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Thread: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

  1. #1
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    Default Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    I have not spent a great deal of time riding on gravel roads on purpose in my limited lifetime, but am looking at the possibility of that changing.

    The question I have is what is the tire selection recommended and why? At this point I am deciding between clinchers with whatever CX tire I have laying around or one of the multiple sets of tubulars I have hanging in the mancave now that CX season is over. Truth be told, I would ride the FMB file tread tubulars if I didn't have this fear of massive sidewall cuts and the subsequent 15 mile hike out of the TX backroads. That being said, I also don't want to carry a ton of tubes to deal with the inevitable pinch flats associated with clinchers. I don't currently own any rims that are tubeless compatible, and really don't need to add another set of rims to my already growing tubular collection.

    As of right now I am leaning towards the FMB's with extra sealant. Thoughts?

    Also, the file treads are mounted on the only set of carbon rims I have, which is neither here nor there but just more information.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    I've been riding a pair of FMB Roubaix 28s for the past two winters on gravel. Seal the sidewalls and run them at 60 psi. No cuts on Midwest limestone including a few races. Can't speak for sharper stones elsewhere. They are glued to a pair of Shimano carbon wheels. I do not use sealant. I have always thought I would go to 32s when I got a frame that would take them, but I'm less convinced of that every month.

    If you already have the setup you describe, try it out. It won't suck.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    I had a ranch in your parts, near Marble Falls near a littler town call Cypress Mill. I know those gravel roads. If you want ride 32's I would recommend Challenge Grifos XS. I think those are over kill unless you want to ride jeep trials. I like Challenge PR 28 but they wearout fast.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by MinorBaker View Post
    I have not spent a great deal of time riding on gravel roads on purpose in my limited lifetime, but am looking at the possibility of that changing.

    The question I have is what is the tire selection recommended and why? At this point I am deciding between clinchers with whatever CX tire I have laying around or one of the multiple sets of tubulars I have hanging in the mancave now that CX season is over. Truth be told, I would ride the FMB file tread tubulars if I didn't have this fear of massive sidewall cuts and the subsequent 15 mile hike out of the TX backroads. That being said, I also don't want to carry a ton of tubes to deal with the inevitable pinch flats associated with clinchers. I don't currently own any rims that are tubeless compatible, and really don't need to add another set of rims to my already growing tubular collection.

    As of right now I am leaning towards the FMB's with extra sealant. Thoughts?

    Also, the file treads are mounted on the only set of carbon rims I have, which is neither here nor there but just more information.

    I think that tire choice really depends on how rough the gravel is, and how much you want to mix in pavement. I think a 28 or 32/33 tire is great for a mix of dirt/gravel and road. For comfort the bigger the better, so maybe a 32, but your going to feel sluggish on the pavement. If you are riding with a group and they start hammering on the roads, then you're gonna wish you had a 28mm.

    Tubulars vs clinchers. I, personally, love tubulars. However, I'd never ride them on gravel. Too much of a pain in the ass to deal with. And it's not uncommon to have multiple flats when riding gravel. Sorry. I can't give other advice to your other questions.
     

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    The gravel roads I know are pretty lonely places. If you can't ride home on a flat tubular after your second flat, you do have a problem. I'm a long-term tubular devotee but for this kind of riding, a wide rim and a +/- 30 mm tire work just fine. You don't get pinch flats if you get the pressure right.

    I'm mostly riding Hed C2's and Challenge Strada Biancas. If it's extra steep or mucky, it's more like cross time and I throw on some Racing Ralphs on the same rims. But that's a rare thing -- Strada Biancas are predictable, comfortable, and lively enough to be fast on those roads.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    If it's more dirt than gravel, I like running 28mm tires like the Hutchinson Sector 28 (tubeless) or the new Panaracer Gravelking. If I need more traction, I'll bump up to a 32mm cross-style tire (e.g. Clement Xplor MSO).
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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    My "real gravel" rides are out here in the west on mostly logging roads and miles away from cell reception, let alone sometimes civilization. I also have a tendency to include a fair bit of singletrack into my gravel rides. I've been consistently impressed with the Clement X'Plor line. The USH is a bit of a sleeper as it looks like a commuter tire. It's my go to if the ride is at least half pavement.It rolls fast and smooth and because there aren't any massive side lugs, it heels over into sweeping road type corners very well. The MSO is what I choose if I think I'm going to run into a fair amount of washboard and generally crap gravel. It also hooks up nicely on hard pack singletrack and as good as any tire that I've found when I get in the kitty litter over marble floor conditions of decomposed granite that is very prevalent here. If the 40mm size is too big, they now do it in a 32. The key with all three of those tires is to get the dual rubber compound and higher thread count option. They also set up tubeless fairly well, which is pretty nice for gravel riding.

