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  1. #1
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    Commuter Cross Tire?

    I got a "cross" bike built up last month and I'm digging it as an around town bike that can climb up the local trails. Right now I have some Kenda Kwicks, which have been pretty solid, but feel really slick on wet anything.

    When the autumn rolls around, I'm going to have to track down some new tires that in the 32-40mm range that roll well on pavement, aren't too slippery in rainy commuting conditions and can hook up with aplomb when I get offroad on the singletrack.

    So what do you guys think is the winner? Does it exist?

  2. #2
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    I'm running a set of Michelin Transworld 700x35c tires and they seem to handle most conditions pretty well. I've ridden them on a 150 mile day trip from Munich to Stuttgart, Germany in the freezing rain and on various road surfaces/conditions and I don't have any complaints. They were pretty reasonbly priced as well. I paid 30 Euro (about 40 dollars) for a set. I've done other long distant trips on them as well and they handle anything I put them through pretty well.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks. Do you ride steep slopes in mud with them?

  4. #4
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    I just replaced my WTB cross wolfs with another pair of the same on my cross bike. Good traction on my steep gravel hill, up or down, with some center tread to help on the pavement. Done some trails & traction was good (as a MTBr I as actually surprised at how well it did), but haven't tried real muddy stuff.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    Thanks. Do you ride steep slopes in mud with them?
    I've definitely ridden steep slopes. I can't say that I've ridden steep muddy slopes though. I think that they are a good road type tire that can handle most off road situations on occasion.
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  6. #6
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    Much to consider here. The singletrack in town has some steep slopes and I get rain for eight months a year. It can be pretty slick.

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  8. #8
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    Umarth, I think we live in the same area. I have heard good thinks about Kenda Small Block 8's for wet weather commuting. I am planning on buying a set this winter for my cross bike for commuting. I don't think they would do well in mud though.
    I ride at ludicrous speed

  9. #9
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    I put 2k miles on some Vittoria Randonneur 'cross tires (28c I think) last winter through some snow/slop/mud/ice. They were GREAT in the wet, but they do not bring the hook-up on the singletrack. Predictable, but not incredible.
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  10. #10
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    I've heard great things about the small blocks, but they won't clear mud. Anybody ride a Panaracer Cinder X?

  11. #11
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    Continental CountryRIDE's.. 37c's.

    I was riding with them for about a year.. Pulled numerous sharp objects out of them, rode with them all through Winter too. Dirt/pavement/gravel/road.. It's all good!

  12. #12
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    schwalbe marathon cross 700x38c...not bad....i wanna try some conti 42c though

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    I've heard great things about the small blocks, but they won't clear mud. Anybody ride a Panaracer Cinder X?
    FYI there's 35mm and 32mm versions

  14. #14
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    Ive got a kinda weird set up

    I run on my CX bike because i do ride a lot of mixed terrain. I use a panaracer tserv 32c in back and a 32c crosswolf, sm block 8 or allterrainasuarrass up front.

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    I've been happy with the Ritchey Speedmax 700 x 32c in most conditions.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy
    I put 2k miles on some Vittoria Randonneur 'cross tires (28c I think) last winter through some snow/slop/mud/ice. They were GREAT in the wet, but they do not bring the hook-up on the singletrack. Predictable, but not incredible.
    CB - those Randonneur's look pretty rad, light and tough with the reflective sidewalls (which I kinda like). They are very similar to the Spec Nimbus I was eyeing for about 1/3rd of the price.

    I'm not looking for a cross tire as much as something that is going to last for a long while, roll tough through some glass/trash, cush enough with moderate fast rolling resistance. The roads are fairly slick here and occasionally I run on painted road lines and street car rails so would be curious if you know they handle in those types of conditions?

  17. #17
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    I use the Kenda Kwick Roller in 45 c for pavement pounding.


  18. #18
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    Skinny tires and mud it exciting, I'd figure it would take something that doesn't ride nice on the street.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pursuiter
    Skinny tires and mud it exciting, I'd figure it would take something that doesn't ride nice on the street.
    I'll take a hit on street riding- I was hoping for a combo of the two. As it is, I think I'll ride it 1-2 times a week and switch tires if I need it for a long ride.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dixie whiskey
    CB - those Randonneur's look pretty rad, light and tough with the reflective sidewalls (which I kinda like). They are very similar to the Spec Nimbus I was eyeing for about 1/3rd of the price.

    I'm not looking for a cross tire as much as something that is going to last for a long while, roll tough through some glass/trash, cush enough with moderate fast rolling resistance. The roads are fairly slick here and occasionally I run on painted road lines and street car rails so would be curious if you know they handle in those types of conditions?

