Best gear for gravel? Tire Size? Rim Diameter?



I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
off of the roads. So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
tracks and such that go pretty much my way. However, I find that in
some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
walking pace. I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
would help me float over this stuff. Am I on the right track?

Clearly there would be a penalty on the road portion of my ride, but
if it's the difference between walking speeds and the middle ring for
the slop and gravel portion of my ride it should be a worthwhile
trade.

Since the last large leg of my ride will be on the road, I'm
considering trying very low tire pressure next time, with a couple
extra CO2 cartridges to bring me back up to pressure once I get stuck
back on the pavement.

Lastly, those that love the 29ers sing praise of them "rolling over
anything". In the past I have not put much stock in this since I'm
more the type to come out of the saddle and lift the bike over
obstacles than I am the type to try to roll over them. I'm wondering
though, would the larger diameter tire allow more contact area, and
therefore make it easier to ride through the gravel? If so, how much
easier? I may have to take one of these for a demo @ the next big
NEMBA gathering.
 
M

Michael Press

Guest
In article
<[email protected]m>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:

> I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> off of the roads. So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
> tracks and such that go pretty much my way. However, I find that in
> some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
> walking pace. I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
> would help me float over this stuff. Am I on the right track?
>
> Clearly there would be a penalty on the road portion of my ride, but
> if it's the difference between walking speeds and the middle ring for
> the slop and gravel portion of my ride it should be a worthwhile
> trade.
>
> Since the last large leg of my ride will be on the road, I'm
> considering trying very low tire pressure next time, with a couple
> extra CO2 cartridges to bring me back up to pressure once I get stuck
> back on the pavement.
>
> Lastly, those that love the 29ers sing praise of them "rolling over
> anything". In the past I have not put much stock in this since I'm
> more the type to come out of the saddle and lift the bike over
> obstacles than I am the type to try to roll over them. I'm wondering
> though, would the larger diameter tire allow more contact area, and
> therefore make it easier to ride through the gravel? If so, how much
> easier? I may have to take one of these for a demo @ the next big
> NEMBA gathering.




You have not provided the exact dimensions of your tires,
the pressure you run, and the bicycle type. If you are
already running 559 x 38, you will have to go to 559 x 60
or more.

Then again, near walking pace is faster than walking.
How hard do you work in the loose stuff, and for how long?

The 29 mystique is alluring, and it provides an excuse,
I mean, opportunity to get another bicycle.

A larger diameter wheel does lift over bumps and bridge
over holes better than a smaller diameter wheel. How
much better is entirely in the experience of the rider.

--
Michael Press
 
On Mar 19, 1:58 pm, Michael Press <[email protected]> wrote:
> In article
> <[email protected]m>,
>
>
>
>
>
> "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:
> > I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> > off of the roads. So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
> > tracks and such that go pretty much my way. However, I find that in
> > some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
> > walking pace. I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
> > would help me float over this stuff. Am I on the right track?

>
> > Clearly there would be a penalty on the road portion of my ride, but
> > if it's the difference between walking speeds and the middle ring for
> > the slop and gravel portion of my ride it should be a worthwhile
> > trade.

>
> > Since the last large leg of my ride will be on the road, I'm
> > considering trying very low tire pressure next time, with a couple
> > extra CO2 cartridges to bring me back up to pressure once I get stuck
> > back on the pavement.

>
> > Lastly, those that love the 29ers sing praise of them "rolling over
> > anything". In the past I have not put much stock in this since I'm
> > more the type to come out of the saddle and lift the bike over
> > obstacles than I am the type to try to roll over them. I'm wondering
> > though, would the larger diameter tire allow more contact area, and
> > therefore make it easier to ride through the gravel? If so, how much
> > easier? I may have to take one of these for a demo @ the next big
> > NEMBA gathering.

>
> You have not provided the exact dimensions of your tires,
> the pressure you run, and the bicycle type. If you are
> already running 559 x 38, you will have to go to 559 x 60
> or more.
>
> Then again, near walking pace is faster than walking.
> How hard do you work in the loose stuff, and for how long?
>
> The 29 mystique is alluring, and it provides an excuse,
> I mean, opportunity to get another bicycle.
>
> A larger diameter wheel does lift over bumps and bridge
> over holes better than a smaller diameter wheel. How
> much better is entirely in the experience of the rider.
>
> --
> Michael Press- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -


So far I have tried to ride this gravel on 3 types and sizes of
tires.

I've tried it on a single speed road bike with 27x1.125 tires inflated
to ~90PSI. That was an absolute failure. The gravel is far too deep
and the stones far too large, the tire just buries. It was basically
impassible. Then again, I didn't expect to encounter this surface on
that bike at the time.

