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  1. #1
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Gravel bike tire recommendations?

    OK, I took my gravel-ish bike out today to ride down some trails, but it was still a bit water-logged and muddy, and I found that my tires were just not up to the job. I've been riding on 700cx38 Specialized Nimbus tires. The Nimubuses (Nimbi??) are basically a pavement tire with excellent puncture-protection, compliant sidewalls, and just the faintest hint of tread. Great on asphalt, rideable on packed gravel, squirrely on slightly-muddy conditions, and awful on muddy surfaces.

    Since height is the primary restriction, I'm looking for either a 38 or a 40, with just a bit of tread. Certainly, lugged treads would work well on mud, but I don't have the clearance under my fenders, and besides, lugs are terrible on asphalt. Maybe with just a zig-zag pattern, to give me just a bit of control on light mud? If puncture protection isn't great, I can always run a puncture-resistant tube.
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  2. #2
    Not a rocket surgeon.
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    Gravelking SK. Behaves well off road and well on pavement. These are good tires.

  3. #3
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    I really like the Clement MXP 120 tpi.

    They did great for Rasputitsa and 100b7

  4. #4
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    Riding in mud / wet dirt is going to take a different tire than dry gravel. Personally I like the WTB NANO TCS because it's tubeless and it does well on the conditions I normally ride for gravel. For mud they would not do well, there you need something with nobbies spaced enough to clear the mud. Clement MSO Xplor is a nice 40mm tubed tire I've used and it does well also. Both the Nano and the MSO roll well on pavement for a gravel tire.
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  5. #5
    changingleaf
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    One of the tires I really like for gravel is the Schwalbe G-one.

  6. #6
    Big is relative
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    WTB Riddlers in 37mm are good in the mud. The Gravel Kings imo, are better in dry conditions.
    Retired sailor

  7. #7
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    I've used and enjoyed Clement X'Plor MSO tubeless (36mm I believe), Panaracer Gravel Kings SK, Schwable G-One, and G-One Speed (one of my favorite all around tires at 30mm), and most of the Compass tires.


    • Compass are a fantastic tire for dry conditions, but they don't have much tread and can get squirmy in mud. Very supple and fast rolling at higher pressures.
    • The G-one Speed doesn't have a lot of tread either, so if mud is a feature you frequently encounter, you might go elsewhere. Similar to the Compass. Fast and supple.
    • Gravel Kings are a good all around tire, although not as fast rolling and supple as those mentioned above, they do have some tread and do fairly well in loose gravel and mud.
    • The Clement's are well suited to a lot of terrain. They have a nice center bead, so they roll fairly well (nothing like the others mentioned though), but are nicely treaded to give some grip in mud and loose gravel.

  8. #8
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    I'm a big fan of Challenge Almanzo. Sounds like what you are looking for except they they are only 33mm.
    They also make one called Gravel King that has a bit more aggressive tread and is 36mm that might work for you.

  9. #9
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    I think you'll find that knobbies will work with fenders, but not with not so much with mud. You'll need to leave those off if you have any 'mud' conditions.
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  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Another vote here for Clement X'Plor MSO. They roll well on pavement and also do well off-road. They come in 32, 36 and 40mm widths as well as in 30, 60 or 120 TPI. The higher the TPI, the higher the cost.

    Review: Clement X'Plor MSO tyres | road.cc
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  11. #11
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Those Schwalbs look nice, just not "$70 nice"......
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  12. #12
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    I just mounted a pair of Maxxis Rambler 40's on my Boone to be my gravel ride/racing tire this season. Tubeless, light weight and feels pretty quick.
    Has really good review also. I did need to mount them with a tube for a few days for I could "tubeless" them.

  13. #13
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    PSA: the license has expired on the use of "Clement" and Donnelly Racing is now selling all of the old "Clement" branded models under the Donnelly brand going forward.

    Same tires, same compounds, same treads.. Just a different logo on the sidewall...
    https://www.donnellycycling.com/collections/adventure

  14. #14
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    In my experience, slicks work best for hardpack/dry conditions. You only need knobs if the conditions are wet or muddy.

    If you're riding on dry hardpack, large volume slick commuter tires work well, are durable, inexpensive and resistant to punctures. Super compliant slicks like the various Compass offerings, the Vittoria Voyageur Hyper and the Soma Supple Vitesse all roll very fast, have pillow like rides and can be surprisingly durable. The trade off is that all are expensive (with the exception of the Vittoria) , can be cut prone for some people and some can be somewhat tricky to set up tubeless. The Maxxis Refuse is a slightly more robust slick tire that a lot of people have had success with.

    Slightly treaded tires like the Clement / Donnelley X'Plor MSO, Panaracer Gravelking SK, Challenge Gravel Grinder, Kenda Happy Medium, Terrene Elwood etc are all great compromise tires that can be used in a variety of conditions. I've used both the 36 and 50 MSOs and like them. The trade off is that all will roll with slightly more resistance than a slick which could get draining on very long rides.

    Cross tires or tires with larger knobs are overkill for almost all conditions. All are also very slow rolling, in my experience, I don't recommend them unless you're doing a course with lots of gnarly singletrack.

    If your bike can fit them, semi-slick or slick 1.75 or 2.0 29er tires can work very well, are easy to find, inexpensive, very tough and offer huge volume.

    I don't notice a huge difference in riding compliance with more any tire when riding tubeless or tubed. IMO, the main benefit of tubeless is that you can run lower pressures without worrying about pinch flats. YMMV, obviously.

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