    I average about 12 flat tires in a 2000 mile commute year, and I've used several types of tires. The flats are all from goathead thorns, which are brutal. With the Vittoria tires last year, I got 4 flats in 2000 miles. This is awesome in my book. They are a very tough tire. At the end of the year, the front looks like it has another 1000 miles in it, the rear looks like a racing slick. I wish I had rotated them. I can't speak to the street car rails, but I ride the white line regularly because my bike lane sucks, and I never had an issue, even in the rain. The only thing I think you might not like is the smaller profile...they were pretty unforgiving compared to a 38c or something. Very good tire though.
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  21. #21
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    CB – thanks for mentioning these tires, I haven’t heard of them previously and they are going to save me some bucks (keep wifey happy) since I can get a pair of these for price of one Armadillio Nimbus (which seems like a similar competitor with the tread design and reflector strip) it seems like a no brainer. Your review is stout enough for me, and I just found out my LBS can get them also. It sounds as though your conditions may be worse than mine so that comforts me even more. My commute is all paved, no bike lanes but some shoulders have shells, glass, and other debris (I try to avoid most of it). So hopefully this set will see the same record miles as you put them through with even fewer flats (always a goal to have none, of course).

    I’ll report back once I get them fitted and ride. Thanks again.

  22. #22
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    CB- my LBS said they can get Ultra Gatorskin 28s for the same price at the Randonneur's - any comparison between the two (one better or not)? For some reason he can't get Randonneur's in less than 32s. I need to stcik with 28s so the tires will fit under my fenders (should I ever put them back on).

    Gracias !

  23. #23
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    I have no experience with the Gatorskins. I believe my Randonneurs were 28c. I have, however, crammed a 38c tire (schwalbe kojack) under planet bike freddy fenders. It was tight but it worked fine.
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  24. #24
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    My 'cross bike has either Hutchinson Piranhas front and back, or a Bulldog in the back, depending on course conditions. I'll switch the rear tire to the Bulldog later in the Fall, when all the 'cross courses get muddy, since it's a lot better at staying hooked up on a wet climb and not spinning in the mud.

    The Piranhas are pretty good on pavement. The shoulder knobs are big, but consistent, and the center is pretty low. So they're a good compromise for everything but climbing mud. The Bulldog isn't as good on pavement, or as fast.

    I rode that bike with the stock Continental Speed Kings for a while. They're okay on pavement and pretty crappy off-road. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a better version out there, though.
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  25. #25
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    Thanks. Both look like they'd handle mud pretty decent. Any thoughts on how they hold up on pavement? I know some guys that flat out there cross tires all the time...

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    My 'cross bike has either Hutchinson Piranhas front and back, or a Bulldog in the back, depending on course conditions. I'll switch the rear tire to the Bulldog later in the Fall, when all the 'cross courses get muddy, since it's a lot better at staying hooked up on a wet climb and not spinning in the mud.

    The Piranhas are pretty good on pavement. The shoulder knobs are big, but consistent, and the center is pretty low. So they're a good compromise for everything but climbing mud. The Bulldog isn't as good on pavement, or as fast.

    I rode that bike with the stock Continental Speed Kings for a while. They're okay on pavement and pretty crappy off-road. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a better version out there, though.

  26. #26
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    I'm enough of a geek that I keep notes on this stuff on my computer.

    It looks like I liked the front tire at 37ish, and had problems with the rear at 40 so I was riding it at 45psi. I weighed around 140 pounds when I made those notes.

    I don't think either tire has puncture protection. That's a potential problem riding and racing in the Seattle area, since not all of our courses are clean...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  27. #27
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    I really like the Schwalbe Landcruisers that came with my bike. Puncture resistant, with or without reflective sidewalls, in 40 mm

    http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/1335

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    I'm enough of a geek that I keep notes on this stuff on my computer.

    It looks like I liked the front tire at 37ish, and had problems with the rear at 40 so I was riding it at 45psi. I weighed around 140 pounds when I made those notes.

    I don't think either tire has puncture protection. That's a potential problem riding and racing in the Seattle area, since not all of our courses are clean...
    Hey lightweight! I'm jealous though- I'm 200 lbs and running low psi is riiiisky. I've been offroading on 35mm kenda kwicks and pinched them at 70psi... mmmm.

    Since you are a NW guy as well, ever have a stunning loss of traction on wet pavement with either tire type?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by harpdog
    I really like the Schwalbe Landcruisers that came with my bike. Puncture resistant, with or without reflective sidewalls, in 40 mm

    http://www.schwalbetires.com/node/1335
    Probably a bit too wide for me. Too bad, Schwalbe makes a great product.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    Hey lightweight! I'm jealous though- I'm 200 lbs and running low psi is riiiisky. I've been offroading on 35mm kenda kwicks and pinched them at 70psi... mmmm.

