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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011

    Perfect wheel & tire for gravel road racing - your thoughts?


    With the snow falling heavy and fast here in Wisconsin biking sure seems a long, long ways off... Ugh. Nonetheless, I am going to be doing some gravel road races this year and was wondering what is a perfect wheel and tire combo? I have never done any actual racing on the gravel but I sure am pumped to give it my best. I am interested in some top-end choices and am willing to spend the dollars to get it. Is custom the way to go or can I get great performance out of something stock?

    What are your thoughts and opinions?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Gravel races...or gravel rides? There IS a difference.
    Local conditions dictate your equipment.
    Here in New England...a "Gravel" road could be hard pack that you'd run a 23mm Tubular and carbon rims to course gravel that would want at least a 32mm tire to sand ( and that can be packed or loose)that you want more float.

  3. #3
    A wheelist
    Reputation: Mike T.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    There are far too many variances in gravel roads for anyone to give you a good answer. I've done thousands of miles on gravel roads up here in Canada and they range from dirt packed so hard and gravel flung off the road by vehicles that 23mm tires at 100psi would be ideal - all the way to gravel roads being unrideable on a mountain bike with 2.1" tires at 35psi when the roads have been freshly graded.......and everywhere between those extremes. Then there are times when they're full of potholes and awful braking-bumps at intersections and stop signs. Then there is mud so bad that it's not rideable either.

    And those extremes are on the same roads too - all depending on the time of year, the weather and the state of maintenance.

    If I had to choose one weapon it would be a mountain bike with 2.1" semi-slicks. That would allow more riding days than any other choice.
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Here in Eastern KS, where the gravel roads are mostly crushed limestone, I am riding a standard 32 spoke 3x wheel with 32 tires. This is not a racing set up but it does provide a level of comfort and durability.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    I ride not race a lot of gravel roads in northern Illinois and SW Wisconsin. And I'm more into durability than anything. I have salsa Delgado rims with XT hubs on a Surly CC with Schwalbe Racing Ralph's. It's not the lightest rig but the setup can take beating in any gravel conditions. I haven't had a flat with the racing Ralph's either.

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