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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

what tires for what gravel?

Old 05-02-16, 10:34 AM
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what tires for what gravel?

So what width tires do you use for what conditions? I rode across some 3/4 gravel this morning for a small stretch, on 35mm tires bounced a lot and did not feel stable. I would use the 29x 2" tires it came with if I ever need to much of that. Since I live near to Katy trail I'll use the 35's for that. For going to NY to visit my son, I'll try 32's for mostly pavement and some crushed limestone.
What's your experience and opinion?
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Old 05-02-16, 12:43 PM
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40mm Clement XPLOR MSO folding tires. Smooth center strip is relatively quiet, the tires are relatively light, and it grips well for what I need.
They have been great for what I ride the bike on which are gravel roads and paved trails. Gravel roads here are a mix of 3/4" all the way to hardpacked dirt. Im no gravelologist, so not sure of the proper terminology for the contents of the rural farm access roads around me.

The MSO comes in 32mm width too.
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Old 05-02-16, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
40mm Clement XPLOR MSO folding tires.
I have the 35mm USH version, love them for gravel, limestone, pavement, single-track, winter ... I've used these tires on the Westside Dirty Benjamin (gravel century).
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Old 05-02-16, 01:57 PM
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I use 650 x 38 mm Pacenti/Panaracer Pari-Moto, 700 x 38 Bontrager CX0, or 26 x 54 mm Schwalbe Thunder Burt tires on my gravel bikes.
My "road" bike has 32 mm Panaracer Gravel King SK tires, so it's gravel-capable if not gravel-optimized.

The gravel I ride on is mostly .5 inch to 1 inch limestone gravel, but usually well-packed by cars. It can be gnarly in spots, but picking a good line can be rewarding. My group rides a lot of gravel/dirt "B" roads, which are adventuresome.

Fresh, unpacked gravel is tough to ride through on anything smaller than a fat tire, but a fat bike rides too slow on the remaining, less-gnarly sections.
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Old 05-02-16, 02:31 PM
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I use everything from 700x27 Vittoria Pave to 29x1.9 Kendra Small Block tires.

If the gravel is dry and in good condition, a tire that is 700x32 or smaller is sufficient and faster than a bigger tire.
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Old 05-02-16, 02:39 PM
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I ride my 23's or 25's on pea gravel, and reasonably well packed 3/4 minus.

I had my Clement X'Plor USH 35mm tires on a pretty rough road last year. 2" or so gravel? I had to play around with the pressure a bit to get some cushion while keeping the wheels from bottoming out. I'm not a big Cross rider though.
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Old 05-02-16, 03:05 PM
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I honestly think the gravel thing is a bit hyped up. Big but not too big. I like going with whatever you can fit in your bike and whatever has the softest casing and very minimal knobs or a nice file tread.
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Old 05-03-16, 05:59 AM
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there is something to be said for smaller tires if your gravel is compatible, tires floating over the surface may not always be the best thing. Unfortunately, around here a smaller tire will be scary for a lot of the ride. Either being steered by the gravel or digging in, it just doesn't make much sense to ride anything less than a tire that is as big as you can get on the bike. Last year I went from 30mm to 38mm, and that was a big improvement in stability and security in handling. I have been busy on the road since I put the 40mm Gravelkings on, but they look really good, much more supple and a little bigger. So I'm hoping for good things
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Old 05-03-16, 06:40 AM
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This was about 2" of freshly poured 3/4 " clean limestone.
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Old 05-03-16, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox
This was about 2" of freshly poured 3/4 " clean limestone.
Fresh, unpacked gravel can be a big challenge.

