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Best tires for Touring / light gravel

Old 06-28-22, 01:46 AM
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maartendc
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Best tires for Touring / light gravel

Hello all,

I am looking for some better tires for my touring / gravel bike. The bike is a Trek Checkpoint ALR5. The previous owner put some WTB Resolute 42C tires on it, which are great for gravel, but not so great for pavement riding. Too much rolling resistance and not great cornering.

I will be using this bike primarily for touring on pavement. Occasionally there will be an unpaved section, forest trail, light gravel or sand. Usually the routes are 80-90% paved and 10-20% unpaved.

What would be a good tire for this? I am familiar with the Schwalbe Marathon, which I have on my city bike (35C). These roll quite well, and have amazing puncture resistance. I think these would cope reasonably well with unpaved sections as well. But I am wondering if there is another tire out there I should be considering?

Thanks!
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Old 06-28-22, 02:01 AM
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I use the various versions of the Schwabe Marathon in either 32 or 35 width, depending on whatever is on sale. They have great puncture resistance and very long life.

If you want good on road performance you could use the Marathon Supreme. But this tire only lasts me about 3000km touring, which is quite poor durability. It's too much to have to buy a new set of tires every single month.
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Old 06-28-22, 03:29 AM
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Conti Top Contact II. I ride the 37c, which are labeled 35c on the box but are really 37c. Just got done with some more unpaved roads, including hilly ones, last month. Havenít flatted on tour since 9/17. They are available in other widths.

https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...t-ii-700c-tire
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Old 06-28-22, 04:26 AM
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If you go tubeless I would recommend WTB Byway 44
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Old 06-28-22, 06:31 AM
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If using tubes, Pasela PT is a great choice for touring and gravel. If tubeless, Iím quite happy with the Gravelking SS 38ís and buying my third set. They donít last the miles of Paselas but Iíve found most tubeless are like that.
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Old 06-28-22, 07:59 AM
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i would l still go with the Marathon Plus. If you want a slightly more aggressive tire, take a look at the Marathon Plus Tour, which has the same the puncture protection but different tread.


Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
Hello all,

I am looking for some better tires for my touring / gravel bike. The bike is a Trek Checkpoint ALR5. The previous owner put some WTB Resolute 42C tires on it, which are great for gravel, but not so great for pavement riding. Too much rolling resistance and not great cornering.

I will be using this bike primarily for touring on pavement. Occasionally there will be an unpaved section, forest trail, light gravel or sand. Usually the routes are 80-90% paved and 10-20% unpaved.

What would be a good tire for this? I am familiar with the Schwalbe Marathon, which I have on my city bike (35C). These roll quite well, and have amazing puncture resistance. I think these would cope reasonably well with unpaved sections as well. But I am wondering if there is another tire out there I should be considering?

Thanks!
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Old 06-28-22, 08:07 AM
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I had Schwalbe Marathons on my Kona Sutra as that is what they were spec'd with. The front sustained a sidewall failure, and was replaced with a Panaracer Tour. I'm still running the Schwalbe on the back, but plan to switch that to a Panaracer as well. The Panaracer is a quieter tire and seems to have less rolling resistance.

I can't say anything about the durability or longevity as it only has about 400 miles on it.
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Old 06-28-22, 09:46 AM
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Maybe I'm in the minority, but I rarely get punctures on tour since I'm likely on small back roads away from cities. That's why I don't see the point in using heavy touring tires that ride harshly. The Schwalbe Marathon Supreme @ 490g for the 700x40 seems good, but the Rene Herse 700x44 Endurance casing @ 425g would be my choice. Neither of those options are cheap though. But I'm willing to shell out money for comfort and performance where it counts.
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Old 06-28-22, 11:50 AM
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There's no single best. You can get hard data on rolling and puncture resistance from this site. The best tire for your circumstances will depend on the relative importance of speed vs ruggedness.

You'll also may want to consider wider tires. They cushion your ride, which protects your rim and your behind, and do not need frequent pressure top off.

