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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 10-12-11, 01:49 PM   #1
Barrettscv 
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Will a 700x32 road tire work well on mostly firm and dry gravel?

I’m considering several 700x32 to 700x37 tires for my Soma Double Cross. The bike will be used for century rides, light touring on-road and will also see some gravel-road, gravel tow-path and easier off-road travel during good weather days. The non-paved trekking could almost be done on a 700x28 slick, I can almost always find a smooth, firm line as I travel along.

I would like to avoid a knobby tire that will make paved road travel slower, but I would like to feel more comfortable that I'm not going to slide when on un-paved ground.

I’m considering
Vittoria Randonneur Hyper & Vittoria Randonneur Cross Pro: http://www.vittoria.com/product/city-trekking/
Schwalbe Dureme: http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/2666
Continental Top Contact: http://www.conti-online.com/generato...opcont_en.html

The Hyper is the smoothest and lightest tire, it can also accept 90 psi. I'm a 210 lbs guy who would want 85 psi in the rear tire.

Which will work best as a faster trekking tire in your opinion? Any other tires that I should consider?
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Last edited by Barrettscv; 10-13-11 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 10-12-11, 05:45 PM   #2
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I run the Top Contact in 700x32 on my KaiTai as an all around tire. They are fine in lite grave or packed dirt conditions. They roll almost as good as my Conti Ultra Sports on the pavement, but are infinately more comfortable. They track nicely and the tread blocks have a nice trasnition from the center strip to the edges so they feel stable in deep corners. I can't comment on the other tyres you mention, but I will say that for the condition you describe, they would be a fine choice.
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Old 10-12-11, 09:17 PM   #3
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I've not tried any of the above mentioned tires, but I use one of my cross bikes as an all rounder. This time of year, most of my riding is done on fine gravel rail trails. I was at a Performance Bike shop and found a set of 700 x 35's slick tires for $12.99. At that price, I thought I'd give them a try. They're perfect for the above mentioned ride and I've even used these tires on a couple of late season road group rides. I keep them a 90 psi and find they're easy rolling and fairly comfortable. http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...8_20000_400237

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Old 10-13-11, 08:58 AM   #4
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Wow, those look great. At that price, they are worth a try.
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Old 10-13-11, 09:10 AM   #5
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I have the 1.25x26" version of the forte metro-k on my drop bar converted mtb commuter and it's done me well for about 1000 miles mainly on roads but on the occasional packed dirt path or gravel (even somewhat wet boardwalk bridges) without really any concern. Well, I did do a moderate speed corner in some loose sand one time that I felt a little loss of traction, but it's never been a problem for me. Only one flat in 1k miles (and I think that was a pinch flat when I took a 2 foot drop with too low tire pressure), so I'm pretty happy for the $13 price. I've thought about moving up to some marathon plus or something for flat protection, but the decent performance at this price has kept me content so far.
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Old 10-13-11, 09:42 AM   #6
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I'd think you would be fine on dirt/gravel... go for it.
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Old 10-13-11, 02:04 PM   #7
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ANy of those will be fine grip wise. I think the tiny knobs on cross tyres are over rated and don't actually do much (especially not on gravel) although saying that the side knobs can help make cornering a bit more predictable.
I use Continental Travel Contacts which roll very well on the road as the centre is smooth, are very puncture resistant off road, and have side knobs.
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Old 10-13-11, 06:09 PM   #8
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I haven't tried any of those you listed but I'm running Forte Gotham from performance right now and they're a great al around tire that I take on packed dirt and gravel from time to time. They have great flat protection and I got them for about twelve dollars each. They roll very nicely at 90psi.
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Old 10-13-11, 08:50 PM   #9
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The nice part about the Forte Metro - K is that they usually keep these tires in stock at Performance Bike. There are a few stores in the Chicago area. Let us know what tire you went with.

Another plug for a Performance product. I was using a Specialized Toupe 143 saddle on few on my bikes. I was doing a cross build and needed a saddle, so I thought I'd try the Forte Pro SL for $50. Best saddle I've ever had. Ti rails, a few gms heavier than the Toupe but worth the trade - off. I liked the saddle so much, I'm slowly converting most of my saddles over - althought the Brooks B17 stays on my SS.
http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...8_20000_400195

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Old 10-14-11, 08:50 AM   #10
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I can feel the difference between a full slick road tire and one with pebblegrain tread when I'm on gravel. An experienced rider such as the OP will be fine with either, but I have personally observed a difference that's worth mentioning.

I wouldn't make the jump to cyclocross knobs, even shallow ones, unless you plan to tackle hills and corners with some speed. I ran a set of Conti Cyclocross Plus and liked the rolling resistance and traction, but hated the cost, weight and tread life. (Center rear knob gone in under 500 miles, mostly gravel and singletrack.)

There's some great options for trekking tires in 32mm but they're all pretty expensive. Schwalbe Marathon, Vittoria Randonneur, as you noted. I would get either a trekking tire or a lightly treaded road tire.

Last edited by ColinL; 10-14-11 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 10-14-11, 06:51 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by canflyboy View Post
The nice part about the Forte Metro - K is that they usually keep these tires in stock at Performance Bike. There are a few stores in the Chicago area. Let us know what tire you went with.

