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Do gravel tyres have reason to exist?

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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.

Do gravel tyres have reason to exist?

Old 12-23-20, 11:48 AM
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Igor_M
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Do gravel tyres have reason to exist?

I stare at models such as the Schwalbe G-One or Continental Terra and I get a rather pitiful smile on my face. Can't help it.

Now, to be clear, I am dead serious about the question. I recently purchased my first gravel bike and I will have to put some rubber on those rims. I will have two wheelsets, 700c and 650b.
When road riding -> 28/30mm road slick
When off-road -> 47/50mm XC
When mixed on 700c -> why not an XC tyre still (they should outperform in rolling resistance and grip) OR a touring one (Schwalbe Marathon Mondial or Almotion) that have great puncture protection

My struggle with fully dedicated gravel tyres is that they really don't look like they are good at anything. Is there any situation where they would be the reasonable top pick?
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Old 12-23-20, 11:52 AM
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Get some Rene Herse tires, as wide as you can cram in the bike, and just ride.
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Old 12-23-20, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Get some Rene Herse tires, as wide as you can cram in the bike, and just ride.
I would just add these will be your road tires as well.
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Old 12-23-20, 12:11 PM
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What bike did you get?
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Old 12-23-20, 12:30 PM
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They exist because people with gravel bikes want to buy "gravel" tires.
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Old 12-23-20, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Igor_M View Post
I stare at models such as the Schwalbe G-One or Continental Terra and I get a rather pitiful smile on my face. Can't help it.

Now, to be clear, I am dead serious about the question. I recently purchased my first gravel bike and I will have to put some rubber on those rims. I will have two wheelsets, 700c and 650b.
When road riding -> 28/30mm road slick
When off-road -> 47/50mm XC
When mixed on 700c -> why not an XC tyre still (they should outperform in rolling resistance and grip) OR a touring one (Schwalbe Marathon Mondial or Almotion) that have great puncture protection

My struggle with fully dedicated gravel tyres is that they really don't look like they are good at anything. Is there any situation where they would be the reasonable top pick?
Gravel tires are good at winning gravel races.

https://www.bikeradar.com/features/t...8-dirty-kanza/

https://www.cyclingnews.com/features...-tech-gallery/
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Old 12-23-20, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Igor_M View Post
I stare at models such as the Schwalbe G-One or Continental Terra and I get a rather pitiful smile on my face. Can't help it.

Now, to be clear, I am dead serious about the question. I recently purchased my first gravel bike and I will have to put some rubber on those rims. I will have two wheelsets, 700c and 650b.
When road riding -> 28/30mm road slick
When off-road -> 47/50mm XC
When mixed on 700c -> why not an XC tyre still (they should outperform in rolling resistance and grip) OR a touring one (Schwalbe Marathon Mondial or Almotion) that have great puncture protection

My struggle with fully dedicated gravel tyres is that they really don't look like they are good at anything. Is there any situation where they would be the reasonable top pick?
You linked a thread that doesnt say what bike you bought. Knowing that isnt necessary, but linking that thread sure makes me curious to find out...

Gravel tires have a reason to exist, yes.
There are a wide variety of gravel tire sizes and tread patterns because there are a wide variety of gravel bikes and wide variety of riding conditions.

Your struggle is confusing. Gravel tires are really good at handling gravel roads they are designed for. This applies to paved road tires too- they are really good at handling roads they are designed for.
I dont want a Mondial 40mm touring tire because my gravel tires weigh 120g lighter, roll better, and are plenty durable for the roads I ride.
I dont want an XC tire because I dont want/need tires that wide. A lot of gravel road bikes cant handle a 54mm wide tire(2.1") which seems to be a common lightweight XC size.
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Old 12-23-20, 12:42 PM
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You can also mountain bike with slicks. It all depends on the terrain you are riding and your preferences. I suggest you come back in a year and ask this question.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tdilf View Post
You can also mountain bike with slicks. It all depends on the terrain you are riding and your preferences. I suggest you come back in a year and ask this question.
One year from now I hope being able to answer that question I titled this thread in the most outrageous way I can think of whilst remaining polite, but the question is genuine.

Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
You linked a thread that doesnt say what bike you bought. Knowing that isnt necessary, but linking that thread sure makes me curious to find out...
Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
What bike did you get?
The Bokeh. Checked most of the boxes, that orange paint is stunning and I couldn't resist the "handmade in Italy" being from there myself.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Igor_M View Post

My struggle with fully dedicated gravel tyres is that they really don't look like they are good at anything. Is there any situation where they would be the reasonable top pick?
read the riding on actual gravel thread(the consensus is gravel is anything and all things). the tires may not "look" like they do anything good and that is probably related to gravel not be any one thing its mixed surfaces and gravel tires do good on that.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Igor_M View Post
I stare at models such as the Schwalbe G-One or Continental Terra and I get a rather pitiful smile on my face. Can't help it.

Now, to be clear, I am dead serious about the question. I recently purchased my first gravel bike and I will have to put some rubber on those rims. I will have two wheelsets, 700c and 650b.
When road riding -> 28/30mm road slick
When off-road -> 47/50mm XC
When mixed on 700c -> why not an XC tyre still (they should outperform in rolling resistance and grip) OR a touring one (Schwalbe Marathon Mondial or Almotion) that have great puncture protection

My struggle with fully dedicated gravel tyres is that they really don't look like they are good at anything. Is there any situation where they would be the reasonable top pick?
Gravel tires are nice if you're riding 8 miles pavement on the way to the dirt, then 8 miles back, for instance. If you're throwing the bike in the truck and driving to the dirt, put some knobbies on there.