    Since you are a NW guy as well, ever have a stunning loss of traction on wet pavement with either tire type?
    Both of the Hutchinson tires have a pretty soft rubber compound, and have been fine for me. But this is a definite YMMV thing, and I'm a bit more conservative on those tires than I would be on slicks.

    My speed off-road on the kind of terrain that can cause pinch flats is somewhat limited by the traction available with little tires, and by course design - I rarely go off-road on my 'cross bike outside of racing, or practicing in August and September, and 'cross courses don't have the kind of long, sustained descent that gets mountain bikes up to pinch flat speeds when it's rocky.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    Both of the Hutchinson tires have a pretty soft rubber compound, and have been fine for me. But this is a definite YMMV thing, and I'm a bit more conservative on those tires than I would be on slicks.

    My speed off-road on the kind of terrain that can cause pinch flats is somewhat limited by the traction available with little tires, and by course design - I rarely go off-road on my 'cross bike outside of racing, or practicing in August and September, and 'cross courses don't have the kind of long, sustained descent that gets mountain bikes up to pinch flat speeds when it's rocky.
    I don't expect slick performance, but I also don't want to eat pavement on a fairly routine corner jog. Thanks for the information. Since I don't race the wankers on the cross forum aren't particularly helpful....

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    I don't expect slick performance, but I also don't want to eat pavement on a fairly routine corner jog. Thanks for the information. Since I don't race the wankers on the cross forum aren't particularly helpful....
    LOL. I think that the wankers on the cross forum feel a bit embattled by how chic 'cross bikes are lately.

    I find I'm sometimes bothered myself by 'cross bikes set up as strict pavement commuters, even though given the lack of availability of light touring frames or traditional road frames with some clearance, let alone complete bikes in either category, it's sort of an obvious choice for someone to make if they want to ride to work with fenders and a rack, and don't want to deal with maintaining something older. It makes me think of a race horse harnessed to one of those carriages that does endless six mile laps around Central Park. I guess if one were to follow the horse comparison, though, a 'cross bike is more like a quarterhorse - fast, but also good for doing a job.

    Anyway, 'cross is really just the competitive version of mixed pavement and dirt riding. I find mine a little underwhelming on roads, or on an off-road ride, but whenever I take it racing and do those repeated sprints out of hairpins, transitions on and off pavement, and run-ups, the 'cross bike feels at home. After a season of racing the mountain bike, it feels almost like having a rocket pack when I do the pavement sections.

    How's the rest of the build going?
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  33. #33
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    Actually, I need to add some lolz... I just saw your post on the "Not a 'cross bike, post somewhere else" thread on the 'cross forum.

    Just to add to the snobbery, I did my first 'cross races in 2000 and 2001, on my mountain bike and touring bike respectively. At the time, everyone was racing some sort of frankenbike. MTBers had their XC rigs, roadies had 28mm semi-knobs crammed into their road bikes, converted touring bikes were out in force, and the Surly Cross-check was still being taken seriously as a 'cross racer, if only due to lack of competition. A few "serious" people in the higher classes might have had Redline Conquests, but the current snobbery is very silly to me, since many of the products people are sure they "need" didn't even exist in the US until recently.

    Of course, I did go out and buy a purpose-built 'cross bike myself after going racing in the Fall of 2008 and feeling like I was going to die every time I dragged my Hardrock up a run-up. I don't know if the new equipment has improved my lap times much, but it's a lot more fun when you can at least get the damn thing on your shoulder for those. I swear the run-ups were smaller on the courses in the Central Coast series that I raced in years ago.
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  34. #34
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    I've wanted a cross bike for a while, mainly because I think they are fun to ride in the dirt. I found a Bianchi Portofino, slapped all my extra parts on it and started using it to get to work, then ride the dirt roads. Not for commuting, more for being able to get an extra dirt ride in a week and not have to suffer with mtb tires at other times. I have a Soma Rush with 30mm cross tires on it, and it can be a load of fun offroad, but the local trails climb/drop 600ft per mile and it is really, really, really hard to stop.

    Anyway, the purpose for this thread is to find a tire that won't kill me on pavement, but will get me up and down the mud fest that is lurking only a few months away. Kenda Kwicks won't cut it.

