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Looking for tire suggestions, 29er as a Gravel bike

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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.

Looking for tire suggestions, 29er as a Gravel bike

Old 09-23-19, 10:50 PM
  #1  
zjrog
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Looking for tire suggestions, 29er as a Gravel bike


2010 or so Performance Access XCL9r, was a gift from family a few years ago. It is still as equipped, with Salsa Woodchipper bars, Sora 3500 brifters, and cyclocross brake levers on the flats. Yes, it is heavy as configured. The bike was built as a "Monster Cross" bike. No real idea what that means. But it is faster on pavement than I ever expected it to be, and fun on trails.

I've purchased a second set of wheels to run a narrower tire. It currently rolls on 700x54 Kenda Small Block 8 and Slant Six. Neither of my roadbikes can accept bigger rubber. I'm a 244 pound guy, and looking for something different. No intention to compete in any format, but looking for something other than MTB wide tires...

If I enjoy gravel, I may look for a proper gravel bike...

Last edited by zjrog; 09-26-19 at 08:58 PM. Reason: spelling errors
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Old 09-24-19, 09:27 AM
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I'm riding these Vittoria Mezcal 2.25 inch on XC 29r...... and they are fast on pavement and good on gravel, fireroads and mild singletrack.
They also come in 2.1 inch.
https://www.jensonusa.com/Vittoria-M...II-G20-29-Tire

Or perhaps these:
https://www.jensonusa.com/Vittoria-Terreno-G20-29-Tire

I ran the SmallBlock 8 and liked them, but are not made anymore I think.
The Vittorias have better flat protection.
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Old 09-24-19, 09:45 AM
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I know they aren't anything special, but I have been using these tires for some time on a drop bar 29er. They roll remarkably well, behave predictably, have good traction in loose stuff and are even working tubeless despite not being designed for it.

https://www.serfas.com/shop/products...1-sheriff-mtb/
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Old 09-24-19, 09:59 AM
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Yeah those Kendas are slow tires (I have them). Lots of rolling resistance (well, that may be less of an issue on dirt).

Monster Cross means mountain bike tires on a drop bar (Cyclocross type) bicycle.

What are you looking for? Same size? Knobby for mostly dirt? More slick for mix of dirt and pavement? Mostly Pavement ?
Generally, something in the 40-45mm size is typical for gravel - and often a lot lighter too. - is that the size you are thinking?
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Old 09-24-19, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
I'm riding these Vittoria Mezcal 2.25 inch on XC 29r...... and they are fast on pavement and good on gravel, fireroads and mild singletrack.
They also come in 2.1 inch.
https://www.jensonusa.com/Vittoria-M...II-G20-29-Tire
I would also recommend the above if you want a wider tire.

Not the be all end all but this site may help you narrow down the recommendations.

https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/
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Old 09-24-19, 12:12 PM
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Schwalbe G-One Speed Evo Liteskin is a great tire if you want something different. It rolls very well for it's size - 29x2.35 and is light weight as well. Thunder Burts from the same company are another good option. For a true slick I like the Compass Antelope Hill, spendy but very fast.
Great tires, but very different. That G-One speed takes crazy little effort at ~15mph, but its a friggen nightmare if it is wet and low traction. High flotation + mud is a recipe for a crash (and water sometimes shows up at the oddest places). Great flotation on sand though.

Thunder burts really make the bike feel like a mountain bike. Very different feel (G-One tires handle more like road bike tires). Lots of 50mm G-one variations - so there should be something there for everyone.

Again, not sure the terrain or tire size for the OP...
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Old 09-24-19, 01:01 PM
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Riding up hills a lightweight tire is noticeably easier. The downside is they're more prone to punctures and really should be run tubeless with latex sealant inside. The super lightweight Schwalbe tubeless tires like Thunder Burt, Rocket Ron, and Racing Ralph are nice on hard pack and gravel. I'm referring to the folding Aramid bead version of these tires. The folding Performance series of Schwalbes are sometimes lighter and more durable than the more expensive EVO Pacestar racing series but these are expensive tires in general and I only buy them if I can find a good deal like on Ebay, Ribble UK, or Merlincycles.

