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Gravel tires: volume vs tread

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Gravel tires: volume vs tread

Old 01-21-18, 10:51 AM
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Gravel tires: volume vs tread

I have a new cx / gravel bike that has 32mm cx tires on it. I'd like to have more volume but i don't think anything bigger than 35mm knobby will fit in the back. I might be able to get a little more volume with a slick.

I am looking at something like WTB Nanos in a 40mm but something like a 40mm Maxxis Refuse might do the job too. At what point is a smaller knobby useful on hardpack, gravel, sand, and crappy roads and when should I just opt fora large volume file tread?

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Old 01-21-18, 11:32 AM
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Also, i tried putting a 29x2.1 Thunder Burt in the fork. It fits! There's a hair width of clearance though. No need for a tire THAT big for this bike, but i am not opposed to a slightly bigger tire up front.
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Old 01-21-18, 12:08 PM
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Tread in the front is important for keeping you upright when the gravel is loose, speed is high or it's wet. Tread in the rear is helpful for the same but not as necessary. Where you really want rear tread is aggressive climbing and descending where there's a chance of short, torque-y high power outputs or aggressive downhill braking. You want the tire to have some bite and be able to shove the loose top layer off quickly and effectively to get some bit underneath where it's more solid.

Also, if you ride a lot of pavement the file tread will wear away quickly and be useless for gravel. It's not a massive change but it is noticeable.

How much gravel do you ride? The Nano is a pretty slow tire IME and I did not enjoy riding it on pavement for any length of time. I much preferred the Kenda Happy Medium as it is a fast tire on pavement but has very good grip on gravel as well.
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Old 01-21-18, 12:33 PM
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My bike came with stock 33's, but I quickly upgraded to wider rims and 40mm Maxxis Refuse, tubeless. Where standard cross tires were fine on the relatively well-groomed country gravel; they were poor in the loose stuff, and miserable in rough national forest roads. In the rough stuff, there are a few roads I'd rather be on a large-volume tire MTB, especially on the descents. That bike, however, would be slow on pavement. IMHO, there's no one perfect tire as road conditions vary so widely. I've found the Maxxis Refuse to be relatively versatile with the least amount of compromise across the spectrum
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Old 01-21-18, 01:04 PM
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Treads help even on 32mm tyres when for example you want to climb offroad out of the saddle, or if you want to ride on a damp or wet dirt road. With some tyres you won't even feel the treads when rolling on smooth asphalt, my GravelKing SKs feel buttery smooth and they're almost dead silent. I've had a few fully slick tyres that made more noise.

But as it was mentioned above me if you ride a lot on asphalt treads will wear down quick.

I would say if it's a new bike and you're new to gravel just ride the thing for a while, and see what you like to ride the most, then decide if you want a more aggressive or smooth tyre.
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Old 01-21-18, 01:18 PM
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IMHO, if you want more volume (AKA sinking into the surface), you'll probably benefit from more tread. If you want more tread (lack of traction to steer or power), you'll benefit from more volume.
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Old 01-21-18, 06:54 PM
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Hey Mack, simplemind on Voodoo. I see we have both graduated to Gravel! Have you found some decent rides around ATX (w/o long drives)?
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Old 01-21-18, 06:59 PM
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I have owned a few CX/ touring type bikes over the years (Pompino, C'mute, Vaya, Double Cross Disc) but sold the last one a year ago to afford new parts for my mountain bike. I tried 32mm Race Kings, a 42mm Cross Ride/ Speed ride combo, some heavy-duty Conti touring tire, and some 35 WTB Cross Bosses, which were the only ones I have set up tubeless.

I really liked the Cross Bosses because the TCS bead was easy to set up tubeless on a non-tubeless rim with a few layers of Gorilla tape and some homebrew sealant.I think my favorite setup so far was the Cross Bosses, but that might be mostly because they were set up tubeless. that seemed to encourage me to ride a lot of stupid trails where a CX bike really didn't belong, but I felt I could not help myself.

