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Final Tire Choice - DK200

Old 05-10-17, 03:25 PM
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Final Tire Choice - DK200

We're just under a month out from the 2017 version of the Dirty Kanza 200. Time to make final equipment choices. I've spent the last few months putting a lot of miles on a lot of different tires.

My profile:

* I weigh about 150, my bike about 20, and my gear (with 2 bottles and 70oz Camel Bak) another 15 - around 185 all in.

* All tires mounted to HED Belgium + rims (20.5mm internal).

* I can pick a decent line and I'm not hard on my equipment.

* Training rides on gravel of 50-200 miles; total gravel distance covered for off-road training since January is just under 2k miles.

* Typical ride profile has 4-6,000 of vertical per 100 miles with grades up to 12%.

* Most of my "gravel" is packed dirt roads with 1" or less gravel, rutted/washboard surfaces or sand/washouts; when muddy (rare) it's mostly peanut butter.

Here's a quick recap:

Clement MSO - 40mm. Great float in sand and loose gravel. Cushy. Durable. Started with tubes then ran tubeless. I took them off because I did not want to continue using a non-TL tire without tubes. Great combination of grip and speed. Best of the bunch for mud.

Schwalbe G-One Allround - 35mm and 38mm. The 35s are a fast tire on- and off-road. I hit 55mph on a paved descent with no worries. 35s would get skittish on fast gravel descents, however, so I switched to the 38s. The wider tires gain some float and cushion, very comfortable for 100+ mile rides and over washboard. The tires have good grip when climbing out of the saddle and feel fairly supple. I'm worried about the sidewalls when exposed to the Flint Hills (see Amanda Naumann's experience). Tread wear in center is noticeable after just a few hundred miles.

Compass Bon Jon Pass EL - 35mm. Wonderful on road, supple and fast. OK during the 100 miles or so that I rode them on gravel. Front tire failed catastrophically during a paved training ride (may have had a cut, I could not tell from inspection after the fact). My favorites when using my gravel bike for on-road training rides; generally could keep pace with my roadie friends except during full-on hammerfests.

Hutchinson Overide - 38mm. Felt like the fastest tires of the bunch, both on- and off-road. Minimal tread is not the best for out of saddle climbing on grades over 8% but could be handled moving center of gravity down and back (over rear tire). Center of tread was bald after about 500 miles of off-road riding. Excellent float and feel on fast downhills, very comfortable and confident on washboard. Predictable grip and slip gave me the most confidence to drift through fast corners. Not a tire for mud. Like the G Ones, I'm worried about the sidewall durability given suppleness. This is a tire I plan to continue using after Kanza.

Panaracer Gravel King SK - 40mm. Ordered these tires and couldn't believe the heft once I had them in hand. Love the look of the tread and several buddies rave about them. I just couldn't get over the weight. Maybe a narrower version would work better for me, but I ended up sending them back. I figured if I wanted a fairly beefy tire with a proven tread I would stick with the Clement MSOs.


After spending many hundred miles on each of these tires I'm probably going to use the MSOs, but 36mm tubeless. There's a lot to be said for the cushion and reduced vibration with higher volume tires. There's also a lot to be said for a durable tire - nothing slows you down like standing on the side of the road (with a flat). And last, there's a lot to be said for having a tire that doesn't feel like an anchor when you've got over 10,000' of climbing on the day.

I've read way too many tire reviews and forum posts. I've talked to, and ridden with, people who have finished Kanza. Now I'm asking for last minute suggestions. All comments appreciated!

Last edited by Flamme Rouge; 05-10-17 at 03:30 PM. Reason: formatting
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Old 05-10-17, 04:08 PM
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glad you like the mso's, enjoying mine tubed. WTB nanos seem to be the tire I see most often compared to them, have you looked into them?
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Old 05-10-17, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Flamme Rouge
We're just under a month out from the 2017 version of the Dirty Kanza 200. Time to make final equipment choices. I've spent the last few months putting a lot of miles on a lot of different tires.

My profile:

* I weigh about 150, my bike about 20, and my gear (with 2 bottles and 70oz Camel Bak) another 15 - around 185 all in.

* All tires mounted to HED Belgium + rims (20.5mm internal).

* I can pick a decent line and I'm not hard on my equipment.

* Training rides on gravel of 50-200 miles; total gravel distance covered for off-road training since January is just under 2k miles.

* Typical ride profile has 4-6,000 of vertical per 100 miles with grades up to 12%.

* Most of my "gravel" is packed dirt roads with 1" or less gravel, rutted/washboard surfaces or sand/washouts; when muddy (rare) it's mostly peanut butter.

