Author Topic: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring? (Read 9079 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« on: August 09, 2014, 09:02:03 PM »
My aging tires are close to end of life. I'm currently running 700x35, but want to step down to 700x25 or 700x28, which is the narrowest I can go on my current rims. That said, I'm not sure what the best tire (or size) is for my use case. I primarily ride on roads, but with the Alchemist biking now, long recreational rides on gravel rail trails are going to be common as well.

I've heard good things about the Continental Gator Skin tires.

I've heard good things about Schwalbe's winter tires. Poking around their non-winter line, I came across this:

http://schwalbetires.com/bike_tires/road_tires/Marathon_Plus_HS440

Any other recommendations I should look at?

Is 25 or 28 too narrow for gravel?
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kendallf

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2014, 09:20:25 PM »
If you're going to ride gravel, I'd at least go with 28s. You'll want to run them at considerably lower pressure on gravel, like 50-60 psi. Your Schwalbe is a good choice; my other go-to in this size range is the Vittoria Randonneur. I use the Gatorskins on my travel bike in a smaller (23c) size; they've been flat-proof over some very bad roads on several continents, but I don't use them off-road.
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Thegoblinchief

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2014, 09:53:05 PM »
The Vittoria looks interesting because of the reflective tread (most of the year I'm riding in the dark) and it's the cheapest of the three.
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Thegoblinchief

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2014, 06:03:28 PM »
Tried mounting the Vittoria tire today. Holy crap, that bead is tight. Forced it on, but pinched the tube mounting it. Broke both of my tire levers getting it off. How in the world do you service something like that myself?

Did some research, some suggest using a tire bead jack like this:

http://amazon.com/Kool-Stop-Tire-Bead-Jack/dp/B001AYML7K#customerReviews

But now I'm a bit worried about my ability to service the bike if I ever got these mounted (either myself or go to the LBS).
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frompa

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2014, 06:14:56 PM »
Personally, I prefer the Continentals. On my touring bike, which I sometimes use on gravel trails, I use the 700 x 28s. As to your tight tire, do you know the trick of keeping a little sliver of soap in your tire change stuff? Rub it along the rim for that final tight stretch, it usually gets the job done nicely. I've always found that the tightest tires when new are a pain in the ass to get on, but they most always loosen up some with use. Good luck.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2014, 06:27:04 PM »
I get that they'll loosen up with time, but having the tire levers snap getting them OFF was a bit more disconcerting (to me).

Is this where a metal tire lever is okay?
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Russ

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2014, 06:35:08 PM »
32 - 35mm road tires, no flat protection nonsense, 60 psi. supple ride, shock absorbing, if they're any slower than regular road tires it will be unnoticeable, volume = low pressure with no pinch flats, low pressure = no punctures.

Skinny Gatorskins, Randonneurs, and the like are for people who are trying to use the wrong tire width for what they're doing. Wide Gatorskins, Randonneurs, etc. are for people who don't know they're unnecessary. I mean the what you have will be fine now that you have it, it's just a tire and I'm overly opinionated, but try something else next time.

Randos are tight, but if you're having that much trouble with mounting the tire you're probably doing it wrong. Make sure the tire is in the lowest part of the tirewell all the way around instead of sitting up at the hook. This will give you more to work with on the opposite side where you need it. See photo: If the bead is down in the center as opposed to at the edges, you get a few more mm to work with.



no metal levers ever. even if they're covered in something to be nonmarring, you want your levers to fail before you bend the rim

source: I ride a pretty gnarly gravel section a few times a week on my commute and have done pretty extensive loaded touring on the stuff. also opinions from wheel and tire engineers

ETA actual recommendations: Resist Nomads in 35mm sizeway are cheap and good.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 06:41:31 PM by Russ »

frompa

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2014, 06:36:01 PM »
I use plastic and metal interchangeably, though I have had plastic ones snap on me, so I prefer metal. Sure, use metal levers, if you have them.

kendallf

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2014, 08:22:39 PM »
Russ, I mean this most kindly, but I disagree with almost everything you posted. :-)

I have run several varieties of generic 32-35c road tires. They punctured. In some cases, a lot. They were also a lot slower; I could ride them at touring bike speeds but forget taking them on a fast group ride. Pain and suffering.

My 25c Randonneurs have been bullet proof, and are fast enough to ride on the local Tuesday Night Worlds at 30 mph.

