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700x?? tires if you know you're going to hit gravel?

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700x?? tires if you know you're going to hit gravel?

Old 06-20-11, 11:04 PM
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Mysterious Lady
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700x?? tires if you know you're going to hit gravel?

I'm looking at several hybrids, most of which come with either 700x32 or 700x35 tires, although one is a 28. My concern is that while I'm riding mostly paved roads, it's often in the country where there might be gravel strewn across the road at times or I could end up in the shoulder (larger than pea gravel) for a brief stint. Should I plan on 35s at a minimum, or what do you think?

I also pull a Burley (60 pounds+) sometimes for shorter distances, so not sure if that is a factor for tires.

Or, rather than width, is the bigger issue the lack of tread on some of the thinner tires?

I think my LBS will trade out the tires, but I want to understand better what my needs are before I talk to them. Thanks so much!
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Old 06-21-11, 02:11 AM
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Mine came with 35's...

I guess when you buy a hybrid you know you're not buying a road bike and a lack of speed shouldn't come as a surprise. But then again speed is a good thing!

The tread will make a big difference to the speed you get from a tire.

Have a look at the Schwalbe website...they rate their tires on speed, grip, protection, etc...you'll get a good idea of what treads, types of tires in 35s provide less rolling resistance and provide more speed.

I have Racing Ralphs...they're written up as a good allround tire with tread for offroad and very low rolling resistance. I love them...but then again I have a hybrid so speed isn't my #1 priority.
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Old 06-21-11, 04:43 AM
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Do not let the choice of bike be influenced by the tires that come with it.
Choose a bike first and then decide which tires you want ... the LBS should put them on for you and deduct the cost of the old tires from the price of the new ones ... if not it's not a good LBS in my opinion.
Same goes for saddles.

What lexy said about the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs is very true ... they are great tires although quite expensive.
I use the Schwalbe CX Comp tires ... they are quite light and fast rolling for their relatively cheap price.
They have excellent puncture protection too ... haven't had a single flat in over 1000 miles now riding on all kinds of bad Belgian roads and tracks.
They are "cyclocross" tires, meaning that they have smooth middle part for doing roads and then they have a knobby bit on the sides for when you hit gravel or mud or similar offroad things.
Might be worth checking out other tires as well made by Michelin or Ritchey ... they've got some nice dual purpose cyclocross tires.
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Old 06-21-11, 05:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Mysterious Lady
I'm looking at several hybrids, most of which come with either 700x32 or 700x35 tires, although one is a 28. My concern is that while I'm riding mostly paved roads, it's often in the country where there might be gravel strewn across the road at times or I could end up in the shoulder (larger than pea gravel) for a brief stint. Should I plan on 35s at a minimum, or what do you think?
I just bought a bike that rolls on 700x32 tires, and although it's not great on gravel, I've ridden it down my alley, on roads littered with gravel from driveways, through grass and some small spots of mud, on a park MUP. It is clearly less stable on these surfaces than my old bike (26x1.5"), but if I go slowly and evenly, they do okay.

I haven't attempted to pull our trailer yet with the new bike, so I can't speak to that part of your concerns.
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Old 06-21-11, 05:15 AM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR
Do not let the choice of bike be influenced by the tires that come with it.
Choose a bike first and then decide which tires you want
The above is good advice. Just watch for clearance. If a bike comes with 28mm tires, the bike frame or fork may not have the clearance needed for 38mm. Ask your bike shop about that if you're not sure. But otherwise, tires are easy to swap and some even find it fun to try different tires.
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Old 06-21-11, 06:29 AM
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OK, thanks guys! Now, to further show my ignorance... I thought that have a wider/narrower set of tires would necessitate a completely different wheel (rim, etc) as well. Then after reading big_al's thread switching down to 700x28s I thought maybe all that didn't get replaced. So is that right? Can you just replace the actual tire, assuming the difference isn't too huge? And is that something I could learn to do on my own?
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Old 06-21-11, 06:47 AM
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Yes, you can just swap tires.
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Old 06-21-11, 07:12 AM
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Have a look at the chart at the bottom of this link.

https://sheldonbrown.com/tire-sizing.html
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Old 06-21-11, 08:34 AM
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Loose gravel on a road can be the worst - especially the way it collects in the corners of your favorite downhills.

According to Sheldon Brown & others, cornering is detrimentally affected by knobby tires because the knobs get squished to the side & then suddenly your weight is transferred to them and you topple. I can vouch for this - its a fairly close approximation to the frequent wipe outs I had when I was too young to feel the pain.

So whatever tires you go with, try to avoid knobs - even the "combined tread" knobs on the side of a slick in the middle tire.

People say narrower tires are fine off road. Other people like me say you can roll on the road fine on wider tires.
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Old 06-21-11, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR
Do not let the choice of bike be influenced by the tires that come with it.
Choose a bike first and then decide which tires you want ... the LBS should put them on for you and deduct the cost of the old tires from the price of the new ones ... if not it's not a good LBS in my opinion.
Good comment above ...... you won't notice huge difference just in size (e.g. 32 v. 28 - 4mm isn't that much). Other factors like treading and pressure have a big influence. So, pick your bike and then examine tire options.
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Old 06-21-11, 09:31 AM
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I had the same question about tire grip in gravely areas, though I ride a road bike with narrow tires. Many people (BF and irl) told me that when it comes to gravel, no tire size or tread size is going to make a big difference. Even with really grippy tires, gravel gets under your tire in such a way that it can cause a skid. For that reason I went ahead and chose some normal road tires so I can have fun and go fast. I'll just have to avoid the gravel if I can.
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Old 06-21-11, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by cranky velocist
People say narrower tires are fine off road. Other people like me say you can roll on the road fine on wider tires.
Narrow race tires can be used offroad, but it would be foolish to do so.
You could also ride your porche through the woods, so to speak.

