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Gravel on slicks ... NP or risky?

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Gravel on slicks ... NP or risky?

Old 09-11-12, 03:14 AM
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Gravel on slicks ... NP or risky?

I found a beautiful route home on 25km of really nice bike paths most of which are new asphalt. But I have to go over 1.4 km of gravel road in about the middle of the route. No getting around it only other routes are longer in the gravel.

It's quite bumpy on my city/hybrid bike but I'm more concerned about the wear on my slicks (wide 35mm).

Should I be worried about a flat on gravel with slicks or not?

Thanks

Greg
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Old 09-11-12, 05:00 AM
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I think you will be fine. Just remember riding through gravel requires a different skill set (aka: watch out and slow down when turning, etc).

When it rains or is wet out, after gravel, I like to stop and rub my hand around the wheel to get off any small pebbles that might cause a flat.
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Old 09-11-12, 05:16 AM
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I can't say that gravel ever presented a problem with my tires.
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Old 09-11-12, 10:10 AM
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Tire width and pressure is more critical on gravel than tread, IME. 35mm wide tires of any tread pattern should be just fine, as long as they're not pumped up too hard.
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Old 09-11-12, 10:25 AM
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As kids we survived with our 27x1 1/4" tires and gravel roads with no problems. Mountain bikes and hybrids were a thing of the future back then, although we treated our bikes as such many times... :-)
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Old 09-11-12, 10:36 AM
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What is the width of your slicks? 2" tires like big apples will eat that up.
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Old 09-11-12, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Trifusion
I found a beautiful route home on 25km of really nice bike paths most of which are new asphalt. But I have to go over 1.4 km of gravel road in about the middle of the route. No getting around it only other routes are longer in the gravel.

It's quite bumpy on my city/hybrid bike but I'm more concerned about the wear on my slicks (wide 35mm).

Should I be worried about a flat on gravel with slicks or not?

Thanks

Greg
You can even ride 25mm (from experience; I'd guess that 23mm tires work too although middle age spread means I haven't tried that personally) on gravel. It's a little disconcerting but will get you past small spots. 23mm (from experience; I'd guess that 25mm tires would work too but I was young, thin, and didn't need wider) are actually nice to race on packed dirt roads.
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Old 09-11-12, 10:58 AM
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You should be fine. Just keep an eye out for pockets where the gravel is deeper and looser than the rest of the road. And for what it's worth, loosen your grip. (It's counter intuitive, but you have more control the less you grip the bars. But you probably already knew that. )
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Old 09-11-12, 11:51 AM
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You/your tires should be fine. Stay off the brakes, let the bike steer itself, and "ride light."

Gravel, it's not just for breakfast.
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Old 09-11-12, 12:44 PM
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no problem. Don't over think it. just ride and learn how to handle it.
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Old 09-11-12, 12:59 PM
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You are more likely to get a flat on gravel compared to pavement, however glass and other sharp objects are less of an issue. Sidewall punctures are more likely on gravel, but if you slow down and pick your line carefully, you'll be OK. If you start getting flats, get a more durable tire. I've never tried them, but some people use tire liners or slime in the tubes.
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Old 09-11-12, 01:05 PM
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Thorn resistant inner tubes may be an upgrade.
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Old 09-11-12, 01:17 PM
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My daily commute includes several miles of dirt/gravel, and all my punctures occur on the paved portions. Tires are 32mm slicks. Unless you're riding very low pressure, and hitting large rocks or potholes at speed, you shouldn't be flatting (more) on gravel.
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Old 09-11-12, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by MileHighMark
My daily commute includes several miles of dirt/gravel, and all my punctures occur on the paved portions. Tires are 32mm slicks. Unless you're riding very low pressure, and hitting large rocks or potholes at speed, you shouldn't be flatting (more) on gravel.
Depends to some extent on the type of gravel. The gravel I ride on has lots of arrowhead-like shards. Still, nothing causes flats like glass, which is everywhere on the roads.
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Old 09-11-12, 03:06 PM
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Thanks for the replies, it's very disconcerting listening to constant pings and pops of rocks shooting out from the tires. Sounds like a puncture but never is. I ride with Continental SportContact tires at about 80psi (tire max is 85psi) and they are 37mm not 35 as I said earlier.

