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Old 02-25-13, 07:22 PM   #1
Kurious Oranj
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Good tires for touring on gravel roads?

I need your advice on good tires for touring on gravel (my search turned up few answers to my question). I am planning a several day tour this summer on my Fargo fully loaded. I will mostly be riding on hard packed gravel roads, often with washboard qualities and there should be relatively little loose gravel.

I currently run Conti X-King which work fine for my current single track riding for a few hours but I worry they are too knobby for longer rides on hard packed gravel. I need something that rolls a bit faster but will still have decent traction and works well with my Planet Bike Cascadia 29 fenders (I guess most tires will work for that).

All suggestions welcomed.

Thanks!
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Old 02-25-13, 07:40 PM   #2
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Nokian A10 [w/o studs] worked well under my touring load , they are a pretty heavy Black tire ,
the rubber compound is really long wearing,
if it were getting another ply of casing fibers it could be a truck tire.

I carried warm gear to go from the end of one winter to almost the next winter. 9 mos.


My Koga came with Conti Travel Contacts, their adventure self contained, touring tire
for the tours that take you past the end of the pavement..

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Old 02-25-13, 10:57 PM   #3
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I have toured extensively on USFS dirt and gravel roads with Schwalbe Duremes 35f & 40r, usually between 60 to 40 psi. Honestly, I can't tell the difference between them and the Marathon Extremes, 40mm both f&r, I carry for real dirt and mud. The Duremes weak point is in mud. I don't mean on slippery wet packed surfaces where they are fine, but deep gooey mud. The tread pattern clogs up and you might as well be spinning slicks. I've put them through their paces riding on course gravel and bungee cord popping washboard and even at 40 psi, which is well below the rated minimum, they have been great.
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Old 02-26-13, 03:20 AM   #4
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I've done a little loaded touring on some gravel roads on Vittoria Randoneur Pros (26 x 1.50"), they worked well for me.
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Old 02-26-13, 05:14 AM   #5
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Just me, but...
I would think the Conti X-King would be reasonably good on gravel. I ran some Kenda Slant Sixes when I expected to be on gravel for a few weeks, but something like the Big Block 8 might be even better. The Sixes, while not designed for it or optimum, were surprisingly good even on asphalt. Of course you could run slicks, but I doubt any advantage would be noticeable on gravel roads. Given the choice I'd pick an XC racing tire myself if doing some trail was at all likely. On the other hand for a mix of asphalt and decent gravel roads slicks or near slicks might be worthwhile.

For sure I wouldn't bother to swap out the
Conti X-Kings for a few days of gravel. I probably wouldn't even for a few weeks of gravel.
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Old 02-26-13, 06:14 AM   #6
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You need a bigger tire to fill out the fargo,


but if you're going to run tires under 38mm, there's a lot of excellent choices from most manufacturers that would suit.

I used to run Conti Travelcontacts, but never liked the squirm of the sideknobs of that tire, and have switched to smaller, microtread designs and been very, very happy on gravel tours.

I've used the Panaracer T-Serv tires for many miles of gravel touring and very happy. Also, even a straight road slick like the Bontrager Racelite 700x32c. At a bike shop i worked at, i'd regularly suggest riders going on gravel rides consider the Panaracer T-Servs, and got many positive reports back.

Here's the kinds of conditions I've railed Panaracer T-Servs thru over the last five or six years. Put them thru their paces extensively on the gravel roads of the cascades and the olympic mountains in the NW.


I now have a 29er to tackle the sandy roads around here, and would like to see more microtread tires in a 29er size, but they are nearly non-existant, and i've had to settle for racing oriented, small block 29er tires. not the ideal tire for me.

Last edited by Bekologist; 02-26-13 at 06:22 AM.
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Old 02-26-13, 08:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurious Oranj View Post
I need your advice on good tires for touring on gravel (my search turned up few answers to my question). I am planning a several day tour this summer on my Fargo fully loaded. I will mostly be riding on hard packed gravel roads, often with washboard qualities and there should be relatively little loose gravel.

I currently run Conti X-King which work fine for my current single track riding for a few hours but I worry they are too knobby for longer rides on hard packed gravel. I need something that rolls a bit faster but will still have decent traction and works well with my Planet Bike Cascadia 29 fenders (I guess most tires will work for that).

All suggestions welcomed.

Thanks!
How much weight on the tires?
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Old 02-26-13, 10:07 AM   #8
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I'm liking my 26x1.85 Michelin Trackers all around.
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Old 02-26-13, 11:20 AM   #9
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I like the WTB pathway tires. I've got the 700x38's and they are great on trails. The tread is not overly aggressive and seems to shed mud well. They are a pretty beefy tire in that size and measure closer to 40mm. Nashbar has a 32mm version with puncture protection.
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Old 02-26-13, 01:42 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions which are great
Quote:
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Just me, but...
.
.
For sure I wouldn't bother to swap out the
Conti X-Kings for a few days of gravel. I probably wouldn't even for a few weeks of gravel.
I like this option for economical reasons...

Quote:
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How much weight on the tires?
Well, 185 lbs of meat, fat and bones, a Fargo and four panniers with stuff I have not weighed yet but can't be that much as I am leaving the Lodge dutch oven at home...
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Old 02-26-13, 03:02 PM   #11
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I'm confident that many touring tires work on smooth, dry gravel. I've used 700x38 Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires, 700x40 Schwalbe Marathon Dureme tires and 700x50 Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires with good results. The Dureme are tough and offer good traction for most gravel conditions. They roll well on pavement also.

