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Gatorskin on dirt/gravel road

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Gatorskin on dirt/gravel road

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Old 01-09-11, 05:18 PM
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habals
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Gatorskin on dirt/gravel road

Hi All,

I am planning to commute on unpaved light gravel trail, and I was wondering if I need to switch back to 35mm knobby tire. My current tire is Gatorskin hard shell 700x25, and I have only rode on paved roads so far.
Here is the picture of the surface quality.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jef/5023806234/

Do you guys think that Gatorskin is okay for this type of road?

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-11, 05:26 PM
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I would think a 25mm tire would be tough to deal with on that rough of a road. The high pressure required to keep from pinch-flatting will give a really rough ride. If that were my route, I'd run a wider, lower-pressure tire.
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Old 01-09-11, 05:28 PM
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I use 700x25 Gatorskins, I weight 210 lbs and have a CX bike.

I find the tires to be tough and stable on hard-pack gravel, but quickly bog down on any sandy or soft surface.

Is the surface always firm & dry? If not, consider a wider tire. Even a 700x32 slick will perform better and be more stable.
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Old 01-09-11, 05:33 PM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences. I have a Kenda Small Block 8 700x35. I'll probably go back to that one.
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Old 01-09-11, 05:35 PM
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How much speed loss should I expect on that kind of surface?
I usually go 17--20 on flat paved road.
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Old 01-09-11, 05:42 PM
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Part of my commute, depending on the route I take, is about 2 miles on the C&O Canal towpath consisting of packed dirt and small embedded rocks. Not much gravel, which would warrant a more puncture resistant tire. I use Gatorskins (25 front/28 rear) at max pressure, and the ride is rather uncomfortable. I keep the pressure high, given that the other 28 miles of my commute are on asphalt.

No durability issues with the Gatorskins, but I would definitely go with a heavier duty, wider, lower pressure tire if I had to ride a longer distance. Look for a tire with decent sidewall strength, so you can lower the pressure without risking pinch flats or really slowing down the ride. Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires are great, but there are lots of other choices.
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Old 01-09-11, 06:10 PM
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Is that part of the Bay Trail? I've ridden that on my touring bike w/28's and felt a little "squidgy". I would not want to think about riding that on 25's, IMO.
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Old 01-09-11, 06:33 PM
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I'd look at some Marathons like the XR or the CX version, they are wide and have puncture protection. Or if you are a conti fan the cyclocross plus or Touring Plus I am sure would be good.

The SB8 would be more then fine also if there is no need puncture protection.
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Old 01-09-11, 07:42 PM
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How much do you weigh and how long is the gravel portion? If it is only a couple of miles and you weigh less than 200 lbs, I say don't worry. If you are a Clyde or the gravel goes on for quite long ways, then you will likely destroy the Gatorskin. (In my experience, they are not very tough tires. YMMV.) I weigh 200 lbs and routinely ride 25 mm tires on gravel that is similar to what your photo showed. However, I gave up on Gatorskins a few years ago because they get cut to ribbons by the grit my county puts down to try to keep the motorists from sliding off the roads in the winter.
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Old 01-09-11, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by habals View Post
Hi All,

I am planning to commute on unpaved light gravel trail, and I was wondering if I need to switch back to 35mm knobby tire. My current tire is Gatorskin hard shell 700x25, and I have only rode on paved roads so far.
Here is the picture of the surface quality.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jef/5023806234/

Do you guys think that Gatorskin is okay for this type of road?

Thanks!
It certainly is doable. I have used my Gatoskins on lots of such roads; great fun. A knobby tire may allow you to corner faster though.
IMHO, just go ahead and try it with the Gatorskins. Then after a while, try the knobby tires and then decide what you like the best.

Unless most of my rides where on such roads, I probably would prefer the Gatorskins, since I prefer light, easy rolling slicks,

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Old 01-09-11, 10:29 PM
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I think the Gatorskins will be fine on that, but your tire size seems rather skinny if you will be riding on that any amount of time. That is where my concern would be, not the material of the tire.
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Old 01-09-11, 10:48 PM
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In my experience, tires matter, but bike geometry seems to matter more.

I take two bikes on vacation to my family's cabin in Canada every summer. Our road to the cabin is 4½ miles of dirt and gravel. I take my commuter--which has a CX front end and a touring rear end--with CX tires for the dirt roads, and I take a roadie for pavement duty.

