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  1. #1
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    Touring tyres for gravel? Help please!

    Hey there,

    After lots of research, I've decided to buy myself a Thorn Sherpa for my tour around Alaska this summer. The only thing I haven't fully decided on is tyres.

    Sometimes, I will be riding on some fairly rough, gravel roads so I have been considering Schwalbe Marathon XR 2.0". Are they what you'd choose? Or are they too heavy/inflexible/whatever for what I want?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


    Raph

  2. #2
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    I used the XR in Alaska on the Denali Highway and on the road in Denali Park. Also on the Robert Campbell Highway in the Yukon. No flats or problems until 7500 miles when the Kevlar bead blew out. I think that the XR is your best tried and true bet by far.

    The new Schwalbe Extreme might turn out to be even better, however, since it is lighter and better for "off road". When heavily loaded ascending steep gravel grades, the more aggressive tread would come in handy. OTOH, the XR may run more smoothly on asphalt.

    Either tire would be the best for gravel roads (or degraded chip seal roads)

  3. #3
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    I have no personal experience with touring in those conditions but the Thorn site gives the XR high marks. Page 16 http://www.sjscycles.com/thornpdf/Th...paBroLoRes.pdf

    Just from a tire fetish standpoint I could see an XR on the rear and the Extreme on the front assuming the wider Extreme will have better grip on loose stuff and the XR is more durable for the rear.

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    As those are the roads I'm planning on riding, your advice couldn't have been more useful! The Extreme is 220g lighter in 26x2.0" but doesn't appear to be easy to get in England (after a quick google anyway). If you say the XR served you well, I think I'll just go for that.

    Also, to go off-topic a little, how did you find cycling the Robert Campbell? I'm considering it as an alternative to the Klondike to head to the Cassiar Highway. Would you recommend it?

    Thanks!

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    LeeG- this might sound like a silly question, but is it OK to have different weight tires on front and back? It doesn't affect the handling, or balance or anything?

  6. #6
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    nope, this is all splitting hairs but my druthers would be to have a wider patch on the front than the rear, the extreme looks to have a more supple casing and according to Schwalbe the XR is tougher, the rear gets more abuse from side wall damage and wear so it looked like a good tire for the rear. If the only choice of tires were $20 cruiser tires from Kmart then that and a roll of gorilla tape would suffice.

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    Campbell Highway is somewhat remote with several days between sources of supply. Only a few cars per day of traffic. If you're in a group, no worries.

    If you're also going to be on lots of asphalt i.e. the Cassiar Hwy, I'd go with XR's front and rear. If you were more offroad, I think that LeeG's suggestion of an Extreme for the front is a very good one. Just to round things out, if you were only going to be on asphalt, I'd go with Supremes.

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    Hmm. I'm actually not sure how far I am going to get. I'll definitely be on gravel for a fair while in Alaska, and I'm intending to head south through Canada, but I'm not sure how far south I'll go, so I don't know how much asphalt I'll encounter.

    Perhaps it's just best to go for the middling option, assuming that half the time I'll be on gravel and the other half on asphalt. This would mean I should get XR front and rear, right?

    (And I'd be on my own, so perhaps the Campbell is a little risky?)

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    I'm actually planning to go up through BC and around the Yukon this summer (including the Campbell if I don't change my plans), and I'm going to have a set of tires for road and a set for gravel. I think road-specific tires will make paved cycling a fair bit more pleasant. I think having a spare tire is a good idea, and if you've got two sets you can rely on the unused set for spares.

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    When I went I took a mountain bike tire for my front, but it was overkill. The XR works fine on asphalt and fine for 99% of the gravel on the roads mentioned. It is not a compromise. Its the best for the purpose. In addition, its durability is amazing. I'd still take a spare, however, but that's just me.

    If you crash while solo on the Campbell Hwy, you will wait very long time for help. If you ride with some companions they can at least wait with you, protect you from wolves, and help you flag down the one vehicle you'll see every four hours. That vehicle can take 5 hours at 15-30 mph to take you to a clinic staffed by a nurse practioner. Now if you take it easy, the Campbell Hwy is not an unreasonable risk, but I wouldn't do it alone. I'd take the Alcan instead. Others have different risk tolerances. YMMV.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ReelExterminato View Post
    I'm actually planning to go up through BC and around the Yukon this summer (including the Campbell if I don't change my plans), and I'm going to have a set of tires for road and a set for gravel. I think road-specific tires will make paved cycling a fair bit more pleasant. I think having a spare tire is a good idea, and if you've got two sets you can rely on the unused set for spares.
    That's what I did. Highway 37 is mostly paved now, but I also did the trip into Telegraph Creek and traversed the Fraser Plateau. Flotation/width is the main concern. I only had one flat in two months -- on the road w/ my road slick.

    Of course, if I was doing the trip now, rather than a MTB, I'd use something like my Bleriot w/ either the Grand Bois Hetre, or Panaracer Col de la Vie.
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