I still like Vittoria Hypers in 700x40 size more than other tires. The fast rolling and smooth ride qualities allow me travel greater distances. The Hyper is tough, with good resistance against flats. They have very little traction in muddy, wet conditions however.
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Old 02-26-13, 03:54 PM   #12
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I was looking at the Ritchey Speedmax 700x40 for this purpose. Haven't pulled the trigger yet, so I can't comment on them, but they seem to receive a lot of positive reviews. Here's a couple good shots of the 700x40 size:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Nh0mYYNm0b...0/DSCF1388.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-boFMXTflWZ...rance2_640.jpg

(FYI someone on this forum reported actual width on these tires being closer to 35mm)

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Old 02-26-13, 06:01 PM   #13
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Schwalbe Smart Sams
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Old 02-26-13, 06:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurious Oranj View Post
I need your advice on good tires for touring on gravel (my search turned up few answers to my question). I am planning a several day tour this summer on my Fargo fully loaded. I will mostly be riding on hard packed gravel roads, often with washboard qualities and there should be relatively little loose gravel.
Everyone who has tried them is very pleased with the New Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road tires. They are 700x43 and are folding - made in Japan by Panaracer. http://www.bgcycles.com/rock-n-road-tire.html
Regards,
Bruce Gordon
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Old 02-26-13, 08:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by likebike23 View Post
I like the WTB pathway tires. I've got the 700x38's and they are great on trails. The tread is not overly aggressive and seems to shed mud well. They are a pretty beefy tire in that size and measure closer to 40mm. Nashbar has a 32mm version with puncture protection.
I have a set of them for my wife's hybrid for rail-trail and gravel road riding. They look like a nice tyre for both seal and gravel.
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Old 02-26-13, 09:45 PM   #16
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Might try the new Schwalbe Big Bens. They are a beefier version of the Big Apple, and will be pretty comfortable on packed gravel.
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Old 02-26-13, 10:37 PM   #17
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Nice video. i like the air freshener! You're cycling terrain looks very much like some of the trails i ride. I have a few more rocks here and there in Pa but overall. very similar.

To go on record for tires, i run Vittoria Randoneur and they offer so many different sizes. I can't claim they will have traction though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
You need a bigger tire to fill out the fargo,


but if you're going to run tires under 38mm, there's a lot of excellent choices from most manufacturers that would suit.

I used to run Conti Travelcontacts, but never liked the squirm of the sideknobs of that tire, and have switched to smaller, microtread designs and been very, very happy on gravel tours.

I've used the Panaracer T-Serv tires for many miles of gravel touring and very happy. Also, even a straight road slick like the Bontrager Racelite 700x32c. At a bike shop i worked at, i'd regularly suggest riders going on gravel rides consider the Panaracer T-Servs, and got many positive reports back.

Here's the kinds of conditions I've railed Panaracer T-Servs thru over the last five or six years. Put them thru their paces extensively on the gravel roads of the cascades and the olympic mountains in the NW.


I now have a 29er to tackle the sandy roads around here, and would like to see more microtread tires in a 29er size, but they are nearly non-existant, and i've had to settle for racing oriented, small block 29er tires. not the ideal tire for me.
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Old 02-26-13, 10:58 PM   #18
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I was just thinking that several years back, i ran Continental City Gripper, i believe that was the name. They were a semi tread. Just nice enough to even out the gravel, crushed pave, macadam, asphalt*, etc. i had a good streak of luck with about 6k on a set with no flats.

*as a side note, my great-great-great uncle Wood William Averell was inventor of American Asphalt pavement. useless fact of the day.
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Old 02-28-13, 11:48 AM   #19
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I now have a 29er to tackle the sandy roads around here, and would like to see more microtread tires in a 29er size, but they are nearly non-existant, and i've had to settle for racing oriented, small block 29er tires. not the ideal tire for me.
You are the first person i have heard say that there are a lack of appropriate tire choices for 700C wheels. I always thought that was one of the major advantages of the 29er wheel size - the ability to use any road, cyclocross, or hybrid tire.
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Old 02-28-13, 11:58 AM   #20
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Once you get above the 700x40 size, very few multi-surface tires are to be found. His bike can fit a 29x2.3.

I have a Montercross bike that can fit a 700x50 plus fenders. This bike is also my severe duty bike for winter, trails and heavy loads.

I'm using a 700x50 Marathon Supreme, this is a faster slick for pavement and easier paths & gravel.

I'm also using a Schwalbe Smart Sam knobby for wet trails and gravel.

I would consider the Schwalbe Big Apple or Big Bens if I had a Fargo. The other tires listed here are well liked also.
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Old 02-28-13, 02:37 PM   #21
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Once you get above the 700x40 size, very few multi-surface tires are to be found. His bike can fit a 29x2.3.

But since the discussion is about tires for gravel roads, why do we need to limit it to over 40mm, or as seems to be the theme, 'the widest tires that will fit'?

On a hard packed gravel road, 32mm is probably the narrowest I would go, but 35mm or 38 mm have worked for me on some pretty gnarly 'roads'
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Old 02-28-13, 04:03 PM   #22
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Should we limit size range just to please someone who didn't start the tread??
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Old 02-28-13, 05:25 PM   #23
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Should we limit size range just to please someone who didn't start the tread??
the op did not specify a size range
just asked what would work on the hard packed gravel
one correct answer is 35mm wide cx tires which work awesome on gravel
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Old 02-28-13, 06:25 PM   #24
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Quote:
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the op did not specify a size range
just asked what would work on the hard packed gravel
one correct answer is 35mm wide cx tires which work awesome on gravel
I guess. But the reality is the wider the better. Tread is entirely secondary on gravel.
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Old 02-28-13, 06:50 PM   #25
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I guess. But the reality is the wider the better. Tread is entirely secondary on gravel.
"the wider the better?"

Who made that rule?
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