These are 2.1" tires but they only weigh about 450 grams compared to the Small Block 8 you have which is a good tire but as I recall they weigh at least 600 grams, sometimes more. The Thunder Burts would do well on pavement but these three tires are all very fast rolling even with knobbies. You don't really need knobbies on the rolling center of a tire but knobbies on the tire shoulder are desirable to keep the bike upright on loose-over-hardpack. Always look for a weight on the tire package, or even weight them if you can bring a scale into the store.

Sure you could go with a narrower tire like 40mm Panaracer Gravel Kings (about 330 grams) but they aren't much lighter and you lose the suspension and grip of a fatter tire. It seems to me the cost benefit of 2.1" puts them ahead of everything else especially if you're a heavy person and intend to run them tubeless.

If I ever buy a gravel bike it'll be 27.5 with two wheelsets, one with 700c Gravel King slicks and the other with 27.5 x 2.1 Rocket Rons. That would be my do-everything bike.

Last edited by Clem von Jones; 09-24-19 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 09-24-19, 01:08 PM
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WTB Riddlers come in a big variety of sizes
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Old 09-24-19, 04:48 PM
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Thanks for the replies and ideas!!! I'm thinking a narrower tire to start. I do ride trails, so the 700x54s (2.25) are fine. Though the Slant Six is showing signs of wear, and needs a replacement by next summer.

Frankly, I grew up in rural Kansas, rode a Sears Free Spirit 10 speed all over, gravel roads, cow trails. Wherever. But that doesn't mean I know squat today! I knew 700x32 was TOO narrow, and would really look funny under this bike.

As for the drop bar aspect. I took to it right away. The spread of the Woodchippers works very well for me. Having the wide tires for trail rides is good, but I feel they are too wide for more groomed trails and some gravel I've ridden on.

And I'm not sure what works best around here. A knobby tire, mixed tread or simple treaded tire.
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Old 09-24-19, 07:27 PM
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I would put a fairly large tire on that bike. But around here, our gravel roads either go up or down, nothing in the middle. There are long relatively steep downhills that sometimes have soft surfaces. So a mountain bike tire is the right size. I would probably look for at least a 50mm tire that has a chance of rolling well on the road.
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Old 09-24-19, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I would put a fairly large tire on that bike. But around here, our gravel roads either go up or down, nothing in the middle. There are long relatively steep downhills that sometimes have soft surfaces. So a mountain bike tire is the right size. I would probably look for at least a 50mm tire that has a chance of rolling well on the road.
A goal I am setting for next spring, is one that a friend suggested years ago, after my knee replacement and before I broke my back... Pick a section of the Pony Express trail in Utah's West Desert.. I know of a group planning the route from Lehi, Ut to Wendover, Nv. 208 miles. I'm not planning for that distance. And certainly not unsupported. So we are looking at a 50 mile section for the time being. Same friend is planning some short tours on his CX bike. He is unsure what tires would best just yet.

I guess I'm looking to make a versatile bike, more versatile.
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Old 09-25-19, 07:02 AM
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maybe these tires would be useful to you. WTB Nano

the guy I bought my MTB from had them on the bike (40mm). I swapped for big fat MTB tires (2.25 Riddlers) & put the Nanos on a Trek FX. been riding it this summer with Wifey & the family mostly on paved trails & a little hard packed dirt.

gotta say I like them a lot


on the MTB


on the Trek FX


cpl pics from this summer. was surprised to see how prominent the center line is while rolling




real good coming on & off the pavement

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Old 09-25-19, 07:52 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
maybe these tires would be useful to you. WTB Nano

the guy I bought my MTB from had them on the bike (40mm). I swapped for big fat MTB tires (2.25 Riddlers) & put the Nanos on a Trek FX. been riding it this summer with Wifey & the family mostly on paved trails & a little hard packed dirt.

gotta say I like them a lot


on the MTB


on the Trek FX


cpl pics from this summer. was surprised to see how prominent the center line is while rolling




real good coming on & off the pavement
Cool! Thanks... I like this sort of experience. I need to talk with some local folks about what works for them, tire and sizes....
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Old 09-25-19, 10:33 AM
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These are 2.1" tires but they only weigh about 450 grams compared to the Small Block 8 you have which is a good tire but as I recall they weigh at least 600 grams, sometimes more. The Thunder Burts would do well on pavement but these three tires are all very fast rolling even with knobbies.
I think a big factor is that Kendas litterally have more than 50% more rolling resisitance than the Burts. I'll use my Kendas on single track, but I would rather be on my burts if its hard pack to paved. Much less draggy.

