Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

The trend towards slicks or semi-slick tires on gravel

Notices
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.

The trend towards slicks or semi-slick tires on gravel

Old 04-19-19, 08:36 AM
  #1  
Barrettscv 
Have bike, will travel
Thread Starter
 
Barrettscv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Posts: 12,153

Bikes: Ridley Helium SLX, Canyon Endurance SL, De Rosa Professional, Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, Schwinn Paramount (1 painted, 1 chrome), Peugeot PX10, Serotta Nova X, Simoncini Cyclocross Special, Raleigh Roker, Pedal Force CG2 and CX2

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 797 Post(s)
Liked 106 Times in 66 Posts
The trend towards slicks or semi-slick tires on gravel

I've used a number of tires in the 700x32 to 700x45 size. I started using Vittoria Hyper touring tires on a Cyclocross bike ten years ago. The Hyper is a slick but always had enough traction on dry gravel for my usage. The easy rolling efficiency on pavement was an important benefit. The Hyper was one tire that was tough enough for gravel but performed like a road bike tire on pavement.

Once I moved to tubeless I tried a variety of "Gravel" tires including the Clement MSO, WTB Riddler along with a few others. These tires provided extra grip and safety in extreme situations, but clearly felt slower most of the time. I since have gone back to always using a near slick on the back of my gravel bike while using a tire with some shoulder knobs on the front in case I need to make an urgent maneuver on softer gravel or earth.

I'm noticing now that most bicycle tire manufacturers are offering a "Gravel" tire that is nearly slick in the center.

Will the trend towards nearly slick tires fit your requirements?
Barrettscv is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 08:48 AM
  #2  
86az135i
Banned.
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Mesa, AZ
Posts: 154

Bikes: 1996 Cannondale R900, 2016 Trek Boone, 2005 Giant Yukon

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 584 Post(s)
Liked 63 Times in 53 Posts
I mostly ride pavement, but it's also nice to have a more aggressive shoulder to air down and have some more grip in the loose stuff. So yes it fits my requirements.
86az135i is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 09:04 AM
  #3  
tyrion
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 3,009

Bikes: Breezer Radar

Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1618 Post(s)
Liked 720 Times in 352 Posts
Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
Will the trend towards nearly slick tires fit your requirements?
The sandy dirt and gravel around here (San Diego) definitely challenges the grip of slick tires.
tyrion is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 09:19 AM
  #4  
Marcus_Ti 
FLIR Kitten to 0.05C
 
Marcus_Ti's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska
Posts: 5,197

Bikes: Roadie: Seven Axiom Race Ti w/Chorus 11s. CX/Adventure: Carver Gravel Grinder w/ Di2

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2264 Post(s)
Liked 292 Times in 189 Posts
Depends on what you're doing the bulk of your riding on. Large cross section slicks are quite flexible, so long as conditions are dry.

Me, doing the bulk of my riding on bad paved-roads or packed and dry rails-trails semi-slicks work well....OTOH if I'm riding on pea-gravel, it calls for other tires.
Marcus_Ti is online now  
Old 04-19-19, 09:22 AM
  #5  
shoota 
Senior Member
 
shoota's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: not sure
Posts: 6,985
Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1312 Post(s)
Liked 185 Times in 137 Posts
The fastest, best all-around tire I've had were GKSKs that went bald after a few thousand miles. I hated to replace those.
__________________
2014 Cannondale SuperSix EVO 2
2019 Salsa Warbird
shoota is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 10:04 AM
  #6  
Barrettscv 
Have bike, will travel
Thread Starter
 
Barrettscv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Posts: 12,153

Bikes: Ridley Helium SLX, Canyon Endurance SL, De Rosa Professional, Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, Schwinn Paramount (1 painted, 1 chrome), Peugeot PX10, Serotta Nova X, Simoncini Cyclocross Special, Raleigh Roker, Pedal Force CG2 and CX2

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 797 Post(s)
Liked 106 Times in 66 Posts
Originally Posted by shoota View Post
The fastest, best all-around tire I've had were GKSKs that went bald after a few thousand miles. I hated to replace those.
If it was only possible to shave the tread down on some small-block knobby gravel tires to improve pavement performance without losing traction on gravel.
Barrettscv is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 10:10 AM
  #7  
Hiro11
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 2,150

Bikes: To the right: opinions, not facts.

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 527 Post(s)
Liked 86 Times in 46 Posts
I run MSOs most of the time. They're tough, grippy in mud, easy to set up tubeless and offer a pretty good ride. They are definitely a bit slow-rolling compared to slick, though.