Another plug for a Performance product. I was using a Specialized Toupe 143 saddle on few on my bikes. I was doing a cross build and needed a saddle, so I thought I'd try the Forte Pro SL for $50. Best saddle I've ever had. Ti rails, a few gms heavier than the Toupe but worth the trade - off. I liked the saddle so much, I'm slowly converting most of my saddles over - althought the Brooks B17 stays on my SS.
http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...8_20000_400195

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I hope that saddle is as good as you say it is. I just bought one today on your recommendation after suffering with my old saddles for long enough. Was on sale in store for $45. It certainly looks comfortable. I noticed on the bottom it says Velo. I didn't realize Velo made saddles for Performance.
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Old 10-14-11, 07:58 PM   #12
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LOL, I was just at a Performance Bike Shop tonight and bought another saddle (couldn't pass up the sale). Let me know what you think. For me, it's a great fit, looks good and is a bargain. Remember, that this is 143mm wide. They also had a Forte Pro SX Saddle for $39, but it's only 135mm wide and doesn't have the cut out like the SL.
http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...1604509_400195

I'm now using the SL on three of my bikes. A few weekends ago I went on a 120 mile spirited ride and never had "numb bum" with this saddle. Works for me.
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Old 10-14-11, 09:18 PM   #13
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Haven't tried the specific models you mention, but I am running relatively smooth tires on my touring bike. Currently my bike was WTB Slickasaurus 32-622 tires that I bought when they were on sale at Nashbar for a little under $10 per pair. They roll nicely and have a much better ride than my previous Spec. Armadillos on that bike. I've used them mainly on pavement, but also on unpaved fire roads and single-track trails and they have performed well. I do go a little slower than those on mountain bikes during the downhill stretches, but make up for it on flat sections and especially on uphills.
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Old 10-15-11, 12:51 PM   #14
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Have used the Rando Hypers in 32 and 35. I think you will want the 32s since you want to do road centuries. The 35s are a little more comfortable and stable off road, but it's not a huge difference.
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Old 10-17-11, 09:35 AM   #15
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I've heard great things about the Conti Four Seasons tires but have never ridden them. My swear-by tires are Panaracer T-Servs, which are burly enough that I would be pretty secure riding them on gravel and have the best traction of any city tire I've ever used. They might not be the fastest "slick" out there, but then, they're definitely faster than purpose-built cross tires on pavement.
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Old 10-17-11, 09:55 AM   #16
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I'm riding Conti GP 4 Season 25mm right now... functional, but not very good in gravel. Definitely a step up from full slicks, but most trekking tires a lot better still.
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Old 10-17-11, 10:17 AM   #17
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My commute includes 4-6 miles of dirt and gravel roads/trails (depending on which route I take). Knobbies aside, I regularly ride Vittoria Randonneur Hyper (700x32, 35) and Conti Contact Extralights (700x42). The former are slicks, and work fine as long as you drop the PSI somewhat. The latter have a mild tread, and work quite well on a wide range of surfaces. Note that the Hypers run true to size, whereas the Contis run narrow (by 3-5mm).
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Old 10-17-11, 10:24 AM   #18
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I've heard great things about the Conti Four Seasons tires but have never ridden them. My swear-by tires are Panaracer T-Servs, which are burly enough that I would be pretty secure riding them on gravel and have the best traction of any city tire I've ever used. They might not be the fastest "slick" out there, but then, they're definitely faster than purpose-built cross tires on pavement.
Hi bmck,

The T-Servs look like a good all-around tire. What size are you using? Does it run small, true-to-size or a little bigger than their nominal value?

Michael
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Old 10-17-11, 11:35 AM   #19
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Vittoria XN Pro. is the fine diamond tread traditionally used on dry hard-packed courses
http://www.vittoria.com/product/cross/
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Old 10-20-11, 07:28 AM   #20
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Well, I expanded my research and have the following results.

These are all great tires.

Prices range from $13 each for the Forté Metro-K to about $60 for the Schwable tire.

The 700x32 Vittoria Randonneur Hyper and the Panaracer T serv PT are the lightest at 350 grams, the Schwalbe Racer is 360 grams for a 700x35 tire. The other tires are all 450 grams or more.

The Vittoria Randonneur Cross Pro has a max pressure rating of 70 psi, all others had 85 psi or higher.

The finalist are;

700x32 Vittoria Randonneur Hyper: fast, light, supple, moderately flat resistant, moderate price, but weaker gravel & dirt road tire due to smaller size and smooth shoulders.

700x35 Schwalbe Dureme: very flat resistant, durable, better on soft ground, heavy, and expensive.

700x35 Forté Metro-K: Best value, very good all-around performer.

If I was touring, I would use the Schwalbe, it's the toughest and most versatile. If I was doing a century ride, I would want the Vittoria, it's the fastest and most supple. For all around commuting and recreational cycling, the Forte is hard to fault.
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Last edited by Barrettscv; 10-20-11 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 10-20-11, 08:31 AM   #21
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Take a look at the Conti Contact Extra-Light. Very nice tire. They run small (width-wise), so a 700x37 is closer to a 32.
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Old 10-26-11, 12:34 PM   #22
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What size are you using? Does it run small, true-to-size or a little bigger than their nominal value?
I ride a 32. I'd say they run pretty true, although I've never caliper'd them or anything.

The most impressive thing about them is the traction on steel grate bridges (something that comes up a fair amount in Chicago). But they generally track awesomely on just about anything.
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