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Mountain bike questions

Old 05-14-17, 10:55 AM
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trail_monkey
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Mountain bike questions

For those of you that like to gravel grind on your flat bar mountain bike, how many of you run mountain bike size tires with a non aggressive tread and how many of you put actual gravel grinding style tires on like you would if you had a true drop bar gravel grinder bike? I took my mountain bike on a nice gravel ride yesterday and it's the first time I've used that bike for that purpose since last summer but I kept thinking how much nicer that thing might roll if I had 42s on it instead of 2.25 Maxxis Ikons. The rolling resistance was plenty high and it made the bike feel really sluggish.
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Old 05-14-17, 12:00 PM
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The tread on the Ikons likely has more to do with the sluggish feel than the size, in my experience (not your tires in particular, just in general). A file-tread 54mm tire will push roughly the same as a file tread 42mm, if only a bit slower. For me, that doesn't matter, but if you're chasing perfection, well, yeah, get some 42s...but beware your bottom bracket height, if this is coming from a mountain bike.

FYI, you can buy Schwalbe Big One-s in 2.35", but they aren't very good for [mountain bike] offroad use.

If I'm just riding my mountain bike on gravel, once, I'm not going to change tires just for that, though. Maybe if I was racing--as if!
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Old 05-14-17, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by wschruba View Post
The tread on the Ikons likely has more to do with the sluggish feel than the size, in my experience (not your tires in particular, just in general). A file-tread 54mm tire will push roughly the same as a file tread 42mm, if only a bit slower. For me, that doesn't matter, but if you're chasing perfection, well, yeah, get some 42s...but beware your bottom bracket height, if this is coming from a mountain bike.

FYI, you can buy Schwalbe Big One-s in 2.35", but they aren't very good for [mountain bike] offroad use.

If I'm just riding my mountain bike on gravel, once, I'm not going to change tires just for that, though. Maybe if I was racing--as if!
I typically ride my Wolverine. But when I went to go riding yesterday I just thought I hadn't ridden this bike for quite a long time so I just wanted to change things up a little bit.
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Old 05-14-17, 02:53 PM
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I run Continental Speed Rides on my flat bar mountain bike (1992 Univega rigid -- I swapped out the original flat bars and put in 1-1/2" risers for comfort). Great all around tires. File tread with side knobbies. 700x42 only, wire bead (which I have) or folding, both under 500 gm. As other users have noted they run a bit narrower than spec, closer to 700x38.

On smooth pavement I run 'em around 60-65 psi in the back now (I've gradually increased pressure recently), 55-60 psi front. Chip seal, I like 'em better a bit lower for comfort (due to a busted up back and neck). For gravel and grass I'll run 'em around 50-55 psi rear, 45-50 psi front. No problems with pinch flats -- I weigh 160 lbs.

Great compromise between smooth, quiet rolling on pavement and grip on gravel and grass. After about six months and 1,500 miles I have no complaints. I'd buy 'em again, although these are wearing so well I won't need to replace 'em anytime soon. The tread feels very soft and pliable yet it's durable. The uninflated sidewalls feel soft and pliable, more so than the Clements I've handled locally, so I'm not sure the relatively low TPI really matters.

The side knobbies don't do much unless I'm on grass or open fields, with the pressure reduced and cornering, but the knobbies don't get in the way most of the time either. They're fine for dry or only damp grass, pasture, prairie, open fields, etc. They're not for riding in wet or mucky conditions, loose dry soil, etc. But I avoid riding stuff like that anyway.

The side knobbies can feel a bit squirmy on tight, fast corning on pavement, so be alert the first few rides. I got accustomed to it pretty quickly, but always pay close attention on cornering. Considering I don't do much riding in situations that would benefit from knobbies I'd like to see a variation of the Speed Ride without the knobbies, something like a skinnier version of the Schwalbe Big Ones. A friend has the 29er Big Ones on his gravel grinder and the tread is very similar to the Conti Speed Ride, but with the diamond or file tread across the shoulders, no knobbies

BTW, if your rims can handle wide tires, check out the Schwalbe Big Ones too. Recently Jenson USA had the 29ers on sale for less than $20, a bargain. These tires look huge but are lightweight, under 500 gm, and roll fast. My buddy surprised some roadies on a recent 150 mile ride by averaging 16 mph and passing some folks riding lighter, skinnier tires. He says they look like mountain bike fatties but roll like lightweight tires. If my Univega could clear 'em I'd try the Big Ones, but my front derailer cable clamp bolt won't clear wider tires.

* * *


Conti Speed Rides on the '92 Univega Via Carisma. Great for local gravel rides, both on the MUP and rural roads. Smooth rolling on pavement too.