In the summer when the local gravel gets run in by farm vehicles and becomes smooth/hardpacked and dry I'll switch over to 100% slick Rene Herse Snoqualmies. My avg. speed goes up by 1-2 MPH typically when I do this and I don't feel any loss of grip on dry gravel. You also get the most insane hovercraft ride you've ever felt. Those tires are great if you can avoid flatting.
Hiro11 is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 10:28 AM
  #8  
tyrion
Senior Member
 
tyrion's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: San Diego, California
Posts: 3,009

Bikes: Breezer Radar

Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1618 Post(s)
Liked 720 Times in 352 Posts
Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
If it was only possible to shave the tread down on some small-block knobby gravel tires to improve pavement performance without losing traction on gravel.
Someone could start a service to pre-wear-out the knobs. Like those jeans that come pre-faded.
tyrion is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 12:46 PM
  #9  
redlude97
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 4,656
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1924 Post(s)
Liked 178 Times in 130 Posts
Just run a file tread like the challenge gravel grinders or terreno zeros. MSOs and USHs are pretty fast on rough pavement too. I use GK slicks for an all around(mostly pave) and it grips well enough as long as I'm not on singletrack
redlude97 is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 01:47 PM
  #10  
mstateglfr 
Sunshine
 
mstateglfr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 10,754

Bikes: '18 class built steel roadbike, '19 Fairlight Secan, '88 Schwinn Premis , Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross V4, '89 Novara Trionfo

Mentioned: 94 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4245 Post(s)
Liked 1,270 Times in 788 Posts
Boy, my 40mm 120tpi tube Clement MSO tires feel as 'fast' as my Vittoria Hyper tires in 35mm. They are on different drop bar bikes(the Hyper on an old cannondale touring frame), but both bikes are similar weight and close setups.
Obviously an exact comparison isnt possible since they are on different bikes, but my point is that I just dont notice being slower on pavement with Hypers. Maybe I am the same speed and have to work harder to maintain that speed on the MSOs?

...or maybe this is more proof that I am not as refined as Barrett.
mstateglfr is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 02:08 PM
  #11  
pbass
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 747

Bikes: Surly Cross Check, Kona Rove ST

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 137 Post(s)
Liked 89 Times in 68 Posts
Originally Posted by tyrion View Post


The sandy dirt and gravel around here (San Diego) definitely challenges the grip of slick tires.
I'm in SoCal too--I'm running ByWays. Considering how they look they're pretty impressive on the loose over dry fire roads I ride--I was surprised when I first got them. But now 5-6 months in and I'm ready for a bit more tread.
pbass is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 04:56 PM
  #12  
shelbyfv
Banned.
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 7,172
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1810 Post(s)
Liked 1,182 Times in 672 Posts
I have to do water crossings. Slippery and loose rocks of a variety of sizes. I don't like them. I've assumed some tread helps so I use GKSK. They aren't really obnoxious on pavement but it would be interesting to try the bike with nice fat slicks.
shelbyfv is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 05:26 PM
  #13  
Secret Squirrel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Southern Calif
Posts: 587
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 93 Post(s)
Liked 28 Times in 17 Posts
Last night the post dropped off a pair of gravelking 700x38 slicks. I rode them to work and back. Really fast compared to my yksium xl 700x40 gravel tires . will put them on the trail this weekend
Secret Squirrel is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 06:01 PM
  #14  
gravelslider
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 94
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 45 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 6 Posts
I have ridden smooth tires on gravel for several years. Compass is my brand (now Rene Herse). They have just about any width you would want and they are fast and very comfortable. Also ride Challenge Strada Bianca if I feel like I need something more durable...

Last edited by gravelslider; 04-19-19 at 06:04 PM.
gravelslider is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 11:04 PM
  #15  
Metieval
Senior Member
 
Metieval's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 2,611

Bikes: Road bike, Hybrid, Gravel, Drop bar SS, hard tail MTB

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1115 Post(s)
Liked 174 Times in 133 Posts
Unless it is loomy, slicks are the greatest.

oh and aggressive shoulder tires are dangerous on pavement, when you roll the knobs. so for mixed riding give me full slicks.

the MSO 40 is pretty forgiving on rolling the knobs. but it will still cause a pretty good pucker.
Metieval is offline  
Old 04-19-19, 11:39 PM
  #16  
Hondo Gravel
Viking Berserker
 
Hondo Gravel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Hondo,Texas
Posts: 1,774

Bikes: Too many Motobecanes

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1329 Post(s)
Liked 1,236 Times in 803 Posts
Pavement plus hard pack gravel = slick style gravel tire. I have used aggressive designed tires and wore them out fast before 500 miles. This is a hard call since no tire can do it all so the best remedy is to switch out tires to suit the terrain. Yes a pain in arse but a necessary pain.
Hondo Gravel is offline  
Old 04-20-19, 06:19 AM
  #17  
fishboat
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: SE Wisconsin
Posts: 812

Bikes: Lemond '01 Maillot Jaune, Lemond '02 Victoire, Lemond '03 Poprad, '79 AcerMex Windsor Carrera Professional(purchased new), '06 Bianchi Volpe, '88 GT Tequesta(purchased new), '01 Bianchi Grizzly, 1993 Trek 970 drop bar conversion

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 298 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 150 Times in 89 Posts
Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
If it was only possible to shave the tread down on some small-block knobby gravel tires to improve pavement performance without losing traction on gravel.
The GKSK's are very good on pavement. I recently did a couple (road) rides on new GKSK 38's..they really do feel much like a road tire...roll very easily. I run GK slicks on all my road bikes.