Local rides on this bike usually involve quite a few miles of paved bike paths and roads, some small-grain crushed gravel paths, a bit of grass- and rock-strewn hardpack singletrack (which is pushing me toward tubeless to help avoid pinch flats) and a bit of stuff that I really ought to walk. I participate in a gravel race when i can, which will involve some sandy terrain, cattle guards, and washboard-bumped roads. I have a mountain bike that I ride on days i want to explore the chunky stuff, so the CX bike is for rainy days when the "real" trails are too soggy and days when I want to pedal as far out into the city/ burbs as I can get. even on these local rides, i have felt my rim bottom out a few times, which sketches me out for using tubes. the occasional puncture from a thorn is one thing, but dealing with pinch flats sucks.

I don't mind carrying a little extra drag and weight the pavement if a tire is not going to kill me when things get loose and slippery. I will probably not need the extra traction out back for short, punchy climbs on loose terrain, as I save those trails for my mountain bike. some of the routes I take include some long, steady slogs up hardpack and pavement though.
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Old 01-21-18, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by shakey start
Hey Mack, simplemind on Voodoo. I see we have both graduated to Gravel! Have you found some decent rides around ATX (w/o long drives)?
I live on the south side of Austin, not far from Dick Nichols Park. I made a 20-mile route today that was about 1/2 non-paved surfaces. I could do a lot more if the trails were dry. I just stick to the non-chunky parts of the south side tail system on the CX bike and then throw in some road miles.
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Old 01-21-18, 07:31 PM
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high volume & low tread. I got these 45mm Riddler tires for this loose stone dust. soften them up & they float right over it



never ride them on pavement



I have too many pics of them :/


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Old 01-22-18, 07:12 AM
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I think a lot depends upon the particular gravel that one is riding. I've had great luck with 47 mm Horizons -- no tread, but plenty of volume and surface area.

I've not found that tread matters much for where and how I ride. Volume and enough suppleness for the tire to conform to the road surface seem to matter the most.

I do notice lack of tread when I venture onto singletrack, and primarily when cornering or taking curves in segments of flow trail.
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Old 01-22-18, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Spoonrobot
Tread in the front is important for keeping you upright when the gravel is loose, speed is high or it's wet. Tread in the rear is helpful for the same but not as necessary.
Plus 1

I'm using a 700x38 Hutchinson Overide on the rear and a 700x45 WTB Riddler on the front. The Overide is a near-slick with a faint file tread pattern. It has sufficient traction on most dry surfaces, and will tolerate wet gravel if it's not too silty. The Riddler has a small block center section and more aggressive knobs on the shoulder, see post #10.

Most of the rolling resistance is generated at the rear tire, it carries more weight and transmits torque. A 39mm wide supple slick works well here. The front tire needs to perform emergency braking and turning on demand, a knobby tire is needed here.

Unless you ride on wet earth or grass, a knobby is not necessary on the rear.
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Old 01-22-18, 09:12 AM
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I'll agree [MENTION=84924]JonathanGennick[/MENTION]. I really enjoyed my 40mm Proteks on unpaved surfaces last year. (measure 43mm at 90 psi so I ride them at 40!) I was tempted to try them on my favorite gnarly gravel rds but haven't yet, just hard pack dirt, stone dust & firm sand



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Old 01-22-18, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv
Most of the rolling resistance is generated at the rear tire, it carries more weight and transmits torque.
yup, if I'm on a hard surface & want to go fast, I make the back tire hard, usually leaving the front tire as-is
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Old 01-22-18, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
yup, if I'm on a hard surface & want to go fast, I make the back tire hard, usually leaving the front tire as-is
Plus 1

I had good results using the 700x45 WTB Riddler both front and rear on a route that was 15 miles of pavement, 15 miles of super-smooth & firm gravel and 20 miles of loose and course gravel. The Riddler was very stable and fast with a surplus of traction. However, If I want to maintain a race pace, the Overide on the back is very fast.
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Old 01-22-18, 01:01 PM
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& one of these makes it fast & easy. a little indulgent maybe, but how many times in a year am I gonna mix snowy gravel with clean dry pavement in the same ride?

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Old 01-22-18, 02:52 PM
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I will experiment and probably get a slightly bigger, knobbier tire up front then.

Going to try a tubeless conversion so I don't have to worry much about pinching tubes.

Gravel King: regular vs SK version?
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Old 01-22-18, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle
I will experiment and probably get a slightly bigger, knobbier tire up front then.

Going to try a tubeless conversion so I don't have to worry much about pinching tubes.

Gravel King: regular vs SK version?