Thanks

Greg
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Old 09-11-12, 03:16 PM
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I have often wondered if slicks aren't more likely to get cuts on rocks. However, I have a 35mm slick on the back of my dirt road wheels, and that never seems to pick up any cuts. maybe after it wears
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Old 09-11-12, 05:29 PM
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Depends on how good the road is, if there are soft spots and sand, you better watch out as the skinnier tire will sink in more and you will have much less control...
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Old 09-11-12, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Trifusion
Thanks for the replies, it's very disconcerting listening to constant pings and pops of rocks shooting out from the tires. Sounds like a puncture but never is. I ride with Continental SportContact tires at about 80psi (tire max is 85psi) and they are 37mm not 35 as I said earlier.

Thanks

Greg
You should have no problems with those. You might be a bit more comfortable taking them down a few psi, though. Letting the tire conform to the gravel instead of ping and bounce along, shooting rocks all the time would be A) annoying, and B) potential for sidewall damage.
I've ridden 32mm Pasela TG tires over a whole lot of gravel without any issues. Those Contis are even wider and tougher.

Heck, you should see what my cyclocross tires go through every week. I hammer those like they're MTB tires, and they're narrow 31mm tires that I run at 43 - 47psi (and I'm 210-ish pounds).
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Old 09-11-12, 06:44 PM
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It's exactly 1.5 miles over gravel roads to pavement from my house to the Post Office. I can go right instead of left out of the driveway 150 yards to a paved road and follow it. It adds exactly one mile to my route but takes less time and uses up far fewer nerves. I'm just not comfortable on the gravel.
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Old 09-11-12, 07:16 PM
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Gravel's fun. It takes some practice to develop what I call "gravel legs", where you instinctively shift your weight to stay balanced when the ground shifts under you.
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Old 09-11-12, 09:57 PM
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While not completely "slick," my Marathon's (700x35) were great on about 60 miles of gravel roads with a loaded Surly LHT when I biked up to my cabin this summer.
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Old 09-12-12, 12:58 AM
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I ride on a few gravel roads with no problems on my 28x700c 'Dillos. Just relax and keep your joints nice and elastic.
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Old 09-12-12, 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Trifusion
Thanks for the replies, it's very disconcerting listening to constant pings and pops of rocks shooting out from the tires. Sounds like a puncture but never is. I ride with Continental SportContact tires at about 80psi (tire max is 85psi) and they are 37mm not 35 as I said earlier.

Thanks

Greg
I love Conti Sport Contact tires, but even at my weight (265 lbs) I run mine at lower pressure than that. I run mine at about 62 front, 68 rear as measured by my Schwalbe digital gage.
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Old 09-12-12, 09:23 AM
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I live in North Idaho, and I ride my 23mm Continental Gator Hard-shells at 110 back/105 front psi over gravel roads all the time. Just takes practice... and remember to SLOW down before turns. Watch out for spots where the gravel gets super deep - those can be dangerous. In fact, it can be nice riding if you find a dirt smooth spot (be careful if it just rained) which many older gravel roads have. I agree, I hate rocks popping out from my tires but it happens on the road too. Remember to watch for potholes!
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Old 09-12-12, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac
I think you will be fine. Just remember riding through gravel requires a different skill set (aka: watch out and slow down when turning, etc).

When it rains or is wet out, after gravel, I like to stop and rub my hand around the wheel to get off any small pebbles that might cause a flat.
This is very good advice. Be aware that sand can cake up on your tires when wet - I recently suffered a broken collarbone as a result of that.
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