We ride on supreme if routes are paved, and almotion otherwise. 2.1" or so
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Old 06-29-22, 05:06 PM
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Bruce Gordon tires are still available. I find them appreciably faster than Schwalbe Marathons and they don't seem to ride differently on dirt roads or paved.
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Old 06-29-22, 08:35 PM
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These look interesting too: https://www.biketiresdirect.com/prod...0c-gravel-tire
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Old 06-30-22, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by niknak View Post
Maybe I'm in the minority, but I rarely get punctures on tour since I'm likely on small back roads away from cities. That's why I don't see the point in using heavy touring tires that ride harshly. The Schwalbe Marathon Supreme @ 490g for the 700x40 seems good, but the Rene Herse 700x44 Endurance casing @ 425g would be my choice. Neither of those options are cheap though. But I'm willing to shell out money for comfort and performance where it counts.
Originally Posted by timdow View Post
i would l still go with the widest marathon plus. If you want a slightly more aggressive tire, take a look at the Marathon Plus Tour, which has the same the puncture protection but different tread.
Just noting that folks will run a really wide range of tires for touring. The Rene Herse 700x44 Endurance casing @ 425g and while a lot wider is way lighter than the widest marathon plus (700x38 and 960g). So a much bigger tire is over two pounds lighter for the pair of tires. The Plus has a super stiff sidewall. Some don't mind that or maybe even like it, but it means whatever is the opposite of a lively ride feel. So the plus may be great for someone who doesn't value a lively ride feel, or care about a couple pounds of rotating mass and total weight, or wants to minimise punctures above all else.

A tire like the Rene Herse is the other end of the spectrum. It will have a lively ride feel and light rotating mass and the cost of more frequent flats and the endurance casing has made some efforts to help in that area. Also if running tubeless the thorn flat hazard may be minimized or eliminated.

Both rolling resistance and comfort can be optimised with a supple sidewall and a wider tire and wight is always something that is good to minimise so I personally would be inclined to go more toward the lighter wider end of the scale in this compromise these days. I have always thought a supple sidewall was the way to go, but am only starting to believe in the fatter is better thing more in recent years. Not all of my bikes accomodate it though. If you go as wide as your frame will accomodate, you have no room for error if a wheel get wonky. So there is a compromise there between the widest tire possible and being able to limp along with a broken spoke or two.
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Old 06-30-22, 06:47 AM
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I've had good luck with Continental Travel Contacts. I've got them on two bikes and they handle a pretty wide range of road surface. I beat them up pretty good on these hardpack dirt/gravel roads, but they perform well on smooth pavement also. I don't think I've ever had a flat with them.
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Old 07-01-22, 10:46 AM
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Thanks for all the suggestions so far, some good options there!

Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Just noting that folks will run a really wide range of tires for touring. The Rene Herse 700x44 Endurance casing @ 425g and while a lot wider is way lighter than the widest marathon plus (700x38 and 960g). So a much bigger tire is over two pounds lighter for the pair of tires. The Plus has a super stiff sidewall. Some don't mind that or maybe even like it, but it means whatever is the opposite of a lively ride feel. So the plus may be great for someone who doesn't value a lively ride feel, or care about a couple pounds of rotating mass and total weight, or wants to minimise punctures above all else.

A tire like the Rene Herse is the other end of the spectrum. It will have a lively ride feel and light rotating mass and the cost of more frequent flats and the endurance casing has made some efforts to help in that area. Also if running tubeless the thorn flat hazard may be minimized or eliminated.

Both rolling resistance and comfort can be optimised with a supple sidewall and a wider tire and wight is always something that is good to minimise so I personally would be inclined to go more toward the lighter wider end of the scale in this compromise these days. I have always thought a supple sidewall was the way to go, but am only starting to believe in the fatter is better thing more in recent years. Not all of my bikes accomodate it though. If you go as wide as your frame will accomodate, you have no room for error if a wheel get wonky. So there is a compromise there between the widest tire possible and being able to limp along with a broken spoke or two.
You are right, the difference in weight is huge!

I am more doing lightweight touring or bikepacking, not packed with huge bags, so I do value lower weight.

I have good experience in terms of punctures with the Schwalbe Marathon (commuting), but also with the Michelin Pro 4 Endurance (road bike). I have even done some (unexpectedly) gravel roads with the Pro4 Endurance, and I have never punctured with those, in several years of riding. According to Bicyclerollingresistance.com, the Pro4 Endurance has a puncture resistance of 72, vs 124 for the Schwalbe Marathon Greenguard. But I think in reality, there is not much practical difference between the two. Perhaps you will flat once every 2000km vs once every 5000 km. That difference is not appreciable for me, and I'd rather have a faster, lighter and more supple tire I guess. I've never found the Schwalbe Marathon particularly comfortable, but I've never ridden it on a performance oriented bike, so cannot really judge.

