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  1. #1
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    Looking for info on road tires for my CX bike

    Before I bought my CX bike, what I was really looking for was a road bike, because I was intending to ride road with it. I kept seeing CX bikes mentioned in my research, and after riding road and CX bikes I decided the CX was the way to go. I liked the feel and the idea that I can take it on trails. Plus CX racing looks like a blast.

    But the sad truth is that my poor CX bike has hundreds of miles of road rides on it vs. about 1/4 mile of trail use. SOMEDAY I'll get it on an actual trail, and I hope to race this fall, but I see a LOT of road miles in it's future this summer.

    So, I want to get road tires to save the knobbies for the race season.

    I'm not sure which way to go with tires though.

    I've seen anything from 205gram 23c slicks to 500gram+ 32c tires.

    I do a lot of road riding, and I've started to become addicted to my cycling apps. Every ride I look to improve avg. speed. I'm not a racer, but I get competitive with myself on things like that. And after using Strava for the first time last week and getting an email that I placed 90 out of 140 on a segment (I didn't even know it existed till I got the email), I'm getting into going fast.

    BTW avg speed for the segment was 17.6mph, with 16.4mph avg over the 23mile ride.

    So for stuff like that I'm thinking a light 23c. I found some Kenda's that spec at 205 grams for 18 bucks each, and combined with light 70g tubes I think I can save about 1lb off the bike as compared to my current setup (Challenge Grifo's @ 395g ea, with regular tubes).

    Will I notice a difference with that weight savings? Or am I just asking for flats?

    As a non racer who also wants to get into doing longer rides (43 mile max ride so far, goal is to do a century by summer's end), would I be better off with a wider, heavier tire?

    I've seen it mentioned a few times that a wider tire like a 28c or 32c will have less rolling resistance than a high pressure 23c tire. Really?

    So in this case would I be as quick on a 28c as I would on a 23c?

    One thing I like about riding with the 32c cross tires is that I ride it like my MTB. I jump off curbs, ride over grassy medians, and don't get very worried when I get near sandy patches. Some of my riding is by the beach, so there can be a lot of that.

    Anny suggestions, and what are you guys using for road tires on your CX bikes?

    Thanks, sorry for writing such a book.
    '13 Salsa Horsethief 2
    '12 Trek 6000
    '11 Ridley X-Ride

  2. #2
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    Will you notice a difference in weight savings?

    -->Absolutely, you'll feel like a cycling god!!

    Just asking for flats?

    -->Not if you get the right tire, isn't that the point?

    With longer rides up to, say, a brevet, you should be absolutely fine on 23c tires. Yes they can beat you up, but I consider this part of the overall experience.

    There's a possibility that a 28c and 23c of the same model may have the same rolling resistance, but *less* is rarely the case. Regardless, I always notice the extra weight of the larger casing before an increase in speed.

    I used to be apprehensive about jumping around on 23c tires, but it's really just about using better form for jumping curbs and such. As long as you aren't running a super-light tire, you won't have issues with medians or sandy patches.


    As for actual choices:

    For everyday riding I have 28c Continental Contacts, which have decent tread and will work just enough to not kill me on rocky trails (if I find them on the daily). That being said, they're also 500 grams a tire! :O I run these around 80psi normally, and they seem to roll pretty fast, but you can feel the weight on climbs.

    For knobs, I run super-cheap Kenda KrossCyclo tires because I got the set for $20, and surprisingly they're only about 420 grams per. Pretty aggressive tread, but super-fun when run at the minimum of 50psi.

    For SUPER-FAST I run Vittoria Rubino Pro 23c tires, which IIRC weigh about 230 grams per. They do well in the rain, I've picked glass out of the center tread after commutes, and they roll superbly. They're really the lightest tire I would run outside of a race venue, and they're damn supple at their 100psi minimum.

    FWIW these are all mounted on A23 rims, which are the bee's knees as far as making tires have a wider/more supple shape.

  3. #3
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    I'd go for a 25-28mm tyre. They're a good compromise of speed and comfort. I'd also suggest staying away from cheap tyres. They typically have stiff casings and will feel terrible. As mentioned before, the Rubino Pro is good, economical tyre. The Conti GP4000s is a popular tyre, and the Gatorskin is a reasonable option if durability and puncture protection are more important to you than than comfort.

    As far as the 23mm vs everything else argument, you'll find opinions on both sides, but I think the evidence is pretty clear and the larger tyres roll better and are faster on on real (imperfect) roads. I've been very happy with 25mm tyres at a relatively low 80-95psi (I weigh 70kg / 155 lbs).

