Tire recommendations for commuting, cyclocross bike 80% pavement, 20% dirt
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  1. #1
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    Tire recommendations for commuting, cyclocross bike 80% pavement, 20% dirt

    Hi everyone,

    I know there are tons of tire reviews but this is a somewhat more specific situation and the reviews are tough to dig thru to find a good solution.

    I commute 19 miles each way to and from work a few days a week on a cyclocross bike. About 3.5 to 4 miles of the commute is on dirt trails with some rock gardens, a few loose sandy spots but nothing major. The rest is pavement.

    I have 500 miles on the bike and they came stock with some Vittoria Cyclocross specific tires. I actually like the ride on both the dirt and pavement - with one major exception. The rear tire is already worn at 500 miles.

    I am looking for recommendations for a 32mm or 35mm tire that won't wear quickly on pavement and does just fair to OK on dirt. I am willing to compromise some of the trail performance to get a tire that lasts longer. Also appreciate puncture resistance.

    I have read a ton of reviews and can't find a happy medium by just reading reviews.

    Recommendations welcome!

  2. #2
    Cranky Old Bastard
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    My Trek came with Bontrager H5 700x32s that have a very shallow rib tread in the center and small knobs on the outside edges. They're rated for 80 psi and work well on the road and dirt for me.
    BontH5.jpg
    "When you know absolutely nothing, anyone who knows 1% more than nothing sounds like an expert."

  3. #3
    CX'er
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    Schwalbe marathon of your choice should be good. Wide tire choice will help out a lot for the off-road part. Tour - Schwalbe Professional Bike Tires

    I like Vittoria randonneurs for pavement and they do pretty well on gravel roads but you might going a little extreme for those.

    Clement makes a pretty good looking tire, Ush. X'PLOR USH | Clement Cycling, Cyclocross Tires, Adventure Tires, Mountain Bike Tires, Road Bike Tires
    The MSO look better but at 700x40 it may not work for you.

    Kenda happy mediums may be an option too. I'm not sure how quickly they'll wear out though. I think you can get a wire bead option for cheap though. I like the kenda small block for the use you recommend but they wear out really fast so I only use them for races with gravel roads, two-tracks, etc.

  4. #4
    Hucken The Fard Up !
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    Vittoria randonneur cross
    Quote Originally Posted by zank
    They're just bikes. Ride 'em in the rain, salt, snow and crap to fully appreciate them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Kelly
    The thing about the cold is that you can never tell how cold it is from looking out a kitchen window. You have to dress up, get out training and when you come back, you then know how cold it is.

  5. #5
    MB1
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    I am a big, big fan of Avocet tires.

    The Cross ll ought to work well. 28mm works fine for me but they do offer wider.

    Avocet Tires
    Quote Originally Posted by the_dude
    these are better than i was expecting, and my expectations were already rather high.

  6. #6
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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    You've discovered why I don't recommend CX tires for commuting.

    CX tires are designed for racing on lawns, in the mud, and dirt. They have little if any puncture resistance and as you've found, they wear quickly on the road.

    Just get a decent puncture-resistant commuting, rando, or touring tire with a little bit of tread. That'll do just fine.

  7. #7
    Hucken The Fard Up !
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    Quote Originally Posted by brucew View Post
    You've discovered why I don't recommend CX tires for commuting.

    CX tires are designed for racing on lawns, in the mud, and dirt. They have little if any puncture resistance and as you've found, they wear quickly on the road.

    Just get a decent puncture-resistant commuting, rando, or touring tire with a little bit of tread. That'll do just fine.

    Exactly

    for several years though I commuted on Schalbe Marathon plus and did put the Ritchey Supercross on Autumn, and on the dead cold snowy winter days the Schwalbe snow spikes.

    The Marathon plus are virtually indestructible, I thought at some point it would take me 10 years to wear them off

    but they are very heavy and probably overbuilt for simple city commuting, also the thread is quite flat so great for the city but bad when on fall and winter the roads are covered with leaves or slush, and on other hand the Ritchey Supercross even though are on the tougher side they are still a bit delicate for commuting and prone to punctures. The Snow Spikes are overkill, the spikes are IMHO only needed if your ride on ice.

    The solution was as I said, the Vittoria Randonneur Cross, a folding touring tyre, with a thick puncture protection layer, a flattish thread but suitable for off road, and not so heavy.

    I have them on my commuter all year long and I am plenty happy with them.