The next time was on a BMX bike running 20x2.125" tires @~50PSI. I
was able to trudge through the stuff, but a jogger would have passed
me. The amount of energy I exerted was extreme, and the ~1 mile
section required more effort than your average hour of off-road
riding.

I've also ridden the same type of gravel, although not yet this same
spot in these same conditions (that comes later this week, next dry
day) on my mountain bikes. They run 26x1.18-26x2.1 on the rear, and
almost always 26x2.1 on the front. Tire pressure varies from 45-65.

The problem seems to be the gravel and not the bike from what I've
seen so far. The rocks must be 2" & bigger, since it was put down
only to keep the power company trucks from getting stuck in the mud.
As/if the rail trail develops they'll end up paving it or putting down
smaller, more manageable stone. In the mean time I feel like I'm
riding through beach sand, leaving a wake 2-3x the width of my tire as
I trudge through.
 
On Mar 19, 2:45 pm, [email protected] wrote:
> "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:
> >I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> >off of the roads.

>
> I live in rural Missouri and want to do the same
> above...... use the gravel back roads
>
> Would the Novara Safari be a good bike for such use?


I think it depends on the gravel. I've been on gravel roads that I
could ride on my road bike, and I've encountered gravel roads like
this one where the gravel deep enough and made of stones so large that
riding on even a full-blown mountain bike is very difficult. The
gravel i describe would not be used for a road, it's for offroad
backwoods areas trying to control mud.
 
On Mar 19, 6:58 pm, Michael Press <[email protected]> wrote:
> In article
> <[email protected]m>,
>
>
>
>  "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:
> > I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> > off of the roads.  So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
> > tracks and such that go pretty much my way.  However, I find that in
> > some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
> > walking pace.  I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
> > would help me float over this stuff.  Am I on the right track?

>
> > Clearly there would be a penalty on the road portion of my ride, but
> > if it's the difference between walking speeds and the middle ring for
> > the slop and gravel portion of my ride it should be a worthwhile
> > trade.

>
> > Since the last large leg of my ride will be on the road, I'm
> > considering trying very low tire pressure next time, with a couple
> > extra CO2 cartridges to bring me back up to pressure once I get stuck
> > back on the pavement.

>
> > Lastly, those that love the 29ers sing praise of them "rolling over
> > anything".  In the past I have not put much stock in this since I'm
> > more the type to come out of the saddle and lift the bike over
> > obstacles than I am the type to try to roll over them.  I'm wondering
> > though, would the larger diameter tire allow more contact area, and
> > therefore make it easier to ride through the gravel?  If so, how much
> > easier?  I may have to take one of these for a demo @ the next big
> > NEMBA gathering.

>
> You have not provided the exact dimensions of your tires,
> the pressure you run, and the bicycle type. If you are
> already running 559 x 38, you will have to go to 559 x 60
> or more.
>
> Then again, near walking pace is faster than walking.
> How hard do you work in the loose stuff, and for how long?
>
> The 29 mystique is alluring, and it provides an excuse,
> I mean, opportunity to get another bicycle.
>
> A larger diameter wheel does lift over bumps and bridge
> over holes better than a smaller diameter wheel. How
> much better is entirely in the experience of the rider.
>
> --
> Michael Press


I recently availed myself of that excuse to get a new bike. The
559x60(?) tires (2.3") the bike came with work well on gravel. They
are building a bike path near my house, and there are sections I've
ridden that are loose freshly poured gravel waiting for a steam-roller
and asphalt. Looser gravel is not to be found. It's a work-out, but
the bike rolls over it fine. I run about 40psi and weigh about 215.

I don't know if it will work for the OP, but no bike is going to deal
with that type of gravel better than a 29er with 2.3" tires. By what
margin is debatable, and if that margin is enough to make the
proposed commute feasible is hard to say.

Joseph
 
On Mar 19, 7:39 pm, "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:
> On Mar 19, 1:58 pm, Michael Press <[email protected]> wrote:
>
>
>
> > In article
> > <[email protected]m>,

>
> >  "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:
> > > I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> > > off of the roads.  So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
> > > tracks and such that go pretty much my way.  However, I find that in
> > > some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
> > > walking pace.  I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
> > > would help me float over this stuff.  Am I on the right track?

>
> > > Clearly there would be a penalty on the road portion of my ride, but
> > > if it's the difference between walking speeds and the middle ring for
> > > the slop and gravel portion of my ride it should be a worthwhile
> > > trade.

