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Best jack-of-all trade tires?

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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.

Best jack-of-all trade tires?

Old 07-03-20, 05:12 PM
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TJtheWrecker
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Best jack-of-all trade tires?

I'm buying my tires on Wednesday and I them to be fast on the road, but also over 40mm (42-45mm). I'm thinking this width will give me enough to go on rougher gravel and easy singletrack. I'm training to be faster on road and do enjoy weekend gravel. Any suggestions?

Eventually, I will buy a separate gravel wheelset (650B) with 50cm tires, but in the meantime what can I use?
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Old 07-03-20, 09:46 PM
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Specialized Pathfinder Pro.
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Old 07-11-20, 08:53 PM
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dwmckee
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Gravel Kings a re pretty versatile and fast and durable, and not too expensive. Also Vittoria Terreno Dry are good at just about everything.
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Old 07-12-20, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Gravel Kings a re pretty versatile and fast and durable, and not too expensive. Also Vittoria Terreno Dry are good at just about everything.
I think gravel kings are definitely a good all around durable tire. They’re sort of my baseline when I try new tires.
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Old 07-12-20, 09:08 PM
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I like my Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tours. They go anywhere and I have not had a flat in 3000+ km
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Old 07-12-20, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
I like my Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tours. They go anywhere and I have not had a flat in 3000+ km
Marathon Plus Tours are bombproof and will basically get the job done, but they are extremely slow on the road.
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Old 07-13-20, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Marathon Plus Tours are bombproof and will basically get the job done, but they are extremely slow on the road.
Pump them up to 60 psi and I can move my fat butt along fast enough. I am 100kg and I was moving 25Kmph before 7 broken ribs and broken clavicle, sternum, and scapiula from a motorcycle accident has stopped me since Apr
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Old 07-13-20, 02:07 AM
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Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
Pump them up to 60 psi and I can move my fat butt along fast enough. I am 100kg and I was moving 25Kmph before 7 broken ribs and broken clavicle, sternum, and scapiula from a motorcycle accident has stopped me since Apr
Here's a recent paved solo road ride I did on my gravel bike with its supple 53mm tires:



20.6mph is about 33kph. Does that mean that my tires are 32% faster than your Marathon Plus Tours? Well, no. Obviously this is a meaningless data point for the discussion at hand, since my ride is not your ride and I'm not you and my bicycle is not your bicycle, etc.
My point is: it doesn't matter how fast your fat butt moved on your tires, it matters how fast your fat butt moved on them compared with other tires.

The main point of comparison that I have is with a friend who races cat3 road. He's a big diesel and I can out-climb him when my legs are fresh, but on flat ground, there's no question that he's a stronger cyclist. When we're both riding flat pavement on our road bikes, he outperforms me on basically every interval length.
When we switch to our gravel bikes - me on those 53mm Rene Herse tires and him on ~37mm Marathon Plus Tours - on flat pavement he has to put in a significant effort just to hang on to my draft when I'm at a cruising pace.

Also, if the OP is doing any real mixed-surface rides, "pump the tires super stiff" is a poor option for paved performance even if it works.

Last edited by HTupolev; 07-13-20 at 02:42 AM.
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Old 07-16-20, 09:56 AM
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Just got Nanos for my 700c bike. Very good all-arounder I think. The center tread keeps them feeling fast on pavement, and they hook up great on the dirt I've thrown at them (dry, rocky, SoCal).
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Old 07-16-20, 12:42 PM
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Here is my short list:

Panaracer Gravelking SK (38 or 43c) - gets great reviews as an all around tire.
Contiental Terra Speed (40c) - overwhelmingly positive reviews, $$$, may wear faster than others
Schwalbe G-One Allround / Bite (38c) - the first 'standard' gravel tire. The bite has a bit more....er.... bite.
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Old 07-17-20, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by dwmckee View Post
Gravel Kings a re pretty versatile and fast and durable, and not too expensive. Also Vittoria Terreno Dry are good at just about everything.
These two were my top choices in the size that fits my bike. I could not source Terreno Dry in 2.1", so I opted for 50mm GravelKings. Just installed them last night, so haven't tried them, but all the reviewers were raving about them. They were a pain to put on my rims.
I have been riding 40mm X'Plor MSOs which are fantastic on pavement and gravel but a bit too bumpy on rooty singletrack. I wanted more volume and lower PSI.
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Old 07-17-20, 01:50 PM
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Schwalbe G-1's in 38c would be my choice. I've got about 3k miles on a couple of bikes set up with these and I love them for all around use. I've ridden some nasty singletrack on these and 38c works just fine. I run 45psi (tubeless) if I'm doing all gravel, or 60psi for road use.