Here's a quick recap:

Clement MSO - 40mm. Great float in sand and loose gravel. Cushy. Durable. Started with tubes then ran tubeless. I took them off because I did not want to continue using a non-TL tire without tubes. Great combination of grip and speed. Best of the bunch for mud.

Schwalbe G-One Allround - 35mm and 38mm. The 35s are a fast tire on- and off-road. I hit 55mph on a paved descent with no worries. 35s would get skittish on fast gravel descents, however, so I switched to the 38s. The wider tires gain some float and cushion, very comfortable for 100+ mile rides and over washboard. The tires have good grip when climbing out of the saddle and feel fairly supple. I'm worried about the sidewalls when exposed to the Flint Hills (see Amanda Naumann's experience). Tread wear in center is noticeable after just a few hundred miles.

Compass Bon Jon Pass EL - 35mm. Wonderful on road, supple and fast. OK during the 100 miles or so that I rode them on gravel. Front tire failed catastrophically during a paved training ride (may have had a cut, I could not tell from inspection after the fact). My favorites when using my gravel bike for on-road training rides; generally could keep pace with my roadie friends except during full-on hammerfests.

Hutchinson Overide - 38mm. Felt like the fastest tires of the bunch, both on- and off-road. Minimal tread is not the best for out of saddle climbing on grades over 8% but could be handled moving center of gravity down and back (over rear tire). Center of tread was bald after about 500 miles of off-road riding. Excellent float and feel on fast downhills, very comfortable and confident on washboard. Predictable grip and slip gave me the most confidence to drift through fast corners. Not a tire for mud. Like the G Ones, I'm worried about the sidewall durability given suppleness. This is a tire I plan to continue using after Kanza.

Panaracer Gravel King SK - 40mm. Ordered these tires and couldn't believe the heft once I had them in hand. Love the look of the tread and several buddies rave about them. I just couldn't get over the weight. Maybe a narrower version would work better for me, but I ended up sending them back. I figured if I wanted a fairly beefy tire with a proven tread I would stick with the Clement MSOs.


After spending many hundred miles on each of these tires I'm probably going to use the MSOs, but 36mm tubeless. There's a lot to be said for the cushion and reduced vibration with higher volume tires. There's also a lot to be said for a durable tire - nothing slows you down like standing on the side of the road (with a flat). And last, there's a lot to be said for having a tire that doesn't feel like an anchor when you've got over 10,000' of climbing on the day.

I've read way too many tire reviews and forum posts. I've talked to, and ridden with, people who have finished Kanza. Now I'm asking for last minute suggestions. All comments appreciated!
Good post. I just got a couple GKs in and thought they felt heavy as well. But they are my first experience with a gravel tire so I don't have anything to base it against. I've heard good things about the 36mm MSO tubeless and honestly it sounds like a really good tire for DK. I'm curious to see what it measures once mounted.
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Old 05-10-17, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97
glad you like the mso's, enjoying mine tubed. WTB nanos seem to be the tire I see most often compared to them, have you looked into them?
I didn't really consider the Nano's. Partly because my background is more road than MTB, so WTB isn't as much on my radar. Also, partly, because of the weight.

Teravail's look interesting, but I didn't get around to riding any (yet), and although they look promising I can't find a lot of people who have thrashed/trashed them. Like my dad says, "a smart man learns from his mistakes, and a really smart man learns from the other guy's mistakes."
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Old 05-13-17, 07:44 AM
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Sarah Cooper, two-time Trans Iowa finisher, went with the MSOs on v13 this year. "I decided to trust the tires that have served me well for thousands of miles, the Clement MSO tubeless 36s. A new set is pretty damn durable, and I rarely puncture before a set has been on my bike for 1000 or more miles." I know a few other people with similar cred saying similar things. Good enough, choice finalized.
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Old 05-13-17, 07:47 AM
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I signed up for DK but had to sell my spot after a hernia surgery popped up a few weeks ago. I was planning on either using 36mm MSO's or Gravel Kings in 35mm. Everything I've been told is pick durable over light weight.
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Old 05-13-17, 11:15 AM
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DK 200 tires

I'll be doing the 200 this year and live within a few hours of Emporia so I've had the opportunity to get in about 500 miles on various sections of the course this year as well as speak with the locals at the bike shop there. Last weekend I did the 2016 100 mile course. My take on it is that people make way to much of the flint rock, honestly it's barely even noticeable compared to any other types of gravel I've ridden. There are some areas that have loose over extremely hard pack but mostly it's fast and not much issue. The biggest factor in tires is just that they are newish and not worn out and tubeless is highly preferred. I have Maxis Ramblers 40c that actually measure about 38 on my Pacenti Forza rims that are 21mm internal. Realizing I'm setting myself up for bad karma here, I've never had a single issue.

