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Tires that will allow a road bike to ride ok on Rails To Trails gravel?

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Tires that will allow a road bike to ride ok on Rails To Trails gravel?

Old 09-16-21, 04:45 PM
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ofajen
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Try it. Itíll probably be ok. And itís good for your soul to sometimes ride a bike where you shouldnít.

Otto
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Old 09-16-21, 05:07 PM
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I'd try something like the 700x45c they use on gravel bikes; if they fit your rims and clear the brakes.
BTw there is no standard for Rail Trail surfaces, they come in a wide range. Ours has what I call crusher fines in the tracks that everyone rides, left and right of those the grit is coarser and when they patch up a section it is coarser still.
As far as dust goes, bike cleaning will be a regular chore.
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Old 09-16-21, 05:21 PM
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Have 32s on this non-gravel but endurance frame and have ridden a couple of hundred miles on gravel rail/trial conversions as well as some easy single track.



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Old 09-16-21, 06:09 PM
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With the gravel trails we have around here, I found 25mm and 28mm to be a bit too thin for comfort. 32mm was a nice compromise between gravel and pavement. On my old bike I had some 32mm Schwalbe Marathon tires that were pretty heavy, but indestructible.
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Old 09-16-21, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Lucky we are talking about crushed stone rail trails then.
I was hoping he was gone forever. Alas.
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Old 09-16-21, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I was hoping he was gone forever. Alas.
No such luck. "Need quite a long reach...." Where does this stuff come from.
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Old 09-16-21, 08:55 PM
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I think tire width is largely dependent on your ability to pick and stick with a line, the amount of deep sand/mud and your frame. I rode the Saluda Robaux on 30s as its the largest tire my Domane will accept and I'm an old geezer. A lot of the pros rode 28s at the Roubaix and at the Gravel Locos 150. Rails to trails are normally compacted and thus allows us to use 25 to 28s. Have fun
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Old 09-16-21, 09:24 PM
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Maybe try touring tires. Last year I took trip to PA to ride rail trails. During the pandemic it was hard to find tires locally. I ended up getting Continental Ride Tours (700x35). Smooth on the bottom and knobby on the sides. I was pleased with how they rode. Also I wanted something with decent puncture resistance since I didn't know what conditions I would encounter.
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Old 09-17-21, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
No such luck. "Need quite a long reach...." Where does this stuff come from.
His posts always remind me of those old sayings about blind squirrels and broken clocks....
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Old 09-17-21, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by OldRailfan View Post
BTw there is no standard for Rail Trail surfaces, they come in a wide range. Ours has what I call crusher fines in the tracks that everyone rides, left and right of those the grit is coarser and when they patch up a section it is coarser still.
And sometimes it is tough to gauge ahead of time how coarse a given trail will be.

My goal for this year (now it'll be next year) is to ride the Katy trail in Missouri. Depending on who you believe, it is either smooth and fast hard packed crushed limestone, coarse gravel, or soft loose sand and rocks. Could be all of those, considering the trail itself is a couple-three hundred miles long I think. And some areas have been prone to flood in recent years.

I might decide to take two bikes and use them as conditions warrant.
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Old 09-17-21, 06:28 AM
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Any tire of about 32mm - 45mm size with some tread is perfect for riding on Rails to Trails gravel. I would avoid slicks and choose a touring tire or cx tire for riding on any type of gravel
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Old 09-17-21, 06:34 AM
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Back 40+ years ago when I had a bike with 27" tires, I found that 27x1 1/4 was OK (barely) for most gravel, but 27x1 1/8 was dicey. My hybrid ran 700x35 knobbies for a while, and that was pretty good on most gravel.
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Old 09-17-21, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Any tire of about 32mm - 45mm size with some tread is perfect for riding on Rails to Trails gravel. I would avoid slicks and choose a touring tire or cx tire for riding on any type of gravel
This is very good advice that I often donít follow. I use smooth tires all the time on crushed stone trails in the warmer, dryer half of the year. It works out fine.

