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Choosing Gravel Tires for Road Bikes

Even if your road bike is mainly used for riding on paved roads, you can enjoy gravel riding by installing gravel tires. In this issue, we have compiled a list of gravel tire selection and precautions for road bikes.

Modified at: 2023.7.4Posted at: 2022.10.4

Difference between road and gravel tires

First, let’s look at the differences between road and gravel tires.

- Road tires Gravel tires
Size 700 x 19〜30C 700 x 23〜40C
Tire type Clincher Tubeless
Tire surface Slick Block

Comparing them in this way, there are more differences than you might think.

As for the type and type of tire, there are various products available from various tire manufacturers, so you can choose the tire that best suits your taste, but the problem is the tire size.

Points to consider when choosing gravel tires for road bikes

“Compatible tire size” of the vehicle body is important.

First, find out which tires can be mounted on your road bike.

To find out.

  1. recommended tire size of the wheel
  2. wheel’s compatible tire type
  3. frame tire clearance Compatible tire size for brakes

The following four points are to be checked.

There is a recommended tire size for road bike wheels. Although larger tires can be installed, it is best to choose tires within the recommended tire size range for riding performance.

Gravel road bikes are often equipped with 700 x 35-40C size tires, but road bikes usually have a narrower clearance between the tire and frame to create an aero effect, usually only about 700 x 30C worth of clearance.

In the case of rim brake road bikes, even if the frame has clearance, the tire may hit the brake caliper, so the compatible tire size for the brake is also important.

If you are looking for speed, start with slick-type gravel tires

The common image of gravel tires is that they are block tires, heavy, and have a heavy ride. Recently, however, tire manufacturers have focused on this point and are actively developing gravel tires that do not compromise the lightness of the on-road ride.

These include “slick” types, which are the same as road tires, and “semi-slick” types, which have a slick center line and block sides, and other gravel tires that emphasize lightness in driving on paved roads.

Among these, slick-type gravel tires are heavier, but they have a rolling feel similar to road tires, so you can easily switch from road tires to slick gravel tires if you start with slick gravel tires.

Gravel tire wheels are useful.

Gravel tires are usually mounted tubeless with thicker sizes to increase air volume and cushioning. In this sense, they are a different concept from road bikes, which use thin tires at high pressure.

Therefore, it is best to prepare a wheelset for road bikes when you want to ride as a road bike, and a set of wheels with tubeless and thick tires for gravel when you want to enjoy gravel, and switch wheelsets to operate according to your purpose and the type of ride.

By simply changing the wheels depending on the purpose, such as deep-rim carbon wheels for mainly paved roads and aluminum/wide-rim gravel wheels for gravel, you can enjoy the ride as if you were riding a different bike.

Let's master gravel tires!

Gravel tires are a characteristic of gravel bikes. One of the interesting aspects of gravel bikes is that depending on what tires are set and at what air pressure, the ride and comfort can vary greatly.

Easily convert your bicycle to gravel bike

Gravel bikes are often bought from manufacturers who sell them as "gravel bikes," but it is also possible to customize a road bike or cross bike and "gravel bike-ize" it.

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