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Old 07-17-20, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
These two were my top choices in the size that fits my bike. I could not source Terreno Dry in 2.1", so I opted for 50mm GravelKings. Just installed them last night, so haven't tried them, but all the reviewers were raving about them. They were a pain to put on my rims.
I have been riding 40mm X'Plor MSOs which are fantastic on pavement and gravel but a bit too bumpy on rooty singletrack. I wanted more volume and lower PSI.
I'm curious as to how that turns out.
Those big GK-SK are pretty slow compared to G-One or Ramblers. I can't say the smaller ones are slow,but the big ones have a LOT of drag.
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Old 08-14-20, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
I'm curious as to how that turns out.
Those big GK-SK are pretty slow compared to G-One or Ramblers. I can't say the smaller ones are slow,but the big ones have a LOT of drag.
So, I've done 165 miles on the big 50mm GK SK+s and the verdict is... I love them.
They feel slower, but at 40-50PSI I have had no trouble beating Strava records I've set on this same bike with 40mm XPLOR MSO tires @80PSI, or - get this - getting very close to records set on pavement on my road bike on 28mm slicks @ 100PSI. I am running with tubes.
I usually average 15+ MPH on the road bike over 20+ miles (sure, might be slow for some), 13-14 MPH on the gravel bike. These tires didn't really change my avg gravel speed. I did a 20mi all-pavement ride averaging 14mph.

Now, on the straightaways they kind of feel slower, but they really shine in curves. Whatever marginal speed losses there might be are completely eclipsed by the huge amount of confidence and comfort these provide, which is exactly what I was looking for - I got them for mostly single-tracky trails. Not sure whether it's the low PSI (run them at 30 on hardpack) or the large contact patch, but I could just point the bike straight and roll over everything in the path, even sandy or rooty areas where with the MSOs I had to slow down a bit and carefully pick my line. Traction was about the same as the MSOs - plenty for my needs.
Had the bike with me on vacation and did an impromptu 50mi daytour with my wife; I was carrying all our stuff in panniers. Had no problem keeping up with her and didn't feel beaten up by the rough pavement at the end of the ride like she reported she did (25mm slicks at 100PSI).

If you do more pavement or smooth/packed gravel riding, then 40-42 and a slimmer tread is probably enough. I might go for a lower PSI tire maybe - the MSOs are a bit harsh even at the lowest end of 50PSI. I was looking for comfort here, but if you want speed, maybe the GOne or Ramblers are the way to go - I have not tried them.

When you've got nice hardpack, you can handle it even on 28mm tires, GKs don't offer much here


On loose sandy terrain, or coarser/rougher gravel/dirt you'll be more comfortable and can perhaps corner better than on narrower tires



This is the kind of stuff I got the 50mm for, where I would not want to go with the MSOs and if I did, I would have to pick my lines very carefully. The low-PSI GKs just rull over this stuff like nobody's business and soften the bumps.


Nope, bring a fatbike. I didn't feel like dropping the pressure wicked low to test riding at the tide line, but at 30PSI the contact patch didn't seem wide enough, the tires would slide sideways in the wet sand.


Bonus pic: after riding in swampy muck


The one issue to complain about is that the rear tire is already showing some casing separation, that is probably from the loaded ride on pavement, which, admittedly, is pushing the boundaries for this tire
These were also a huge pain to get on the rims.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:27 AM
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Nice Pictures!

Certainly off pavement the big tires will be nicer. I'll throw on a Furious Fred (50mm) or Thunder Burt (54mm) for much of the stuff above. I do tend to choose the tire based on the terrain - from 32mm to 40, to 50, to 54.
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Old 08-17-20, 11:50 AM
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N+1 votes for the Schwalbe G-One Allrounds. My Checkpoint came stock with the 35c version, and I've been very happy learning gravel on them (with the occasional bit of singletrack), commuting, and going for general 3+ hour road rides on them. Super versatile, adjusting pressure for the application. I would opt for the slightly wider 38c version, if given the choice.
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Old 08-17-20, 12:01 PM
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Had very good experience with the WTB Riddler. Good early season CX tire and for packed DG levee rides. Not too shabby on pavement.
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Old 08-17-20, 12:32 PM
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You can find Gravelkings SKs of all sizes for less than $40 on ebay.
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Old 08-18-20, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BluFalconActual View Post
Specialized Pathfinder Pro.
I've got one on the back, and I think its pretty spooky on gravel descents. It rolls fast on the road, but that slick section has a bit of a drop in the transition to the shoulder. I can run lower pressures to make it feel more gradual, but its still not perfect.

My cheap ass won't take it off until its worn out though.
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Old 08-18-20, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Phatman View Post
I've got one on the back, and I think its pretty spooky on gravel descents. It rolls fast on the road, but that slick section has a bit of a drop in the transition to the shoulder. I can run lower pressures to make it feel more gradual, but its still not perfect.

