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Old 05-04-11, 02:17 PM   #1
bfromcolo
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good 700x32 tire for gravel

I have done a good bit of searching but am going to post yet another tire question anyway. The local roads/trails I ride on include concrete, asphalt, packed dirt, loose gravel and even some sand. I am currently using cross tires but don't like the buzz when I am on concrete. But I don't like sliding around on slicks either.

I'll get something different for touring, but I need to get some training miles in too.

If it matters the bike is built on a Nashbar touring frame, 220 lb rider, maybe 20 lbs of additional load on these rides. I am interested in about a 700x32. Flat protection is nice but secondary, I haven't had much problem (probably jinxed myself with that comment).

Thanks
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Old 05-04-11, 02:35 PM   #2
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Unless your riding a lot of sand or mud, you can probably get by with very little tread. My LHT has 700x40 Schwalbe Marathon tires. It does well over most surfaces. I think width is more important than tread on gravel. Will your bike take a wider tire?
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Old 05-04-11, 02:47 PM   #3
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I had great results with Continental Top Touring/Top Contact tires in 32mm. Strictly speaking, they weren't wide enough with a tour load that I wanted to ride gravel roads all day long on them, but for 5-10 miles of dry gravel here and there, they were just fine.
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Old 05-04-11, 03:02 PM   #4
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I use a Schwalbe Marathon Extreme on my MTB. I know my bike isn't a touring bike but I bought the tyre after reading some good reviews of it from people who were using it for touring. You can get it in a 700x35, not sure about other sizes.
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Old 05-04-11, 03:43 PM   #5
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Continental travel contact, but their 700c is wider than 32, 37 I think.
smooth center band
with a edge row of knobs for uphill gravel traction

I had the 26" version .. its their adventure travel touring tire.
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Old 05-04-11, 03:50 PM   #6
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Thanks for the response. I think the bike will go to 38s with fenders from what I have read, but the wheels I am currently using probably won't go much wider than 32s, Mavic Open Sports I had on hand when I put it together.
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Old 05-04-11, 05:28 PM   #7
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Have 32 mm regular Schwalbe Marathons on my Soma ES, I ride a lot on gravel roads. They have worked well, providing a good mix of shock absorption and speed. They have also survived the beating of riding on gravel. My mASS is around 100 kg. Almost 3000 km on the set currently on my bike - no flat fairy visits. I did rotate the tires earlier in the spring as the back was clearly wearing more than the front.
My partner has 32 mm Conti regular Contacts on her touring bike - she wants to go back to the Marathons when the Contacts wear out. She doesn't think they work as well as Marathons, the Contact's actual width is less than the Marathon, so I think there could be a little less volume.
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Old 05-05-11, 07:34 AM   #8
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I just bought some Ritchey Pro Crossmax tires in 700 x 32 for riding on gravel, dirt roads, unpaved paths but haven't tried them out yet. I basically was looking for the same sort of tire as you except I also wanted to keep the weight down, which ruled out the Schwab tires that weigh a ton. I found some of the Ritcheys on sale, so decided to try them out. They get good reviews on the cyclocross forums as a do-it-all tire.

Some of the other tires I was considering were the Panaracer Pasela TG and T-Serve, and the Vittoria Randonneur Hyper or Pro or Cross. I ruled out the Paselas because I didn't want tan sidewalls; I had some Paselas for a while and they looked nasty after riding in the rain. The Vittoria Randonneurs get excellent reviews and some of their models have more tread and should be fine on gravel, dirt, etc. However, their lightest version (Hyper) has a pretty smooth tread.
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Old 05-05-11, 07:45 AM   #9
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It really depends on the size of the gravel stones and how well packed they are. The road in front of my brother's house was a railroad access road, paved with railroad ballast. I wouldn't want to ride any bike on that stuff. Small stone gravel, packed down by lots of vehicles, could probably be ridden by a light rider with 700x32c tires.

My weight has always been pretty high. I toured on Conti Top Touring 2000 700x37c for a number of years. They worked fine, but I was mostly on pavement, only a little packed dirt/sand/gravel. They did wear fairly quickly and I did get occasional flats.

This year I am taking my 26" wheeled bike anticipating more off-pavement stuff. I am using Panaracer Pacela TG 26x1.75. Working out with it so far, they seem to be wearing well, and I haven't gotten any flats (so far).

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Old 05-05-11, 09:32 AM   #10
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I've been very happy with panaracer T-Servs for gravel roads and riding unpaved surfaces. Scar Pass over the Olympic Mountains, the unpaved and old passes of the North Cascades, lots of NW gravel and forest service road. In California the Marin headlands and GGNRA, the "Planet of the Apes" ride between Pacifica and Montera. Tires are remarkably tough for a tire that's very light and fast on the pavement.

If you're going to siberia, i'd suggest a tire with more sidewall resistance, but otherwise the panaracer t-servs are tough and grippy.

i've used conti tt2000s long ago, also ridden the continental travelcontacts on some fairly heinous mixed surface tours and found them great tires, fast on pavement and pretty good in the slop, a little slicker than the t-servs but a very tough tire, better sidewall protection, grippier with lower tire pressure when riding off road.

I've always, when faced with the Schwalbe marahons or marathon plus tires on the hook, -and i handle a LOT of bike tires, trust me - have rejected them in favor of other tires. They may be the bees knees for others, but they are strangely unappealing to me. I have ridden the Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires though. Sold them used.

Last edited by Bekologist; 05-05-11 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 05-05-11, 01:21 PM   #11
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I am planning on getting the Conti Top Contact 37mm for my new build that will be used on the ACA Utah Cliffs Loop, which has about 150 miles of dirt/gravel roads. I have had such good luck with Conti tires on the road I wanted to stick with the brand. I've gone through 3 sets of Contis on my road bike with no flats or issues. I've got around 3K on a set of GP4000 25mm with no issues. I even used them on a fully loaded, 500 mile tour in August with no issues.
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