I switch to small knob tires in the cold half of the year when the trails tend to be saturated and have soft or muddy places.

Otto
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Old 09-20-21, 01:19 PM
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I'll add: try lowering your tire pressure to make a softer tire. This may help traction on rails to trails gravel.
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Old 09-20-21, 02:58 PM
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I know I have a friend who got a nice road bike and he noticed that while he CAN use it on gravel its uncomfortable. It has no shock absorption and riding it on the gravel beat the heck out of him. So he keeps the road bike to the roads where he can fly. And his other bikes for doing off roading. His major complaint was he missed the shock absorber on the set post most. LOL
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Old 09-20-21, 03:21 PM
  #41  
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I agree with most of the cyclists, Rails to Trails road beds are great for any tireÖthat said, since I ride for enjoyment not speed, Iíd suggest a touring type tire. Iíve been using Continental 700C x 32, max psi a bit above 90. Iíd stay away from the narrow rimmed high psi tireÖ
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Old 09-20-21, 06:51 PM
  #42  
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I've put thousands of miles on the crushed limestone gravel paths in the Chicago area (I live near the Illinois Prairie Path), and I primarily ride a road bike with 32 mm tubeless tires. I keep the pressure at 45-60 psi, depending on if I'm mixing in many paved sections. I ride higher pressures on road rides.

It's really only an issue if I hit some loose terrain or sandy areas, which do exist on these trails. But I enjoy the thrill of being a little "under-biked".

Last edited by HarborBandS; 09-20-21 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 09-21-21, 10:20 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by 777funk View Post
Can I ride a road bike on the small gravel you see on the old train track bike trails with the right tires? I wouldn't think the smooth 27x1 1/4 road tires would do great... but then again, it's usually a pretty straight line ride. I have close to zero road bike experience. I have one road bike with tires that look like skinny mountain bike tires. I haven't ridden it enough to know much about how those would do. Any thoughts on this setup?
I've been riding exactly those type of trails on multiple road bikes with 28c slick road tires for the last fifteen years. As long as the trails are hard packed gravel, road slicks work very well. If you encounter a section that is mud, you will be traction limited, but again if it's straight line and you're not competing in the DK/UG, let 'er rip Another advantage of using a road bike and tires is if you choose to alternate the rails-to-trails with biking on the road (as I do in my neck of the woods), you'll enjoy the road sections a lot more. Have fun!
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Old 09-22-21, 12:47 PM
  #44  
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one can also play with tire pressure. meaning, let a pound or two out. it can soften the ride & the front tire will be less twitchy around any loose objects
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Old 09-22-21, 12:57 PM
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Others have covered it well. I'll just add my own experience on crushed stone trails near me is it's fine if the tires are on the skinny side IF
1. you're comfortable and confident on that particular bike, 2. there is SOME tread (my kid has a small road bike with 24" (ISO520) x 1" tires and just switching to a Panaracer made for multi surfaces helped lots, even though it's the same 1" width.

I've ridden rail trails on 26mm (Panaracer Gravelking) and had no issues EXCEPT with SAND - not gravel, but deeper loose sandy patches. Since I moved to 35mm tires (on a newer bike that could fit 'em) I've had no issues with that "squirreliness." I bet even 32s would be more than enough. It's just having enough width and enough small tread pattern.
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Old 09-22-21, 10:09 PM
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I was on a rail trail (gravel) the other day with my hearty 45mm tires. No, problems, enjoying the ride when I met up with a couple of road bikes riding 23mm. After a hello and the weather, they asked me where the nearest asphalt was.
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Old 09-23-21, 02:00 AM
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Originally Posted by 777funk View Post
Can I ride a road bike on the small gravel you see on the old train track bike trails with the right tires? I wouldn't think the smooth 27x1 1/4 road tires would do great... but then again, it's usually a pretty straight line ride. I have close to zero road bike experience. I have one road bike with tires that look like skinny mountain bike tires. I haven't ridden it enough to know much about how those would do. Any thoughts on this setup?
I have many miles touring and day rides on the Katy Trail's crushed limestone with 700 x 32's on a Fuji Touring, the Panaracers that came on it new, they worked out fine. The only time I recall a problem was through a short section where the trail had flooded and a new base of larger gravel/rock had been put down.

