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Are CX-specific tires too thin for gravel riding?

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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 :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Are CX-specific tires too thin for gravel riding?

Old 05-14-17, 10:15 PM
  #1  
johngwheeler
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Are CX-specific tires too thin for gravel riding?

My Giant TCX came with Schwalbe X-One tires, which although very grippy on grass, seemed to roll slowly on pavement. I swapped these for Schwalbe Marathon Supremes because most of my riding seemed to be on pavement or hard-packed tracks.

I'm now looking for more gravel / single-track routes, and am considering tire choice again. The Marathons will probably be OK, but they do slip a bit on sandy surfaces, and I have the feeling (but the not the experience!) that I should probably have a bit more tread on the tire. I'm happy to be corrected if this assumption is wrong!

So I've been looking at my X-One tires again. My question is whether these are a bad choice for gravel which is likely to have much sharper surfaces than a typical Cyclocross course, for which the tires are intended. I recall reading that many CX tires are actually very thin between the knobs, and can be easily punctured when riding on anything other than grass/mud or smooth roads. Is there any truth in this?

Would I be better off with one of the many gravel-specific tires (like the Schwalbe G-One - to compare ranges for the same manufacturer)?

I'm already looking at getting a separate wheel set for road use, and now it seems I may need a total of 3 sets: road, CX and gravel :-)

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 05-15-17, 02:07 AM
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Re the sandy surfaces; in my opinion its not so much the 'more tread' (at 33mm; X-One), but greater tire width/contact patch you need.

I think you would be better off with gravel-specific (your actual surfaces) tires.

Why not one wheelset (using an internal rim width that covers the tire widths and pressure range you desire) for a bunch of different tires?
Though I suppose that would only make the best sense if you're running tubes, which I'd try to put behind me and go tubeless.

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Old 05-15-17, 11:16 AM
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Not sure whether they're too thin or not but when I ran some Conti CX-Kings (35mm) I felt like I was working harder on gravel than with my specialized trigger 38s. This is going to depend somewhat on your local gravel conditions, but for the riding conditions where I live, you don't need that much tread, and a lot of gravel specific tires that are coming out now are basically a file tread. So I would agree with @tangerineowl that wider is more important.

The triggers also roll surprisingly fast on pavement, but they're no substitute for a road tire.
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Old 05-15-17, 12:14 PM
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In my experience, volume makes more of a difference than tread does when it comes to comfort, traction, and control. When in doubt, run the biggest tires that will safely clear your frame/fork (and run them at sensibly low pressures).
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Old 05-15-17, 01:24 PM
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I thought CX rules limited tires to 31mm max?


-Tim-
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Old 05-15-17, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I thought CX rules limited tires to 31mm max?


-Tim-
I think they changed it a couple years ago, it used to be 35.
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Old 05-15-17, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I thought CX rules limited tires to 31mm max?


-Tim-
It's 33mm as of a few years ago. But the rule doesn't really apply to many, many races.
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Old 05-15-17, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by justin1138 View Post
It's 33mm as of a few years ago. But the rule doesn't really apply to many, many races.
You're probably right, my tires are probably 33s. I only raced cross a few times and didn't love the tires so they've been sitting in my pile for a while.

No one ever checked my width though, I probably could've run 38s and been fine. No one cares about what the Cat 5s are doing though.
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Old 05-15-17, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
You're probably right, my tires are probably 33s. I only raced cross a few times and didn't love the tires so they've been sitting in my pile for a while.

No one ever checked my width though, I probably could've run 38s and been fine. No one cares about what the Cat 5s are doing though.
I've used Nano's the last 2 or 3 seasons when it's a dry course and the PDX's I use when it's wet measure out to ~35mm.

When you're racing for socks it's not a big deal. When you're racing for UCI points, things get a bit more serious.
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Old 05-16-17, 01:56 PM
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I run 700x32 Ritchey Speedmax Comp's and have had no issues with gravel or single track surfaces.
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Old 05-23-17, 08:16 PM
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I can only speak for Arkansas but, the wider the tire, the better off you are. Here, the gravel is so all over the map on size, you never know what you're going to encounter. Even on the same routes from week to week.
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Old 11-11-19, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
You're probably right, my tires are probably 33s. I only raced cross a few times and didn't love the tires so they've been sitting in my pile for a while.

No one ever checked my width though, I probably could've run 38s and been fine. No one cares about what the Cat 5s are doing though.
Hey.
Cat 5's are people too.
We just sux...🦖😋
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Old 11-13-19, 07:36 AM
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Cross tires are typically skinnier and knobbier. Depends.

For a 700c tire on gravel/road mixture, the following are popular in the 38-45 range depending on preference in no specific order:

WTB Resolute
WTB Riddler
WTB Byway
Schwalbe G-One Allround
Maxxis Rambler
Donnelly MSO
Vittoria Terreno Dry
Panaracer Gravel King SK & File Tread
ReneHerse (all of them?)

The list goes on! I have a TCX and enjoy Maxxis Ramblers in 40 as well as WTB Riddlers in 45. But... the WTB Byway in 700x44 look amazing.
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Old 11-13-19, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Hmmm View Post
Cross tires are typically skinnier and knobbier. Depends.

The list goes on! I have a TCX and enjoy Maxxis Ramblers in 40 as well as WTB Riddlers in 45. But... the WTB Byway in 700x44 look amazing.
Notice any difference between the Ramblers and Riddlers? My Ramblers are blistering in the tread, so I'm looking to replace them. riddlers are on the list...
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Old 11-13-19, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
My Giant TCX came with Schwalbe X-One tires, which although very grippy on grass, seemed to roll slowly on pavement...
I have them. I don't use them though. They are fairly fast tires - its just awkward having a skinny knobby tire.
33mm is fine for a lot of the summer gravel we have around here (YMMV). But if its 33mm weather on gravel (Hardpack for me), I'm on slicks. If I need more traction or flotation or rougher course, I'm on 40 (or 50).

They would be good for muddy courses where you are worried about mud packing, and need to cut through to the bottom of the mud - but that describes CX more than Gravel (of course some courses have everything).
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Old 11-13-19, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Notice any difference between the Ramblers and Riddlers? My Ramblers are blistering in the tread, so I'm looking to replace them. riddlers are on the list...
Yes, huge. Ramblers are noticeably faster, more aggressive on pavement. You know the fast feeling they have. I feel like I'm hitting road tire speeds with the Ramblers. Riddler 45s are big fluffy tanks. To me they are totally different tires.

That being said, the Riddler 45s are so fun off road I think the Ramblers will start collecting dust.

If I knew they would come out with the Byways in 700x44 I would have gone for those. That looks like a fun, fast, big tire. I've read on these boards the Resolute rolls better than the Riddlers as well if you're looking to keep the speed of the Rambler.
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