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Gravel Tire Break-In Period B4 a Big Ride

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Gravel Tire Break-In Period B4 a Big Ride

Old 03-16-21, 08:39 PM
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Helldorado
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Gravel Tire Break-In Period B4 a Big Ride

I'm planning a 100+ mile gravel ride in the Washington State Cascade mountains in mid April. Just bought a new pair of 700c x 42mm Terravail "Light & Supple" Cannonball's for my carbon Cervelo Aspero. Wondering how much low-key city miles I should put on the new rubber to break it in before I embark on the April grav-enture in April. Will 50 miles do it? And should I run them at higher than normal pressures during the break-in period or just the usual 40-ish PSI that I prefer for the trails.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:24 AM
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Breaking in tires isnt something I have ever thought to do, read about, or heard is necessary. Just make sure they hold air then ride.

Last edited by mstateglfr; 03-17-21 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 03-17-21, 06:26 AM
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Old 03-17-21, 09:55 AM
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Never heard of breaking in a tire. You could install them on the day of the ride and they'd be fine.
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Old 03-17-21, 11:37 AM
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If they are tubeless I'd go on a short ride to make sure all the sealant is where it needs to be.
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Old 03-17-21, 12:19 PM
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I'd generally recommend getting a ride in on them before a big event, but that's mostly to reduce the risk of dealing with an early-failure defect or a mounting error.
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Old 03-17-21, 10:10 PM
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I have never heard of breaking tires. I would install them go for a ride, then enjoy your centry ride
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Old 03-18-21, 09:54 AM
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I was running some new tires in the mud and all the rubber hairs on the new tires seemed to be slowing me down (there were a ton of them - GK SS). The mud was one degree more sticky. Once I was out of the mud it was not noticeably different. So if I was doing a century with some mud, personally I'd ride or clip the hairs off those tires. Most tires have too few hairs to matter.
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Old 03-18-21, 05:16 PM
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Way back, tires used to have mold release on them to facilitate the production process. You would ride maybe 40 - 50 miles to wear off the mold release which could be more slick than normal. Those days are long gone. Get a 10 mile ride in to ensure sealant is spread around and you have mounted then correctly and don't worry about it.
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Old 03-18-21, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Elvo;[url=tel:21971880
21971880[/url]]If they are tubeless I'd go on a short ride to make sure all the sealant is where it needs to be.
this. If it tubeless I at least get one decent ride in to make sure no issues.
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Old 03-19-21, 01:51 AM
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Originally Posted by biketampa;[url=tel:21974361
21974361[/url]]this. If it tubeless I at least get one decent ride in to make sure no issues.
No need to “break in” tires, but I agree about riding a bit first to make sure everything is seated correctly. And depending on the properties of your particular tires, the inner casing might pick up some of the tubeless sealant when your first start using the tires. So check and, if necessary, refill your sealant level before your big ride,
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Old 03-19-21, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Elvo View Post
If they are tubeless I'd go on a short ride to make sure all the sealant is where it needs to be.
And that they are holding air properly.

Otherwise, I have never heard of "breaking in" tires.
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Old 10-21-21, 11:26 AM
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Yes there is a tire break in period!

New sidewalls are very stiff. That is why tires "plump-up" a few mm after a day or so. Riding the tires allow the tires to reach there final size more quickly by stressing the sidewalls. Once the tires have reached there final width, they will be noticeably more compliant. This seems to happen more with gravel tires than road, and more with tires with anti-puncture material.

I would suggest one ride over 20 miles and waiting 48 hours to break-in. I have not found that higher pressure in the tire matters (other than ensuring the sealant is absorbed). Your second ride will be more comfortable and you'll likely have more handling control. My 50mm Panaracer GravelKing SKs went from 47 to 49mm in 48 hours. My first 40 mile gravel ride with my new tires, when they were 24 hours old, was jarring. I definitely had buyers remorse. The second ride was much better, and it descends like a hardtail mtb!
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Old 10-22-21, 03:43 AM
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samhande how about a link to one or more tire manufacturers explaining this? If what you are saying is in fact true, which it sounds plausible, sort of, I'd imagine Conti, Schwalbe, Rene Hearse, Vittoria, Specialized, someone, would be telling us to do that...you are literally the first person I have ever heard say that tires should be broken in.
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Old 10-22-21, 11:46 AM
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Massage them gently with extra virgin olive oil and then season the oiled tires for three weeks at 100 degrees F. Next let them cool-oil-age at 60 degrees for a week. Then take them on successive rides of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25..miles, with 2 days rest in between each ride, to work the live oil into the rubber..slowly.

Cumbersome. But so worth it.

Or..you can do what I do and mount them, air them up, and go for a ride.

(I suppose folks will be "breaking in" new bicycles next..need to ride them 500 miles before they really start to yield clearly superior handling....)
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Old 10-22-21, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by samhande View Post
New sidewalls are very stiff. That is why tires "plump-up" a few mm after a day or so. Riding the tires allow the tires to reach there final size more quickly by stressing the sidewalls. Once the tires have reached there final width, they will be noticeably more compliant. This seems to happen more with gravel tires than road, and more with tires with anti-puncture material.