    I've never liked running the traditional cyclocross semi-slick. I hate the big side lugs on pavement, the lack of tread lets the tire wander too much in deep gravel, and the center section of the tire quickly wears and becomes flat prone.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoveloce View Post
    My "real gravel" rides are out here in the west on mostly logging roads and miles away from cell reception, let alone sometimes civilization. I also have a tendency to include a fair bit of singletrack into my gravel rides. I've been consistently impressed with the Clement X'Plor line. The USH is a bit of a sleeper as it looks like a commuter tire. It's my go to if the ride is at least half pavement.It rolls fast and smooth and because there aren't any massive side lugs, it heels over into sweeping road type corners very well. The MSO is what I choose if I think I'm going to run into a fair amount of washboard and generally crap gravel. It also hooks up nicely on hard pack singletrack and as good as any tire that I've found when I get in the kitty litter over marble floor conditions of decomposed granite that is very prevalent here. If the 40mm size is too big, they now do it in a 32. The key with all three of those tires is to get the dual rubber compound and higher thread count option. They also set up tubeless fairly well, which is pretty nice for gravel riding.

    I've never liked running the traditional cyclocross semi-slick. I hate the big side lugs on pavement, the lack of tread lets the tire wander too much in deep gravel, and the center section of the tire quickly wears and becomes flat prone.
    I think the 32mm MSO is going to be a good choice for folks who don't want, or don't have clearance for bigger tires. I just received my samples, and they're a good fit on my bike with 47-57mm brakes.
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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    I've heard good stuff about the Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road's if you can fit them onto your bike. At 43mm that's a bit tricky on most CX frames
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unoveloce View Post
    My "real gravel" rides are out here in the west on mostly logging roads and miles away from cell reception, let alone sometimes civilization. I also have a tendency to include a fair bit of singletrack into my gravel rides. I've been consistently impressed with the Clement X'Plor line. The USH is a bit of a sleeper as it looks like a commuter tire. It's my go to if the ride is at least half pavement.It rolls fast and smooth and because there aren't any massive side lugs, it heels over into sweeping road type corners very well. The MSO is what I choose if I think I'm going to run into a fair amount of washboard and generally crap gravel. It also hooks up nicely on hard pack singletrack and as good as any tire that I've found when I get in the kitty litter over marble floor conditions of decomposed granite that is very prevalent here. If the 40mm size is too big, they now do it in a 32. The key with all three of those tires is to get the dual rubber compound and higher thread count option. They also set up tubeless fairly well, which is pretty nice for gravel riding.