I'm no pro, a typical 50mile gravel ride for me is averaging about 15-16mph. Out there in the Flint Hills that drops to around 12-13mph and I'm usually just taking in the scenery or cursing the endless short climbs and wind. In those conditions tire choice for me is not factor. I believe most any of the newer designs from any manufacturer will get you to the end if your physically and mentally prepared.

What I've learned the most from being out there is that I personally need alot more water than usual. The heat and wind will be a huge factor but one that I'm always surprised by is the exposure factor, there is zero shade and trees for the most part. It can take a toll.

Cheers see you out there.
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Old 05-13-17, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by chris406
I'll be doing the 200 this year and live within a few hours of Emporia so I've had the opportunity to get in about 500 miles on various sections of the course this year as well as speak with the locals at the bike shop there. Last weekend I did the 2016 100 mile course. My take on it is that people make way to much of the flint rock, honestly it's barely even noticeable compared to any other types of gravel I've ridden. There are some areas that have loose over extremely hard pack but mostly it's fast and not much issue. The biggest factor in tires is just that they are newish and not worn out and tubeless is highly preferred. I have Maxis Ramblers 40c that actually measure about 38 on my Pacenti Forza rims that are 21mm internal. Realizing I'm setting myself up for bad karma here, I've never had a single issue.

I'm no pro, a typical 50mile gravel ride for me is averaging about 15-16mph. Out there in the Flint Hills that drops to around 12-13mph and I'm usually just taking in the scenery or cursing the endless short climbs and wind. In those conditions tire choice for me is not factor. I believe most any of the newer designs from any manufacturer will get you to the end if your physically and mentally prepared.

What I've learned the most from being out there is that I personally need alot more water than usual. The heat and wind will be a huge factor but one that I'm always surprised by is the exposure factor, there is zero shade and trees for the most part. It can take a toll.

Cheers see you out there.
Excellent first post, thank you for joining to share that!
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Old 05-14-17, 09:46 AM
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All I've read about the dirty kanza tells me 40 to 50 is the sweet spot, and that Clement MSO s won't do you wrong. Re exposure, yep. All I will say is there is nothing like a long sleeve white t shirt to combat uv and reflect heat. People that wear black in those conditions are nuts.

Last edited by bcpriess; 05-14-17 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 05-15-17, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Flamme Rouge
I've read way too many tire reviews and forum posts. I've talked to, and ridden with, people who have finished Kanza. Now I'm asking for last minute suggestions. All comments appreciated!
My personal preference is for 38s or above; I've finished DK twice on specialized trigger pro 38s, so I'm not changing it (except finally made the upgrade to tubeless this year), but I know lots and lots and lots of people swear by the MSOs so you're probably in good shape.

I agree with whoever said people make too big of a deal out of the sharp pointy gravel. You have 1000 people riding the 200-mile course, I don't care if they're riding on perfectly smooth paved surfaces, a lot of people are going to have flats and you're going to hear about them because it's a highly concentrated number of people on one day. Just try to ride smart.

One thing - try to resist the urge to bomb down the descents. Virtually every descent has some big ruts and giant chunks of gravel at the bottom, and pretty much at the bottom of every descent you can count on seeing 3-4 guys on the side of the road fixing flats, or picking up their garage sale because they hit a rut and wiped out. 200 miles is a long way, and the few seconds you might gain by taking a big risk on a descent aren't worth the potential injury or mechanical failure.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck!
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Old 05-15-17, 02:14 PM
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Agreed about the pointy gravel getting too much attention. But . . . I think the pointy gravel is primarily an issue where (1) someone has brain fade and rides off onto the mounded pointy gravel at the side of the road, or (2) someone gets forced onto the pointy gravel because they are riding in a large pack and have no way to avoid it.

Flats SEEM to happen at DK at the bottoms of descents. High speed. Collections of rubble. And the worst situation is to be in a pack on one of the steeper, rock-strewn descents. When you have no room to maneuver, you can be forced to hit something you wish you hadn't.

Enjoy the race!

My personal favorite tire for DK200 is the Challenge Gravel Grinder. Just the right width (with central file tread) for high speed and the side knobs provide plenty of control on the worst gravel Kansas can offer. Over 1/3 of DK200 is generally pretty civilized gravel, ridden against a strong wind. If you've got a tire that goes fast on pavement, yet handles the rough stuff well, it's a tire that can save you a lot of time in the long, mind-numbing section.
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