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  1. #1
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    tire advice needed for on/off road race

    Hi all,

    The first race of our season is coming up, and it's an 18 mile loop with six miles of "packed gravel." We've had a rough winter, so that could mean just about anything. I expect potholes of muddy water, loose and packed gravel, dirt, and even the paved road will be more chipseal than tarmac. I'm thinking about riding my cross bike, a Norco Threshold. I have American Classic wheels. When I commute, I ride a 32 Conti Gatorskin. I'm thinking that's wider than I want to race on. I'm considering a 28 Gatorskin but thought others might have some ideas about what would make for a good tire.

    As for me, about 6'2" and 200 pounds as a Cat 5. I won't be a contender unless something bizarre happens, but I'll be giving it my all.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    A wheelist
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    Hindsight will be your best tool here. Anything less is a crap-shoot. I've done a bazillion miles of gravel road riding and conditions change from day to day - sometimes drastically.
    .
    Mike T's home wheelbuilding site - dedicated to providing Newby wheelbuilder's with motivation, information and resources.

    Everything above, up to that blue line, is IMO IMO.

  3. #3
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    Maybe a Schwalbe S-One 30mm (even in tubeless) or G-One in 30mm, or
    Challenge Strada Bianca Pro 30mm or Paris-Roubaix in 27mm

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bleckb View Post
    Hi all,

    The first race of our season is coming up, and it's an 18 mile loop with six miles of "packed gravel." We've had a rough winter, so that could mean just about anything. I expect potholes of muddy water, loose and packed gravel, dirt, and even the paved road will be more chipseal than tarmac. I'm thinking about riding my cross bike, a Norco Threshold. I have American Classic wheels. When I commute, I ride a 32 Conti Gatorskin. I'm thinking that's wider than I want to race on. I'm considering a 28 Gatorskin but thought others might have some ideas about what would make for a good tire.

    As for me, about 6'2" and 200 pounds as a Cat 5. I won't be a contender unless something bizarre happens, but I'll be giving it my all.

    Thanks.
    If it was me I would be on supple wall open-tubular 32's. Something around the lines of Strada Bianca or Vitesse,
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by dcgriz View Post
    If it was me I would be on supple wall open-tubular 32's. Something around the lines of Strada Bianca or Vitesse,
    I'm leaning toward using Strada Bianca 30s with latex tubes for a similar kind of ride (NOT race - sure it won't turn into a race!) next weekend. Schwalbe G-One 30 tubeless would be another good option but I don't think I can get one in time. But those dead sexy gum walls on the Strada Bianca have me in their tractor beam and won't let go.

    There are so many Continental tires that I love. I've been using a seat of 4 Seasons as often as not the past few months, and use and love GP4000s. We're shipping out 4 or 5 sets of wheels with GP4000s and latex tubes this week (an killer combo) but when I want to use a tire I just know I'm going to hate I use a Gatorskin. There would be nothing wrong with using a GP4000s 28 for your ride. It will be monster wide (probably 30.5 to 31+ depending on which AC wheels you have) and will actually save you a sizable number of watts in rolling resistance versus a Gatorskin, plus ride smoother and have way better grip.

  6. #6
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    You said it's packed gravel and that you are expecting loose gravel so who knows but:

    If there's a meaningful amount of loose gravel I'd use Challenge Almanzos. They are a hair slow on asphalt compared to a full on road tire but they are a great compromise for doing each surface really well. (even if you don't want them for this event I'd suggest getting a pair if you have a cross bike and do a lot of gravel road and/or trail riding)

    If it's all packed pretty well I'd throw caution to the wind and just use whatever I use for road races.

    Somewhere in between I'd use Vittoria Paves (discontinued but still available) or one or Challenge Strada if 27mm isn't big enough for you.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T. View Post
    Hindsight will be your best tool here. Anything less is a crap-shoot. I've done a bazillion miles of gravel road riding and conditions change from day to day - sometimes drastically.
    LOL! That's what I'm hoping to avoid.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all of the suggestions. I don't know the route itself though I've ridden the area of the race route a number of times. We have lots of "summer" roads, gravel for the most part, among the various wheat farms this race will be running through and they can be pretty smooth or rutted, potted, and washboarded depending upon the various conditions. On top of our rough winter, about 5 feet of snow in Spokane, we have our second wettest March ever, so it's going to make for an interesting ride. I'm off to do some shopping.

