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SE MI tire selection advice request

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SE MI tire selection advice request

Old 12-02-15, 03:59 AM
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SE MI tire selection advice request

Hi all,

I'd like some thoughts from those familiar with the dirt roads in southeast Michigan regarding tire selection.

I've ridden those roads a bit over the years, and find them usually hardpack and easily traveled by regular 23c road tire, but I've not, to date, made riding them a regular affair, nor an all season affair, so maybe my view is limited.

Certainly the gravel bike trend and the obsession with big tires has gotten me confused and uncertain of what I think I know, so I wanted to get some specific feedback from others.

What do you think is the best size and type for fast dirt road riding here? Do the seasons recommend different tires? What would you run for mixed use, fast group riding here?

Thanks!
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Old 12-02-15, 07:54 AM
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I'm on the opposite side of the state up in the thumb. If the dirt/gravel is fairly packed down then you don't need anything super knobby. I like my Challenge Strada Biancas as they look like a fat road tire with no tread whatever but just a nice supple casing. The only roads around here that are paved are the main roads and anything else is gravel/dirt and this has suited me well. Also check out or sign up for the Bicycle Quarterly weekly newsletters as Jan offers a lot of helpful info in those. Most of his tires he offers are more geared towards backroads type riding. Basically the biggest but not too big and supple tires.
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Old 12-02-15, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
I'm on the opposite side of the state up in the thumb. If the dirt/gravel is fairly packed down then you don't need anything super knobby. I like my Challenge Strada Biancas as they look like a fat road tire with no tread whatever but just a nice supple casing. The only roads around here that are paved are the main roads and anything else is gravel/dirt and this has suited me well. Also check out or sign up for the Bicycle Quarterly weekly newsletters as Jan offers a lot of helpful info in those. Most of his tires he offers are more geared towards backroads type riding. Basically the biggest but not too big and supple tires.
Thanks, HenryIII.

There's plenty of pavement around here, of course, but there are a couple popular of dirt road routes out of town here that make the better part of 40-something mile rides on dirt, so the trick for me is to find the right balance of size and tread pattern that works for fast riding on both dirt and pavement.

I guess to put my questions another way, I'm wondering if dirt road conditions get to be such that a 25c or 28c file tread pattern-- I've used GravelKings successfully this past year for a few rides-- is really going to be at a disadvantage on the dirt? Again, my experience has been good on 23c, even, but also very limited.

On one ride, actually on Jan. 1st this year, I did run across some loose surface, I think from recent grading, which did unsettle the bike a bit, so I could easily see from that moving up from 23s would help there. What I don't know is whether a 30c would roll so much faster on the dirt than say a 26c.

I think you're right that something like the knobbed 32c GravelKing is too much, and that looking along the lines of a Compass tire (if that's the BQ/Jan tire you referred to) would be better. I'm intrigued by the notion of running tubeless with the Bon Jon Pass 35c, but am also worried about giving up too much top end speed on pavement...and fitting a 35c in my Kinesis frame. It certainly won't go with fenders, and I dislike getting too messy! Also, on a wide tubeless rim, the Bon Jon would probably balloon too much; I gotta ask Kinesis about fitments.

Thanks again!
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Old 12-02-15, 10:38 AM
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I run 32mm Gravel Kings on my frame I just built and think it's a great tire since it doesn't have an aggressive tread pattern but still some when it gets to some sketchier patches. I'm building another bike with larger 38mm normal cx tires since it'll be more of an all road style of bike. My 30mm Strada's haven't slowed me down and don't enjoy riding on 23/25 tires around here too much. I think the Gravel Kings will be a good tire for Barry Roubaix this spring but I'll probably bring both bikes just incase.