>
> > > Since the last large leg of my ride will be on the road, I'm
> > > considering trying very low tire pressure next time, with a couple
> > > extra CO2 cartridges to bring me back up to pressure once I get stuck
> > > back on the pavement.

>
> > > Lastly, those that love the 29ers sing praise of them "rolling over
> > > anything".  In the past I have not put much stock in this since I'm
> > > more the type to come out of the saddle and lift the bike over
> > > obstacles than I am the type to try to roll over them.  I'm wondering
> > > though, would the larger diameter tire allow more contact area, and
> > > therefore make it easier to ride through the gravel?  If so, how much
> > > easier?  I may have to take one of these for a demo @ the next big
> > > NEMBA gathering.

>
> > You have not provided the exact dimensions of your tires,
> > the pressure you run, and the bicycle type. If you are
> > already running 559 x 38, you will have to go to 559 x 60
> > or more.

>
> > Then again, near walking pace is faster than walking.
> > How hard do you work in the loose stuff, and for how long?

>
> > The 29 mystique is alluring, and it provides an excuse,
> > I mean, opportunity to get another bicycle.

>
> > A larger diameter wheel does lift over bumps and bridge
> > over holes better than a smaller diameter wheel. How
> > much better is entirely in the experience of the rider.

>
> > --
> > Michael Press- Hide quoted text -

>
> > - Show quoted text -

>
> So far I have tried to ride this gravel on 3 types and sizes of
> tires.
>
> I've tried it on a single speed road bike with 27x1.125 tires inflated
> to ~90PSI.  That was an absolute failure.  The gravel is far too deep
> and the stones far too large, the tire just buries.  It was basically
> impassible.  Then again, I didn't expect to encounter this surface on
> that bike at the time.
>
> The next time was on a BMX bike running 20x2.125" tires @~50PSI.  I
> was able to trudge through the stuff, but a jogger would have passed
> me.  The amount of energy I exerted was extreme, and the ~1 mile
> section required more effort than your average hour of off-road
> riding.
>
> I've also ridden the same type of gravel, although not yet this same
> spot in these same conditions (that comes later this week, next dry
> day) on my mountain bikes.  They run 26x1.18-26x2.1 on the rear, and
> almost always 26x2.1 on the front.  Tire pressure varies from 45-65.
>
> The problem seems to be the gravel and not the bike from what I've
> seen so far.  The rocks must be 2" & bigger, since it was put down
> only to keep the power company trucks from getting stuck in the mud.
> As/if the rail trail develops they'll end up paving it or putting down
> smaller, more manageable stone.  In the mean time I feel like I'm
> riding through beach sand, leaving a wake 2-3x the width of my tire as
> I trudge through.


I routinely ride my 29er through a rock field moraine composed of 2-6"
diameter round rocks. It is challenging, but doable.

Joseph
 
On Mar 19, 2:39 pm, "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:

> So far I have tried to ride this gravel on 3 types and sizes of
> tires.
>


My greatest success on deep, loose gravel has been
lightweight racing tubulars on a fixed gear and no
sense of self-preservation.

But thi is what I use for mud, snow&ice as well. YMMV.
 
P

Peter Cole

Guest
[email protected] wrote:
> I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> off of the roads. So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
> tracks and such that go pretty much my way. However, I find that in
> some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
> walking pace. I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
> would help me float over this stuff. Am I on the right track?


Yes. The best tire for soft surfaces is wide and low pressure. I use the
widest tires on my MTB that I can fit in the frame, but I still can
barely ride sections of RR with deep gravel ballast stone. It's a good
workout but not much fun.
 

Dan Burkhart

New Member
Nov 27, 2003
333
0
0
69
I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
off of the roads. So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
tracks and such that go pretty much my way. However, I find that in
some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
walking pace. I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
would help me float over this stuff. Am I on the right track?

Clearly there would be a penalty on the road portion of my ride, but
if it's the difference between walking speeds and the middle ring for
the slop and gravel portion of my ride it should be a worthwhile
trade.

Since the last large leg of my ride will be on the road, I'm
considering trying very low tire pressure next time, with a couple
extra CO2 cartridges to bring me back up to pressure once I get stuck
back on the pavement.

Lastly, those that love the 29ers sing praise of them "rolling over
anything". In the past I have not put much stock in this since I'm
more the type to come out of the saddle and lift the bike over
obstacles than I am the type to try to roll over them. I'm wondering
though, would the larger diameter tire allow more contact area, and
therefore make it easier to ride through the gravel? If so, how much
easier? I may have to take one of these for a demo @ the next big
NEMBA gathering.