    Here's what I ride:

    Road bike: 23mm and/or 25mm Vittoria Open Corsa (320tpi cotton race tyre); great performance and comfort, terrible durability and puncture protection

    CX bike w/ commuter wheels: 25mm Vittoria Rubino Pro (work well), 32mm Schwalble Marathon (heavy and a bit numb, but smooth), 35mm and 38mm WTB All-Terrainisarus (semi-knobby, rolls fast, my favorite for commuting), 35mm Schwalbe Smart Sam (knobby, soft rubber didn't last long)
    Dave
    Blog / Strava

  4. #4
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    I'd buy any high end road tire that you can get a deal on - Conti, Michelin, Schwalbe ... those are all great. If you want a cross tire that rolls fast on pavement but still has some knobs for the trails I'd recommend the Ritchey Speedmax.

  5. #5
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    The biggest speed gain will come from tread pattern; virtually any slick will dramatically decrease rolling resistance vs a cx tread. So then it's a matter of prioritizing the other requirements: comfort, off-road capability, puncture resistance, weight, ultimate speed, climbing ability ...

    Since most of your miles are on pavement, I think 28's are the way to go. They're so much more comfortable than a skinnier tire simply because you can run them around 80 psi. Impacts feel like a padded thump--nothing harsh or taxing--and I actually like the feel.

    23's or 25's at 100+ psi are not as forgiving, however, I wouldn't call them harsh. They just feels like ass. More of a knock than a thump. Sure, you get that instantaneous acceleration and ultra efficient power transfer but it's not a dramatic difference. And how often do you need to break away from the pack or race to the finish where seconds matter?

    If you're simply out cruising, getting a good work out while taking in the view then get something that will enhance the experience. And if you want to try out various widths on the cheap, check out the Forte Strada K's (as in Kevlar) from Performance. Not a lot of feedback here but see the reviews on their site.

    Forté Strada K Road Tire - Road Bike Tires

    Btw, their 28s actually run from 26-27, so it's not like you'd be running balloons on your rig.

    Here are the 28s on my former road bike
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  6. #6
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    On the trashed and potholed roads of Connecticut I've found that 25 mm tires help a lot on an aluminum frame bike. There are still enough hills and climbs that weight matters so I prefer the 25's to the 28's. In the winter I use the Conti Gatorskins but in summer I like something a little more plush like Michelin Lithions.
    He who dares....wins!

  7. #7
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    This is what I ended up with: Specialized Bicycle Components

    25mm casing and something with some puncture resistance. So far, so good, but I haven't gotten a lot of miles on them yet.

    This tire Specialized Bicycle Components is also interesting, but it is about 90g heavier than the Roubaix Armadillo Elite.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the info!

    I almost bought the Rubino tires, they were 40% off as the deal of the day at BTD.com, but I fell asleep on the couch before I ordered them and missed the sale! D'oh!

    Joe, once again thanks for the help. I ordered a pair of those Forte's in the 28C size.

    Can't wait to get them!

    Oh, and I have to brag a little here...I set a new Strava best for myself on that circuit...19.1mph! I dropped from 140 out of 217 to 113/217. Can't wait to see what I can do with road tires!
    '13 Salsa Horsethief 2
    '12 Trek 6000
    '11 Ridley X-Ride

  9. #9
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    You're welcome.

    I think you'll love the smooth riding Strada's. Those 28's are a good size for experimenting, too. You can run from 80-100 psi with confidence (that's their sidewall spec) and dial in the right balance of performance/comfort for you.

    Oh, and the current version actually looks nicer than the pic on their website. No longer a red label (click for larger view).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Looking for info on road tires for my CX bike-2004-ocr3-028.jpg  

    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  10. #10
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    I had my first ride with the Stradas the other night. Wow! Even though I was tired I added 1.5mph to my best avg speed, added 5 mph to my fastest top speed.. 41.8mph, and climbed over 30spots on the strava circuit. At 85psi they seemed to ride well, and the bike is eerily quiet without the knobbies! Needless to say, I'm very happy with them.
    '13 Salsa Horsethief 2
    '12 Trek 6000
    '11 Ridley X-Ride

  11. #11
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    Glad to hear it! Nice speed improvement.

    What were your impressions regarding comfort? The first time I tried a "modern" road bike with 28's, I was blown away. I thought aluminum bikes on skinny tires were supposed to rattle my fillings loose?
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuntmanMike View Post
    I had my first ride with the Stradas the other night. Wow! Even though I was tired I added 1.5mph to my best avg speed, added 5 mph to my fastest top speed.. 41.8mph, and climbed over 30spots on the strava circuit. At 85psi they seemed to ride well, and the bike is eerily quiet without the knobbies! Needless to say, I'm very happy with them.
    That's encouraging to me. I am preparing to build up a SSCX and will retire my Airborne Delta to road duty (at least until I trade it for a road bike). I'd like to think I'll see similar speed improvements on my local road segments.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeinchi View Post
    Glad to hear it! Nice speed improvement.