I have Hypers on my touring bike(35s that measure at 37mm). Wonderful tire on the road and dry rail-trail limestone. However, as soon as that limestone gives way to damp dirt..which in Wisconsin has a high clay content..it feels like riding on a skating rink.
fishboat is offline  
Old 04-20-19, 06:55 AM
  #18  
Barrettscv 
Have bike, will travel
Thread Starter
 
Barrettscv's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Lake Geneva, WI
Posts: 12,153

Bikes: Ridley Helium SLX, Canyon Endurance SL, De Rosa Professional, Eddy Merckx Corsa Extra, Schwinn Paramount (1 painted, 1 chrome), Peugeot PX10, Serotta Nova X, Simoncini Cyclocross Special, Raleigh Roker, Pedal Force CG2 and CX2

Mentioned: 45 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 797 Post(s)
Liked 106 Times in 66 Posts
Originally Posted by fishboat View Post

I have Hypers on my touring bike(35s that measure at 37mm). Wonderful tire on the road and dry rail-trail limestone. However, as soon as that limestone gives way to damp dirt..which in Wisconsin has a high clay content..it feels like riding on a skating rink.
Yes, the Hyper is not completely trustworthy on wet surfaces. Even wet pavement requires some moderation. I wouldn't recommend them to anyone needing a tire for gravel events. Not only do they become useless on wet earth, tubeless use is not possible and a tubeless tire has important benefits on rocky gravel roads. Like you said, they are excellent on dry crushed limestone rails to trails and pavement. The Hyper was one of the first tires in the 32-40mm range that could survive a day on gravel while being really fast on pavement.

However, several tires are now better in several important aspects.

Last edited by Barrettscv; 04-20-19 at 05:31 PM.
Barrettscv is offline  
Old 04-21-19, 07:55 AM
  #19  
nellborg
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: WI
Posts: 16
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 11 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
If purchasing Rene Herse Snoqualmie Pass tires for a gravel bike that does basic Wisconsin pea gravel and some pavement, can anyone compare their experience with their Extralight vs Standard model? Is the difference in ride quality noticeable? Is the Extralight casing really fragile?
nellborg is offline  
Old 04-21-19, 08:43 AM
  #20  
RicePudding
Senior Member
 
RicePudding's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 62

Bikes: Giant Toughroad SLR GX 1 (2018), Giant Talon 2 (2010, RIP)

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 21 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I fitted 38mm Hutchinson Overide tyres to my gravel bike back in January which when it comes to rolling resistance and speed, they have performed extremely well on road and well kept gravel, they are useless on anything damp though, they just sink and flick up dirt.

I really like these tyres but they have worn very quickly, these tyres have a very low profile diamond thread through the slick section but my rear tyre is almost completely smooth now, I'm going to switch the front with the back soon to get a little more life from them.

Given that I commute with my gravel bike every day and take some bridleways to work as part of my route, I couldn't imagine using anything other than a semi-slick profile on my bike. They are an excellent compromise between speed, comfort and grip.
RicePudding is offline  
Old 04-21-19, 08:59 AM
  #21  
u235
Senior Member
 
u235's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 1,170
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 427 Post(s)
Liked 118 Times in 75 Posts
A pure slick center will not meet my requirements, at least as my only tire. File tread maybe.

On pure finer gravel and hard pack a slick is fine. Not just any slick though, you need one that can provide comfort on that gravel. Gravel is not well defined either. If your "gravel" route has some washout, washboard with muck, deep areas, water, roots, areas with loose dirt etc, you can make it through but it gets sketchy. I did the GAP/C&O two years ago with Conti Speedride (file tread) and last year with Hutchinson Overides (slick center). The C&O is a mixed bag and can change drastically in one day with some rain or a recent flood. I will not use the Overide again for my trip this year, I made it and stayed upright last year but there were some close calls. With the Overide, my entire attention span was absorbed by looking ahead for potential hazards and deciding if I should go through or try to go around, eventually I stopped trying to go around things and just went through because they were unpredictable in that terrain, at least going straight I knew what I was going to get.. Sorry snake, it was you or me...

