When I first started riding mixed-terrain, what some people call gravel but bears no resemblance at all to gravel, I mounted a pair of 28c tires on my road bike and off I went. Occasionally, especially in Fall, I found myself wanting for traction, but I pounded my way down a lot of dirt paths, snaked through not a little rooty single-track, and hung onto the back of some pretty fast moving packs when everyone else was on ‘cross bikes. I was pretty happy with that.
Eventually I built a new bike for this type of riding, and I opted for more tire clearance, Mainly I run a file tread 32c tire on that bike, but sometimes I opt for 40c with more tread. The closer we get to the snow flying, the more rubber I like to have on the road/dirt.
In the meantime, road tires are getting wider. I don’t know anyone who rides 23c anymore (remember 19c?). 25c, which was where I thought things would settle, quickly morphed to 28c, which means that people I ride the road with show up on tires I used to think acceptable for single-track. I still run 25c on my road bike, for whatever that’s worth. I need all the help I can get.
Lost in this mania for larger and larger tires is compatibility with various forks. Most road forks aren’t actually wide enough to fit 28c, and those that are face the further challenge of wider rims (everything is growing) pushing the bell of the tire still wider. I have seen 28c tires measure 31c on a 25mm rim.
This week’s Group Ride asks, what are you rolling on the road? 23c? 25c? 28c? Wider? Have you come up against the hard boundary of fork spacing? Do big tires interest you? Or are you more of a skinny rubber traditionalist?