First Road Group Ride - keep gravel tires?

I’d love your expert opinions: I’m doing first fast group ride on road and have a bike setup question. I have a Ibis Hakka gravel bike w Maxxis Ramblers 38s gravel tires. Is it worth having a set of faster road tires to hang w the group or will the difference be minimal and not worth the swap? Thoughts?

I find the difference to be noticeable, but I’m running 43’s Panracers which are also heavy and make themselves very obvious on the climbs. I’d swap if its a fast group

Assuming you are in the northern hemisphere, I imagine group rides will be slower than usual due to weather and people using ‘winter’ bikes, even the fast ones. If you’re worried maybe change down to 28 or 30mm road tyres.

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Depends how good you are, and how fast they are. I personally would give it a go on the 38s and if you get dropped, then just turn up next week 28s slicks.


Tuesday nighter on the road tires (25c GP 5k) I often win the sprint and am active in breaks. On my gravel tires (40c GK slick) I’m hanging on the back working hard to stay in the draft. I figure about 50W+ difference but that’s just a wag. Also, they “slow down” much quicker compared to road tires. You are not getting as many short micro breaks. The result is that you are just sort of grinding away like on a climb while on flat roads…

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It really depends on your fitness and the pace of the group. Try out your gravel tires and see if you can hang on. If you want to go faster, road tires like a 28 will certainly help. I’m an experience road cyclist but I take my gravel bike out in the winter since the pace usually slower for the off season and to reduce the amount of punctures due to debris in the road. I run 700x38 pathfinder pros. Even with the slick on the centerline they are noticeably slower than when I run GatorSkins 32’s. As mentioned above the heavier tires tend to slow more when coasting so not as much of a recovery when sitting in while drafting.

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Thank you all! I don’t have road cycling experience (MTB and gravel) so the replies are helpful. I found a pair of 700x30 tubeless Schwalbe One TLE that’ll work. I heard from a fast guy that it’s a fast group… so I’m probably on the slower end of the fast guys. Since I’m working on my drafting, I’ll go for any help I can get to not get dropped.

Didn’t realize a tire could be up to 50 Watt difference road vs gravel. That’s wild!

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I setup the CX for winter duty and run the GRAVELKING SLICK FOLDING GRAVEL TIRE setup as tubeless in 35cc. Its slower than 25-28road slicks, but not by as much of a margin as many of the others. I’ve been very pleased in group rides and some longer 90mile solo rides. 35 in road/groad mode is a nice compromise width that’s still broadly capable.

Honestly, I’d be more worried about your gearing than the tires…I got spit out the back on our road group ride this fall because I was spun-out in a 40x12.


Same. You can easily find yourself doing 110rpm in the biggest gear riding the gravel bike on the road. On a fast group ride with gravel tires, I think I’d be busting my butt at 130rpm in the big gear just trying to hang on.

Oh oh… didn’t think of that. Gonna be interesting with my 40x12


If this is your one bike, I’d suggest getting a 2nd set of wheels/discs/cassette. You can then just flip flop the sets. With the Ramblers, you’ll be 2mph+ slower than a proper road setup. If you get the same basic hub in the rear, you can usually use the same cassette easily (DT swiss ratchet hubs are plentiful and just need a yank and plop).

I’m not sure what wheels you’ve got now, but these would probably be the cheapest wheels worth buying as a wide road tire setup (28 -32c).

# DT Swiss Spline ER 1600 wheelset

Anymore expensive and you’re better off getting some unbranded carbon wheelset from Lightbicycle or something or OE takeoffs - Scott Syncros Capital 1.0 35 Wheelset Carbon Road Bike Wheelset | eBay

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I see 3 main reasons for running the gravel tires:

  • early season flex for your friends (could backfire of course!)
  • laziness
  • all you have

All are legit reasons, but if things don’t go well, then you know what to do for the next ride!

As others have mentioned, I’d be more worried about your gearing once things whip up to speed, and you’re expected to take a pull going 50km/h.

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There are a fair few in my club that use gravel bikes as winter bikes and they dont struggle, so you may very well be surprised. With you saying its a ‘fast’ group ride though, I would be tempted to take a bike with road tyres personally, especially if it is your first. Then again, I remember first meeting with a club and being terrified about not being able to keep up, and was SHOCKED at how much easier it is riding in a big bunch, so if you have to take those tyres out, sit in the group. It is also not the end of the world if you cant keep up and its not a ‘non drop’ ride, just head out again the week after :smiley: ENJOY THE FIRST RIDE!!

I expect you have already made your decision, but for others in a similar situation, also consider how much hard cornering you will be doing. The Maxxis Ramblers have a decent amount of knob to them, which can lead to squirm and or poor tracking under hard cornering on pavement. You’ll likely be going faster in the group than you would solo, so this may lead to tires that normally feel ok (when solo) to feeling pretty sketch.

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So I rode with the 30s as my first road ride. The larger group took off after a specific turn (I was warned about this)… got stuck behind a few slower guys, and had to join the chasing group while going downhill. Sure enough gearing limited my speed, at a super high cadence ran out of gas and got dropped in no man’s land. I could have hung with the large group if I had timed the turn better but oh well. Luckily, we regrouped on the way back and I got some time in the pack while also doing some racing. The skinny tires helped with some necessary speed. Super fun (and very intimidating) for my first group road ride. Here’s the ride:

Since this is a once in a while ride, I’ll probably keep same wheel sets and just swap tires. Good experience and thanks for the help!


I’ll take my gravel bike with 40 x 11 to fast group rides. Sitting in the draft is fine but once we get to sprint sections, I’m spun out on my gearing at about 30 mph. Not a big deal for most group rides in my area where it’s pretty flat but the fast sprint sections are the fun part. Any pulling on the front is shorter due to the increased power to keep the pace versus a true race road bike. It makes for a different workout but the potholes and road roughness is so much less on the bigger high volume tires versus the 700c 25 tires.

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