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Thread: Gravel Grinding Tires: What Do You Like?

  1. #1
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    Default Gravel Grinding Tires: What Do You Like?

    I know some of you have a lot of experience with grinding the ol' gravel, and I wondered what tires you like? I know there are many factors to consider, such as wheel size, bike setup, gravel composition, weight, yadda yadda, but what's good?

    I'm thinking about doing the Loudoun 1725 ride in June, and I want to set up my mountain bike (Jones Spaceframe) with some gravelicious 700c tires. I also want to set up my wife's bike (26" wheels now) with a 650B wheelset. Both being mountain bikes, they'll easily accept up to 2.2" wide tires, but I don't think I want to go that wide. I want something lighter and skinnier than typical MTB tires, but still have decent control and comfort for a long gravel ride.

    Thanks!


    Bike 180: Day 105 by ricky d, on Flickr

  2. #2
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    I did Croatan on WTB Riddlers (45 up front, 37 in the rear) set up tubeless. They were fine. Except they ABSOLUTELY SUCK on the road. First time I've had an "ick!" moment with a tire. I kinda hate them now but they're set up tubeless and it's so messy to switch.

    So I'll likely go back to my standbys - Rock and Roads. They are knobby but do really well on pavement despite that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tania View Post
    I did Croatan on WTB Riddlers (45 up front, 37 in the rear) set up tubeless. They were fine. Except they ABSOLUTELY SUCK on the road. First time I've had an "ick!" moment with a tire. I kinda hate them now but they're set up tubeless and it's so messy to switch.
    I have those on my steel gravel bike which I rode the Croatan on, and also use to commute. I use 37s on both front and rear. I found they perform pretty well in both situations, although I should clarify I am not, and never will be, in the running to win a race (although I win my commute every day ) so speed isn't the biggest factor in my decision making. Overall I found they provided a good amount of grip, and were comfortable to ride. The lower PSI during Croatan meant they sucked on the road segments, but on my commute when they're inflated to a higher PSI they're fine. I don't notice any major difference between them, and the tires the renegade came with (Clement X Plor MSO).

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    I've been using a pair of Compass Barlow Pass (38mm slicks), on both pavement and gravel. They're ~*~supple~*~ and fast and comfortable. hozn is a big fan of them as well. I think they were perfect for something like Croatan. If you're dealing with chunkier gravel, or lots of cornering (particularly at speed), having no knobs on the sides/edges sucks. I think I'll be at the Loudoun 1725 ride (although as a "volunteer"), so hopefully I'll see you there! Also, I currently have two pairs of these, 700c, unmounted, so if you want to test them before, just let me know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emm View Post
    I should clarify I am not, and never will be, in the running to win a race
    Agree wholeheartedly with this caveat, but I'm still riding on the WTB Riddlers (both 45s) that came on my new Klatch. They're supple as can be. I don't find them annoying on pavement, and they make a smooth transition from road to anything else. Very confident grip on gravel, grass, etc.

    However I do want to save the knobbies for rougher terrain, so I just bought a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Supreme (35s) for pavement and touring. They're slicks, low weight and low rolling resistance, and rumored to be pretty fast. I'll post back when I've had a chance to try them.

    I also have two pairs of Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour (28s and 40s) that outlived my Vaya and are still in great shape, a bombproof all-around tire. I rode the GAP/C&O on the 40s several times.

    I set up with tubes so I can switch them out anytime.

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    I am a HUGE fan of the Maxxis Ramblers. I have been running them since before I got a drop bar gravel bike (they were mounted on my Niner Air9 for gravel rides/races). When I got my Warbird, I tried a few different tires, most notably the Riddlers, none of which rolled as well as the Ramblers nor had as much grip in corners (also, the Ramblers are stupid light). I run 40's, but they come in a few different sizes, including 650b.

    Another plus, the Ramblers were designed specifically to take on the Flint Hills of Kansas and they performed splendidly during two DK200 races.

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    Thanks for the input so far y'all. I completely forgot I had a pair of the WTB Riddlers which I've hardly ridden because I put them on a cheap singlespeed mountain bike and left it at my mom's house. I guess that's how much I think of them, but I'll go pick it up and give them a shot again.

    Based on the discussion so far, I had a few followup questions:
    1. Do knobs matter (much)?
    2. Given a choice between a skinnier or wider version of a tire, would you get the wider one?


    I'm not sure if I mentioned it, but I'm not going for the yellow jersey here, i.e., not gonna go that hard at this event, or any following ones if I do more.

    Last night, wife and I went on a short city and C&O Towpath ride and I used Schwalbe G-One Speed 29x2.35" tires mounted onto Stans Flow rims. They're basically balloons with goosebumps


    Teensy Knobs by ricky d, on Flickr

    It worked great for last night's ride. As you can imagine at this volume, it was S-U-P-P-L-E with a capital S, U, P, P, L, E, with dashes between them I just wondered if those Loudoun gravel roads are fast downhill and turny, which I could see myself shooting off the road with these tires because of the teensy knobs. Thus the question above of whether or not knobs matter much. I know, I know, I just gotta get out there, but it's so far away...

    I'd guess I have about 300 miles on them, but if I continue to ride them on the road, I'll develop a slick strip in the center. The tire is relatively sticky/soft and I feel like it'll wear down fast.


    When I get my Riddlers again, I'll give y'all a shoutout of how it compares to other tires I have tried on gravel.
    Last edited by drevil; 04-18-2019 at 08:13 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drevil View Post
    Thus the question above of whether or not knobs matter much.
    Yes...for mud. For low pressure tires on gravel, not so much (arguably they can make things worse and knock the tires loose in a turn).

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    Yes...for mud. For low pressure tires on gravel, not so much (arguably they can make things worse and knock the tires loose in a turn).
    I disagree with this. I have ridden both file tread and treadier tires on LoCo (and many other types of) gravel. Trying to corner on loose gravel at speed with less tread is way more sketchy (at least for me). Most folks that I have spoken with about it that ride gravel competitively also tend to agree. Having those corner knobs have saved me more times that I would like to count. That being said, I am lighter than most folks and probably slide around a bit more in corners than those who have 50+ pounds on me.

    As for the question about width... I am the wrong person to ask. My personal opinion is the wider, the better. You should have seen me at CX Nationals when I had to ride on borrowed wheels and tires because they have a 35mm maximum for the championship races. I thought I was going to die.

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  13. #10
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    How do I properly ensure a set of gravel tires will fit my fork/brakes?

    I currently use 35mm road tires which fit fine. I was looking at Rene Herse Steliacoom TC 700C X 38, but some of you have mentioned some great tires that start at 40mm. I'd have to remove my fenders, but I'm pretty sure the 38s would fit. Not so sure about 40s.


    While we're here - has anyone done this gravel race? https://www.unpavedpennsylvania.com/ I grew up near Lewisburg and I'm excited to go back and do some rides around that area so I may give it a shot this fall.

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