    I've never liked running the traditional cyclocross semi-slick. I hate the big side lugs on pavement, the lack of tread lets the tire wander too much in deep gravel, and the center section of the tire quickly wears and becomes flat prone.
    Yup. If you have any pavement riding at all, mud cross tires really are awful. And more generally, there are cross conditions where a file tread with side lugs may help out, but those tires even in cross can be pretty sketchy, and on gravel roads or pavement they're downright squirrelly. You need a tire you can lean into with some predictability. If you suddenly transition from file tread to big lugs, your tire wants to slide out from under you -- that's a slide if it's the rear and a crash if it's the front. Life is too short for that. For gravel road riding, including fairly gnarly logging roads, a simple file tread tire will work really well. Pros ride the Strada Bianca race on 24-27 mm file tread and so can you. Challenge has a line of great tires if you like Challenge (the Strada Bianca and the Paris Roubaix, at about 30 and 27 mm respectively, and the Almanzo if you want one with a little more puncture resistance, though it does have smaller side lugs). Vittoria Evo Paves are good and also reliable. And I do prefer clinchers, as I mentioned previously. It's a long walk out if you have a problem with tubulars.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    I have a set of both the Parigi-Roubaix and the Eroicas and I love them until I get into the big rocks or the decomposed granite. They get really squirrelly, really fast in those conditions. Nothing I can't make it through if I back off a bit and pay attention, but if I'm cooked, or I don't know the route and a sudden corner that I wasn't prepared for comes up, or I have to grab a handful of brake to keep from hitting something, then the knobs of the MSO is a luxury I'm willing to pay for. The Clements live on my bike when it's going to be more gravel and dirt than pavement. For everyday riding, I use the Eroicas almost exclusively, but I don't want to use them if the majority of my riding is in the sticks. Pros race them, I know, but they also can do lots of things i can't.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by 11.4 View Post
    Challenge has a line of great tires if you like Challenge (the Strada Bianca and the Paris Roubaix, at about 30 and 27 mm respectively, and the Almanzo if you want one with a little more puncture resistance, though it does have smaller side lugs)
    As far as I can tell from the updated description on the Challenge page, the Paris Roubaix, Strada Bianca and Almanzo all have the same (double) puncture protection for 2014.

    Just started riding Almanzos, and don't find them less supple than Grifo XS, despite the double PPS. And they (just) fit my road frame, which I prefer the feel of.

    Now I'm really tempted to get Paris Roubaix tubulars for (mostly) road riding, because the Almanzos roll so well already.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Noteddy View Post
    I've been riding a pair of FMB Roubaix 28s for the past two winters on gravel. Seal the sidewalls and run them at 60 psi. No cuts on Midwest limestone including a few races. Can't speak for sharper stones elsewhere. They are glued to a pair of Shimano carbon wheels. I do not use sealant. I have always thought I would go to 32s when I got a frame that would take them, but I'm less convinced of that every month.

    If you already have the setup you describe, try it out. It won't suck.
    FMB now making a P-R 28? I thought the bigs were 27.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    You can even ask François Marie to make P-R in 30mm. I asked him last year because I wanted tubulars for Paris-Roubaix challenge and he said no problem, casing from the 30mm cyclocross tubulars + road P-R tread. In the end I didn't order them because I broke my ankle and couldn't do P-R.
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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by prolix21 View Post
    I've heard good stuff about the Bruce Gordon Rock n' Road's if you can fit them onto your bike. At 43mm that's a bit tricky on most CX frames
    They're good tires if it's soft/loamy, but the sidewalls don't like sharp rocks.
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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Alright....I figure I can always give the tubulars a try, but I also ordered the Almanzo's. I am partial to more comfort and control on these rides and am not out crushing souls...at least for 1/2 the field.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by MinorBaker View Post
    Alright....I figure I can always give the tubulars a try, but I also ordered the Almanzo's. I am partial to more comfort and control on these rides and am not out crushing souls...at least for 1/2 the field.
    Challenge claims wiping the casing with white vinegar helps ward off cuts.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by WayneJ View Post
    FMB now making a P-R 28? I thought the bigs were 27.
    Good catch. They are marked 27, but measure at least 28.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Ride what you like, but a lot of people on this forum are riding buffed 'dirt roads' which is different from the gravel we have in my area of the midwest. We have a bit of buff here on our gravel, but that's basically the short sections between where the road grader is dropping thick baby-head gravel. I've ridden these roads on a 25c tire all the way up to a 29er, but if I want to feel in control enough to get on top of a gear and pin it, I want a reasonably high-volume tire like a 35c file tread. I'm having great results with Kenda Happy Mediums. Progressive turn in to the side lugs, roll fast centers, and enough volume to float at the right pressure. I wish I was on a smaller tire on the buff sections but a bigger tire is a lot more forgiving when you hit baby-head covered washboard, and I'm on these roads to have fun and explore, ergo the bigger tire makes more sense to me.
     

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    Default Re: Gravel Riding Tire Selection: What set up are people running?

    Quote Originally Posted by Noteddy View Post
    Good catch. They are marked 27, but measure at least 28.
    Yep at least.
     

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