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.
A guide to choosing the best all round cyclocross racing tire
There’s no denying that riding a cx race is hard work. It can be even harder if you don’t have the right tires on your bike. This guide looks at making a choice of the best all around cyclocross tires as not everyone can justify turning up at a race with a van full of wheels with differing cx tire options whether you’re riding your first race, or competing in your national championships.
This guide looks at some of the best clincher and tubular tires for cyclocross racing whatever your budget offering all around performance. Many beginners will be riding clincher tires while those with more experience often swap over to tubular cross tires over time. Tubular tires for cyclo-cross offer lower tire pressures and greater grip potential however their general practicality is limited for race day use only as a puncture means that effectively an expensive tire is no longer usable.
Loss of grip is only going to slow you down so here's a low-down of some of the best all round cyclocross tires.
Before you purchase any cyclocross tire pay attention to what the courses you'll be racing will be like. If you live in a relatively dry area your tire demands are going to be differenet to living somewhere that experiences very wet Autumn/ Winter periods which can lead to very muddy conditions. This makes a big difference when choosing what all around cyclocross tire could be right for you.
The tread pattern of a Challenge Grifo Pro
The best all round traditional tread cyclocross clincher tire- Challenge Grifo Pro
If you're a relative beginner to cyclocross or simply looking for a great cx tire if you're buying on a budget it's worthwhile to consider a set of Challenge Grifo Pro Tires.
The Challenge Grifo Pro features a directional specific tread with a closely spaced central tread line to offer reduced rolling resistance on hard pack and dry grass surfaces while offering wider spaced tread knobs towards the outside of the casing to offer good grip in softer conditions and great mud shedding capabilities. The tread uses an original Clement's tread pattern which has great history within the sport.
The Challenge Grifo Pro features an economical 60 TPI casing which allows 40-75 PSI in it's 32 mm width format to allow adjustment in pressures depending on course conditions.
Hutchinson Bulldog- Best all round cyclocross tire if you're running tubeless
The tubeless tire system that has become extremely popular for mountain bikers is slowly working it's way into road and cyclocross tires. Hutchinson are the company that seems to be pushing the boundaries and have some great tubeless cyclocross tire options with their Bulldog being one of their respected all round tire options.
The Bulldog can also be used with more traditional clincher tires however is best used as a UST (Tubeless) Tire with sealant. The widely spaced tread knobs mean this tire is excellent in gravel and soft muddy conditions while offering sold cornering capabilities throughout it's 40-80 PSI tire pressure range.
If you're looking for a great tubeless tire look for the Hutchinson Bulldog when you next visit your local bike shop as if you've never used a tubeless system before they're the best people to educate you initially on how to seal a tubeless UST tire..
Michelin Mud 2 Cyclocross Tires
Dugast Typhoon- The best all round cyclocross tubular for those with no budget
Dugast make some of the best premium level cyclocross tubular tires and the Typhoon is their all conditions tubular model. The tire is a big favourite with elite and professional cyclocross riders across the planet. The tread pattern provides fantastic grip while also allowing mud to clear relatively well for great all round performance.
The Dugast Typhoon features an ultra supple cotton tube and tread which allows the typhoon tire to be used at pressures between 25-50 psi (1.6-3.5 bar). The downside of such a supple cotton tread is that it needs to be treated with protective aquaguard to prevent water soaking into the casing.
The Typhoon is available in a huge range of sizes- from 28 mm width all the way up to a 34 mm width. When purchasing bear in mind that the UCI Legal width for racing is a max 33mm casing so be aware of this when purchasing your cx tires.
Note for beginners- As the Dugast Typhoon is a tubular only tire you will require a set of specific bicycle rims which differ from the usual standard clincher 'hooked rim design' and are designed to have the tire glued onto the rim. This allows the rider to use much lower tire pressures than a clincher wheelset as it eliminates the need for the hooked section of the rim to hold the tire in place.
A wildcard all round cyclocross clincher tire- The Michelin Mud 2
Cyclocross tires need to be purchased related to where you live. If you're climate is often wet you're going to experience a lot more mud and soft conditions throughout your cyclocross racing season. Therefore it pays to be attentive to what you need from an all round cx tire.
While they're labelled as 'Mud' the Michelin Mud 2 cyclocross tire can be seen as so much more than a mud specific tire. It's versatility comes for a relatively tightly packed set of centrally positioned tread knobs for reduced rolling resistance on asphalt and hard packed grass while the outside edges of the tread not only provide excellent traction in soft gravelly conditions but really dig in to power you through sloppy mud.
The Michelin Mud 2 divides opinion amongst racers due to it's 30mm width meaning that you feel the bumps a little harsher than a wider tread tire with a little more shock absorption however it comes into it's own in softer conditions by slicing through the mud and the 30mm size is almost in name only as the carcass has the feel of a much wider tire.
The best budget cyclocross tire for a mountain bike
The great accessibility of cyclocross as a sport means that you don't need a specific cyclocross bike to ride your first 'cross race. You can simply ride cx races on your mountain bike over the winter for an additional challenge and to keep your fitness up too.
You could ride cyclocross with your usual big, fat mountain bike tires for your first few races. You'll still enjoy the sport and get the fitness benefits but the big tires will hold you back- particularly with the muddy nature of many winter cyclocross events.
A cyclocross specific tire will add speed when compared to a regular mountain bike tire on fast asphalt and dry grass while the narrower profile will help you carve through the mud. The Schwalbe CX tires feature a tried and tested race tire that offers closely packed centre tread for reduced rolling resistance with a traditional cross racing tread pattern to cope with mixed condition riding.
Good luck in your next cyclocross race
Getting the right tires is just a fraction of the battle of doing well in cyclocross but now you should have no excuses when it comes to your tire choice.
If you feel we've missed a tire that you would personally recommend please do so in the comments below. Or alternately you could Email CyclingFitness (Liam Hallam) with your suggestions for article additions. Liam would love some photos of you riding and your tires for use in the article too.
Schwalbe CX Cyclcross Tires for Mountain Bikes
Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on September 26, 2012:
Thanks wade star. if you want them for the road use a semi slick design with a little more tread. I find that they take away some energy but much less than a mountain bike tire. I currently have a set of the Challenge Grifos fitted and can happily ride them on the roads on a commute to work without adding much time to my usual commute 8 mile commute.
Specialises Crossroads Armadillo offer a great puncture restart semi slick tire worth a look
wadestar from uk-lincolnshire on September 26, 2012:
Great Hub, How do tyres like these perform on the road, I'm thinking of maybe getting some for when the snow/Autumn leafs come. Any recommendations would be appreciated.