* * *


I was checking to be sure the Continental Speed Rides would clear the Kool Stop Eagle 2 pads on the front. They will, just barely -- I need to squiggle 'em out a bit. I've since replaced those Kool Stops with thinner Jagwire pads that brake just as well and clear the tire and fork more easily.

I still run Kool Stop Eagle 2 on the back. The Eagle 2 pads are easier to set up with cantilever brakes. The plow tip is self-aligning for toe-in. Much less hassle for canti brakes.

Last edited by canklecat; 05-14-17 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 05-14-17, 05:21 PM
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Yes my rims will handle those. I have run 2.4 Ardents on them before.
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Old 05-14-17, 05:24 PM
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I have a "El Cheapo" Walmart Genesis GS29, (bought 2, for me and my son). On my son's bike (he is a newbie rider) I put on 38's and I have to tell you, that thing rolls! Compared to my bike, it is fast!

I still have the 29x2.25 knobbies that came with it and intend to wear them out and his originals too. My idea was to give him an advantage over my bike (assuming that my riding experience would compensate any difference) but the change in tires made his bike much faster.

It accelerates, brakes and rides fast for a cheap piece of junk bike (that has almost 1,000 miles on it) $129 bike.
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Old 05-14-17, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
I have a "El Cheapo" Walmart Genesis GS29, (bought 2, for me and my son). On my son's bike (he is a newbie rider) I put on 38's and I have to tell you, that thing rolls! Compared to my bike, it is fast!

I still have the 29x2.25 knobbies that came with it and intend to wear them out and his originals too. My idea was to give him an advantage over my bike (assuming that my riding experience would compensate any difference) but the change in tires made his bike much faster.

It accelerates, brakes and rides fast for a cheap piece of junk bike (that has almost 1,000 miles on it) $129 bike.
Cheap bike or not I am glad to see you and your son out riding
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Old 05-14-17, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey View Post
Cheap bike or not I am glad to see you and your son out riding
Thanks but there is a story.... he came out of a drug addiction clinic last year and I have been using the bikes to sort of switch the drug addiction to a cycling addiction.

It has been working to a limited but somewhat successful degree but not as good as I had hoped. Either way, we celebrated a year sober a few months ago. He likes the bike rides but his fitness is hampered by asthma attacks in the cold or hot muggy humid days.
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Old 05-14-17, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
Thanks but there is a story.... he came out of a drug addiction clinic last year and I have been using the bikes to sort of switch the drug addiction to a cycling addiction.

It has been working to a limited but somewhat successful degree but not as good as I had hoped. Either way, we celebrated a year sober a few months ago. He likes the bike rides but his fitness is hampered by asthma attacks in the cold or hot muggy humid days.
A good friend of mine struggled for years and has been sober for almost 3 years now. Keep the positive reinforcement coming!
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Old 05-14-17, 11:07 PM
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Light weight and low rolling resistance continental bicycle Speed King, Continental Speed King II RaceSport Rolling Resistance Review. Tire construction is very good, the beads are flawless, and the tire spins true without lumps or hops. Mine mounted tubeless easily, and I do recommend sealant because the tire has little puncture resistance.
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Old 05-23-17, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by NYMXer View Post
Thanks but there is a story.... he came out of a drug addiction clinic last year and I have been using the bikes to sort of switch the drug addiction to a cycling addiction.

It has been working to a limited but somewhat successful degree but not as good as I had hoped. Either way, we celebrated a year sober a few months ago. He likes the bike rides but his fitness is hampered by asthma attacks in the cold or hot muggy humid days.
You sound like a good father. For me, riding has been a welcome substitute for drinking. I had my last drink August 3, 2011.
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Old 05-25-17, 02:39 PM
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Weight, carcass design, and Tread design all have a large impact on rolling resistance (well, weight just affects hill climbing and acceleration, but does a LOT to make the bike feel light and responsive).

I personally think 40mm (more or less) is the perfect size for me and gravel roads. I use 26x1.5 (actually 42mm) or 700c x 40mm to ride gravel. you can find some nice supple fast rolling light tires in that size. I am sometime amazed at what a difference a tire can make. Bicyclerollingresistance review shows how big the spread can be, although they tend to test only high end tires. You have to multiply their results by 2 if you ride on two tires, and even then it doesn't account for the liveliness of a light tire/wheel.
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Old 05-26-17, 08:26 AM
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I use and recommend the Michelin Country Rock for 26" applications. It comes in only one size: 26x1.75, and measures out to exactly 1.75" at 40-50 psi on old Araya 26x1.5 rims. They have a diamond file tread pattern like those Conti SpeedRIDEs, and roll smooth and supple on pretty much every surface you'd expect to encounter. Also light for their size (560g). And cheap (usually around 20 bucks each).
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Old 06-01-17, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by axi0m View Post
You sound like a good father. For me, riding has been a welcome substitute for drinking. I had my last drink August 3, 2011.
Thank you and good luck on your sobriety.
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Old 06-01-17, 08:20 PM
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I second the Continental SpeedRide. I've done about 400 miles gravel and 400 miles road with them so far on my drop bar gravel bike. Great on all surfaces except for mud and slime. I had to replace one of them because it was torn from a piece of steel belted radial on the side of the road. I've since put in some RhinoDillos. Not sure if they will help and they have their own problems but worth a shot. On that note. I have a pair of Vee Rubber V10 2.1 file treads on my low end 29'r, got them for like $9 each a while back. more aggressive than the Speedride but still a huge improvement in rolling on gravel and road over the 2.25 unknown full MTB tire that was on there.
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Old 06-01-17, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Weight, carcass design, and Tread design all have a large impact on rolling resistance (well, weight just affects hill climbing and acceleration, but does a LOT to make the bike feel light and responsive).