  9. #9
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    Ended up ordering Conti GP 4-Seasons in 28mm. Neglected to mention in the OP that I'm riding clinchers (thanks for not bashing me on that omission). Chose the Contis for a variety of reason, two of them for $75 from Bike Tires Direct being one of them, knowing I will have them in a day or two. Lots of others looked good, but since I usually ride GP4000s, and the price was good, I figured that would do the trick. Thanks again for the suggestions. I'll let you know how badly I get beat up. The race (Ronde van Palouse) is April 8.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by November Dave View Post
    I'm leaning toward using Strada Bianca 30s with latex tubes for a similar kind of ride (NOT race - sure it won't turn into a race!) next weekend. Schwalbe G-One 30 tubeless would be another good option but I don't think I can get one in time. But those dead sexy gum walls on the Strada Bianca have me in their tractor beam and won't let go.
    I already run some Challenge Baby Limus and Chicanes in their Open Tubular variety and really do like them, a lot, and was all set to get some Stradas in either 30 or 36mm, but some looking around online recently have seen a few reviews where they have blown off of rims while just sitting. Have you heard anything like that?

  11. #11
    grizzly moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by TmB123 View Post
    I already run some Challenge Baby Limus and Chicanes in their Open Tubular variety and really do like them, a lot, and was all set to get some Stradas in either 30 or 36mm, but some looking around online recently have seen a few reviews where they have blown off of rims while just sitting. Have you heard anything like that?
    I have and it has happened to me once. Challenge PR with latex tube on a HED C2 rim; it knocked the bike off its stand. Conventional wisdom will say "pinched tube". I know I'm analy meticulous when installing a tire not to have a pinched tube but that one was a brand new tire and they are bears to install when new so never say never I suppose although I wont easily admit to a pinched tube either. The PRs, like all Challenge, stretch over time and a tire that was difficult to install the first time becomes a 2-finger effort so I could see how latex could lift-up a not-locked bead and creep under it but that tire was brand new. Conveniently, I replaced that set with a pair of Conti 4KSII 28's I wanted to try and that pair ended up staying on that bike.

    This was an isolated incident with the Parigi and that one tire from all I have used. I also have been using the Strada Bianca with butyl tubes for years and thousands of miles without any incident whatsoever and will continue to do so because they are great tires.
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  12. #12
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    dcgriz - what size and which version of the Strada's were you using? I'm looking at the 36mm Open Tubular.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TmB123 View Post
    dcgriz - what size and which version of the Strada's were you using? I'm looking at the 36mm Open Tubular.
    The Strada Bianca open tubular 30 (which measure 32mm on the HED C2 rims). The 36s came out around 2 years after the last blowoff incident I heard about
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TmB123 View Post
    I already run some Challenge Baby Limus and Chicanes in their Open Tubular variety and really do like them, a lot, and was all set to get some Stradas in either 30 or 36mm, but some looking around online recently have seen a few reviews where they have blown off of rims while just sitting. Have you heard anything like that?
    Most of the reviews I've seen for them say they're REALLY hard to get on which means they'd be harder to blow off.

    Moral of the story is learn to read between the lines of on-line tire reviews. First off very few people will log on to a computer to report a tires works. Second there are a lot of people out there who don't know what they are doing and/or aren't good at ID'ing the cause of problems.

  15. #15
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    I've heard that there are reports of this but except for DC Griz I've never heard "first hand" of one. At this point I'm pretty handy with tire installation so I should have that straight, and will let you know how it goes with the Strada Bianca. I'm using them on Kinlin XR31s (I think - may use a different pre-production rim we're taking a look at but I don't think so) which are medium fit. Not too tight, not loose.