I was never a fender guy but it was nice having a tire I could take down most roads and still not end up with a dirty rooster tail on my backside afterwards. I'd like to run a tubeless road setup but I haven't had a single flat since moving here this past June from Southern Oregon. I don't miss going through tubes and patches from all that goat head thorns that are everywhere.
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Old 12-02-15, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
My 30mm...haven't slowed me down...
Yeah, that's what people say, so I guess I just have to try it. I do run 30c Vittoria RandoPro on my utility bike, and it rolls pretty well, but the extra weight and different geometry make it hard for me to translate out to a 30c on a roadie. I'll just have to try it, maybe using your endorsement for the 32mm GravelKings; I've got them in two smaller sizes, with the file tread pattern, and think they're super, so if the quality casing is shared with that larger one, it would not be a bad place to start as far as trying a larger size goes. Thanks again!
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Old 12-02-15, 05:38 PM
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Installing Challenge Strade Biancas tonight - 30mm
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Old 12-03-15, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Trsnrtr View Post
Installing Challenge Strade Biancas tonight - 30mm
Do you have the same kind of dirt roads down there as we have here? Did you select the SBs based on your experience with other tire designs?
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Old 12-03-15, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Do you have the same kind of dirt roads down there as we have here? Did you select the SBs based on your experience with other tire designs?
I bought these on recommendation of Velomine for our gravel roads which are generally in good shape. Rarely see dirt. Also, don't need cleated tires.

I've used the Kenda knobby tires that came on my CX bike but the majority of the riding that I do on gravel has stretches of asphalt in between.

I also used 28 mm Continentals but thought I'd give these a try.
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Old 12-03-15, 08:33 AM
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Old 12-03-15, 08:42 AM
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Old 12-03-15, 10:21 AM
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In the same vein as the Challenge Strada Bianca, Clement has the Strada LGG. Currently they're available up to a 28, but the interwebs says a 32 is coming along sometime soon.

EDIT: I don't ride in Michigan, but I do I have the Strada LGG 25's on my road bike and it see's it's share of unpaved roads.

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Old 12-03-15, 12:59 PM
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25-32c tires will be rideable on smooth hardpack. However, if loose rock is ever dumped on the road, they will be very harsh, slow, and unstable. I have successfully ridden down smooth gravel numerous times on 25c Conti GP4000's on my road bike, but it turns rocky or loose, I find it difficult to maintain any speed over 10 mph. Hitting a 2" diameter rock with a 1" wide tire is not something you want to do .

Bigger is generally better - unless you really do have nothing but smooth, flat, dry hardpack, with only minimal loose rock.

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Old 12-03-15, 06:52 PM
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If you've never dealt with these before they can be a hassle installing. They stretch but at first extremely tight and I had to use a 18/23mm tube because of the design of the tire. If you try to install a tube to match th e tire size you'll end up with a headache or a pinched tube. The tread lays lays flat even after nearly a year of use but they will stretch and can be removed without levers. I normally run these at 75-80psi as I'm about 190 lbs and less it gets mushy and more it becomes jarring. I bought these when I worked at a shop and got them at cost but if I didn't then I wouldn't of spent that much on them.
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Old 12-03-15, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
If you've never dealt with these before they can be a hassle installing. They stretch but at first extremely tight and I had to use a 18/23mm tube because of the design of the tire. If you try to install a tube to match th e tire size you'll end up with a headache or a pinched tube. The tread lays lays flat even after nearly a year of use but they will stretch and can be removed without levers. I normally run these at 75-80psi as I'm about 190 lbs and less it gets mushy and more it becomes jarring. I bought these when I worked at a shop and got them at cost but if I didn't then I wouldn't of spent that much on them.
To which tire are you referring?
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Old 12-03-15, 07:25 PM
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Challenge Strada Biancas. Do a search on installing.
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Old 12-03-15, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
Challenge Strada Biancas. Do a search on installing.
I installed a pair last night without any trouble but I can see where some people might have some problems. BTW, my 30mm Bianca's measured 32mm wide when mounted. I had that was the case and it was true.
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Old 12-03-15, 11:28 PM
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It's been noted that they'll grow quite a bit. Overall a awesome tire but I have a few spots where the tread and cases are delaminating and lots of cases with Challenge tires. Just some stuff to watch for.
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Old 12-04-15, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
It's been noted that they'll grow quite a bit. Overall a awesome tire but I have a few spots where the tread and cases are delaminating and lots of cases with Challenge tires. Just some stuff to watch for.
Ew, that's no good! Too expensive for me to be fooling around with that kind of stuff...

If I could try a good quality 30c tire for like $70-$80 a pair, I might do that, but paying that for a single is off the table until I get the wheelset I want. Since that wheelset will undoubtedly be tubeless, there's just no point for me to invest in other than tubeless tires; I'm a big tubeless fan.