I personally think 40mm (more or less) is the perfect size for me and gravel roads. I use 26x1.5 (actually 42mm) or 700c x 40mm to ride gravel. you can find some nice supple fast rolling light tires in that size. I am sometime amazed at what a difference a tire can make. Bicyclerollingresistance review shows how big the spread can be, although they tend to test only high end tires. You have to multiply their results by 2 if you ride on two tires, and even then it doesn't account for the liveliness of a light tire/wheel.

About those tests...
I have 26x1.75 Marathon Greengaurd on my hybrid which are very low rolling resistance. What I think that testing misses is resistance when the ground is anything other than hard pavement or perfect. Compared to other tires I have, the greenguard has a very noticeable drop in rolling resistance as soon as the terrain get a little rough or softens on say loose gravel, soft or moist dirt etc. It's like they just sink in and bog down. I actually have two sets of wheels I swap on my hybrid depending on conditions, the other wheels have 26x2.1 Smart Sam. On the road The Smart Sam is not as good as the Marathon (but close) but off road the Smart Sam is much better rolling and has much less of a transition in feel when going between both.

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Old 06-02-17, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by trail_monkey View Post
For those of you that like to gravel grind on your flat bar mountain bike, how many of you run mountain bike size tires with a non aggressive tread and how many of you put actual gravel grinding style tires on like you would if you had a true drop bar gravel grinder bike? I took my mountain bike on a nice gravel ride yesterday and it's the first time I've used that bike for that purpose since last summer but I kept thinking how much nicer that thing might roll if I had 42s on it instead of 2.25 Maxxis Ikons. The rolling resistance was plenty high and it made the bike feel really sluggish.
I have done some long rides on my rigid MTB with maxxis ikons (29x2.2, the tubeless, exo version) including the DK100 last year. Overall, I think they are great. The advantage is they do great over uneven surfaces and chunky fresh gravel, grip well on loose gravel hills, and they seem to take a beating. One thing I really like about training on them is that they allow me to maintain consistent speed/effort... At the DK, there were a few times where I passed other riders because the terrain dictated they dismount on their narrower tires. However, there is a resistance penalty and I'd bet most of those ladies/gents passed me later when I was dogging it toward the end of the race

So, if the roads are pretty tame, I'd certainly opt for something narrower with a less agressive tread if speed is your primary concern. For leisure, training, or extended gravel expeditions, I cant imagine anything wrong with ikons. That being said, I'll be running a narrower less agressive tire this year at DK, so we'll see how it works out.
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Old 06-02-17, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post
I have done some long rides on my rigid MTB with maxxis ikons (29x2.2, the tubeless, exo version) including the DK100 last year. Overall, I think they are great. The advantage is they do great over uneven surfaces and chunky fresh gravel, grip well on loose gravel hills, and they seem to take a beating. One thing I really like about training on them is that they allow me to maintain consistent speed/effort... At the DK, there were a few times where I passed other riders because the terrain dictated they dismount on their narrower tires. However, there is a resistance penalty and I'd bet most of those ladies/gents passed me later when I was dogging it toward the end of the race

So, if the roads are pretty tame, I'd certainly opt for something narrower with a less agressive tread if speed is your primary concern. For leisure, training, or extended gravel expeditions, I cant imagine anything wrong with ikons. That being said, I'll be running a narrower less agressive tire this year at DK, so we'll see how it works out.

I could have used my MTB on todays ride. I rook my primary gravel bike, my Soma Wolverine, with 42 Cazaderos on it running 32 psi in the front. Normally this bike is king but a large portion of the route today had FRESH gravel on it. Down hills included me riding the dang brakes because it was so loose and it beat the piss out of my hands constantly. My hands were constantly going numb from bouncing around on the bars all the time. I came home and unwrapped my bars to the hoods and inserted a couple gel pads doubled over and re wrapped. Hopefully this will give me some vibration dampening on future rides. It was miserable but that's life on gravel and I am willing to put up with it lol.
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