    I'm sure instead of 10 years they will last probably 8 but that's ok by me I use the 32c version, I found the 35c was a bit too much

    Quote Originally Posted by zank
    They're just bikes. Ride 'em in the rain, salt, snow and crap to fully appreciate them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Kelly
    The thing about the cold is that you can never tell how cold it is from looking out a kitchen window. You have to dress up, get out training and when you come back, you then know how cold it is.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I've put quite a few paved/unpaved miles on SOMA Xpress tires, and they've held up well. Puncture resistance is quite good, and as long as you don't run them too hard, they're OK off-road.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  9. #9
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    Thanks All - I went ahead with the Scwhalbe Marathon Plus. A little worried the tread might not be enough for the trail protion of my ride but I already figure this will be a bit trial and error. Ayone commuting can appreciate a good flat resistant tire over performance.

    We shall see!

  10. #10
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    I've had good results with the Schwalbe Marathons on my touring bike and went with Marathon Mondails on my cross bike:


    I have 2000+ mixed miles on them with no problems and they roll fast on pavement yet lots of grip in the dirt, much more grip than the regular Marathons. The Marathon Plus looks like a decent tire as well.

  11. #11
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    PS - I went with the 32mm width. Was a little concerned on the weight of the 35's at 890g. Even the 32s we 800.

    What do you guys run?

  12. #12
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    I run the 700x40 Mondails (folding) and they come in at 650g. I initially ran them with a heavy thornproof tube but converted to tubeless and that made a huge difference both on and off pavement. I think my touring bike tires at 660g (27x1-1/4) but also have heavy tubes in them. The Mondails feel a whole lot lighter and faster than the Marathons HS420s.

    I can also vouch for the fact that a more cyclocross type tire is typically not as robust as a good touring tire. I also run some Conti. Cyclocross Speed tires (700x35) on my touring bike and while they are fast and light weight (~350g), I have had one flat in about 6 mos. riding compared to no flats in the Schwalbe Marathon variants I am running with over 5000 miles/4 yrs. of riding.

    The article below has a good review of both types of tires:
    - A comparison of stark contrast: Continental Cyclocross Speed and Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Tire Reviews | riding against the grain

    I like the one line in the article:
    The best answer I received: the Conti is what the guys who want to win the race ride on. The Mondial is what the guys who just want to finish run.
    I imagine similar logic would apply to most cx/race vs. touring tire combination you could pick.
    Last edited by 4Crawler; 11-12-2013 at 09:55 PM.

  13. #13
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    I've done plenty of dirt trails on a regular 700x23 racing tires, so if only 20% of the ride is dirt, I would even go skinnier than 32's, like 26 or 28mm slicks. Little more slippery than treaded design, but not a big deal and rolls a bit smoother than the treaded designs.

    I do have Pasela 32's on my other bike which works great for dirt roads. In hindsight, though, I wish I would have gone with 28's instead. I also have Marathon Plus in 38, which is a bit porky, but rides really nice.
    Last edited by palu; 11-13-2013 at 11:46 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by palu View Post
    I've done plenty of dirt trails on a regular 700x23 racing tires, so if only 20% of the ride is dirt, I would even go skinnier than 32's, like 26 or 28mm slicks. Little more slippery than treaded design, but not a big deal and rolls a bit smoother than the treaded designs.

    I do have Pasela 32's on my other bike which works great for dirt roads. In hindsight, though, I wish I would have gone with 28's instead. I also have Marathon Plus in 38, which is a bit porky, but rides really nice.
    Much of my dirt-road riding takes place on 28mm tires, and recently, I've been riding off-road on 25mm tires. As long as it's not too rocky or rutted, I've found that skinnier tires work just fine.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  15. #15
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    I wouldn't touch gravel on racing 23s, and am happy with my 32s on gravel and dirt. For a commute with, assuming, somewhat variable weather, I think 30-34s would be a better fit. I've ridden some dirt roads at 20mph when it dry on road tires, but when it comes to reliability after rain I'd say something a little wider would serve most better... but that might be my 185# self talking.

  16. #16
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    +1 on the Avocets. I use Avocet Cross 11 700x35 on my Surly cross check, they are great on any surface.

  17. #17
    Lost in Space...
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    I've been using Bontrager Hard-case Race in a 28 without issue on most surfaces. It gave me some issue on the large gravel paths (C&O) but more due to running a high pressure. It's been OK for muddy dirty pack and occasional off-road. I wouldn't want to ride it down a farm road or fire road at high speed. Then again, for that type of surface I'd rather have a 29er with wide mtb tires.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MB1 View Post
    I am a big, big fan of Avocet tires.

    The Cross ll ought to work well. 28mm works fine for me but they do offer wider.

    Avocet Tires
    I'm also a fan of the Cross IIs. Had a set on my Lemond Poprad and the wear rate was exceptional and never had a flat. They were still on the bike when I sold it. I'm looking at a Surley Long Haul Trucker now. If I buy it, I know what kind of tires I'll put on it when the stockers wear out.
    Smokey
    Smokey

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