    The cross forum is retarded. I get saying "cyclocross" equals "racing" given the origins, but I don't get how people get so stuck on it that can't see that getting a bike that can hit most anything you can find on a ride is the spirit that cyclocross started with. The problem I've run into is that too many people only use the cross bikes for racing, so there aren't many tires that can run fast on pavement and still be adept at picking a path down muddy switchbacks.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    The problem I've run into is that too many people only use the cross bikes for racing, so there aren't many tires that can run fast on pavement and still be adept at picking a path down muddy switchbacks.
    That would be me too, actually.

    You might stick something fatter on the front, like a 45mm. Panaracer makes one, and I think there are a couple others floating around. I think for sustained climbing, with a little finesse and maybe a (dare I say it) granny ring, something like the Hutchinson Bulldog would be fine. But sustained switchback descents just don't show up on a 'cross course. If I was doing more general off-road, I'd probably try for all the traction I could fit in the fork for the front tire. You'll push more air, but at least more weight is on the rear tire on the pavement, so it won't boost your rolling resistance as much as a fatter rear tire would.

    When 'cross courses have a steep descent, it almost always goes straight into a runout, or maybe around a little bit of a curve and into a runout. So people routinely ride tires they can't stop on a descent. You'll also see people running/scrambling/stumbling/falling their way down some of the descents if they're particularly difficult, and all the rear wheel skidding and dabbing of a DH race.

    The 29er forum gets a lot of monstercross traffic...
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  36. #36
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    Yeah, I do go to the 29er forums regularly, but at some point there needs to be a bit of a balance- pushing a panaracer might be more than I really want to do. I did my "cyclocross" loop on the way home today. I love how I can go pretty quick on pavement, climb up some really steep stuff, be uncertain of whether I'll stop in time on the downhills and switchbacks, and the bike just hauls on the rolling hills.

    I am far from an expert on tread design, but I think both of the tires you mention should be enough to give me a decent enough handle, though I will certainly get to use a granny gear this winter.

    I don't have an issue using cross bikes for racing, but I don't like doing road rides, so I look for paths and then explore. I figure out loops and routes and then use those discoveries to make a 20-30 mile ride over a huge variety of terrain. As it stands, I'm looking into the local cross circuit to see if I can jump into some races this season.

  37. #37
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    I second the Vittoria Randonneur 700x28 recommendation. Rolls pretty fast, stiff & durable sidewalls, and really good puncture protection. Most, like the Armadillo's have a puncture belt, but the sidewalls are thin on the folding versions. With the Randonneurs in your hand you can just feel the difference. These will go and go and go.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by islander
    I second the Vittoria Randonneur 700x28 recommendation. Rolls pretty fast, stiff & durable sidewalls, and really good puncture protection. Most, like the Armadillo's have a puncture belt, but the sidewalls are thin on the folding versions. With the Randonneurs in your hand you can just feel the difference. These will go and go and go.
    Making my order today on these. The sidewalls on the Vittoria have the reflective strips as do the Armadillo's. Pricewise, I just can't stomach the Specialized as it's tiwce the cost of the Randonneur's. Even so, I gave Specialized a fair chance they have been out of stock for over a month now so they forced me to look elsewhere.

  39. #39
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    Seriously, this. You are going to be hard pressed to find a road/combo tire that will do as good in the mud and through the steeps as a proper cross tire, and you will be hard pressed to find a cross tire with better protection than this Conti. Also check out their Country Plus. It may have acceptable amounts of tread for you for off road and comes in larger sizes.

    http://www.conti-online.com/generato...amilie_en.html

  40. #40
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    Installed the Vittoria Randonneur 28c tires finally and they got their first test ride this morning. I really like these tires, they seem much more grippy than the Kenda Cosmos stock tires that came on my Redline which in turn has me feeling more comfy when blasting through the city streets on tight turns. The tread pattern reminds me of an ‘aqua-tread’ car tire pattern which appears will do well in the slick conditions (we get plenty opportunities to that here in the swamp). Finally, the reflective stripe is a primo bonus, I can tell early in the morning when drivers have their lights on anyway they really see me from the side. And of course it’s worthy to note the price factor on these were a set for the price of (1) Specialized Armadillo Nimbus (which I couldn’t find in stock anyhow).

    I’ll report back, after I clock more miles but I am definitely pleased with my decision. Props to CB for suggesting them, I would have never found them otherwise.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon76
    I'm running a set of Michelin Transworld 700x35c tires and they seem to handle most conditions pretty well.
    I second the Contra fan. The transworlds have a reverse mohawk pattern that allows for smooth rolling and the knobs on the sides keep my cornering to the corners. Ive ridden them on trails--hardpack with roots--and they did the trick.