I ride 32mm tires as slicks and 40mm with light knobs.

Here is an article on why you don't need any knobs:
excerpt:
The truth is that on gravel, knobs donít make any difference. Without semi-firm ground to dig into, knobs canít do anything. When you slide, itís because gravel is sliding on gravel, not because your tires are sliding on the top layer of rocks
https://janheine.wordpress.com/2017/...-gravel-tires/

I think it is BS.

Here is when I use knobs:
1) Wet grass (or mud). road slicks are a nigthmare on wet grass. While a skinny slick can cut through mud, a fatter slick floats over it with no traction and again is a nightmare.
2) hard cornering on singletrack. Side knobs can save me in a slide. Again, when slicks slide, they go down fast and hard. knobby edges at least try to claw their way back and make it possible for me to save a slide.

And yes, if I'm not riding sideways and not riding wet grass/mud, I'm on slicks.
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Old 01-22-18, 05:22 PM
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Interesting. I have always told new riders that they don't need knobs on the road because the surface is to hard for knobs too dig in. I think I heard that from Sheldon first. [Edit: nope, it was Jobst Brant on Brown's site.

My conumdrum is that I want one set of tires for unpredictable routes that might include gravel paths, mud, sandy stuff, roads, singletrack, rocks... everything short of the "real trails" that I ride on my mountain bike.

I am tempted to get something closer to a slick, but I don't want to end a ride bloody because I picked a tire that failed to keep me upright when I get caught in a thunderstorm or chose a route through a grassy field.

The question I am asking myself is: if I have to chose between a 40mm slick and a 35mm knobby, which will do the best job inspiring confidence and comfort.

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Old 01-22-18, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle
I will experiment and probably get a slightly bigger, knobbier tire up front then.

Going to try a tubeless conversion so I don't have to worry much about pinching tubes.

Gravel King: regular vs SK version?
SK on the front, for sure.
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Old 01-22-18, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle
Interesting. I have always told new riders that they don't need knobs on the road because the surface is to hard for knobs too dig in. I think I heard that from Sheldon first. [Edit: nope, it was Jobst Brant on Brown's site.

My conumdrum is that I want one set of tires for unpredictable routes that might include gravel paths, mud, sandy stuff, roads, singletrack, rocks... everything short of the "real trails" that I ride on my mountain bike.

I am tempted to get something closer to a slick, but I don't want to end a ride bloody because I picked a tire that failed to keep me upright when I get caught in a thunderstorm or chose a route through a grassy field.

The question I am asking myself is: if I have to chose between a 40mm slick and a 35mm knobby, which will do the best job inspiring confidence and comfort.
IF you get rowdy on pavement, Knobs suck! well they can, depends on how hard you carve.
Sounds like you want something like a semi slick, like continental speed ride, or the Riddler that comes in a 700x37.

Around here our late summer single track is dust on packed clay. the 650x42 PArimoto tire on the Slate was surprisingly grippy. but On the corners the sandy stuff on top of packed clay was slippery. and I most definitely wouldn't want to ride that off road stuff wet.
thus if you go GravelKing the SK.

the MSO tire is great, but I think it sucks in wet weather.

look up KENDA Flintridge Pro too

As for the Nano, I had them on my 29er 2.1 (I think), I seriously hated them on hard pack.

Maxxic Rambler too...

Last edited by Metieval; 01-22-18 at 08:52 PM.
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Old 01-22-18, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Metieval
Sounds like you want something like a semi slick, like continental speed ride, or the Riddler that comes in a 700x37.
if only Continental would wake up and make the Speed ride with a tubeless bead. I have tried, as did a friend with Stan's rims, to make that tire work tubeless. the bead is super loose.
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Old 01-22-18, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle
if only Continental would wake up and make the Speed ride with a tubeless bead. I have tried, as did a friend with Stan's rims, to make that tire work tubeless. the bead is super loose.
Oh yeah, if you want tubeless the speed ride is out! I wasn't paying attention.
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Old 01-28-18, 10:16 AM
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I ride a 26 inch drop bar SUPERGOOSE steel 1994 beastly graveler and after some trial and error will go to 1.75 x 26 tires. OI wanted something less than my 2.0's that could function well as an all around good set up for roads, gravel and single track. Semi smooth tread. 35-40 mm tires seem to be the sweet spot.
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