Two words. Surly Pugsley.
 
D

datakoll

Guest
THE MONODOG with Schwalbe BIG apple rear and a wider Halo front are
still untested here butbutbutbut that was the idea for beach sand,
forest road gravel, around and into town to the superduper: float. The
wider front comes recommended by Shedlon Bworn.
Best to have more fork trail than an MTB coupled with a rear weight
bias so the front runs light, rising with a twitch backwards. I guess
the less rake errr trail suggests more and more width at the front
compare to the rear.
Better avoiding the problem with running over bermside. Thereza berm
right, 2 maybe three berma so ride on the berm.
Overall, the problem is usually simple minded. 'No matter' how much
stone is thrown into the hole, the hole swallows it and grows larger
hungering for yet more stone. No problem, thereza township super whose
brother in what owns stone, a truck and a front end loader and....a
hole fed per truck load $$ swallows mega stone.
Myrna Canyon? Seems likely hauling 2 Conti knobbies (the one's with
knobs) along iza best idea. Ican imagine, not having MTB experience,
there's a combo of STP/dewpoint/density/surface friction and grade
eliminating the float idea toward backsliding. Or side sliding
eeyyeyahahahwhooooaaaaa...
knobbies ahworking in all directions not only forwards, a point to
consider on the gravel, no? zick zick zick imagine that at 90 mph.
ride the berm.
 
A

Andre Jute

Guest
On Mar 19, 2:38 pm, "[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:
> I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> off of the roads.  So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
> tracks and such that go pretty much my way.  However, I find that in
> some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
> walking pace.  I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
> would help me float over this stuff.  Am I on the right track?
>
> Clearly there would be a penalty on the road portion of my ride, but
> if it's the difference between walking speeds and the middle ring for
> the slop and gravel portion of my ride it should be a worthwhile
> trade.
>
> Since the last large leg of my ride will be on the road, I'm
> considering trying very low tire pressure next time, with a couple
> extra CO2 cartridges to bring me back up to pressure once I get stuck
> back on the pavement.
>
> Lastly, those that love the 29ers sing praise of them "rolling over
> anything".  In the past I have not put much stock in this since I'm
> more the type to come out of the saddle and lift the bike over
> obstacles than I am the type to try to roll over them.  I'm wondering
> though, would the larger diameter tire allow more contact area, and
> therefore make it easier to ride through the gravel?  If so, how much
> easier?  I may have to take one of these for a demo @ the next big
> NEMBA gathering.


Probably entirely off the mainstream of your topic, but I do hope you
won't be speeding with those fat tackies, Dan. Just for an experiment,
because I was ordering a couple of sets of Marathone Plus already, I
fitted Marathon Big Apples to one of my Dutch city bikes and goddamn
nearly came a big cropper. There's an Irish wolfhound which is
accustomed to loping beside my bike for a mile or so near its home
while I scratch its ears. But you can imagine what would happen to me
(and I don't mean the owner suing my ass) if I let my bike tangle up
this huge, valuable dog: it would assume I attacked it without
provocation. What happened is that at a certain speed, going downhill,
the Big Apple's would develop a vibration. It's the sort of thing I'm
familiar with in automobile suspension development, and it can be very
frustrating because you never know if it is inherent in the wheel and
suspension design, or if it inherent in the tyre itself, or the result
of an interaction with the wave frequency beaten into the road by the
prevailing speed limit and typical traffic on the road. This sort of
sudden throw to the side was a big enough disturbance to be
frightening, and with very little vibration buildup so that there was
really no warning. I never tracked it down; it wasn't worth my time to
isolate it because I found on the net that the German Patria bike
concern had had the same problem with the fat Big Apples (they had the
additional variable of a lugged steel frame adding its own frequency
whereas at least my bikes have very stiff ali frames), so after the
incident of nearly crashing into the Irish wolfhound that would have
taken off at least an arm or a leg I just took the BA off the bike and
gave them to someone who never rides over ten klicks and only on city
streets, who finds them very comfortable but doesn't ask them to
handle either speed or difficult terrain.

As I say, perhaps not relevant to someone who has another bike for
speeding on, but something to consider for those who fit fat low
pressure tyres to bikes that will sometimes go fast.

Andre Jute
http://members.lycos.co.uk/fiultra/BICYCLE & CYCLING.html
 
C

Chalo

Guest
Andre Jute wrote:
>
> What happened is that at a certain speed, going downhill,
> the Big Apple's would develop a vibration.

<snip>
> As I say, perhaps not relevant to someone who has another bike for
> speeding on, but something to consider for those who fit fat low
> pressure tyres to bikes that will sometimes go fast.


