Whether you're a seasoned gravel cyclist; or a new-to-cycling individual eager to explore off the beaten path, one thing is clear: the right tyre size can make or break your gravel adventure. Well, to some extent! In this blog we'll dive into the exciting realm of different tyre sizes for various gravel riding applications and how they can give you confidence in different off-road scenarios, such as one day adventures, bikepacking or ultra racing.
When versatility and all-around performance are your top priorities, 700c tyres take centre stage. These tyres, typically ranging from 40mm to 50mm in width, are the standard size for most cycling disciplines and offer a multitude of advantages:
A. Versatility Across Cycling Forms: 700c tyres are the go-to choice for various cycling disciplines, including road cycling and cyclocross. Their widespread use means you'll find a vast array of tread patterns, making it easier to adapt your bike to the diverse terrain you might encounter on a gravel adventure.
B. Balanced Performance: 700c tyres strike a balance between speed and traction. They are ideal for mixed terrain riding, allowing you to tackle both smooth gravel roads and rougher trails with confidence.
C. Compatibility: Many gravel frames are designed to accommodate 700c wheels, making it easy to find compatible tyres and accessories. This widespread compatibility simplifies upgrades and replacements, ensuring you can fine-tune your gravel setup effortlessly. Just make sure you don't use a tyre that is wider than recommended as this could damage your frame and fork over time!
D. Endurance-Ready: The comfort and versatility of 700c tyres make them an excellent choice for long-distance gravel events, bikepacking, and multi-day adventures, where comfort and adaptability are paramount.
When choosing 700c tyres for gravel riding, consider the tread pattern that best suits your intended terrain. Whether it's a more aggressive tread for loose gravel or a smoother tread for hardpacked surfaces, the versatility of 700c tyres allows you to customise your setup to match your adventure.
For those who gravitate towards the chunkier, more rugged side of gravel riding, 650b wheels with wider tires are the key to unlocking new levels of fun. Here's why you should consider this combination:
A. Enhanced Control: Wider tires offer more traction, especially in loose or technical terrain. This can be a game-changer when you're navigating steep descents, rocky trails, or unpredictable surfaces.
B. Greater Comfort: The increased volume of air in wider tires provides a more comfortable and forgiving ride. This is crucial for long days in the saddle and rough, bumpy gravel roads, ensuring you stay fresh and in control.
C. Lower Pressure Options: Wider tires allow for lower tire pressures, further improving traction and comfort. You can fine-tune your tire pressure to suit the trail conditions, optimising your ride experience and making the most out of challenging terrains.
D. Handling Differences: It's also worth noting that 650b wheels with wider tyres may slightly alter the handling characteristics of your bike compared to traditional 700c setups. The smaller wheel diameter can provide a more nimble and agile feel, making it easier to navigate tight corners and technical sections, but it may sacrifice some top-end speed on smooth surfaces. Understanding these handling differences can help you make an informed choice about your wheelset choice based on your riding style and the terrain you encounter during your gravel adventures.
If your gravel riding mantra revolves around speed and agility, then narrower tires may be your best companions. These tires, typically ranging from 30mm to 40mm in width, have their own set of advantages:
A. Reduced Rolling Resistance: Narrower tires have less contact with the ground, which means less rolling resistance. This translates to a faster and smoother ride, perfect for gravel races and endurance rides where speed is paramount.
B. Lighter Weight: Smaller tire widths generally equate to lighter tires, reducing rotational weight and making climbing easier and acceleration snappier, helping you gain an edge in competitive gravel events.
C. Ideal for Hardpacked Gravel: If you frequent well-maintained gravel roads or compacted surfaces, narrower tires provide the necessary grip and speed without compromising control, allowing you to blaze through smoother terrain with ease.
Conquering Gravel with 29er Wheels and Tyres
While 700c and 650b wheel setups are popular choices for gravel riding, there's another option that's gaining traction among adventurous cyclists – the 29er wheel and tyre combo. Originally popularised in mountain biking, 29er wheels have made their way into the gravel scene, offering unique advantages for certain types of gravel adventures. Here's why you should consider this setup:
A. Speed and Momentum: 29er wheels are known for their ability to roll over obstacles with ease, thanks to their larger diameter. This characteristic translates well to gravel riding, where the terrain can be rough and varied. With 29er wheels, you can maintain better momentum and carry speed more efficiently, making them ideal for smoother, less technical gravel paths and roads.
B. Enhanced Stability: The increased wheel diameter provides added stability when navigating gravel trails, particularly at higher speeds. This can instill confidence, especially when riding on loose or uneven surfaces.
C. Versatile Terrain Handling: 29er wheels and tyres are versatile, capable of tackling a wide range of gravel terrain. Whether you're on crushed gravel, dirt roads, or packed trails, the 29er setup can handle it all. The combination of larger wheels and wider tyres provides a comfortable and predictable ride on mixed surfaces.
In the world of gravel riding, tire size is a key factor in tailoring your bike to the specific demands of your chosen adventure. Whether you're seeking speed and agility with narrower tires, tackling rugged trails with wider 650b tires, or opting for the versatility of 700c tires, finding the right tire size can significantly enhance your gravel riding experience.
Ultimately, the "perfect" tire size depends on your riding style, the terrain you encounter, and your personal preferences. Consider your gravel riding goals and the types of trails you'll be exploring, and don't be afraid to experiment to find the ideal tire size for your next gravel adventure. After all, the joy of gravel riding is in the exploration and the journey itself, and the right tyre size can make that journey even more enjoyable. If you have any questions about tyre size and wheel options for your gravel adventures, call out to our sales team who are there to help you pick the right size for your riding! We have 700c, 650b and 29er wheelsets to suit any type of riding!