This year for my trip I will be trying the 45 Riddler. Coincidentally, my second ride with them was a century ride yesterday. About 50 miles of C&O and 50 miles of MUP/Asphalt. They were bliss on the C&O and fast with far better control (it was wet), I love the volume and feel. It's no MTB tire and peanut butter areas are still slick but it is predictable. Not as fast or solid as the Overide on asphalt and I won't be taking high speed corner with them on road but not bad either, they were noticeably better than the Nano I tried in the past on both surfaces.
I have two wheel sets because you'll never solve the perfect tire for everything problem. I have one with Overide 38 for road/off road and now one with the Riddler for offroad/road. For me, that is as close to perfect as I ever been. It really depends on your gravel and where you are riding to balance your desire of road vs mtb tire. If I was limited to one tire for all around.. the Speedride is it although there is zero chance setting it up tubeless so not for me.

Originally Posted by RicePudding View Post
I fitted 38mm Hutchinson Overide tyres......
I really like these tyres but they have worn very quickly, these tyres have a very low profile diamond thread through the slick section but my rear tyre is almost completely smooth now, I'm going to switch the front with the back soon to get a little more life from them.
I got maybe 3000 out of my rear tire and cords were starting to show. There is 4000 on the front and I have its replacement standing by. That high center section goes quick but the wear slows down after that.
That sucks for a +$50 tire for value but I like the tire so I'll deal with it. You could go with a touring tire but again... pros and cons.

Last edited by u235; 04-21-19 at 10:50 AM.
u235 is offline  
Old 04-22-19, 10:04 AM
  #22  
FlashBazbo
Chases Dogs for Sport
 
FlashBazbo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Middle Tennessee
Posts: 4,288

Bikes: OPEN new U.P. Di2

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 983 Post(s)
Liked 135 Times in 89 Posts
It all depends on the gravel. I use Challenge Strada Biancas for my road / packed dirt / allroad tire. The 36mm Strada Bianca gives up very little speed on paved roads compared to 25mm Conti 4000S II's. And if I'm not racing, I figure it will let me work my way through any off-pavement surprises.

But for gravel races where I've never run the course? I'm not brave enough to take on an unknown gravel course with slick or slickish tires. This week and next -- on two very different courses I've never run -- I'm running Terrene Elwood 47's, just to be safe. For one of the two courses, I'm almost certain I would be faster on a 38mm tire that's slickish, but I won't risk it. I've heard the course includes some areas of bottomless talcum-powdery sand. For the other course, there will be multiple stream crossings, a route that runs in stream beds for a distance, and climbs/descents of over 20% grade. I wouldn't run a slickish tire there on a bet.

Last edited by FlashBazbo; 04-22-19 at 10:12 AM.
FlashBazbo is offline  
Old 04-22-19, 10:18 AM
  #23  
Kapusta
Cyclochondriac
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,481
Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1485 Post(s)
Liked 690 Times in 419 Posts
Unless I hit mud or otherwise slippery conditions, high volume slicks have always worked fine for me on unpaved roads.
Kapusta is offline  
Old 04-29-19, 06:36 AM
  #24  
Witterings
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: The Witterings, West Sussex
Posts: 1,065
Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 567 Post(s)
Liked 35 Times in 28 Posts
I swapped out Smart Sam Plus's for Vittoria Hypers on my 29er last summer and they were great but lethal when it became wet.

I bought a gravel bike last November with GK SK's on it, saw some really heavily discounted Coni Speed rides and tried them in the winter but they were too slippery in the wet as well so swapped back to the GK's which were great in the winter and able to handle the mud where my friends were riding 29er's with knobbly's

As summer's on it's way I've just put the Hypers on the gravel bike and they're certainly better on the road, I've just put the Conti's on the 29er and there was a huge difference from Smart Sam's so will now just alternate between summer and winter tyres for both bikes but when my Smart Sams wear out I may get the wider GK's for my 29er for the winter.

One other tyre I'd like to try is the Specialised Crossroads, a friend stuck some on a Hybrid and when he did we were all really struggling to keep up with him on the paved sections, I'm not sure why these aren't more popular / you virtually never see them mentioned ...... although they are quite weighty which may be the reason.
Witterings is offline  
Old 04-29-19, 11:00 AM
  #25  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,337

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 977 Post(s)
Liked 223 Times in 179 Posts
Jan Heine wrote an article claiming that for gravel, slick tires had the same grip as tires with tread (which is why all their tires are slick except for one mud tire). He advocated adjusting width and tire pressure to maximize traction.



While in general I agree for dry conditions (that the traction can be the same), I will claim that there is a significant difference in breakaway characteristics. Slicks tend to let go fast, while treaded tires are easier to drift.

Of course when it is wet off pavement, tread can make a huge difference.
chas58 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.