Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.
Getting the Right Clincher tires for Dry-Conditions CX racing
Not all bicycle tires are created equal and not all CX tires are clinchers!
While many racers will always wax lyrical about using tubular tires for cyclocross, tubular tires can be a real headache. Once you’ve glued a set to your rims you’re pretty much stuck with them until either the tire or the rim dies.
The best dry-condition clincher tires for cyclocross offer beginners and more experienced riders the opportunity to make minimal bike changes without the need to invest in several set of expensive wheel sets, an investment beyond the reach of most racers, particularly those running a two-bike set-up for CX racing.
Why Consider a Dry-Conditions Cyclocross Tire?
Dry-conditions-specific CX tires offer riders an excellent choice for summer and autumn riding before the weather turns wet, leading to muddy, gloopy courses. Cyclocross tires which perform well in dry and early season conditions often need to be able to deal with hard grassy fields and tight, twisty single-track. There are two options for this: tires specifically for dry conditions, and tires which perform well in all-around conditions racing.
Because clincher tires need higher air pressure than tubular tires, cyclocross clincher tire performance is governed by the tread pattern combined with the rubber compound and low weight. Detailed below is a selection of the best cyclocross tires to consider for dry-conditions racing and training.
The Right Clincher Cyclocross Tires Can Help You Excel in Dry Conditions
Kenda Small Block Eight Cyclocross Tires for Dry Conditions
Kenda’s Small Block Eight cyclocross tire features more tread knobs than you’d ever want to count with an emphasis towards performance on asphalt, and tightly-packed and dry yet loose-surfaced trails. Not every cyclocross tire is designed to churn through knee-deep mud so it’s best to discount any review that focuses on such a characteristic (Note: steer clear of the rather useless review on road.cc which seems to focus on them as a touring style tire).
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The tread pattern has been developed alongside mountain biking legend John Tomac for dry-conditions mountain biking and downsized for focus toward dry conditions cyclocross racing.
This tire comes into its own on dry or slightly damp grassy fields where the criterium racer feels at home and is looking for a predictable tire on relatively predictable ground. The tightly spaced knobs are never going to be confident in muddy conditions, so when the rain comes it’s a sensible rider who’ll be in their garage swapping to something which is more all-round or mud related.
The Small Block Eight Tire is available in 700x32mm and 700x35mm formats. If you’re racing in UCI sanctioned races, steer clear of the wider-profile 35mm as the tire is outside of permissible width for sanctioned events, but if you’re looking for a tire to ride through the summer on your CX bike in place of your mountain bike, the additional width might be a blessing.
Kenda Small Block Eight Tires
Maxxis Mimo CX tires for Riding in Loose, Dry Conditions
If you’re looking for a tire that will excel on soft surfaces like grass and loosely packed dirt as well as slightly muddy courses, consider the Maxxis Mimo. A selection of different sized tread knobs and spikes provide gripping action on a multitude of different surfaces that can be encountered in early-season cyclocross races. The Mimo was designed by mountain biker Steve Larsen and offers excellent performance in hard-pacedk and pavement conditions for summer riding and early-season racing conditions.
A Clincher Cyclocross Tire for Dry Conditions Needs to Offer Predictable Cornering
Michelin Jet and Ritchey Speedmax Clincher Cyclocross Tires for Hard-packed or Grassy Courses
Another cyclocross tire designed specifically for hard and fast courses only is the Michelin Jet tire. Its arrowed tread is significantly concentrated around the centre of the tyre for traction on grass and hard-packed courses. Unfortunately the extremely tightly spaced tread means that traction is a potential issue in loose conditions—anything other than packed, dry conditions
The Michelin Jet is available only in a 700x30mm format, although Michelin cyclocross tires are traditionally known to ride wider than their stated width when compared to many other manufacturers.
The Ritchey Speedmax clincher cyclocross tire features a similarly arrowed, dense central tread, but it combines this tread with more aggressive side knobs for additional cornering traction in loose conditions. While it works well on grass, it shines on loose and slightly soft, yet dry courses full of fast dirt turns and lots of soft sections to really dig into. As a result the Speedmax makes an excellent rear tire, as the aggressive side knobs and dynamic profile are greatly suited to early-season courses.
What's Your Favourite Cyclocross Tire?
We're always looking for your feedback on our articles and content. Feel free to let us know in the comments tab below just what you think is your best dry conditions cyclocross tire. We love your feedback too!
Liam Hallam (CyclingFitness)