Last edited by DLeeW; 09-23-21 at 02:05 AM.
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Old 09-23-21, 06:29 AM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by DLeeW View Post
I have many miles touring and day rides on the Katy Trail's crushed limestone with 700 x 32's on a Fuji Touring, the Panaracers that came on it new, they worked out fine. The only time I recall a problem was through a short section where the trail had flooded and a new base of larger gravel/rock had been put down.
Back before the really big flood in 1993, and also at a time when I still did primarily road riding, I began to incorporate a stretch of the Katy Trail as part of some road rides.

The trail surface prior to that 1993 flood was smooth enough that I had no real issues riding it, which would have been on 300g training tubulars that would likely have been 21s or maybe 23s.

Since about that time I have really not done dedicated road rides and primarily stay on our trails and connect via low traffic roads.

On the Katy, 700x32 is plenty of tire in dry conditions and really, even in the winter, the Katy itself can be managed with 32s, though a lot of the regulars are running 38s.

Getting to it in winter on a connecting trail or heavily graveled road, however, I enjoy the luxury of 26x2.2 tires on my old MTB.

Otto
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Old 09-23-21, 06:51 AM
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I didn't read all the posts in the thread (I'm kinda lazy) ... so this might be repeating earlier posts:

Not all rail-trail 'gravel' is the same, so tires that work on 'your' rail-trail might not work on 'their' rail-trail.

That said, Frau Toad spent many years riding & miles our local rail-trail (Lake Minnetonka Trail) with a crushed limestone surface on 23 to 28 mm road tires without a single complaint. I've find 28 mm T-Serv tires great on any rail-trail surface I've seen around the Twin Cities. Frankly, rail-trails are straight and flat so there's very little need to worry about handling/grip.

I should point out that I'm also the Toad that'll ride 4" fat tires on these same trails ... So there's that
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Old 09-23-21, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Hypno Toad View Post
I didn't read all the posts in the thread (I'm kinda lazy) ... so this might be repeating earlier posts:

Not all rail-trail 'gravel' is the same, so tires that work on 'your' rail-trail might not work on 'their' rail-trail.

That said, Frau Toad spent many years riding & miles our local rail-trail (Lake Minnetonka Trail) with a crushed limestone surface on 23 to 28 mm road tires without a single complaint. I've find 28 mm T-Serv tires great on any rail-trail surface I've seen around the Twin Cities. Frankly, rail-trails are straight and flat so there's very little need to worry about handling/grip.

I should point out that I'm also the Toad that'll ride 4" fat tires on these same trails ... So there's that
The crushed limestone on the local trails ride pretty much like dusty asphalt. I ride 4 of them regularly (MN River Bluffs, Lk Mtka, Dakota, and Luce Line) on my regular road bike with 28mm Conti 5000. Only on 1 trail (Luce Line near Cty 110) do I wish I had a wider or knobby tire, but I'm unwilling to switch when it's really about 100ft of trail that is always muddy. Worst case is I get off and walk it.

Earlier this season I encountered 3 riders on one of the trails out for their first "gravel" ride. Chatted with them a bit and they kept raving about how nice the trails were, how light the traffic was, how nice the scenery was. Digging in a little more I found out that they had never been on the trail before since they all didn't have gravel bikes until this year. I sort of laughed when they said that, and that's when they noticed I was on a road bike with rim brakes and slicks. All 3 looked shocked that I was on such ill-suited equipment.

All I could think of was how did these guys miss these routes for who knows how long simply because they didn't think they had the "right" bike? I've been riding some of these trails for over 20 years with the same type of equipment. Give it a try on your present bike. If it doesn't work turn around and go home with the knowledge of what you need to do to ride the trail. If it works, enjoy. But analyzing the heck out of it is a sure way to miss out.
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