I think I will lean more towards a puncture resistant road bike tire rather than a touring tire. Pure gravel tires are out I think, since they are too slow on pavement, and puncture resistance is not great either.

Thanks!
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Old 07-01-22, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
Hello all,
I am looking for some better tires for my touring / gravel bike. The bike is a Trek Checkpoint ALR5. The previous owner put some WTB Resolute 42C tires on it, which are great for gravel, but not so great for pavement riding. Too much rolling resistance and not great cornering.

I will be using this bike primarily for touring on pavement. Occasionally there will be an unpaved section, forest trail, light gravel or sand. Usually the routes are 80-90% paved and 10-20% unpaved.

What would be a good tire for this? I am familiar with the Schwalbe Marathon, which I have on my city bike (35C). These roll quite well, and have amazing puncture resistance. I think these would cope reasonably well with unpaved sections as well. But I am wondering if there is another tire out there I should be considering?
You don't say if the unpaved sections will be wet or dry. As others have mentioned, I've been checking out the Panaracer Gravel King Slick+ and the Schwalbe G-1 Speed, because they are tubeless ready and I only ride tubeless now. Both are available in 35 and 38c, which will give you a bit of speed gains. The GKS+ is a little grippier on tarmac, but the G1S holds the dirt/gravel a little better. Neither are made for real gravel grip, especially in the wet. The G1S mounts tighter on my rims, so I only use 40ml of sealant, vs 80ml for the GKS+, which is also 110+g lighter than the G1S.

Originally Posted by Yan View Post
If you want good on road performance you could use the Marathon Supreme. But this tire only lasts me about 3000km touring, which is quite poor durability. It's too much to have to buy a new set of tires every single month.
Interesting, The Marathon Supreme 700-35c/40c TLE one stars are my touring/commute tire of choice and they last up to 5000 miles easily for me. Of course I ride mostly tarmac and the occasional hard dirt, and not too many curves. I've found them to be the best performance/value tire I've used for years, and really will miss them once my stash is gone.


Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
We ride on supreme if routes are paved, and almotion otherwise. 2.1" or so
I do the same on my tours, but only the onestar compounds, which has been replaced by the ADDIX compounds. Now that Marathon Supremes Onestar are no longer produced, I've been looking for a replacement 700-35c paved touring tires. The Almotion Onestar 700-38/50 TLE I still use for mixed terrain touring, like pavement, dirt/gravel, sand etc, because of the improved puncture protection from tubeless and sidewall protection, along with decent grip. Once my last 2 sets are gone, I'm going to be searching for a new tough tubeless ready touring tire that rolls like the Almotion Onestar, and I just don't see any out there. The ADDIX Tour compound is just slower than the Onestar, noticeably so.
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Old 07-01-22, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
Interesting, The Marathon Supreme 700-35c/40c TLE one stars are my touring/commute tire of choice and they last up to 5000 miles easily for me. Of course I ride mostly tarmac and the occasional hard dirt, and not too many curves. I've found them to be the best performance/value tire I've used for years, and really will miss them once my stash is gone.
I was on a fully loaded expedition style third world country tour. Trashed these tires in a month from sidewall damage on both. I was pissed because they cost over $70 per tire. This was back in 2010 so $70 back then was like $100 today. The front went first and I replaced it with a spare I was carrying, I think a Continental, maybe the Travel Contact model. I can't remember. Then the rear went and I replaced it with with an $8 Giant branded 29'er mountain bike tire I found in some bike shop in a village. Good times...

I actually have a Supreme on my bike right now. I think they are good tires for paved road riding. Next time I go on long tour I'll probably carry a Supreme as a spare.
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Old 07-01-22, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
I was on a fully loaded expedition style third world country tour. Trashed these tires in a month from sidewall damage on both. I was pissed because they cost over $70 per tire. This was back in 2010 so $70 back then was like $100 today. The front went first and I replaced it with a spare I was carrying, I think a Continental, maybe the Travel Contact model. I can't remember. Then the rear went and I replaced it with with an $8 Giant branded 29'er mountain bike tire I found in some bike shop in a village. Good times...