  42. #42
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    My commute takes me through a student-populated area. I ride over glass shards every single day. I've been running Vittoria Randonneur 32c on my daily commute for nearly 8 months without a single issue. I also did 4 weekend tours on these tires over the summer. They ride smoothly and handle predictably on sketchy roads. In a few months, we'll see how they handle the Canadian winter.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by datalore
    My commute takes me through a student-populated area. I ride over glass shards every single day. I've been running Vittoria Randonneur 32c on my daily commute for nearly 8 months without a single issue. I also did 4 weekend tours on these tires over the summer. They ride smoothly and handle predictably on sketchy roads. In a few months, we'll see how they handle the Canadian winter.
    i've put some good miles on a wire bead 28c randonneur cross, they've held up good, but they square off when they wear, i guess i like a rounder profile. i've put the schwalbe marathon cross back on my commuter and it's still a diehard.......i'm looking into the schwalbe dureme's though
    https://www.rivbike.com/products/sho...0c-x-40/10-112 .....look like a nice compromise, nice and wide too.... especially after seeing/hearing great things about the extreme......schwalbe's = german bombproof.

  44. #44
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    CB – what pressure did you run in your Vittoria randonneur 28c’s? Just curious, Max inflate is labeled 85 psi, I usually aim for a bit more and I notice every time I check again it seems to reset back 85psi. I notice a difference when riding if it gets below, so I usually try to pump above 85.

    So far so good with these tires. They are amazingly grippy in almost any condition. Lately there has been a good bit of construction on one road and I was a bit nervous cornering in the sand/dirt piles but no slippage at all. They have this interesting sound to them when you hit a corner hard. They certainly boost the comfort level when rolling fast. I haven’t rolled through anything overly nasty other than some loose glass and trash. Knock-on-wood not a flat yet.

  45. #45
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    Kind of an old thread but I've got some decent info on the subject.

    WTB Allterrainasaurus tires are truly a jack of all trades, master of none. They aren't super fast on pavement, and they aren't incredible off road but they handle both well enough. Run them about 55-60 psi and they do well pretty much everywhere, probably let some air out for more aggressive off road.

    I'm not a huge fan of the Vittoria Rando Cross tires. I really don't get why they included "cross" in the name because I don't think they handle off road well enough. They are very fast on pavement, and super puncture proof. Worth the money, but not if you want to ride trails often.

    One great mixed terrain tire is the Club Roost Cross Terra. Not very easy to find, but I think Jensonusa still has them. They roll great on pavement and are quite good off road. Run about 50-60PSI and they are decent everywhere. Air down a bit, and they are great off road. Not sure about extremely muddy conditions, but out of these 3 tires they are my favorite. Not super puncture resistant, but not terrible in that case either.

    FWIW, Michelin Mud 2's are fantastic in mud and roll surprisingly fast just about everywhere. I just mounted them on my cross bike for racing primarily, but they are definitely quick on the road and don't feel that sketchy on wet pavement. Great tire IMO. Spendy though.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleAddict
    Kind of an old thread but I've got some decent info on the subject.

    WTB Allterrainasaurus tires are truly a jack of all trades, master of none. They aren't super fast on pavement, and they aren't incredible off road but they handle both well enough. Run them about 55-60 psi and they do well pretty much everywhere, probably let some air out for more aggressive off road.

    I'm not a huge fan of the Vittoria Rando Cross tires. I really don't get why they included "cross" in the name because I don't think they handle off road well enough. They are very fast on pavement, and super puncture proof. Worth the money, but not if you want to ride trails often.

    One great mixed terrain tire is the Club Roost Cross Terra. Not very easy to find, but I think Jensonusa still has them. They roll great on pavement and are quite good off road. Run about 50-60PSI and they are decent everywhere. Air down a bit, and they are great off road. Not sure about extremely muddy conditions, but out of these 3 tires they are my favorite. Not super puncture resistant, but not terrible in that case either.

    FWIW, Michelin Mud 2's are fantastic in mud and roll surprisingly fast just about everywhere. I just mounted them on my cross bike for racing primarily, but they are definitely quick on the road and don't feel that sketchy on wet pavement. Great tire IMO. Spendy though.
    Good information. I was looking for that, but I have some Smart Sam's enroute. I think they'll provide good performance on road and off, unlike the Rando Cross, which is really mostly a road tire.

  47. #47
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    I'm not sure why the Vittoria Randonneur's got brought up. My interest in them was not for off-road but to use primarily on pavement for commuting. Thus far, CB's review is dead-on. Best street tires I have ridden to date. I have about 300 miles or so on mine so far.

  48. #48
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    Schwalbe Marathon Plus Awesome 700x38c

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