zjrog, given your weight, I would go with some 50mm tires - more and more gravel tires are now available in 40 or 50mm sizes. 40mm will save you some weight - but that isn't a weight weenie bike. I tend to like "gravel" tires over "MTB" tires, as the gravel tires handle a lot better on pavement and hardpack. If you are doing a mix of both - stick with the gravel tires. MTB tires tend to be less rounded and have higher knobs on the side, making them pretty sloppy cornering if its dry and hard. But of course if your spending most of your time in loose stuff, the opposite is true.
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Old 09-25-19, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I think a big factor is that Kendas litterally have more than 50% more rolling resisitance than the Burts. I'll use my Kendas on single track, but I would rather be on my burts if its hard pack to paved. Much less draggy.

zjrog, given your weight, I would go with some 50mm tires - more and more gravel tires are now available in 40 or 50mm sizes. 40mm will save you some weight - but that isn't a weight weenie bike. I tend to like "gravel" tires over "MTB" tires, as the gravel tires handle a lot better on pavement and hardpack. If you are doing a mix of both - stick with the gravel tires. MTB tires tend to be less rounded and have higher knobs on the side, making them pretty sloppy cornering if its dry and hard. But of course if your spending most of your time in loose stuff, the opposite is true.
I have noticed the Kenda tires are "squirmy" on pavement. I understood these were heavy. I was given some Panaracer tires, that seem a bit lighter. But haven't tried them on the bike. Funny thing, the Panaracers say they are a bit wider than the Kendas. But my calipers say just the opposite.

Haha, even my weight weenie bike is heavy. At 18 pounds... 2006 Cannondale CAAD8. This 29er is 31. I had no illusions of it being a lightweight, despite being aluminum...

Thank you!
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Old 09-25-19, 04:54 PM
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I have Nano 2.1 and I don't like them on anything!!!!!!!

The impossible to get WTB Exiwolf are way better than the WTB Nano. Especially if you have room for a 2.3.

As for skinnier, Depending on the gravel/roads you ride, I'd drop a 40 MSO on it. Or a 700x42 resolute.

Edit. maybe the 40c nano is better?

Or not, because the Exiwolf tend to show the same trait as the 2.1 Nano. Both tires likes to meander all over the place, the Exiwolf just not as bad as the Nano. I didn't realize how bad they were until I dropped them on a Scalpel. I'll be finding a different 2.3 tire

Last edited by Metieval; 09-25-19 at 04:59 PM.
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Old 09-26-19, 03:16 PM
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Tires

Originally Posted by zjrog View Post

2010 or so Performance Access XCL9r, was a gift from family a few years ago. It is still as equipped, with Salsa Woodchipper bars, Sora 3500 grifters, and cyclocross brake levers on the flats. Yes, it is heavy as configured. The bike was built as a "Monster Cross" bike. No real idea what that means. But it is faster on pavement than I ever expected it to be, and fun on trails.

I've purchased a second set of wheels to run a narrower tire. It currently rolls on 700x54 Kenda Small Block 8 and Slant Six. Neither of my roadbikes can accept bigger rubber. I'm a 244 pound guy, and looking for something different. No intention to compete in any format, but looking for something other than MTB wide tires...

If I enjoy gravel, I may look for a proper gravel bike...
I don't have these on a drop bar mtb, but do have the following on a rebuilt vintage 26" mtb that I wanted to be able to do single track on, and do double duty as a road bike while on vacation. I went with the Maxxis Tread Lite. It's a 120tpi tubeless compatible tire that roles surprisingly well on pavement, can be slightly porky weight-wise in the 29'er size, but the tread is something that looks a little bit more gravel/cross bike than traditional mtb trail use. I can't complain about the tires performance on single track though...no spin outs, and it's pretty plush. I see the width for the 29" is the same as it is for the 26", 2.1 or roughly 54mm. It's a nice width for mixed use.
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