Naturally, my commuter with its geometry and tires likes the dirt roads. It loves our dirt road half-centuries.

One of my roadies won't tolerate our dirt road at all. When I take it to Canada, I have to give a it a boat ride to the end of the lake, then use the boat launch ramp as a bike launch ramp to get to the pavement. The second roadie is okay if coaxed, but the ride in dirt and gravel is not pleasant. Both bikes are variations on modern "race" geometry.

My third roadie seems not to care what's under its wheels. All three roadies run 25mm Continental tires, Gatorskins on the first and Grand Prix 4-Seasons on the other two.

This third bike is a mid-90s Litespeed Classic, which has traditional, old-school road bike geometry. I'm nearly as fast, and just as confident, with this bike on the dirt roads with its 25mm road tires as I am on my commuter with the 34mm CX tires. I like it because I can ride it to the pavement, rather than having to use the boat.

This is why I think geometry has more to do with it than tire.

So what is it you plan to ride on that gravel path?
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Old 01-10-11, 03:36 AM
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Wide tires at lower PSI would navigate that faster, with more control, and be less prone to tire damage.

Not to mention it'd be more comfortable. Unless it's a very soft dirt underneath, knobs wouldn't help much, and depending on the pattern and tread spacing might cause issues with picking up rocks.
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Old 01-10-11, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by habals View Post
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I have a Kenda Small Block 8 700x35. I'll probably go back to that one.
I'm not a big fan of Kenda tires.

I've spent a lot of time on trails like the one in your photo, on 700x28 Vittoria Rando Cross tires. They work beautifully, although going up a size or two in width would be a good idea.
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Old 01-10-11, 11:16 AM
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Continental travel contact is featuring Gator skin sidewalls , kevlar belt.
its a 35 wide for gravel/paved international adventure travel roads.
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Old 01-11-11, 08:16 PM
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Oh wow. Thanks for many suggestions. My bike is Cannondale Cyclocross 5, BTW. I haven't been to the trail yet, so I'll let you guys know this weekend.
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Old 01-11-11, 10:15 PM
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The guy on the right is riding a 23 front, 25 rear combo of either Performance or Nashbar house brand cheapos. There was 7 miles ascending and 3 miles descending on this stuff, including washboard.

Most of us were riding 28 - 35 for this ride, though.
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Old 01-11-11, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by tsl View Post
In my experience, tires matter, but bike geometry seems to matter more.

I take two bikes on vacation to my family's cabin in Canada every summer. Our road to the cabin is 4½ miles of dirt and gravel. I take my commuter--which has a CX front end and a touring rear end--with CX tires for the dirt roads, and I take a roadie for pavement duty.

Naturally, my commuter with its geometry and tires likes the dirt roads. It loves our dirt road half-centuries.

One of my roadies won't tolerate our dirt road at all. When I take it to Canada, I have to give a it a boat ride to the end of the lake, then use the boat launch ramp as a bike launch ramp to get to the pavement. The second roadie is okay if coaxed, but the ride in dirt and gravel is not pleasant. Both bikes are variations on modern "race" geometry.

My third roadie seems not to care what's under its wheels. All three roadies run 25mm Continental tires, Gatorskins on the first and Grand Prix 4-Seasons on the other two.

This third bike is a mid-90s Litespeed Classic, which has traditional, old-school road bike geometry. I'm nearly as fast, and just as confident, with this bike on the dirt roads with its 25mm road tires as I am on my commuter with the 34mm CX tires. I like it because I can ride it to the pavement, rather than having to use the boat.

This is why I think geometry has more to do with it than tire.

So what is it you plan to ride on that gravel path?
Good point on the geometry. All my bikes are old steel touring bikes and I often forget that the state of the art has changed a bit in the past quarter-century.
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Old 01-12-11, 04:47 AM
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Just ride them, you will be fine.
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Old 01-13-11, 01:23 PM
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No way, I wouldn't touch that surface on a road bike!
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Old 01-13-11, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by crank13 View Post
No way, I wouldn't touch that surface on a road bike!
Get off the pavemenet and live a little.
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Old 01-13-11, 06:05 PM
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That the newly open section of the Baytrail. If it's anything like the rest of the bay trail, you might be able to get by on the 25's. It will be a rough ride though. Most other part of the baytrail around the Bay Area has been ridden enough such that the gravel are better pack and there will be smoother tracks path which offers some comfort. However it being a newly open path, I doubt there will be much tracks.

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