Three Gravel Options For The Killer And The Thriller

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With Michigan’s gravel classics on the horizon, tire selection gets serious.

Everyone has their own ideas, theories and beliefs. A lot of people are wrong, too. For those taking on the Barry-Roubaix and Lowell 50 in the coming weeks, not to mention a score of unofficial races taking place around the state, now is a pretty good time to get some new rubbers.

This isn’t meant as a Bible of Gravel. We’ve selected two cyclocross tires and one 29er tire for the three people brave enough to try the race on mountain bikes. These are good options, meant to be effective in many weather conditions and sure to last a long, long time. Depending on how often you ride gravel, the goal here is to have these tires last at least 1,000 miles or the next 5 Barry-Roubaixs.

First off, the Continental Cyclocross Speed. Classic file tread with out the added weight of knobs on the side. For gravel, these are absolutely perfect for drier, faster days and on pavement. They are only available in a 35mm, but that added width is nice for the rougher sections as well. This year is almost sure to be super-washboard roads, so keep that added comfort will come in handy after 50 miles. They weigh in 360 grams. Not super light, but they also last forever. We’ve had a gent at the shop riding these for almost a year and a half and they look brand new.

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Another option is the Kenda Small Block Eight. For mountain bikers, you either love this tire or you hate it. On a cyclocross bike, the tread pattern seems to make a bit more sense. Yours Truly is completely biased, riding it on 26ers and 29ers for years in all sorts of conditions. It’ll give you some issues on slick mud, but if you run into any of that, you are probably off the road. We’ve got it at different weights as it is available in a 32 and 35, but the official weights are 315 and 345 grams, respectively.

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The 29er option is the Continental Race King. It’s actually the tire Your Truly used last year, and it was a pretty solid tire for the conditions. If it’s wet, this could be a good advantage over cyclocrossers battling along on file treads. It’s the weight that will make you think twice; 630 grams. That said, it also stood up for almost two years for me, and over 2,300 miles.

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Let us know what you’re riding for Barry-Roubaix on the the kolo t.c. Facebook page.

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5 Replies to “Three Gravel Options For The Killer And The Thriller”

  1. I’ve been really struggling with this and which bike to ride. I don’t have a cyclocross bike, so my options are to ride my Epic as is, put cyclocross tires on my Epic, or put cyclocross tires on my Sequoia (road bike). I think I’ve determined that I’m just going to stick with my Epic as is because I can’t justify spending $110 buying some new rubber for one ride a year. My Epic is set up with Specialized Renegade’s which have a pretty low profile like your Race King’s.

    Are you riding the 62?

    1. Yours Truly will be in the 62. The Renegades would be fine, too. I rode a Race King in the front and a 1.95 in the back for a year and loved it,especially on fast stuff like this.
      I’d say ride the new Epic, leave the tires, and just drop the hammer. Attack the from the gun. Eddy would.

  2. Your Sequoia would only handle a narrow CX tire and you’d need to deflate it to get it on and off so that’s not a good option (I have the same bike). The article says washboard roads are certain (not sure how they know that) so wouldn’t your Renegades be a better tire anyway?

    1. I think so. I’m really leaning that way now that I’m experiencing some of the conditions out there. Three weeks is enough time for everything to change, I suppose, but I don’t think the County is going to have time to lay down some fresh gravel like they have the last two years.

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