Gravel race tires 2024

I’ve been considering trying a pair of Thundero 48s to check out the hype being spread by fat tire pimps like DJ.

I did one ride on a pair of Thunder Burt 2.1s, and it was interesting. I didn’t ride them enough to determine if they are clearly faster or slower than my 40s, but there were definitely some different sensations. They were slower to spin up, but the flywheel effect was noticeable once they got rolling. I could also afford to be less picky about my lines though rough sections. Unfortunately, my frame just doesn’t have enough clearance in the chainstays to make the 2.1s a viable option. Any collection of mud on the tire edge would be gnawing away at the frame. I’m not a fan of that. 48s should be fine in my Niner.

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What are your experiences with puncture resistance for the Tufos?

I am a bit wary of them after my almost new 40mm Speedero on the rear failed somewhat catastrophically in the middle of the Black Forest on a slightly rough fire road descent. They did feel great though.
Switched to Pathfinders in 42mm. They feel a fair bit less grippy off-road to me and not as supple but I rode them hassle free for 1500 miles with no flat until yesterday. But at least I was able to get going again with two Dynaplugs.

Now leaning towards just getting a new Pathfinder but also considering the Tufo Thundero HD.
Also reading good things about the Cinturato M, but BRR has it at less puncture resistant than the Pathfinder :person_shrugging:

Just based on BRR, I’d never go without a HD Tufo cause I have ruined the non. All of the Pirelli gravel tires I’ve ridden have been wooden in ride quality, even at low pressures. Back on Pathfinders as they are just hard to beat.

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Faster to not fix a tire vs dart a tire?

I’ve always run bigger tires for comfort but now I’ve gone full Dylan Jawnson and I’m running 29x2.0 race kings with about 25psi this season.

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I’ve been bashing 40mm Tufos (Swampero and Thundero) though some pretty chunky terrain, and have had zero issues with flats or damage. That said, the stuff I encounter in my area isn’t especially sharp.

The Pirelli casing certainly seems more robust than the Tufo, at the expense of ride quality. I’ve gotten small punctures in the Pirellis, but they were handled immediately with sealant.

Same. Running RaceKing 29x2.2s at 20 psi unless the route is more than about 35% paved.

Y’all just mountain biking gravel roads? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’ve had punctures with my Thunderos but not a lot and nothing that didn’t seal with the sealant. Required some pumping at times but have never used a plug.

Does anyone know of published data on wind resistance for different tire widths? I’m curious about the tradeoff of rolling resistance vs. wind resistance.

I recall Josh on the Marginal Gains podcast stating that they’d done some wind tunnel testing of gravel bikes, and on road-derived wheels (<35mm wide outer) with normal gravel width tires (he had a number, which I forget, maybe over 40mm) the drag characteristics of the bike are almost totally dictated by the tire. He said frame shape, whether or not a bottle was fitted etc. were nearly irrelevant because anything below the level of the top of the front tire is in the wash of the non-aero tire.

I picked up some LB WG44 wheels (30mm ID, 40mm outer). I set these up with 35mm G One RS tires, which expand to ~39mm on the wide rims. Based on a few rides and one very rowdy race, these give a very nice ride and seem to be reasonably aero on faster paved sections.

That sidewall looks pretty exposed. I’d be anxious riding on roads/trails where a rock might rub up against the sidewall and cut it.

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Not to mention weight. Wider tires are great for comfort, sure. But if that was all that mattered, we’d all be racing gravel on fat bikes w drop bars.

I’ve become less concerned with tire/wheel weight as I’ve learned more about the physics of bicycles. This was enlightening… https://youtu.be/0QDnUkUaQfk?si=01ysbdo5TQOEKAUT

I have not listened to it yet, but supposedly in the Bonk Bros pod, Dylan Johnson said he no longer recommends Pathfinder 47’s. :scream:

There is a great disturbance in the Force. :crazy_face:

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That video seems iffy to me. 1. A simulation is a simulation and not real. 2. Guy uses his wheels as one side of the comparison and shockingly tells us those turn out better. 3. Saying rotational weight doesn’t matter at a constant speed, only when accelerating and decelerating…uh yeah, a bike race, or even ride for that matter, is constant accelerating and decelerating. This is one of those things, for people that just want to ride their bikes, weight doesn’t matter. If you’re on the limit in a race and need to jump on a wheel quickly or the group will be gone, it does matter.

This isn’t the only thing I’ve seen/read on the topic, and the data all comes out the same. Within the framework of high-quality bikes and gear, aero is more important than weight. We see examples of this at the pro level constantly where they are choosing aero over being up against the UCI min weight limit. I’ve ridden and raced on heavy wheels and light wheels, and I raced for many years - road, MTB, and CX. I’ve suffered, strung out in the gutter, at 30+ mph. I’ve watched the wheel ahead of me creep away and couldn’t do anything about it. A few grams less tire weight would not have made a difference for me. A few pounds less on my ass might have. I’m just doing gravel races/events these days, and no longer at the pointy end of things. I’m searching for my personal sweet spot of traction and efficient rolling. Exploring the aero cost of wider tires is my current area of curiosity.

hmm i just listened and didn’t hear him say that…maybe i missed it tho! i have to go back cuz agree this is big news lol

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The tldr

The differences per 10mm increased tyre width, were around 3.6W at 30km/h, increasing to almost 12W at the higher speed of 45km/h.

Therefore aerodynamics in gravel riding do matter

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Has anyone done a study on the impacts of tire size and rolling resistance in terms of gravel/washboard on extended sections? You may lose 12W to increased drag, but how many do you lose to getting kicked around rolling across a sea of 1-2cm or larger gravel chunks?

Wide tires don’t happen in a vacuum, and BRR (for example) only accounts for a very small amount of terrain irregularity on their test drums. I’ve done plenty of gravels where I see people with skinnier tires get kicked out of lines frequently because their tires just can’t stay steady and absorb the terrain.