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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 : "Unbround Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

About tires and performance.

Old 07-05-17, 05:16 AM
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gilpi
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About tires and performance.

I've been enjoying gravel riding for a couple of years on my rigid fork mountain/trail bike using 2" wide tires on it WTB Nine Line 29er's. Handling is great with these, I never felt like I lost control at any time, any speed.
Watching some guys on their cyclecross bikes I wonder if I would get better performance (rolling resistance, speed) using narrower cyclecross tires?
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Old 07-05-17, 05:24 AM
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Depends on what you're riding on. Hardpack dirt, you can ride narrow tires and go faster for free. Dumped pea gravel, the exact opposite-and even your 2" tires might not be enough.
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Old 07-05-17, 06:09 AM
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Mostly hard pack dirt with gravel.
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Old 07-05-17, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by gilpi View Post
I've been enjoying gravel riding for a couple of years on my rigid fork mountain/trail bike using 2" wide tires on it WTB Nine Line 29er's. Handling is great with these, I never felt like I lost control at any time, any speed.
Watching some guys on their cyclecross bikes I wonder if I would get better performance (rolling resistance, speed) using narrower cyclecross tires?
First off, there are many reasons beyond tire selection that create differences between a cyclecross performance and your MTB, including you versus them.

Having said that, clearly bike tires have a broad range of performance features and you should be able to find a tire that meets your needs - perhaps rolling resistance, puncture resistance, mileage, or price. Have a look at bicyclerollingresistance.com to find some good information and comparisons.
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Old 07-05-17, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gilpi View Post
I've been enjoying gravel riding for a couple of years on my rigid fork mountain/trail bike using 2" wide tires on it WTB Nine Line 29er's. Handling is great with these, I never felt like I lost control at any time, any speed.
Watching some guys on their cyclecross bikes I wonder if I would get better performance (rolling resistance, speed) using narrower cyclecross tires?
CX racers aren't fast because their tires are narrow (on many courses the riders would actually be using wider tires if UCI rules didn't prevent them from doing so), they're fast because their riders are fast and they're likely in a more aerodynamic posture than you.
"Cyclocross"-specific tires are usually targeted at biting into mud. Some are alright on hard surfaces, but if you're not dealing with much mud, you'll usually get better performance with something more along the lines of a road tread. At least slick-ish down the centerline.

A tire being wide doesn't hurt its rolling resistance on hard surfaces. Actually, the rolling and suspension characteristics of a tire tend to improve when it's made wider; the caveat is that the weight and aerodynamic profile go up a bit.
But even out to very considerable sizes, this doesn't make for huge performance differences. The 53s on my gravel bike are built like high-performance road tires, and while it's a very heavy build that accelerates and climbs slightly slower than my "normal" road bikes, it holds speed rolling along pavement just as well as they do. And having the tires be wide is very nice on bumpy or loose gravel surfaces, since they roll well even when set at quite low pressures.

If you're doing loose pebbly stuff and dry hardpack, a wide road tire like a Compass Snoqualmie Pass might be neat.
If you're concerned about cornering on wet spots and want something slightly more aggressive, maybe something like a Continental Speed King.
If you're chewing through lots of mud, then maybe look at cyclocross tires, or at MTB tires intended for mud.

If you really want to go narrow, and you're not doing much mud, I'd still aim for a road-ish tire like a G-One or Gravelking. But since it sounds like you're using MTB rims, be careful with the PSI if you do that; they're not necessarily designed to withstand the pressures that people pump narrow tires to for road riding, should you decide to do that.

Last edited by HTupolev; 07-05-17 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 07-05-17, 12:40 PM
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I use Maxxis Rambler 40 mm tires. They're great in gravel, roll nice on pavement or hard pack. Probably not good in mud but I haven't been there yet. I recommend them.
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Old 07-05-17, 02:52 PM
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There are a number of gravel tires available in the 700x40 to 700x50 sizes that perform well on firm, dry surfaces. most of these will roll faster than a knobby 29er tire.

Schwalbe G-One tubeless: 40-622
Clement X'Plor MSO:40,50-622 60&120tpi
Kenda Happy Medium: 40-622
Maxxis Rambler 40-622
Surly Knard: 41-584, 41-622
WTB Riddler: 45-622

I'm using the 700x45 WTB Riddler with good results.

Size: 700x45 measures 44.5mm on a Velocity Dyad rim

Tread pattern: small, short knobs at the center with deeper knobs on the shoulder for traction and float.

Construction: unknown tpi, unknown flat protection, I'm using tubes.

Performance on pavement is moderately fast with moderately low rolling resistance. Cornering on wet pavement could be problematic with the knobs on the shoulder potentially sliding on sharp turns

Performance on firm and smooth gravel is excellent, the tire rolls fast with enormous traction

Performance on deep or soft gravel is excellent with plenty of float and stability. The tire is secure on off-camber surfaces even while cornering. Heroic 35mph turns on loose gravel roads felt as safe as a good 29er tire

Durability in unknown but the tire is robust

Ride is moderately supple but is not as plush as the 120 tpi Clement tires.
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Old 07-22-17, 05:25 PM
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Thank you guys, lots of good information!
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Old 07-25-17, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by gilpi View Post
Mostly hard pack dirt with gravel.
With this in mind, what width tire would you chose for 80/20 road vs gravel? Subjective, I know, but I would chose anything between 32-35c...
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Old 07-25-17, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rockiesdad View Post
with this in mind, what width tire would you chose for 80/20 road vs gravel? Subjective, i know, but i would chose anything between 32-35c...
32 Gravelkings, Clement Strada LGG, or, if your gravel isn't too fierce, just any ol' road bike tire.
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Old 07-25-17, 12:30 PM
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Cyclocross tires are great for riding on something like a rails to trails route (think Katy Trail here), hardpacked dirt paths, grass (I think they excel at this), mud, and even small gravel over hardpack that isn't too deep. They aren't the best for descending steep fireroads with deeper pea gravel though, being only 33 mm wide. For that stuff, wider tires are more confidence inspiring.


I ride 33s over everything though, even though it may not be the best choice. On the stuff with the deeper gravel that will swallow a thinner tire like a cross tire, I just slow it down to controllable speeds. A bike with a quality 33mm tire will still handle quickly, be able to ride over most stuff I would encounter on a drop bar bike, and just be fun.
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Old 07-25-17, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RockiesDad View Post
With this in mind, what width tire would you chose for 80/20 road vs gravel? Subjective, I know, but I would chose anything between 32-35c...
Depends on the gravel.
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Old 07-26-17, 01:13 PM
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I just bought Schwalbe’s fastest tire – based on rolling resistance. They are 60mm wide, but have less rolling resistance than their fastest road bike race tires. The only down side is weight (and possibly aero). Knobbies can be slow, but big tires are not necessarily slow.

Originally Posted by mtn_cyclist View Post
I use Maxxis Rambler 40 mm tires. They're great in gravel, roll nice on pavement or hard pack. Probably not good in mud but I haven't been there yet. I recommend them.
+1 I agree.
Originally Posted by RockiesDad View Post
With this in mind, what width tire would you chose for 80/20 road vs gravel? Subjective, I know, but I would chose anything between 32-35c...
I use 28mm road, 32mm road/moderate-gravel, and 40mm Gravel.
It really depends on what tire pressure I want (speed vs absorbing shock-obstacles)
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