I've ridden 700x60 Schwalbe Big Apples on two bikes, one with a
flaccid aluminum frame and the other with a very stout steel frame.
Both bikes have reached speeds of approximately 50mph without any
wobble or vibration such as you describe. The flexible aluminum bike
had other handling peculiarities, but not any sort of cyclical
vibration or oscillation.

Likewise my bikes that have been equipped with 26 x 1.9", 26 x 2.35",
and 26 x 3.0" slicks have exhibited no wobble or vibration at high
speed. The only times I have experienced speed wobble, my bike was
equipped with 27 x 1-1/8" or 700 x 28 tires. In those instances, I do
not think the wobble was directly related to the tires.

I reckon that your vibration problem, whatever it is, does not come
from the tires per se.

Chalo
 
C

Chalo

Guest
Peter Cole wrote:
>
> [email protected] wrote:
> >
> > I'm in the process of trying to get a large portion of my commute home
> > off of the roads. So far I've found quite a bit of abandoned RR
> > tracks and such that go pretty much my way. However, I find that in
> > some areas with very loose gravel or sand I get slowed to a near
> > walking pace. I'm thinking lower tire pressure and maybe wider tires
> > would help me float over this stuff. Am I on the right track?

>
> Yes. The best tire for soft surfaces is wide and low pressure. I use the
> widest tires on my MTB that I can fit in the frame, but I still can
> barely ride sections of RR with deep gravel ballast stone. It's a good
> workout but not much fun.


I had never been able to ride an MTB on deep, loose sand until quite
recently. While riding my MTB with 26 x 3.0" Nokian Gazzaloddis
inflated to 18 psi, I discovered that I could pedal through the sand
at a local park playground. It wasn't easy, but I could do it. That
was a first for me.

At the moment, I'm running 26 x 3.0" Kenda Kraze siped slicks that
measure close to 2.75" wide. They work pretty well on pavement at
20psi, so I imagine they might ride acceptably on sand at a slightly
lower pressure. I'll have to give it a try sometime.

Chalo
 
D

datakoll

Guest
yupyupyup ahm gonna take a break here from fittin' coupla 165*15
SP44's into the MONODOG to advise Herr Jute a fatter tire may operate
(an Italian word) lika one big freakin' round wheel weight balansing
odd eccenticities built into his wheel like malaaaaaadjusted bearings
und cups.
Best take the rig over to ura local narrow bridge at rush hour
hehehehehe fly down between traffic-find a lorry-and bridge rail then
imploring foregiveness raise your hands to the sky.
eeeyyayayhahahha!!!!!!!!!!!
 
A

Andre Jute

Guest
On Mar 21, 6:14 am, Chalo <[email protected]> wrote:
> Andre Jute wrote:
>
> > What happened is that at a certain speed, going downhill,
> > the Big Apple's would develop a vibration.

> <snip>
> > As I say, perhaps not relevant to someone who has another bike for
> > speeding on, but something to consider for those who fit fat low
> > pressure tyres to bikes that will sometimes go fast.

>

....
> I reckon that your vibration problem, whatever it is, does not come
> from the tires per se.
>
> Chalo


As I said, I never spent any time on finding the cause, because the
fat low pressure tyres were only a brief experiment, available because
I was ordering Marathon Plus anyhow. I just wanted the experience of
the Big Apples, but I don't have any soft surfaces that I ride
regularly. But I'm not sure that even when I'm old and just ride a
couple of blocks I will go back to the BA; I like the easy rolling and
instant control of the Marathon Plus (and the Bontrager Satellite
Elite Hardcase, which I have on my other bike) high pressure touch too
much.

Andre Jute
Nippy
 
D

datakoll

Guest
?
unbalance is contraindicated and probabbbly an anomaly. I'm sure I
leave something out but a heavier rim area cancels out what imbalance
was before given the heavier rim area is consistent in construction.
Schwalbe's new lineup and factory doesn't leave much to chance there
as far as quality control, so far.
However, low pressures, too low for factory specs perhaps? on a wider
tire allow tread tracking into the road surface on slightly different
paths than the main travel direction. There's a name for it but I
forget that: nibbling?
What that tracking does is force a loose bearing setup side to side IF
speeds are too low for bringing in the main balancing force from a
heavier rim area.
My allusion to a 165*15 once common in 10mm width increments from
Michelin and now mainly extinct developes a significant and pleasurabe
freight train Newton sensation at 50-70 mph, a sensation occuring at
significantly more expense in a straight 6 Grosser Benz.
 

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