Gravel road racing/riding is becoming a popular niche. Races like Crusher in the Tusher and Tour of the Battenkill are gaining popularity.
Appleman Bicycles has a great solution for a bike that is equally at home on gravel, dirt, and pavement.
I plan on writing a few blogs highlighting important features of a great gravel bike and how Appleman Bicycles implements these features in the design of a custom carbon bike!
This post will be about the tires I’ve found that work well for an off the road riding style.
Clement’s X’plor MSO tire is my preferred gravel road tire. Equally important, the tire is fast and efficient on pavement and hardpacked dirt.
Benefits of the Clement MSO:
Incredibly fast on pavement, yet gives great grip on dirt and gravel thanks to it’s many small, tightly spaced knobs
Smooth riding: The tire has a large volume. When run at 35-55psi, this rubber provides an incredibly smooth ride on rough roads. Remember, the tire is the best shock absorber on a bike, not the frame tubes
The round profile of the tire feels like a road tire when cornering. Continual traction however much you lean the bike (cross tires commonly need to be leaned a certain amount before cornering traction begins).
Tire matches its claimed width and measures an actual 40mm wide
The width helps the bike float over loose gravel, dirt, or sand.
Measured at 385 grams/tire which is a low weight given it’s width
You can ride these tires on any road! Paved roads, CX racing, commuting, gravel, dirt, even light mountain bike trails!
Drawbacks of the Clement MSO: As expected, this tire clogs with mud easily and doesn’t excel in very loose uphill sections. The tire is not designed to do these things and these are not common conditions for gravel racing.
In a nutshell, the Clement MSO is a great tire for dry weather (not muddy) riding on pavement, gravel roads, dirt roads, and mountain bike trails. It can just about do it all! I will be recommending this tire for all future gravel road/do-all bikes I build.