I actually have a Supreme on my bike right now. I think they are good tires for paved road riding. Next time I go on long tour I'll probably carry a Supreme as a spare.
Hmm Besides commuting, I've also used them for touring, loading over 30kg of bags, but I only use them tubeless, and only on tarmac or hard packed dirt. The sidewalls aren't the toughest on the Supremes, so bad roads with potholes etc will trash what is essentially a tarmac touring tire. When I need a tougher fast rolling tire, I switch to the Almotion Onestar TLE, which is a real tough touring tire, not like the Marathon + or + tour, but the only touring tire that allows tubeless in the Schwalbe range.
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Old 07-01-22, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Sardines View Post
Hmm Besides commuting, I've also used them for touring, loading over 30kg of bags, but I only use them tubeless, and only on tarmac or hard packed dirt. The sidewalls aren't the toughest on the Supremes, so bad roads with potholes etc will trash what is essentially a tarmac touring tire. When I need a tougher fast rolling tire, I switch to the Almotion Onestar TLE, which is a real tough touring tire, not like the Marathon + or + tour, but the only touring tire that allows tubeless in the Schwalbe range.
Do you fly when you tour? Do you just pack a bottle of sealant and refill the tire when you land?
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Old 07-01-22, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Do you fly when you tour? Do you just pack a bottle of sealant and refill the tire when you land?
I wondered what most folks did with tubeless when flying. I'd probably just run really low pressure for packing. Enough to keep the beads seated. That said I have not flown with my tubeless setup.
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Old 07-01-22, 03:27 PM
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My pack has 2 S-Tubo tubes, 2 spare valves, 2 spare tires, 120ml of SealSmart, 2 Schrader/presta adapters, and one roll of rim tape, and a 2 stage 90psi pump and a digital gauge. I don't pack tire plugs since any place with tire plug repairs for tires will be able to plug any puncture. And the adapters allow me to use gas station pumps to inflate in needed. I pull the cores so the tires hopefully stay seated, so I don't have to remount. If there's a need to reseat, I inflate using the tube and go to a gas station to reseat tubeless. If I'm in a desolate place with no such facilities, I just pour the sealant into the tubo as an added protection, which I've done with good results.
I have forgotten sealant in the deflated tires quite a few times, but since I mount the tires with valves up in the bike case, it never leaked as the beads stayed seat!

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Old 07-01-22, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I wondered what most folks did with tubeless when flying. I'd probably just run really low pressure for packing. Enough to keep the beads seated. That said I have not flown with my tubeless setup.
Whenever I checked bikes, the airport employees always made me fully deflate the tires.
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Old 07-01-22, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Whenever I checked bikes, the airport employees always made me fully deflate the tires.
I have never had any contact with airport employees or TSA personel other than when I passed my closed box through the opening in the counter (or more rarely in an outdoor baggage check). I have never seen or been involved with any checking of the contents with the box.
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Old 07-01-22, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I have never had any contact with airport employees or TSA personel other than when I passed my closed box through the opening in the counter (or more rarely in an outdoor baggage check). I have never seen or been involved with any checking of the contents with the box.
I'm not talking about flying with the bike in a box. I'm talking about riding the complete bike up to the airport counter and handing it over. They roll the bike away. When you land, you go to the luggage collection area and an employee rolls your bike out. You then jump on the bike and ride out of the airport. They will ask you to turn your handlebar sideways and deflate your tires. I usually take my derailleur off as well.

When I'm flying home at the end of a tour I don't have access to a bike box. I just pay the airline bicycle fee and hand the bike over with no packaging whatsoever. If I use a bike shop to box the bike, I have to pay the bike shop. Then, since I can't bicycle anymore, I have to pay for multiple taxi rides to and from my hotel and airport and home. Most taxis are too small to fit a boxed bike so I have to somehow find a large taxi. I don't speak the local language so everything takes forever. After all these costs, it's cheaper and vastly more convenient to just pay the airline bike fee.

When I do fly with a box, I'm using an S&S box. These are too small to fit the wheels with the tires installed. I have to take the tires completely off the rims to fit the wheels into the box. Not all airlines will take unpackaged bikes, so it's important to check beforehand. Some airlines (i.e. Chinese airlines) will take unpackaged bikes and not even charge you any bike fee.


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Old 07-01-22, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Whenever I checked bikes, the airport employees always made me fully deflate the tires.
Ah the over zealous ground crew! Had to deal with a few. All I do is show them the valve core is out. There is literally no risk to the plane other than a small pop if the tube blows. But I only see these sort of staff in popular biking destinations.
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Old 07-01-22, 04:20 PM
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Yes. They all seem to think the tires will pop and this will somehow endanger the aircraft. Whereas in reality the air pressure change is not enough to cause the tires to pop, and even if they did pop, nothing will happen.

However I imagine if a tire did pop people may hear it through the floor and be worried.
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