I would suggest one ride over 20 miles and waiting 48 hours to break-in. I have not found that higher pressure in the tire matters (other than ensuring the sealant is absorbed). Your second ride will be more comfortable and you'll likely have more handling control. My 50mm Panaracer GravelKing SKs went from 47 to 49mm in 48 hours. My first 40 mile gravel ride with my new tires, when they were 24 hours old, was jarring. I definitely had buyers remorse. The second ride was much better, and it descends like a hardtail mtb!
I've been riding bikes for a while. I've also been on the Internet of Bike for a while, for better and worse. I'll be generous and just say a) I've never heard of this before, and b) this 100% flies in the face of all my experience. Tires can slightly expand from when they're first mounted, but generally by very small amounts if they do at all which most do not. The ride quality bit is just nonsense. Completely imaginary. Not a thing.
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Old 10-22-21, 07:57 PM
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I'm honored

Someone that has been "riding for a while", and "been on the Internet of Bike for a while" knows how my tires respond. Very impressive. I can't argue with his impeccable resume. So I guess I was just wrong when I felt my tires get softer and deflect less after they expanded. Grolby is so generous to provide me his omnipresent insight!

Originally Posted by grolby View Post
I've been riding bikes for a while. I've also been on the Internet of Bike for a while, for better and worse. I'll be generous and just say a) I've never heard of this before, and b) this 100% flies in the face of all my experience. Tires can slightly expand from when they're first mounted, but generally by very small amounts if they do at all which most do not. The ride quality bit is just nonsense. Completely imaginary. Not a thing.
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Old 10-22-21, 08:33 PM
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WRT mold release, I've always figured that if it's a concern, you could just lightly go over the tread with sandpaper, like when you patch a tube.
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Old 10-22-21, 09:03 PM
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I don't "break them in" but I do think it's a good idea to give it a few short rides to get used to the new handling properties and just make sure it's not going to have any problems.
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Old 10-25-21, 09:50 AM
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Now that is an interesting question - since no one breaks in bike tires.

I did fall flat on my face because I took a sharp turn on sealed asphalt before I wore the tire release compound off. It rather shocked me to have the tire give out like that. But, other than scuffing up a tire tread, there isn't much to breaking in a tire.

But, as with any race preparation. Don't change anything the night before the race - if/when you do change something, go on a nice moderate ride just to make sure everything is playing well together seated, tightened, fluid, etc.
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Old 10-25-21, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Helldorado View Post
...miles I should put on the new rubber to break it in before I embark...
Gosh... In the old days ya could just mount your tires, pump um up, and take off. Over the past few years I have had two tire failures that could have been catastrophic. On one tire the bead came completely off. It was a cheaper Chicom tire and the bead was thin. I could have caught the defect if I had made a pointed close inspection of the tire before mounting. The other was another ChiCom brand name tire that came apart longitudinally along one of the beads. On that tire there was no indication of defect before mounting. Both tires were mounted correctly and had normal tire pressures.

So you should first inspect your new tires as close as you can for defects. Then mount them and drive them around at least a few miles slowly on flat pavement. Gradually put them through thier paces. When you are taking corners at speed then deem them worthy and proven.

Like fire arms, all bicycles are unproven until proven otherwise...
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Old 10-25-21, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by samhande View Post
That is why tires "plump-up" a few mm after a day or so.
wut
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Old 10-25-21, 01:17 PM
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Yes, many tires do in fact increase in volume, but IME, most of that happens in the 1st 24 hrs, regardless of whether you are riding them or not.
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Old 10-25-21, 03:49 PM
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With tubeless (especially folding) it is good to seat the tire well on the bead, and make sure it stays seated.

I've found some tires work best if I install them with a tube (at max psi) and leave them like that for a few days (maybe even ride it!). That allows the tire and bead to get used to being out of the box and in the proper shape (I've had tires that I could not mount/seat tubeless until I'd done this).

Certainly, mounting the tire without sealant, pumping to high pressure, and then checking the bead seat all around both sides of the rim (does anyone do this?*) to make sure it seats properly is key to proper mounting. I find it often takes a minute or 5 to get the tire to pop onto the rim correctly (and some UST rims never do).

Its not a breaking in thing, but being conservative on that first ride is a good idea.

*When I hear of failures, I often wonder if the tire was really seated and verified.
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Old 11-06-21, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by samhande View Post
Someone that has been "riding for a while", and "been on the Internet of Bike for a while" knows how my tires respond. Very impressive. I can't argue with his impeccable resume. So I guess I was just wrong when I felt my tires get softer and deflect less after they expanded. Grolby is so generous to provide me his omnipresent insight!
LOL, you made a bunch of factual claims about tires and someone replied saying (paraphrased) “based on my experience your factual claims about tires are wrong.” It’s not like I said your dog was ugly or something, you said new tire sidewalls are very stiff, as though it were something everyone knows, and then gave some very specific advice based on this “fact.” But this fact is untrue and your advice is unnecessary. It’s not an attack on you.

All that said, I did just remember a pair of Panaracer road tires I bought years ago that were very sticky out of the box. As in they grabbed and flung a lot of road grit for the first few miles. Fresh tires can be a bit tacky like that but these tires were exceptional. Usually it lasts a few feet, not a few miles. I never really thought of it in terms of break-in though and never noticed any effect on traction or ride comfort.
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