On metal tire levers, that's all I use; I hate the plastic ones because they do indeed snap. I have never damaged a rim and that includes using the metal levers regularly on my carbon clinchers.

As usual, my experience only, YMMV, yada yada.
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Cyrano

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2014, 08:55:42 PM »
"Gravel" covers a lot of ground conditions. On dry, hard-packed limestone gratings typical of many well-maintained bike paths, even 23mm is fine.

On former asphalt roads in the process of being reclaimed by nature, skinnies will be eaten by a crack. I ride 26x1.75 (so 44mm) for all-road-conditions touring.

Russ

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2014, 09:24:40 PM »
Russ, I mean this most kindly, but I disagree with almost everything you posted. :-)

Well of course, it would be no fun otherwise. As long as you're happy with subpar ride quality ;-)

wizlem

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2014, 09:51:09 AM »
What you want in your tire is going to depend on a lot of factors beyond just gravel vs road. You need to factor in your weight when deciding on what pressure to run. Ride style will determine what you'll want for ride feel.

If you ride gravel that is very loose you'll just sink in without really wide tires. For well packed gravel, I'd agree you can use pretty narrow tires. Currently, I'm using 28mm Continental Touring Plus tires and they seem pretty good for the price. I don't do a lot of gravel but I have no problems taking my bike off road for small stretches.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2014, 09:56:51 AM »
I own two bikes, one with 25's, one with 28's and would never consider riding gravel with them. Way too narrow; ouch!

bicycleriders

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2017, 11:42:16 AM »
You can use Continental GatorSkin DuraSkin Tire for both size 700x25 & 700x28

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2017, 07:25:49 PM »
First decide if you really need to ride on gravel. You are going to sacrifice a lot of on road performance to be able to do that.

SpreadsheetMan

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2017, 02:44:41 AM »
Wow - this thread was dormant for a while!

I like Schwalbe Durano and Durano+, but every cyclist swears by their favourite tyres and is convinced everything else is rubbish.

GilbertB

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2017, 06:28:59 AM »
schwalbe marathon plus.

Did lots and lots with these, including gravel mountain passes in South Africa, I really can't say anything bad about them.

Ocelot

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2017, 10:49:04 AM »
I do a lot of long distance riding on road/gravel/dirt as well as work in the industry. There's no point in going smaller than 28 - repeated recent testing has shown that smaller tires aren't measurably faster and offer no real advantage, even the super conservative pro peloton is on 25c+ now. I run 32c on my bike for this purpose, and will swap to 35c or 38c filetreads for specific gravel days, although the 32c road tyres work fine in a pinch.

I would also disagree that puncture resistant casings are a waste of time, although YMMV based on your local terrain. I've shredded plenty of tyres on unexpectedly sharp gravel. You don't need to go the full heavy puncture resistance ala Schwalbe Marathons though, the lighter weight Gatorskins, Specialized Roubaix Pro with Armadillo strip etc ride almost as well as a regular tyre but are a lot tougher. Just avoid the super heavyweight commuter casings like the Marathon, Specialized Armadillo wire bead.

GilbertB

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Re: Favorite bike tire for road and gravel touring?
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2017, 12:38:33 PM »
I do a lot of long distance riding on road/gravel/dirt as well as work in the industry. There's no point in going smaller than 28 - repeated recent testing has shown that smaller tires aren't measurably faster and offer no real advantage, even the super conservative pro peloton is on 25c+ now. I run 32c on my bike for this purpose, and will swap to 35c or 38c filetreads for specific gravel days, although the 32c road tyres work fine in a pinch.

I would also disagree that puncture resistant casings are a waste of time, although YMMV based on your local terrain. I've shredded plenty of tyres on unexpectedly sharp gravel. You don't need to go the full heavy puncture resistance ala Schwalbe Marathons though, the lighter weight Gatorskins, Specialized Roubaix Pro with Armadillo strip etc ride almost as well as a regular tyre but are a lot tougher. Just avoid the super heavyweight commuter casings like the Marathon, Specialized Armadillo wire bead.
I agree, for "normal stuff", the Gatorskins have served me well, the side walls being a very good compromise between suppleness and cut resistance.
Even the GP4000's in 28 do well on well curated hard packed tracks, but that the most fragile I'd go.
The Marathons are the AK47 of tyres, overkill for normal usage, but perfect when you must absolutely roll over all the sharp stuff or get stuck after sunset in places where the nights cats weigh more than you.
(Or just be 100% sure to get to work).