Best to have 2 or 3 wheelsets to optimize your tires for each specific ride
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Old 12-23-20, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Gravel tires are nice if you're riding 8 miles pavement on the way to the dirt, then 8 miles back, for instance. If you're throwing the bike in the truck and driving to the dirt, put some knobbies on there.

Best to have 2 or 3 wheelsets to optimize your tires for each specific ride
Gravel is not dirt tho.

Edit to add/reiterate: Fat slicks will cover road and gravel; and hardpack dirt, since that has entered the convo.

Last edited by walnutz; 12-23-20 at 01:53 PM.
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Old 12-23-20, 01:50 PM
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Around here you can't go continuously on gravel/dirt for very long, you've got to do some asphalt to connect the unpaved roads together.
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Old 12-23-20, 02:10 PM
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Bokeh max tire size 650bX50 or 700cX45. That's more narrow than most mtb tires and is why gravel tires exist.
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Old 12-23-20, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Bokeh max tire size 650bX50 or 700cX45. That's more narrow than most mtb tires and is why gravel tires exist.
Ooh yeah, 45mm is pretty skinny. Can't even fit a Furious Fred in there.

Next question: Should the Furious Fred be called an XC tyre?

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Old 12-23-20, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by walnutz View Post
I would just add these will be your road tires as well.
Thanks for the assist.

They also make a treaded version, which, remarkably, don't have a huge on-road penalty.
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Old 12-23-20, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
Get some Rene Herse tires, as wide as you can cram in the bike, and just ride.
I've been running the Bon Jon Pass tires on my all-weather/all-road bike for a while, and they are worth the high price. Brilliant tires.
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Old 12-23-20, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Gravel tires are nice if you're riding 8 miles pavement on the way to the dirt, then 8 miles back, for instance. If you're throwing the bike in the truck and driving to the dirt, put some knobbies on there.

Best to have 2 or 3 wheelsets to optimize your tires for each specific ride
YES! Gravel tires are a compromise that you can optimize for what mix of surfaces you are riding frequently. That optimization for a mix that includes asphalt frequently is what makes specialized tires for gravel a great thing. Typical gravel events have road, loose gravel, some mud, maybe some grass, require long distance comfort, puncture resistance, etc. Cross tires are somewhat versatile for gravel too but have little optimization for asphalt surfaces and cross tires are often limited in width to meet race equipment restrictions. Gravel tires are just limited in width by what your frame can handle..
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Old 12-23-20, 06:41 PM
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I like the GravelKing small knob on my gravel bike. It's not so ridiculously slow that you can't ride it on road, and the knobs keep the sharp rocks we find around here from cutting up the tread. If I were the type to drive to a parking lot at the edge of the forest, get my bike off the rack and ride gravel roads, then I could see riding knobby mtb tires. But I almost never do that.
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Old 12-23-20, 07:58 PM
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All "gravel" isn't the same, horses for courses, blah, blah blah. Don't like gravel tires? Don't run 'em. To me, having more choices is always a good thing.
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Old 12-23-20, 10:28 PM
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If you only have one set of wheel, some makes of gravel tires are good for both paved roads and gravel.

To those who live in the middle of the city and also use their gravel bike for the long commute to get to their gravel adventures, then yep, a gravel or touring tire is your best option
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Old 12-23-20, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Ooh yeah, 45mm is pretty skinny. Can't even fit a Furious Fred in there.

Next question: Should the Furious Fred be called an XC tyre?

Looks like a fat dry weather or grass cross tire which is probably what it really is.

Seems that with official cross tires capping out at 33c, though I've never heard of anyone having an issue with wider, gravel tires seem to cover that gap from cross to mtb sizes. Most look to me like fatter cross tires, the ones Challenge produces even seem to be the same tread patterns with a touch more puncture resistance and more width which is fine. Having toured with my gravel bike I was happy with the 38c gravel tires I picked which aren't too heavy, strong enough to not flat even once yet, and offer plenty of traction on the packed gravel rail trails that most of the tour followed while offering a decent level of speed once I hit pavement. Seem bike a valid tire designation to me.
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Old 12-23-20, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Looks like a fat dry weather or grass cross tire which is probably what it really is.

Seems that with official cross tires capping out at 33c, though I've never heard of anyone having an issue with wider, gravel tires seem to cover that gap from cross to mtb sizes. Most look to me like fatter cross tires, the ones Challenge produces even seem to be the same tread patterns with a touch more puncture resistance and more width which is fine. Having toured with my gravel bike I was happy with the 38c gravel tires I picked which aren't too heavy, strong enough to not flat even once yet, and offer plenty of traction on the packed gravel rail trails that most of the tour followed while offering a decent level of speed once I hit pavement. Seem bike a valid tire designation to me.
They were mainly for putting on weight weenie XC rigs, just for the weigh-in

At 50mm they don't really fit many normal gravel bikes from back when they were still being made.
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Old 12-24-20, 03:30 AM
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Unless gravel tires are conscious they will not need to withstand the existential crisis
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Old 12-24-20, 04:22 AM
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+1 for the recommendations for the widest René Herse tires that fit. You mention getting two wheelsets. Maybe start with one nice 650b wheelset and put René Herse 650b x 48mm Switchback Hill smooth tires on them. In my experience, they feel great on pavement, gravel, & hard pack - pretty much anything short of real single-track and mud. (Ted King used them on the epic VTXL across Vermont, which included some pretty sketchy surfaces.) You might well find that’s all you need. And if smooth doesn’t seem enough, there’s the 650b x 48mm Juniper Ridge; René Herse claims that those also ride well on pavement, and indeed that’s been my experience - contrary to my expectations, riding them on the road feels quite similar to using smooth tires, and my ride times are essentially unchanged vs Switchback Hill.
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