? clinchers and price is a factor
    Michelin Mud2's

    You'll run into relatively little mud, and they'll work great. If you're doing the chicago cyclocross cup, one set will last you a couple seasons.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    Alright, I took some guesses at the types for each of these. How did I do?

    File tread, I think I understand. It's basically flat with just enough texture to grab a rough surface, so it will be fast on flat, hard surfaces but provide some traction.

    All around? Looks basically like a skinny mountain bike tire. I know mountain bikers would add some further descriptors within this type. I'm wondering about things like tread shape, height and spacing. What effect do they have?

    Mud? Putting the Mud2 in this category was a gimme. From what I've been able to tell, the key here is having blocks far enough apart that they don't collect mud. It seems like skinnier is better. Is short tread also good? Basically, I'm not sure what moves something from "all-around" to "mud" but the distinction seems to be important. My races will all be mudders within a month, so I really want to understand this.
    That sounds about right, but I am not necessarily a mud expert as I havent ridden bikes off road in a muddy environment for 10+ years. The tire you choose for your mud really depends on the mud you have though, but in general the ability to clear mud and the ability to get at stiffer soil, usually meaning a smaller tire, are what you want.

    you would have a hard time going wrong with mich muds, but if you have a chance just chat up someone like Erik Tonkin on the subject.

  12. #12
    Seņor Member myclem's Avatar
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    What would help most on off camber turns in wet grass and mud typical of PacNW?
    I've currently got WTB Cross Wolf tires thinking the side knobs would help. What do you guys think?
    Also, Is there a noticeable performance difference between 700x32 and 700x35?

  13. #13
    Village Idiot
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    Someone I've talked to recommended challenge grifo's in a 32 for every condition.

    If they're good enough for him, I'm pretty sure they're good enough for anyone...

    35 will be grippier than 32, but will be slower on the flatter stuff and road-ish stuff. 32 should be more than enough for most courses.
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  14. #14
    Oh The Huge Manatee Lithuania's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by myclem View Post
    What would help most on off camber turns in wet grass and mud typical of PacNW?
    I've currently got WTB Cross Wolf tires thinking the side knobs would help. What do you guys think?
    Also, Is there a noticeable performance difference between 700x32 and 700x35?
    mich mud2s

  15. #15
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
    You're missing grifo and fango.

    If you can only have one set of tires, go for grifos. Good for everything.
    Grifo:


  16. #16
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonestr View Post
    you would have a hard time going wrong with mich muds, but if you have a chance just chat up someone like Erik Tonkin on the subject.
    Dang it! I was talking to Erik just last night (he coaches the cross clinic I went to), and this wasn't among the many things I asked him. Oh well, I've been meaning to make a trip to Sellwood anyway. I guess I'll go buy some tires from him when I go.

  17. #17
    I eat carbide. Psimet2001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MJH2 View Post
    Michelin Mud2's

    You'll run into relatively little mud, and they'll work great. If you're doing the chicago cyclocross cup, one set will last you a couple seasons.
    +1 - I went all out this year trying to get my tubulars glued up and the wheels built up, etc...and in the meantime I have put a ton of time back into my Mud2 and old mavic/Shimy wheelset. Crazy. They just keep delivering.

    I put 1 season of training and racing on 1 set and the front still looks great but I need a new one for the rear. It's ok, but gets sloppy in looser stuff.

    I am using some Vittoria Cross EVO XG tubulars that I have as a "training" set that I finally got glued up last night and I picked up a set of Griffos (in a 30 - because that's all I could get) for my "race" wheels that I have yet to build...which is funny because the races start this week... Suck.

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    I am just using this thread to call attention to my new signature, as you cant use tubbies with tubes in the SW
    For Sale:
    Dugast Rhino 30c, previously glued and needs new tube, but lots of tread left $35+ shipping

  19. #19
    Steel snob by accident iwegian's Avatar
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    i have rithey speed maxes. pretty smooth center, and plenty big knobs on the side for cornering confidence. also seemed to help me with off camber turns too. Mine are 35s ran mine at 40 btw

  20. #20
    Don't smoke, Mike. shapelike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iwegian View Post
    i have rithey speed maxes. pretty smooth center, and plenty big knobs on the side for cornering confidence. also seemed to help me with off camber turns too. Mine are 35s ran mine at 40 btw
    I like these tires a lot. Mostly I race them in early season point-to-point races through the countryside (gravel/dirt roads, singletrack, the remains of last year's corn crop, etc.).

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
    Someone I've talked to recommended challenge grifo's in a 32 for every condition.

    If they're good enough for him, I'm pretty sure they're good enough for anyone...

    35 will be grippier than 32, but will be slower on the flatter stuff and road-ish stuff. 32 should be more than enough for most courses.
    Wider tyres will be faster on the flatter and road-ish stuff if it's bumpy. I hear that the main issue is that sometimes the tread is a little narrow because they use the 32c tread on the wider casing. That said, I would choose wider tyres in most circumstances.

    Don't forget the Vredestein Premiato.

  22. #22
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    What do you think of the Specialized Houffalize CX Pro (32mm)?



    They carry these at my LBS (and I think they'll still give me team discount if I ask nicely )
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

  23. #23
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    At first glance that looked like it had an inverted tread, but I suppose that's just the picture background on the bottom left.

    The tread looks similar to my Maxxis Locust CX, which quickly become slicks in heavy mud, but drop it again once I get in some grass.

  24. #24
    Team Beer Cynikal's Avatar
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    I have one of the Specialized tires. I really like it. I find that the traction is almost on par with my tubulars. Are you shopping at Mikes? What team are you on?
    I'm not one for fawning over bicycles, but I do believe that our bikes communicate with us, and what this bike is saying is, "You're an idiot." BikeSnobNYC

  25. #25
    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    No, I saw them in person at the LBS and they are knobbies, but have a center section that look like they'd be better for grass and packed dirt than the Michelin Mud 2. It's figuring to be a long hot fall here in NorCal, so I think it's going to be mostly gravel and hardpan, at least until December.
    Cyclists of the world, unite! You have nothing to lube but your chains!

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