In my experience, a "normal" cross/gravel tire (32-38 mm) will struggle in fresh gravel, randomly cutting in or floating.
A 2" MTB tire will make it through OK, mostly floating but still pushing some gravel around.
And of course a 4.5" fat bike tire will rumble over the top, chuckling the whole way (until you have to climb the next hill).
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Old 05-03-16, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Tim_Iowa
Fresh, unpacked gravel can be a big challenge.
Ha, yeah it is!
I did a 15mi ride this afternoon on a new route. 10mi of gravel roads over rolling hills, 2mi of limestone trail, and 3mi of paved highway.
On 2 spots of gravel, it was so soft i could sink a foot down an inch by just standing. One part was freshly laid, about .5mi long up a hill...brutal! And about 1mi was road that was in the process (as i rode it) of being edged and turned over. A massive machine big as a combine was scraping up all the extra gravel and dirt that had been lifted from the edges of the road. I guess they do this periodically to keep the road the proper width.
That was some slow going.

Wanted to get a pic of the soft road, but if i stopped i wouldnt gave gotten started again!

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Old 05-03-16, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Squeezebox
This was about 2" of freshly poured 3/4 " clean limestone.
A couple of years ago a friend and i went for an early ride on farm roads that were paceked dirt/gravel and the ride out was great. Unfortunately the ride was long and whilst we were at the far end of the ride the roads closer to home had deep fresh gravel poured on them. Even with our 26"x2.125" knobby tires it was CHORE getting up any incline and there was a lot of slipping and fishtailing all along that fresh gravel. Many times we tried to ride at the very edge of the road where the gravel wasn't completely covering the surface but those areas were very few. Fresh gravel = great workout no matter what tire you're using.

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Old 05-03-16, 07:55 PM
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What pressure are you running? If you have too much for the conditions, you'll bounce around.

I run 700x32s at 70 psi on the Katy Trail. I weigh around 215 lbs. Never had a pinch flat and the ride is smooth.
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Old 05-04-16, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by JerrySTL
What pressure are you running? If you have too much for the conditions, you'll bounce around.

I run 700x32s at 70 psi on the Katy Trail. I weigh around 215 lbs. Never had a pinch flat and the ride is smooth.
Sounds right unless unless the Katy is extra soggy from a recent rain.
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Old 05-04-16, 08:37 PM
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I have the vee rubber rail 40mm tires. Really like them. I use them as my main tire for riding single track on my cx, but also on my commute. Nice on pavement, gravel rail trail, hardback and single track. Best all round tire I have used on the cx bike.
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Old 05-04-16, 09:52 PM
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"Gravel". I read that and laughed. In these parts gravel is usually sold in 1/2" dimensions. That means 1/2" is sorted at "1/2". Inch and half is sorted at 1.5". Etc. 2" rock is way different than 1/2". 3" minus is everything less than 3". Pit run is what is blasted at the quarry and that can be allover the boards on size and it grades to a really rough road. Logging roads tend to use 3" minus with occasional areas of 2" (or less) to top dress and fill in cracks of whatever was first placed. What's all this mean for a cyclist? Be prepared for rough logging roads/county gravel roads (rare but there) here in SW Washington. Basalt gets real sharp when crushed so tires that are tough and larger... fatbike roads in my opinion. Add water and ugh. Then there's chip seal. Take a perfectly smooth new stretch of asphalt, coat with oil, drop small sharp gravel (<.5"), roll out. Eats tires. South Bend-Palix road is a classic county/logging road. There are times you can't drive 15 mph on it in a truck. Just a little lumpy on a fatbike.
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Old 05-04-16, 11:36 PM
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I have 35mm Schwalbe G-Ones on my bike and they're pretty good. Decent rolling resistance on pavement and decent traction on singletrack. Considering its what they were designed for they are pretty much perfect for gravel.
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Old 05-05-16, 11:06 PM
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Used Pasela TGs past couple years and finally split a sidewall on one before the season. This year I am on 35mm happy mediums I picked up for less than a pair of socks.
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Old 05-05-16, 11:13 PM
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I had my motorcycle at an RV park once that had crushed gravel everywhere. No help from bigger tires! About I guess a 4in tire in front and 6in in the rear. They just plowed in and sank. It was too hot to boot, so I gave camping a miss and went in to town to find a hotel. (This was in Hawthorne, NV).
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