Using wide tires on roads though makes total sense, depending on your average speed and the state of the roads they may actually make you faster.
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Old 06-21-11, 12:52 PM
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All spring I rode a 12 mile stretch of soft, wet, limestone trail with the occasional patch of loose gravel thrown in for variety on 32 mm tires. Then as my century training progressed I rode it some more on my 28 mm road training tires. Then I rode it once more on my 25 mm road tires. I did not have any trouble on any of those tires. The 32s have side knobs and a light tread, the 28s are semi-treadless, and the 25s are as smooth as a baby's bottom. If all your riding is on steep gravel grades you definitely want tires made for that. Under the conditions you describe anything 28 mm or bigger will do quite nicely. The thing that makes me want tires as wide as 38 mm is that same portion of the trail when horse's hooves have turned it into the moral equivalent of cobblestones or the local "paved" roads whose margins are crumbling asphalt and potholes. One nice thing about wide tires is that they will handle a very wide range of road conditions and that is very good when things turn rougher than you expected. If it were me and the LBS was willing to swap out the tires I would go for 38s if they fit the bike.

Sheldon Brown's chart is out of date and he, unfortunately, is no longer with us and cannot update it. Schwalbe has the current ETRTO rim/tire width recommendations. Even the Schwalbe chart is behind industry practice, people are putting 23 mm tires on 17-19 mm rims and getting great results.

Ken
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Old 06-21-11, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by AdelaaR
Narrow race tires can be used offroad, but it would be foolish to do so.
You could also ride your porche through the woods, so to speak.

Using wide tires on roads though makes total sense, depending on your average speed and the state of the roads they may actually make you faster.
I dunno, cyclo-cross riders tend to run with what I consider 'narrow' tires & I have seen some impressive tributes to their off road capabilities.
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Old 06-21-11, 06:49 PM
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I would say 35's or 38's for gravel riding.
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Old 06-21-11, 09:04 PM
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Originally Posted by cranky velocist
I dunno, cyclo-cross riders tend to run with what I consider 'narrow' tires & I have seen some impressive tributes to their off road capabilities.
Curiously I find that my 25 mm tires are actually rather well mannered on that soft limestone trail. Wider tires are better and they have much better rolling resistance in the very soft patches but the 25s are quite rideable. So far the place where my 25s have performed the worst is on the road!! The century route I bought them for had many miles of asphalt with longitudinal (in the direction of travel) cracks that were patched/sealed with liquid asphalt. Those cracks were forever "grabbing" those narrow tires and twisting them this way and that. Wider tires would have ignored the cracks. I shudder to think what my recent full distance bike commute through broken up asphalt would have been like on the 25s. In my admittedly limited experience while narrow road tires are super on good roads they are better off road than on poor roads.

Ken
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Old 06-22-11, 06:36 AM
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I regularly ride short distances (<1 mi) of small rock/gravel on 25s. I've had flats but curiously always from road debris. Just keep your tire pressure up if you're going to have skinnier tires.

I believe some pros ride 25s or 23s? in cobblestone races like Paris-Roubaix - not gravel but probably as bad on tires.
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Old 06-22-11, 06:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Mysterious Lady
OK, thanks guys! Now, to further show my ignorance... I thought that have a wider/narrower set of tires would necessitate a completely different wheel (rim, etc) as well. Then after reading big_al's thread switching down to 700x28s I thought maybe all that didn't get replaced. So is that right? Can you just replace the actual tire, assuming the difference isn't too huge? And is that something I could learn to do on my own?
Replacing a tyre is a fairly simple job. The first time you do it you'll find it a royal pain in the rear. After that it gets easier. You should know how to do it as a matter of routine because the process has so much in common with fixing a puncture (OK, in a puncture situation you're putting the same tyre back on, but you know...)

Up to a point you can swap tyres without having to swap wheels. I've seen wheels that listed a minimum tyre width. I haven't seen a wheel that listed a maximum tyre width but then I've never gone looking for them so they may well be out there. Make sure your inner tube is suitably rated if you're changing the width of your tyre.

For general all-round use I've found my Schwalbe Marathon Extreme to be great. It's got enough grip in the mud to be useable and a low enough rolling resistance to work on the road too. I've taken mine on muddy trails and also done long-distance rides on the road on it. It's not going to hold up to extreme mud like other MTB tyres might but then if you're riding a hybrid you're probably not overly worried about that.
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Old 06-22-11, 07:16 AM
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ken/khutch, thanks for the tire/wheel chart! I missed it yesterday.

I agree about road conditions being rougher than off road conditions sometimes - expecting it while riding in a low gear is better than not expecting an obstacle in a high gear. Or, i suppose, being stuck with an obsticale for an entire century. And those paved trails? They can be the worst. We have a couple gaps in the pavement around here that get. me. every. time.
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