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Conflict (tire choice): Weekend touring with knobby tires

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Conflict (tire choice): Weekend touring with knobby tires

Old 01-05-20, 01:26 PM
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kjaioqhbkqb
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Conflict (tire choice): Weekend touring with knobby tires

I know this is bizarre but I currently tour for long weekends, so under 500 miles, on pavement or occasionally on bike trails (gravel, I guess?). I use an old hardtail mtb from the 1980s where I sit essentially upright, and I use a frame bag or front panniers or a rear luggage bag or some combination thereof (I camp at least one of the nights out and cook at least once a day outside). I have been using Continental Travel Contacts and they have been functionally great.

But the look of the tires absolutely disgusts me. I miss the original really knobby tires. I would love to get something extreme like the Maxxis Wet Screams but I know that I will not be able to keep up with my peers in our touring group as they are all roadies.

Do you guys have tire suggestions? I do love the puncture resistance of the Conti Contact Travel (it's been a blessing). The tires are 26" and usually 1.75" to 2.1" wide. The rims are Araya (26 x 1.75) and a steel CMC (26 x 1.75) and fancy Phil Wood hubs if it has any bearing.
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Old 01-05-20, 03:09 PM
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form and function. If you are going to be on looser dirt roads then putting more meaty tires on makes sense and will be more fun to ride on, but if you are on hard packed stuff and pavement, slickish or slightly tready stuff like you have is still always going to be the best overall option.
I don't really get what you are asking, or wanting, as you know the surfaces and we can only guess.

in the end, its going to be up to you and how you want to put a priority on how the bike looks and rides.
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Old 01-05-20, 03:27 PM
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Vittoria makes their Mezcal in 26x2.1. I have these tires in 27.5x2.1 size, and I think they're fairly comfortable and fairly fast for also having the traction they do off road (and the "look" of knobby tires). No, they're not extreme mud tires, but they might be a good middle ground for you.

https://www.vittoria.com/us/mezcal-cross-country.html
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Old 01-05-20, 03:34 PM
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I love the Mescals mentioned above and also Continental Race Kings.
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Old 01-05-20, 03:39 PM
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Schwalbe Mondials have a slightly knobby look. And they are proverbially "bombproof".

But they are not fast. Other than the slowness, they work well on gravel and dry dirt.
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Old 01-05-20, 04:39 PM
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Schwalbe Marathon Extremes are no longer made, but they roll surprisingly well on pavement for a tire with big blocky looks to it. If they were still made, i would suggest them.

I have not ridden the Mondial that was suggested above by Tyrion, but that tire replaced the Extreme in the Schwalbe lineup. When my Hutchinson Globetrotter (another tire no longer made) that is on the back wheel of my Backroad wears out, I already own the Mondial that will go on that wheel.

ADDENDUM ADDED THREE DAYS LATER:

Photo of the Marathon Extreme that unfortunately is no longer made, i think about 40 percent of the tread is gone on this tire from road wear, rolls surprisingly well for a knobby tire on pavement and is noisy, but nice to have if you get to some unpaved roads or trails too. This is a 559 X 57mm folding version.


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Old 01-06-20, 11:04 PM
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I rode a couple thousand miles on Continental Tour Ride tries, 700cx42mm's. They have a 26" version also.

Those couple thousand miles were on about 50-66% crushed gravel trail. I upgraded to those from 38mm Continental tires, I forget what model they are - were stock on my Disk Trucker.

What I ran in to was in the in-between seasons around Fall and Spring where it was freezing at night and sunny above freezing during the day is with moisture in the gravel the surface would start out frozen in the morning then as the day progressed the surface would thaw creating a soft mush on top. My tires would sink in to that and I would drastically slow down because of the "rolling resistance" (I quote that because rolling resistance isn't accurate - displacing the mush was force away from keeping moving, but not really resistance because the tires weren't rolling over it they were pushing through it). The wider tires had a bigger foot print lowering the ground pressure.

