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Any road tire suggestions for dirt roads?

Old 02-07-18, 06:32 PM
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Any road tire suggestions for dirt roads?

I live out in the country and I have to ride over a few rocky dirt roads before I can get onto smooth pavement. I'm looking for a tire that can survive dirt roads without puncturing, but also have low rolling resistance for pavement. So far I've looked at Continental's Gatorskin tires, and Schwelbe Marathon HS tires. Any other recommendations? Thanks!
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Old 02-07-18, 08:09 PM
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Gatorskins should be fine. About half the road bike riders I see use 'em on a mix of smooth and rough pavement, chipseal and some gravel. Wouldn't be my first choice but plenty of folks seem satisfied with Gatorskins.

If my road bike could handle 700x28 or wider tires I'd consider Michelin Protek Urban. I've ridden Protek Cross Max on my hybrid errand bike on ridiculously bad roads and gravel -- very tough, grippy tires but remarkably smooth rolling despite the weight and heavy tread. If the Protek Urban performs like a lightweight version of the same tire, I'd be satisfied with a set on a gravel/CX type drop bar bike.

But Michelins in general tend to run a bit wide and 700x28 might not fit some road bikes. So maybe a set of Panaracer Gravel Kings, which would make a nice compromise gravel/road tire without excessive tread. I'm not sure tread does much on gravel -- conforming to the rough stuff without puncturing and tearing seems to be more important. Even my cheap 700x23 Vittoria Zaffiros were okay on gravel when I reduced the air pressure.
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Old 02-07-18, 09:17 PM
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I've got Gatorskins and Panaracer Pasela PTs in 28c size and both do well on dirt, gravel, and pavement. The skinwall Paselas had me worried, but a recent 10 mile dirt ride on a fire road went very well. I can't say either is best, they both work for me. These are on vintage bikes, and the Paselas look more "period" with the skinwall. I have had two flats in 1500+ miles, both on pavement and both the same day with the Paselas, none on the Gators, but a lot less miles.
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Old 02-07-18, 09:43 PM
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You didn't say what kind of bike or the width of the tires.

You may not know it, but you are doing something fashionable - riding gravel. Go over to the Cyclocross and Gravelbiking forum and you'll see tons of threads on tires.

My personal favorites are Clement 'Ush 35 mm tires for gravel, but as they say, ymmv.
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Old 02-07-18, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
Gatorskins should be fine. About half the road bike riders I see use 'em on a mix of smooth and rough pavement, chipseal and some gravel. Wouldn't be my first choice but plenty of folks seem satisfied with Gatorskins.

If my road bike could handle 700x28 or wider tires I'd consider Michelin Protek Urban. I've ridden Protek Cross Max on my hybrid errand bike on ridiculously bad roads and gravel -- very tough, grippy tires but remarkably smooth rolling despite the weight and heavy tread. If the Protek Urban performs like a lightweight version of the same tire, I'd be satisfied with a set on a gravel/CX type drop bar bike.

But Michelins in general tend to run a bit wide and 700x28 might not fit some road bikes. So maybe a set of Panaracer Gravel Kings, which would make a nice compromise gravel/road tire without excessive tread. I'm not sure tread does much on gravel -- conforming to the rough stuff without puncturing and tearing seems to be more important. Even my cheap 700x23 Vittoria Zaffiros were okay on gravel when I reduced the air pressure.
In my experience tread makes all the difference on gravel. The difference can be staying in control and upright or losing control and falling. That is why I have now decided to get the Schwalbe Marathon GT 365 for my bicycle that I use for mostly road. The roads I ride daily on have potholes, cracks and gravel strewed on the narrow shoulders. I am giving up some rolling resistance for safety and confidence.
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Old 02-08-18, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
You didn't say what kind of bike or the width of the tires.

You may not know it, but you are doing something fashionable - riding gravel. Go over to the Cyclocross and Gravelbiking forum and you'll see tons of threads on tires.

My personal favorites are Clement 'Ush 35 mm tires for gravel, but as they say, ymmv.
Ah yes, I suppose I should mention that. I have a 2015 Fuji Sportif 2.5, which can fit up to 28mm
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Old 02-08-18, 07:46 AM
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If the goal is simply not puncturing, I've had good luck with Conti GP 4 Seasons and Gatorskins, BUT I am never really super comfortable with turning on non-paved surfaces, and I won't take a corner with any real speed, because I don't trust them to provide good enough grip to stay upright.
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Old 02-08-18, 09:58 AM
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Its just what all this trendy Gravel thing is about, dirt roads..
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Old 02-08-18, 10:28 AM
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I live 2 miles from Missouri's crushed limestone Katy Trail so I ride on it a lot. I think that it's real easy to over state the effect of bicycle tire tread on surfaces like the Katy. I use slick or near slick tires with moderate puncture resistance.
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Old 02-08-18, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
I live 2 miles from Missouri's crushed limestone Katy Trail so I ride on it a lot. I think that it's real easy to over state the effect of bicycle tire tread on surfaces like the Katy. I use slick or near slick tires with moderate puncture resistance.
There are plenty of crushed limestone rail trails around here, and I agree one can ride them on narrow slicks. Gravel (or "dirt") roads are a different animal.
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Old 02-08-18, 12:14 PM
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I've ridden Panaracer Paselas from 28c to 37c on various gravels. Not a ton of miles, either total or on any one tire so I cannot speak for durability. But for the ride, they have done well, bigger being better. (I rode 30 miles of "gravel", actually 1 1/2" to 2" rocks, in places deep, last summer with the 37c in front and a 35c in back. Control was very good, even on the 18% very windy downhill. Trask River Trail over the coastal range of Oregon.)