My cheap ass won't take it off until its worn out though.
Yeah, part of the "problem" with the gravel scene is that it is such a wide spectrum of what is considered "gravel". For where I live and where I like to ride, a subcompact 2x drivetrain and 42c Pathfinders are perfect for my choice of routes that are made of fire roads and the semi hard pack dirt of SoCal. Yeah, there are some guys who are all about "shred the gnar" and take their bikes down things I wouldn't dream of taking anything less than a full suspension mountain bike, but for me personally, that is not what I want my gravel bike used for.
The Pathfinder is really fast and provides a little of grip on the corners but it is for sure not something I would want to bomb down loose singletrack with.
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Old 08-18-20, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by BluFalconActual View Post
Yeah, part of the "problem" with the gravel scene is that it is such a wide spectrum of what is considered "gravel". For where I live and where I like to ride, a subcompact 2x drivetrain and 42c Pathfinders are perfect for my choice of routes that are made of fire roads and the semi hard pack dirt of SoCal. Yeah, there are some guys who are all about "shred the gnar" and take their bikes down things I wouldn't dream of taking anything less than a full suspension mountain bike, but for me personally, that is not what I want my gravel bike used for.
The Pathfinder is really fast and provides a little of grip on the corners but it is for sure not something I would want to bomb down loose singletrack with.
So the one that I have is a 38mm, I wonder if that's the difference? I seem to be the only one that doesn't rave about pathfinders and I've always assumed that people were just riding differently than me, but it could be the width and how the tread is spread across the casing. If that middle part were to end just a bit more gradually like it might on a larger tire, it would probably be better. It might even be better with a wider rim bed to make the top of the tread flatter across.

BTW, I find the pathfinder to be sketchiest on smoother gravel descents where there's not much chunk and the speeds get high even though there's not much grip. On singletrack, I find myself more limited by the front tire/lack of suspension rather than rear grip.
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Old 08-18-20, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Phatman View Post
So the one that I have is a 38mm, I wonder if that's the difference? I seem to be the only one that doesn't rave about pathfinders and I've always assumed that people were just riding differently than me, but it could be the width and how the tread is spread across the casing. If that middle part were to end just a bit more gradually like it might on a larger tire, it would probably be better. It might even be better with a wider rim bed to make the top of the tread flatter across.

BTW, I find the pathfinder to be sketchiest on smoother gravel descents where there's not much chunk and the speeds get high even though there's not much grip. On singletrack, I find myself more limited by the front tire/lack of suspension rather than rear grip.
The size/pressure may place a factor. With 42's running at 40 psi max, I feel I have plenty of traction. Now, that is personal preference based on a number things such as riding style and terrain but I did notice that they performed even better than my knobbier 38's that came stock on my Giant.
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Old 08-19-20, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Phatman View Post
So the one that I have is a 38mm, I wonder if that's the difference? I seem to be the only one that doesn't rave about pathfinders and I've always assumed that people were just riding differently than me, but it could be the width and how the tread is spread across the casing. If that middle part were to end just a bit more gradually like it might on a larger tire, it would probably be better. It might even be better with a wider rim bed to make the top of the tread flatter across.

BTW, I find the pathfinder to be sketchiest on smoother gravel descents where there's not much chunk and the speeds get high even though there's not much grip. On singletrack, I find myself more limited by the front tire/lack of suspension rather than rear grip.
What size rims are you using? I have a set of 38mm Pathfinders on the way, they'll be going on 23c rims. Thought about going for the 42s, but I haven't had any issues with 40mm Terra Speeds that measure out to 38mm (on 19c rims), so didn't feel the need to go wider. Hopefully they fit the bill for a fast tire that wears well (the Terra Speeds are def fast, but wear out quickly). If I don't get enough traction on the Pathfinders, I'll prob try out the Triggers next.
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Old 08-20-20, 03:23 AM
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Another vote for Gravelkings. Ride surprisingly nice on tar, and can handle some aggressive rocky terrain too.
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Old 08-20-20, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Rides4Beer View Post
What size rims are you using? I have a set of 38mm Pathfinders on the way, they'll be going on 23c rims. Thought about going for the 42s, but I haven't had any issues with 40mm Terra Speeds that measure out to 38mm (on 19c rims), so didn't feel the need to go wider. Hopefully they fit the bill for a fast tire that wears well (the Terra Speeds are def fast, but wear out quickly). If I don't get enough traction on the Pathfinders, I'll prob try out the Triggers next.
They’re currently on 19mm internal rims. Maybe your 23mm internals will spread the tire out a bit.
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