However, in practice there was only a slight improvement from the 38mm's to 42mm's. To really gain an advantage I would need to get to the 2"+ wide range I'd say. The 42mm tires were about as wide as I could go on the bike with fenders. They did have a 45mm wide version, if I recall correctly, but I was ordering them and didn't want to run in to the 45's rubbing so I opted for the 42's.

I don't have the 42's on now as I drove over the front wheel in the garage squeezing my truck in too close to the bike. When I rebuilt the wheel I put the stock tires back on and have rode them ever since.

I will say - I like the ride of the 42mm's better. I could run them at lower pressure and it was a more comfortable ride for me. So that alone makes the size worth it, then the extra bonus of the flotation (very small improvement) is good.

The OP mentioned "knobby" tires. When I got the Cont Tour Ride's I thought the same - I wanted a more aggressive tread than road tires for the gravel. The Cont Tour Ride's performed very well in that department - very well. The solid center tread made the ride on pavement very smooth, kept the rolling resistance down (higher pressure = lower resistance, but harsher ride) and the tread did not wear as fast as knobbys or any other broken up/more aggressive tread pattern.

My thoughts are to gauge the tire width for the floatation you desire and stick to an overall less aggressive tread (IE - stay away from knobbys and keep to the trekking/touring style treads, but not totally street treads). For hard packed gravel I wouldn't go any narrower than 1.75" (44-45mm), you can get by with less but this would be even more versatile than the 42mm's I referenced. 2" (~51mm) would be better. The wider you go the softer the ride and the more floatation you can get - just tune the pressure accordingly and don't go too low on pressure (you risk damaging the rim and tire).
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Old 01-07-20, 04:41 AM
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Just me, but I'd just as soon ride on a knobby tire with lots of low knobs and a nice light supple sidewall as a heavy "flat proof" slick tire with as stiff sidewall. I am not too familiar with the Continental Travel Contact, but it looks like it might fit in that latter category.

Lester already mentioned a couple XC race tires, but there are others that would work. I have done some mixed surface tours where I wound up doing quite a bit of riding on paved surfaces in between dirt sections and found XC race tires to roll surprisingly well and to be very pleasant to ride, something I'd never say about heavy stiff sidewall tires. I usually tour on skinny slicks these days, but found the fat xc knob pretty pleasant to ride on.

Compared to the Marathon Pluses that I once tried for a short while before taking them off and selling them, the XC tires were a joy to ride on. That said I love a supple sidewall and a responsive ride and some others may not even notice the difference or get what I am talking about. Note that this isn't just about the weight of the tire, but there is that too (the MPs were crazy heavy in addition to having a really stiff sidewall).

I'd suggest that depending on how and where you ride sitting upright might be a bigger efficiency handicap than the xc tires are. It is your choice, but there is no reason that you have to sit very upright on your mountain bike, mine are typically set up with the bars pretty low.
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Old 01-07-20, 06:14 AM
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Try the Surly Extraterrestrials.
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Old 01-07-20, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Try the Surly Extraterrestrials.
Don't forget, in 26in the et are 2.5 inch wide. They roll reasonably well on hard packed and pavement, but free from what Mr op says about his riding and riding partners, the et's would be overkill, heavy and slow, in comparison to other much lighter narrower tire options with some tread.

