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.
Cyclocross tires for muddy conditions
When you watch a professional cyclo cross rider fly through the mud it looks effortless. What many people don’t understand is that many of the riders have a huge array of cyclocross wheels and tires that they can choose from.
For those of us for whom we cannot justify having set of wheels ready for all conditions it makes sense to be prepared for the mud with our choice of cyclocross tires for winter racing which lead us to be in more control of our riding during a hard 'cross race.
Mud and Cyclocross Racing
Do you need tubular tires to be successful at cyclocross?
Of Course Not!
When you watch the professional cyclocross racers like Sven Nys, Lars Boom, Niels Albert and Tim Johnson you'll always see them racing on tubular tires. Tubular Cyclocross tires allow a rider to use a significantly lower tire pressure which provides great grip on the terrain- particularly in the mud as the lower pressure allows the tire to fit to the road surface for grip.
Clincher tires in general require a higher air pressure inside them. This is because they fit onto 'hooked' bicycle rims. The pressure holds the tire onto the rim whereas a tubular tire is glued on to a rim.
When buying clincher cyclocross tires for the mud or other conditions pay attention to what tire pressures it will allow you the use. Look for pressures of 40 psi or less per tire ideally. Generally you can run a tubular tire at around 25 psi safely so the closer you can get to this psi with your tires the more equivalent traction you can obtain.
The downside of running cyclocross clincher tires at low pressures is that there is a risk of 'pinch- punctures' where the sides of the inner tube are pinched on impact, for instance with a tree root. This leads to an increased rate of punctures.
The Best Cyclocross Clincher Tires For The Mud
Below is a selection of some of the best clincher cyclocross tires for when the going gets muddy and you need to be able to maintain some traction. You don’t need a new set of tubular wheels and tires to compete in the mud!
Clement Crusade PDX cyclocross tires for mud
Clement Crusade PDX clincher CX tires which love mud
Clement used to be a huge company in the cycling tire world but fell into hardship. They're now back with a new home in the USA and have hit the ground running with an excellent selection of cyclocross tires.
The Clement Crusade PDX (Pictured right) takes it's name from the largest participation 'cross race in the world- The Cross Crusade, based in Portland, Oregon. The PDX is Portland's airport code.
The Crusade PDX features a fast rolling, almost continuous central tread for speed on hard-packed and asphalt sections. Although it's the widely spaced, agressively positioned side knobs which are really targeted to racing performance in muddy conditions with their leading edges ensuring the feeling of cornering control in everything but the sloppiest mud.
The casing features a high for cyclocross 120 tpi which indicates a degree of suppleness often not associated with economically priced clincher cx tires.
Manufacturer recommended pressure range is 45-70 PSi. It's a reasonable range although if you're looking for a clincher to go down to lower pressures it might be best to consider the Challenge Limus.
Grab yourself a set of Clement Crusade PDX clinchers
The Challenge Limus
If you're looking for a tire for muddy conditions racing only- The Challenge Limus
Challenge makes some of the most race-able cyclocross tires on the market. Unfortunately their high specification comes with a price to match but the difference is evident after just a few pedal strokes.
The Limus is Challenge's mud specific racing tire and that's all it targets. It doesn't concern itself with dry courses or riding on the roads and asphalt. For the Limus it's all about a pre race shower of rain and soft conditions underfoot. Limus is even the Latin word for Mud!
The open tubular (clincher) version of the Limus features Challenge's ultra supple 300 tpi casing which allows the tire to be used at exceptionally low pressures (Recommended range is down to an astounding 28 psi) akin to a tubular tire. The suppleness means that the tire is easily able to follow the flow of the ground for enhanced traction and grip.
As well as a rugged, easy clearing tread pattern, the Limus features a higher than usual tread to really dig deep into the mud.
The Limus is a great tire for a spare set of race wheels or a great go-to tire for after those autumn showers.
The right tires will offer grip in muddy conditions
Michelin Mud 2 for cyclocross
Michelin Mud2 Clincher Cyclocross Tires
Featuring a hardwearing tread inpreganted with silica rubber, this 30 mm cyclo cross clincher tire features a supple casing for additional ‘feel’ for it’s rider. Together with a relatively widely spaced tread pattern this leads to a great all-round ‘cross tire.
A densely populated central tread helps to resist rolling resistance while the spacing of the knobs out towards the sides help to assist in mud shedding.
Michelin Mud2 tire weight- approx 340g per tire
TPI (Threads per inch- a measure of casing suppleness) 127.
There's a great review of the Michelin Mud 2 here on hubpages
You need the right tires for cyclocross in the mud
A classic tread for all round cyclocross racing- Challenge Grifo Open Tires
These Challenge Grifo tires are produced using a tread pattern that's been around almost as long as cyclocross racing itself using a legendary Clement tread pattern
The Challenge Grifo Open Cyclocross Tire is a dream all-rounder for cyclocross racing. The casing features an exceptional supple 260 TPI and the tread features a very fast rolling central tread pattern while the tread runs out to the far edges of possible cornering requirements.
They perform exceptional well on grassy and hardpacked surfaces while offering great ability for mud clearance when the going gets dirty!. The only downside some may consider is the cylingrical outer knobs can give some riders a slight feeling of sliding in soft conditions- had these been adapted to be more aggressive when compared to the more grip specific edges on tyres like the Michelin Mud 2 then Challenge could have made a truly awesome cyclocross tire for soft conditions.
A fantastic feature of this cyclcocross tire is that it's offered in both a clincher cyclocross tire and tubular cyclocross tire version as well as a reduced cost 'Pro' clincher version (As pictured) with a lower TPI but a fantastic price.
Maxxis Mud Wrestler cyclocross tires
New and ready for some fun! Maxxis mud wrestler cyclocross tires
When you're looking for a cyclocross tire which is going to be exceptional good in the mud a tire name makes all the difference. Step up the Mud Wrestler.
The mud wrestler offers well spaced knobs to dig into the mud and clear well. In fact they seem to be so well spaced out they're screaming out 'give me more mud!'. However this means that there is no pronounced central rolling tread and this means that rolling resistance will be increased in hard pack conditions.
The holy grail of clincher cyclocross tires
The original Michelin Mud green cyclocross tire was a classic cyclocross tire which has become something of a collectors item over the years. The tread pattern is less densely populated than it's latest incarnation but these tires love the mud
If you ever see one go up for sale on ebay- expect to pay around $100.
The tread has even become such a classic that some riders have used the tread fixed to a dugast tubular body to make an exceptionally good cyclocross tubular tire.