The Schwalbe S One is very attractive, and would be a no-brainer if it came in a 25c width which would plump out to 27mm-28mm on a wide, 19mm-20mm internal width rim like American Classic Argent or HED Ardennes+ (just because I could still fit them with a fender on my frame).
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Old 12-08-15, 03:23 PM
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I've found 27x1.25 and 700x28c tires work fine on the packed dirt. Helps to soak up the occasional washboard, pothole, rock, etc. Can even cope with deeper gravel that is in a few spots around my place (South Genessee County). For one tire to rule them all, I'd go for something in the 30's with some tread tough. Not knobby, more like car tire tread, to cope with the mud/slime that happens when it rains.
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Old 12-08-15, 09:01 PM
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Thanks for the feedback, Caliper!
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Old 12-09-15, 08:06 AM
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I really like my 32mm Gravel Kings so far as my roads can go from fairly packed to boulder size rocks and huge ruts from tractors within in mile and this goes back and forth for most of my ride. So I need a pretty versatile tire and I'm not one for adjusting pressure to accommodate the road type. I'd be adjusting it every mile or so and just adjust my position and relax. I ordered some 40mm Kenda Happy Mediums for my other back roads bike and excited to try them out once they arrive. We've got sticky sandy type unpaved roads here so close to Lake Huron but with our area being mainly farm land the tractors and our farm machinery really does takes a toll on my favorite roads. Since we've been here in the thumb I tell folks that traffic jam here is when you get stuck behind a tractor on the road but my last ride I didn't deal with any automobiles so it's quite nice.
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Old 12-11-15, 03:41 AM
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So I decided to fit some Kenda Kwik 30c, the old K879 semi-knob model, for a pre-run of the Waterloo Grit & Gravel Race course this weekend. I use these on my utility bike in the winter, and like them for running around town, but I do want to get a better sense of the role of tire volume on dirt road. Because the race is in March, I'm also expecting it's going to be quite soft and muddy, so even if a more aggressive tread is 't needed now, it probably will be come spring, so I might as well get a sense of what I can do pushing a bigger tire hard.

I'm still hoping to get tubeless rims shod with Schwalbe S-One by then, but the GravelKing 32s are probably a) doable in the frame (I fitted just the front Kwik 30c, and there's still room there), and b) an improvement in feel over the Kendas for their better, more supple casing.

I'll come back with a ride report on the Kwiks Saturday!

Thanks again @Caliper and @HenryIII!
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Old 12-11-15, 04:44 AM
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You want some room as my 32 Gravel kings aren't the best at shedding mud and packed the space between the tire and bottom of the fork crown and every nook and cranny of the caliper. I'm excited to try out 40mm Kenda Happy Mediums 5hat arrive today for my other gravel bike.
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Old 12-11-15, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Henry III View Post
You want some room as my 32 Gravel kings aren't the best at shedding mud and packed the space between the tire and bottom of the fork crown and every nook and cranny of the caliper. I'm excited to try out 40mm Kenda Happy Mediums 5hat arrive today for my other gravel bike.
There's still a good deal of space above the 30c Kwiks, like the height of a brake pad:




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Old 12-13-15, 04:29 PM
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So my ride on the Kwik K879s went well. It has been rain-free recently, but foggy and humid, so the dirt roads were were mostly hardpack, save for some recently graded sections, and the surfaces were tacky, not dusty. We've got lots of sand around here, too, so conditions were fast.

I was probably a little over-aired at 80/85 f/r at 220lb, but I new it would be on pavement a fair bit, and that it'd be hardpack otherwise, so I thought I'd benchmark off that.

Aside from a couple of climbs where I got wheel spin from transitioning out of the saddle too aggressively, I'd say I had the right balance of grip and roll. On those loose, graded sections, I could have used a little more float, perhaps, but I wasn't really knifing in and skating around so it wasn't too bad.

Next go-round, I'll try airing down to 75/80 and see how it goes.

EDIT: in fairness, w/r/t rear tire traction on the climbs, I did have the tire reversed from the indicated direction of travel in order to (hopefully) reduce the rolling resistance.

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