Still going to come down to compromises of weight and flat protection and rolling characteristics, and cost also along with tire life....
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Old 01-08-20, 04:56 PM
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Are you totally averse to balloon tires? The Schwalbe Big Apple provides that fat tire look, but without the knobbies. More importantly, it's a nice cushioned ride for casual touring. I had Specialized Nimbus 1.5" slicks on my mountain bike for a long time and also hated the wimpy look of them. The 2.35" Big Apples look like motorcycle tires compared to them and make me feel like the macho man I am.
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Old 01-08-20, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Are you totally averse to balloon tires? The Schwalbe Big Apple provides that fat tire look, but without the knobbies. More importantly, it's a nice cushioned ride for casual touring. I had Specialized Nimbus 1.5" slicks on my mountain bike for a long time and also hated the wimpy look of them. The 2.35" Big Apples look like motorcycle tires compared to them and make me feel like the macho man I am.
If money is no object, and fat with speed is a priority, I'd go Rat Trap Pass - about half the weight of Big Apps, 26x2.3
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Old 01-08-20, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
If money is no object, and fat with speed is a priority, I'd go Rat Trap Pass - about half the weight of Big Apps, 26x2.3
I thought you were trolling, but there really IS a tire called the Rat Trap Pass!
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Old 01-09-20, 03:21 PM
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what about WTB thickslicks?
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Old 01-09-20, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
If money is no object, and fat with speed is a priority, I'd go Rat Trap Pass - about half the weight of Big Apps, 26x2.3
I've been riding these for several months now. Smoothest-rolling, most comfortable tire I've ever ridden, and I feel like I ride faster then when I'm on my "plus" sized wheelset, but that may just be in my head.
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Old 01-11-20, 11:43 AM
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Just to stir the pot, perhaps you could plan routes with a higher percentage of unpaved surfaces. Just don't, obviously, gloat as you float
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Old 01-14-20, 01:59 AM
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I like the look of the Continental Race Kings. I also like the Marathon Extremes but not the Mondials so much (aesthetically speaking). Surprisingly, I also think the WTB Thickslicks look kind of cool as well as the Rat Trap Pass both of which I had never heard of.

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Old 01-14-20, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by kjaioqhbkqb View Post
I like the look of the Continental Race Kings. I also like the Marathon Extremes but not the Mondials so much (aesthetically speaking). Surprisingly, I also think the WTB Thickslicks look kind of cool as well as the Rat Trap Pass.
well, in the end, you'll b be plopping down a fair amount of money for the more fancy tires, and the rat trap ones are both fairly pricey and will last only a moderate time (going from what I've read, not personal experience)

so basically you'll be like the rest of us, you'll decide on a tire from looks, suggestions and price, and unless you absolutely hate them, unlikely, like the rest of us you'll just live wut them for years.
and or accumulate different tires for different riding, like some of us do also.
within reason, I tend to lean towards easier rolling tires, and on loose surfaces just live with less traction as the percentage of loose dirt is usually pretty low... but of course, ymmv....
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Old 01-14-20, 07:17 AM
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I have a pair of 26x2.1 Smart Sam for my hybrid. They are good rolling on pavement and hardpack as far as knobbiest go. I swap between those and Marathons depending on the day. I went with those because I found the Marathon was good on the hard but would turn to fly paper and sink when it got less than hard. That seems to be the case with most pointy tires with a hard bomb proof layer. My solution for my gravel bike was the Riddler but I don't know of an equal in 26. The Schwalbe Hurricane looks decent but no experience with them.

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Old 01-14-20, 07:46 AM
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I sit upright due to comfort, really. It was bothering me on this bike to be forward always on tours.
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Old 01-14-20, 07:50 AM
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kjaioqhbkqb
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Very nice on the Smart Sam's.
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Old 01-14-20, 09:28 AM
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Hey Mr K , how about a photo of your bike, curious to see it. Did you say already, do you use fenders?
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Old 01-14-20, 09:51 AM
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Check out kenda k rad. A flat low knobby park tire. Checkerboard of sorts. Or any race type tyre, super 8's or ikon. Low close spaced knobs.
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Old 01-14-20, 10:20 AM
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Another aspect of aesthetics, specifically re fenders,as someone who rides a couple of mtbs, one older one from 90s and a newer one set up with drops, I do get how aesthetically, not knobby tires tend to look goofy on these bikes.
At least with fenders it helps visually, adding some visual space to counter the non knobby tires thing going on.
I have some clip on fenders on the older bike, including a suspension fork version, which when off the bike really looks goofy.
The permanent silver fenders on this bike pictured also is something I like visually, plus they keep crap off me when touring...
Anyway, just some ideas for you.
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Old 01-17-20, 03:33 AM
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I have Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tours on my Centurion Pro-tour



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