  16. #16
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    If there is such a thing as installing tires being an "acquired skill", the Challenge open tubular are a prime example of this. In addition to being tight to begin with they are also flat when brand new as the tire has not gotten its form yet. The first few times I mounted them I followed the procedure shown on the Challenge site which let me mount the tires but took a long time and a lot of effort. Eventually I came up with my own variation which I use now at considerably less time and effort.
    I first mount the tire having one bead into the well, then install the tube, then slightly inflate the tube to give it shape, then install the other bead into the well, then inflate the tube a bit more, then pinch the tire from both sides and try to lift it from the rim to make sure the tube is not pinched, then inflate the tire to 75% of the final inflation pressure, then check to make sure the beads are locked uniformly into the rim (follow the guide line on the tire sidewall), then inflate to final pressure, then deflate completely and finally inflate back to the desired pressure. The final step is to smooth out any creasing or folding that may have happened to the tube because of the initial flattened form of the tire. Use talcum powder very liberally.
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  17. #17
    Sir Descends-a-lot
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    currently running hutchinson sector 32s set up tubeless for the exact conditions you describe. very fast on pavement, hold air well and seem to handle the dirt/gravel sections just fine
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  18. #18
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    Not sure that this applies to the wider open tubulars but the skinnier ones, like open pave's, now simply the corsa's I think, don't like the newer wide rim road wheels coming out. I believe there is a warning about it so I was being cautious with it but I went through a couple tubes before confirming they weren't going to stay on the rim.

    Pave's, or similar, a nice choice for mixed gravel/pavement when the gravel is harder and the router favors the pavement. I like something a little wider and sturdier for rides that are more gravel and less pavement, though a great alternative I've become a fan of is a supple, more fragile front combines with a stockier rear tire since the rear is taking most of the weight and abuse from bumps. I won't go full gravel tires unless it's 70% or more gravel or there's a longer section of rough/loose/soft gravel that a skinny tire would really stink in.

    As far as road conditions go, hardpack gravel usually sheds water really well but holds the water in the potholes, so just avoid those. For especially pot hole ridden sections, I like to ride near the front so you can see them better instead of a pot hole popping out from behind somebody's butt with little time to react. Line choice over the course of a gravel race can add up to a lot of energy savings or a lot of wasted energy, or a crash. Ruts are the devil, avoid them and those who think it's smart to ride through them.

    P.S. If they grate that gravel right before the race, get some wider tires or jsut go full gravel/CX tires. It's usually stupid soft and the only packed spots are where the car tracks are and those are usually littered with pot holes or chatter bumps. I found I rode the gutter a lot in the races I've done where it was freshly grated down the middle but I left my 32mm refuse tires (kind of like gatorskins) and it was a poor choice that day for sure.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerector View Post
    Not sure that this applies to the wider open tubulars but the skinnier ones, like open pave's, now simply the corsa's I think, don't like the newer wide rim road wheels coming out. I believe there is a warning about it so I was being cautious with it but I went through a couple tubes before confirming they weren't going to stay on the rim.

    How wide are you talk'n here?
    For what it's worth I've used Corsas and Paves on Archetypes and Hed C2 rims no problem......but I'm guessing those are no longer considered newer/wide and you're talking about wider.

  20. #20
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    Thanks - I haven't had tooo many issues installing the Challenge tyres so far, not sure if the Strada's are harder than the CX style tyres I've been using, we will see! (I tend to seat one bead, stick the tube in, then start opposite the valve hole and while jamming the wheel into my stomach at the valve hole, start at the opposite side and sort of pinch the tube into the well and stretch it as hard as I can left and right working around to the valve. This usually gives just enough so by the time I get to the valve I've got as much rubber as I'm ever going to get to pop over the rim.
    i was curious as to maybe what model of tyre had a potential blow off issues as maybe they had different bead profiles or something depending on their construction.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TmB123 View Post
    Thanks - I haven't had tooo many issues installing the Challenge tyres so far, not sure if the Strada's are harder than the CX style tyres I've been using, we will see! (I tend to seat one bead, stick the tube in, then start opposite the valve hole and while jamming the wheel into my stomach at the valve hole, start at the opposite side and sort of pinch the tube into the well and stretch it as hard as I can left and right working around to the valve. This usually gives just enough so by the time I get to the valve I've got as much rubber as I'm ever going to get to pop over the rim.
    i was curious as to maybe what model of tyre had a potential blow off issues as maybe they had different bead profiles or something depending on their construction.
    the predecessor of what they now call Strada Bianca Pro. It was at the beginning of the PPS2 run. The Pro is the same tire with the word "PRO" added
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    How wide are you talk'n here?
    For what it's worth I've used Corsas and Paves on Archetypes and Hed C2 rims no problem......but I'm guessing those are no longer considered newer/wide and you're talking about wider.
    The velocity quills are 21mm internal and I was trying to mount 25mm open pave's. I did end up with a slice between bead and the rest of the casing but I assumed that was a result of multiple blow-offs. The width of the quills is a bit odd IMO but they're trying to get some areo advantage of a wider profile like the caron rims but with lighter weight than many aluminum rims so there's not much squeezing down from external to internal widths.

