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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 : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Slicks For Gravel & Sand?

Old 03-12-22, 02:38 PM
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Basstar
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Slicks For Gravel & Sand?

I’m a relatively new rider using a 1990’s MTB for my entry into gravel riding.

I’ll be riding in South Florida where the trails will be some gravel with patches and areas of sand.

When I decided to begin riding originally I thought I wouldn’t enjoy riding as much as I do, was totally unaware of “Gravel Riding” and assumed I would only ride a bit on sidewalks, paved paths, etc.

Therefore I replaced the old dry rotted tires with some 26” x 1.95” inexpensive Kenda K838 slick tires.

I’ve ridden a few trails and the tires performed “OK.”

Im considering upgrading to something like a 2.10” Gravelking SK to gain a bit of width as well as to offer a bit of tread for traction but have no idea if these tires will offer any noticeable improvement.

Should I spend the money or will I even notice any improvement, traction, ride comfort, etc.?

Thanks so very much.
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Old 03-12-22, 03:19 PM
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I'm pretty sure Gravelking SKs will be a noticeable improvement over slicks on just about any off road terrain. The Gravelkings will be bigger and lighter than the Kendas (for smoother ride) and have more grip off road.

Bonus points if you run them tubeless and low pressure.
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Old 03-13-22, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
I'm pretty sure Gravelking SKs will be a noticeable improvement over slicks on just about any off road terrain. The Gravelkings will be bigger and lighter than the Kendas (for smoother ride) and have more grip off road.

Bonus points if you run them tubeless and low pressure.
Thanks for the insight.

Low pressure definitely but these aren’t tubeless rims so it’s tubes for me.

I wasn’t certain if there would be enough difference to justify replacing these tires since they’re basically new themselves.
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Old 03-13-22, 05:04 AM
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Ride them some more and see. You will get more grip performance from a tire with some tread,. Particularly on the outside edge like the gk sk. If that's worth it is a decision you need to make.

You could also just replace the front tire which is the one you have to worry about sliding out. As rear tires wear out faster you'll have a soare ready to go.
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Old 03-13-22, 05:26 AM
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I have no idea what its like in Florida, but its worth noting the SKs got a very low puncture resistance score in the test at bicyclerollingresistance. It may not apply to you, but where I live such a tyre is a pain in the butt. Especially without liquid sealant. The local FB groups are littered with frustrated post complaining about gravelking and other similar "fast" gravel tyres flatting too often.
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Old 03-13-22, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by stevel610 View Post
Ride them some more and see. You will get more grip performance from a tire with some tread,. Particularly on the outside edge like the gk sk. If that's worth it is a decision you need to make.

You could also just replace the front tire which is the one you have to worry about sliding out. As rear tires wear out faster you'll have a soare ready to go.
Not everybody agrees knobbies are always better on a gravel bike. Knobs add rolling resistance - even on gravel, may be noisy and can have have unpredictable properties on tarmac. Especially if they have big side knobs. Id argue that in many cases you are better off with a slick than riding knobbies that may only benefit you briefly. All dependent on you local terrain of course. For me knobbies would only be a benefit a few times a year when I need to negotiate some muddy soil.

Last edited by Racing Dan; 03-13-22 at 06:00 AM.
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Old 03-13-22, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Not everybody agrees knobbies are always better on a gravel bike. Knobs add rolling resistance - even on gravel, may be noisy and can have have unpredictable properties on tarmac. Especially if they have big side knobs. Id argue that in many cases you are better off with a slick than riding knobbies that may only benefit you briefly. All dependent on you local terrain of course. For me knobbies would only be a benefit a few times a year when I need to negotiate some muddy soil.
Yes.
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Old 03-13-22, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
Not everybody agrees knobbies are always better on a gravel bike. Knobs add rolling resistance - even on gravel, may be noisy and can have have unpredictable properties on tarmac. Especially if they have big side knobs. Id argue that in many cases you are better off with a slick than riding knobbies that may only benefit you briefly. All dependent on you local terrain of course. For me knobbies would only be a benefit a few times a year when I need to negotiate some muddy soil.
Thanks so much.

As a new cyclist I truly appreciate the insight from you folks who know much more than I and have real world experience.
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Old 03-13-22, 07:10 AM
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I also used to run Schwalbe Big Apples on my 26in Kona humu. Very good tires.
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Old 03-13-22, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Racing Dan View Post
For me knobbies would only be a benefit a few times a year when I need to negotiate some muddy soil.
...and Gravel Kings aren't an especially good mud tire.
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Old 03-13-22, 02:40 PM
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As a quick note, the OP is riding 2 inch wide tires in South Florida where there are no hills at all. And does not currently have a lot of traction problems. Probably just about any good 2 inch or wider tire will work well if you have no mud. Just stay wide and on the lower side of pressure.
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Old 03-13-22, 04:06 PM
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My friends and I have done mixed-surface bikepacking on 26 x 2.3” slicks, René Herse Rat Trap Pass (in several different casing styles). And I’ve done even more of that on 650b x 48mm slicks, also from René Herse. At around 30 psi, these are very versatile.

That said, I’ve also had good experiences on mixed terrain with René Herse’ knob-ish tires, which also ride well on pavement; and on Panaracer GravelKing SKs.
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Old 03-14-22, 06:13 AM
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Continental Race King Protection 2.2 are worth looking into.
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Old 03-14-22, 06:10 PM
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I’ll second scubaman and suggest the OP just go straight to the top with some Herse Rat Traps tubed up with Schwalbe Aerothan SV13 tubes.

Sure the tires and tubes will set you back $100/wheel, but love ‘em or not, you’ll know there is nothing better for a 26” slick setup.

I’d also suggest chevking out The Gravel Cyclist’s reviews; Jom rides a lot in S.FL and can give good insight into which tires work on that terrain.

Herse also have the Humptulip knobby if some tread lugs are preferred. Similarly, Ultradynamico make MARS in 26”, and that’s a nice knobby…at least according to my experience here in Michigan where we also have a lot of sand and hardpack clay.

Last edited by chaadster; 03-15-22 at 12:48 AM. Reason: Price correction
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Old 03-15-22, 05:51 AM
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Basstar, it would be good if you would describe what area of riding you want to improve.

IMHO, the best tire for your condition is the 60mm wide Schwalbe G-one (speed). That tire was specifically designed for sand. But, any 60mm wide Schwalbe will work – if they fit your frame.

Other than that, the widest tire is great.

You ask for traction, ride comfort – for your conditions, wide tires with low tire pressure are the way to go to get to these goals.

If you can’t fit 60mm tires, the Gravel Cyclists recommends Furious Fred as a “cheater tire” I agree, that thing is super fast and versatile (for non muddy conditions). Its 50mm.

The trick with you, is you are on a bike with 26” tires, and most manufacturers quit making these tires – so again this brings us back to Schwalbe is often going to be your best bet with this deprecated size.

For a longer list, read this: https://www.restoration.bike/tires/2...in-bike-tires/
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Old 03-15-22, 06:46 AM
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Much Appreciated

Many thanks everyone.

Based on the commentary here it appears that there are probably better tires than I’m now riding but perhaps I’ll notice only a slight improvement especially for the money spent.

Also for the dryer and sandier conditions it seems knobby tires not only aren’t necessary but in fact due to their increased rolling resistance may in fact be detrimental since much of my riding will be on gravel roads, single, or double track.

Based on the comments here, for now I’ve decided to ride my current slicks until I see that another tire or perhaps another bike may be warranted.

Again thanks so much. I truly appreciate the knowledge, experience, insight, and wisdom you’ve shared.
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