    What were your impressions regarding comfort? The first time I tried a "modern" road bike with 28's, I was blown away. I thought aluminum bikes on skinny tires were supposed to rattle my fillings loose?
    I didn't find them harsh at all. I could feel a little more than with the Grifo Pro 32's that were on it, but I was expecting that. The Grifo's are a higher profile/volume tire, and I run less pressure in them.

    I'm very happy with the ride, as you said the 28's seem to be a good compromise and perfect for what I want to do. Plus, from the reviews I've read, these may be more like 26's...supposedly they run narrow.

    I noticed when installing them that the tread area seemed to have a decent thickness to it, and on my ride I hit a lot of gravel and road debris that I can't always avoid, and though there were some load noises as they shot stones out the side, I had no trouble. And that included running about 1/2 mile over a road that had just been graded in prep for a repaving. This was a surprise to me, and had me worried, but I made it through with no prob, although it wasn't the smoothest of rides. Had I been on the cross tires, I probably would have enjoyed that section.

    GasX - yeah, you'll love having a road tire on your Delta. While the look isn't as cool as a cross tire, it makes a big difference on pavement! I'm looking forward to a few more rides to see what other improvements I notice.
    '13 Salsa Horsethief 2
    '12 Trek 6000
    '11 Ridley X-Ride

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuntmanMike View Post
    Oh, and I have to brag a little here...I set a new Strava best for myself on that circuit...19.1mph! I dropped from 140 out of 217 to 113/217. Can't wait to see what I can do with road tires!
    Gotta brag a bit AGAIN... Last week I crushed this record, I'm up to 20.3mph average, and am down to 90/244 for the circuit.

    I think I'm turning into a roadie, lol.

    Anyway, update on the tires:

    I'm VERY happy with them. I've put about 350 miles on them so far, and they've been great. On sat I actually ended up on a sandy/gravel road with them, and they actually did okay, although care was needed on the sandy sections. I had never been down that road before, and didn't realize it wasn't paved. But once I had already planned my route, so I figured what the heck. This would have definitely been a lot of fun with cross tires!

    It also seems like they're pretty tough and have good puncture resistance. I thought they'd be delicate at first, but after having them a few weeks I'm back to riding it pretty much like I do a mtb...bunny hopping stuff, jumping curbs, riding through grass and gravel. I have to watch out on sand, but I actually rode the bike on a short dirt trail with them and made it up.

    They also turn nice and true, which is good for the price...a friend bought some other tires at the same price point, and he noticed a bulge in the sidewall and a wobble after mounting them.

    Definitely money well spent!

    Of course I like them so much, but want to hit the trails with the cross tires, that now I'm considering a second wheelset.
    '13 Salsa Horsethief 2
    '12 Trek 6000
    '11 Ridley X-Ride

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by StuntmanMike View Post
    Gotta brag a bit AGAIN... Last week I crushed this record, I'm up to 20.3mph average, and am down to 90/244 for the circuit.
    Whoa! +20mph avg? That's moving!

    Nice update. And being a roadie isn't all that bad. I noticed that they're much more friendly when I'm on my road bike (everyone waves) than when I'm tooling around on the commuter mtb.

    Second wheelset sounds like the right move, though. Check CL. Roadies love to dump their stock wheels for cheap. Often with a cassette.
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  16. #16
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    I have a question as im a real roadie noob. I have a CX bike arriving any day now but I have been riding a monstercrossed SS drop bar 29er for a few months now.

    I have 33x700 tyres fitted to the carbon rims that I am going to be using on the new bike, the rims are 21mm inside diameter, what is the minimum size of road tyres I can fit on these rims ?
    Ti O'Beast
    Indy Fab
    One9
    Dirty Disco CX

  17. #17
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    According to Sheldon Brown, the minimum tire width should be at least 45% wider than the inside rim diameter, i.e. 1.45 x 21 = 30.45mm. It sounds like you shouldn't use anything narrower than a 700x30 to minimize rim and sidewall damage.

    Tire Sizing Systems

    FYI- If these carbon rims were designed for an MTB, the rear axle might be too wide for the new frame. MTB bikes use a 135mm rear axles, while road/cx bikes usually use 130mm rears (a handful feature 132.5mm dropout spacing to facilitate use of road or mtb rims).
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  18. #18
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    Thanks Joe, I have an On-One dirty disco on the way, currently held up in Customs. It takes a 135mm rear disc wheel so im good with the hub spacing.
    Ti O'Beast
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    One9
    Dirty Disco CX

  19. #19
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    You're welcome. Nice bike ... should make for a great do all ride.
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

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