    I've been running a maxxis padrone tubeless on the front without problem for a while and replace the vit with a maxxis relix and haven't had a problem. ETRTO puts normal road tires way under a rim of that width but obviously going outside their recommendations happens all the time. I think the rim works well for the 28mm tires I normally ride which makes more sense for such a wide rim.

    It does look like it's pretty much in step with the Ardennes plus with some slight difference in exterior width. I do see a 100 psi max which I'm now remembering asking velocity about but they didn't think something like that applied to the quill, use what is referenced on the tire. This was a year ago when it was first released for a short time and it's supposed be getting re-released this spring sometime after correcting some manufacturing problems they had. It was also further delayed as they moved their operations to Michigan so pretty much everything is in Grand Rapids now for their base of operations and marketing.

  23. #23
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    FWIW, Compass extralight tires are all built on tubular casings, they're vulcanized instead of glued so they're round instead of flat. Lots of sizes too.

  24. #24
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    So... I had a Strada Bianca open tubular blow off a rim this morning. I'm willing to entertain user error, but I install dozens of tires a week and have never had this happen before with any tire or rim. 50* day, disc brakes, wheels that had been used for ~500 miles with other tires, brand new latex tube, brand new tire that had been installed with a tube for two days to get the tire to "set" into shape (which did nothing). 50 minutes into a planned 3 hour ride - BANG.

    Rims are Easton R90SL disc, which I've always found to be fantastic. Pressure was 42 in that tire when I left the shop.

    Kind of a huge bummer because a) I cut my ride short since my spare stuff was used up and I wasn't super confident of making it through the ride and b) holy cow the ride was absolutely butter smooth on those things. Felt plenty fast rolling, and there's a legitimate cobbled road outside the shop's door that these things just floated over. They make a vulcanized clincher version, but it's way lower TPI. I don't know, maybe I'll try it. The open tubulars seemed like the magical intersect, but I'm not using them anymore.

    Put a set of GR4000s in 28 (which measure 32) on and rode for a while after. Certainly nice, but not what I'd thought I had an hour prior. Next try will be with one of the Compass tires. Probably the Jon Bon Pass (?) tubeless.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by November Dave View Post
    So... I had a Strada Bianca open tubular blow off a rim this morning. I'm willing to entertain user error, but I install dozens of tires a week and have never had this happen before with any tire or rim. 50* day, disc brakes, wheels that had been used for ~500 miles with other tires, brand new latex tube, brand new tire that had been installed with a tube for two days to get the tire to "set" into shape (which did nothing). 50 minutes into a planned 3 hour ride - BANG.

    Rims are Easton R90SL disc, which I've always found to be fantastic. Pressure was 42 in that tire when I left the shop.

    Kind of a huge bummer because a) I cut my ride short since my spare stuff was used up and I wasn't super confident of making it through the ride and b) holy cow the ride was absolutely butter smooth on those things. Felt plenty fast rolling, and there's a legitimate cobbled road outside the shop's door that these things just floated over. They make a vulcanized clincher version, but it's way lower TPI. I don't know, maybe I'll try it. The open tubulars seemed like the magical intersect, but I'm not using them anymore.

    Put a set of GR4000s in 28 (which measure 32) on and rode for a while after. Certainly nice, but not what I'd thought I had an hour prior. Next try will be with one of the Compass tires. Probably the Jon Bon Pass (?) tubeless.
    Nawww ****, why'd you have to go and ruin my day. I've got a pair coming to fit on some Pacenti SL25's but gotta admit, I was expecting big things, you have me a little nervous now. Not something I want at 70+ kph! Didn't seem like you had a lot of pressure in them either which was going to be a question.
    Did you crash at all?

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