All the Paselas are quite decent road tires, obviously getting faster as the size goes down. (That ride last summer included 50 miles of pavement.) The Paselas aren't magic. They don't do anything well. They are a compromise. That said, they don't so anything badly either. For flats, cuts, rolling resistance, grip, weight and lifespan, they are quite reasonable and have become one of my most used tires because they work.

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Old 02-08-18, 12:56 PM
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In 28's I'd go Paselas. I have them on al lmy 27" bikes, wonderful all-around tire.

As [MENTION=174070]MinnMan[/MENTION] said above, if you can fit 35s, Ill second the USHs. Nice on AND off pavement.
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Old 02-09-18, 07:53 AM
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I'd probably suggest trying some Michelin Pro4 Endurance in the 28s (since this is the max width you can take). What tires are you riding now and are you getting frequent flats with them?
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Old 02-09-18, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by MinnMan
There are plenty of crushed limestone rail trails around here, and I agree one can ride them on narrow slicks. Gravel (or "dirt") roads are a different animal.
Yup, the bigger the rocks that make up the gravel the more you'll appreciate wider tires. Tread pattern can get real specific depending on the surface.
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Old 03-26-20, 07:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
I live 2 miles from Missouri's crushed limestone Katy Trail so I ride on it a lot. I think that it's real easy to over state the effect of bicycle tire tread on surfaces like the Katy. I use slick or near slick tires with moderate puncture resistance.
So, what tires do you use on the Katy Trail? I had issues with 23mm riding to work, so does 28mm work well for you? I am on it for the 2-mile stretch going from the Research Park across the bridge. Kind of a moot point now, but still interested in getting the bike ready for when it happens.
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Old 03-26-20, 08:22 PM
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Recently I've used Continental Grand Prix Classic skinwalls, 700x25 only, on my '89 steel road bike for reasonably well maintained gravel roads -- mostly crushed limestone chat trails, nothing like railroad ballast. No problems. Wouldn't be my first choice for off-pavement but worked okay. I usually run the pressure 10 psi lower than on pavement, around 80-90 psi rear, 60-70 psi front.
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Old 03-26-20, 08:34 PM
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If you’re looking for a sticky tubeless tire, the Pirelli Cinturato might be worth taking a look at. Faster than the gatorskin, but has tons of grip and lasts a very long time. Approximately as tough as a gatorskin too.
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Old 03-26-20, 08:37 PM
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tested a bunch

After testing a half-dozen sizes on the same wheels and bike a couple years ago (on the same route consisting of several grades of gravel and pavement) I've switched all of my bike to 28c. Four different brands, but all 28c. The one exception is a KHS 223 set up for heavy/loose rough gravel rides and light logging trails which is 35c. All run at 70/75psi. No problems with flats for two years now either.
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Old 03-27-20, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by makoman
So, what tires do you use on the Katy Trail? I had issues with 23mm riding to work, so does 28mm work well for you? I am on it for the 2-mile stretch going from the Research Park across the bridge. Kind of a moot point now, but still interested in getting the bike ready for when it happens.
I've ridden it on a road bike with 23mm tires. I found it to be do-able and didn't have to do a lot of dabbing but it definitely wouldn't be my top choice. I liked 28 mm tires better because they were about the widest that would fit the road bike I was using. I think that's what I used , on a road bike, for my 65th birthday ride. 1.5" tires have been my tool of choice in the past but that's not going to work on a road bike. I've made the decision to switch to 2" tires for our recumbent trikes this year. We're in our middle 70's so we are isolating for the time being and haven't been down to the trail.
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Old 03-27-20, 10:04 AM
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I haven't thought about tubeless, but it is a consideration. I don't know if my rims can do it.
I was most concerned with getting the right width as 32mm seemed a little too wide. I did complete the ride on 23mm tires, but like Retro Grouch said, dabbing was required. A 28mm tire seems like a great starting point based on feedback from all here, as long as they fit! Thanks for the guidance to all!
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