Tires / Wheels is one of the keys to a good adventure / gravel ride.
- I can run lower pressures ==> softer ride without the worry of pinch flats that can happen with clinchers (i.e. a tube and tire combination).
- Tubeless setups typically repair themselves when a small puncture occurs on a ride. The Stan’s or Orange Seal liquids seal the leak quickly.
- Tubeless setups can be repaired on a ride, unlike sew-ups (i.e. tubulars). If you get a major puncture with tubeless, you always have the ability to add a tube to repair the puncture.
- Caution! Tubeless are more difficult to initially set up. With tubeless I highly recommend a tubeless specific rim mated to a tubeless specific tire. Other combinations, may result in the tire rolling off in a corner or when taking on a big bump. Trust me on this – I have hit the deck unexpectedly due to a not following this advice.
Tire pressure is a critical key to a good ride.
- A good starting point for pressure is when you get about 10 to 15% side wall deflection when the rider sits on bike. Some people may want to run more pressure, others less.
Tire pressures are dependent on the tire in use! A stiffer side wall tire will require less pressure. For example, with the Clement X’PLOR 32 mm tire I run 42 psi (pounds per square inch) rear, with the WTB Cross Wolf TCS 32 mm I run 35 psi.
- Tire pressure from front to rear, may vary by over 10 psi. With the Clement X’PLOR 32 mm, my wife runs front / back pressures of 23 / 33 psi.
- Tire pressure is depenant on body weight. The more a person weighs, the more tire pressure needed. Again, on the Clement X’PLOR 35 mm, my wife runs a back pressures of 33 and I run 43 psi.
- To measure tire pressure accurately and reliably, get yourself a good hand held gauge. DO NOT rely on the gauge built into your pump, they lack accuracy at low pressures. I have seen readings differ from pump gauge to hand held gauge by over 15 psi.
Tires that I use:
- Clement X’PLOR 32 mm. This is my go to tire when there is more than 50% pavement on a ride. This tire does not hold up well when there is a lot of loose, rough gravel. Recently, I put two punctures in this tire on a rough 75 mile, gray gravel ride.
- WTB Cross Wolf 32 mm. Love this tire!! especially for Bend / Prineville area.
- WTB Nano 40 mm. A really good tire choice for those routes that have deep and / or big chunky gravel or river rock. I generally only use this tire on routes that are 100 % gravel.
- In general, the wider the tire, the more air it will hold, and the less pressure you can run it at ==> softer, more comfortable ride. But … the wider the tire, the slower it will be on pavement. Trade-offs!