Does the Paris Roubaix classic inspire you to conquer your own Hell of the North? Or yesterday's Strade Bianche make you want to follow Wout van Aert and brave the snow in search of your own gravel "instant classic?"
Today we're revisiting a round-up of some of our favorite tires for your own mixed terrain fun.
There are countless "white road" and "Roubaix" type classic rides here in the States, including yesterday's Boulder-Roubaix, Michigan's Barry Roubaix, the upcoming Paris-to-Ancaster, the Amish Country Roubaix, Hilly Billy Roubaix and the list goes on. Today in Italy, the amateurs get their chance to test themselves on the course and 50km of gravel. While the U.S. doesn't have many extended cobbled "secteurs," many of these rides substitute in dirt or gravel roads to break up the pavement.
You certainly don't have to pay an entry fee to experience your own Hell of the North or Strade Bianche on wheels. However, unless you'll have your custom Dugast or FMB pavé tubulars, your own follow vehicle and Mavic neutral support close behind, you will probably need some fast, supple, high volume yet durable tires that can withstand the hellish conditions and yet keep you floating over the rough stuff like an angel.
Yes, gravel bikes and tires have gotten bigger and bigger, and the line is starting to blur between high-volume gravel tires and mountain bike tires. But today we're focusing on fast-rolling tires that won't get you dropped on the pavement and that you can fit in any cyclocross bike and some road bikes, without issue. These don't need to withstands the sharp rocks of Dirty Kanza or Lost and Found.
Here's five of our favorite "American pavé" clinchers, going from biggest to smallest, that roll well on pavement, can handle some dirt, gravel and cobbles, and aren't so fragile you'll be climbing in the broom wagon. Some are even tubeless.
We hope they help transport you successfully to Siena or Roubaix, or your own gravel glory.
Five Top Pavé / Gravel / All Road Tires:
IRC Serac CX Sand 32c Tubeless
Don’t be fooled by the name, as the IRC Serac Sand tire does more than just sand well. The diamond tread tubeless cyclocross clincher is a great option if you’ve got more dirt and gravel than pavement on your big ride.
Just as with the IRC Serac and Serac Mud options, the Serac Sand is woefully undersized for the non-UCI racing adult cyclocross racer, but they were the tires of choice for the NoTubes UCI-width-restricted team as well as Amy D’s Rebecca Fahringer (paired with wide NoTubes Valor rims) in 2016/2017.
The 32c tire measures out at 32mm on a wide 20mm internal width rim, or around 31mm on a 17.5mm rim. Without side knobs, the narrow width might fit on a long-reach road bike with a narrower rim, and offers plenty of room for mud or fenders on a normal cyclocross bike. We’ve heard a 40mm version is coming, but haven’t seen it yet.
The tubeless bead and casing make up for the lower volume, and without the worry of a pinch flat, you can go low and absorb the bumps or pavé. The Serac CX Sand provides a tight, reliable fit on most rims but doesn’t require as much effort to mount and seat as the WTB Exposure.
Bonus: Leave them on all summer and be ready for early season sandy cyclocross races, and keep them around for ice and snow.
At 376 grams, it’s not light for its size, but offers fast-rolling tubeless performance to get you to the velodrome or pub on time.
IRC Serac Sand Tubeless Specs:
Width: 32mm list, 32.22mm measured on 17.5mm internal width rim at 35psi
Tread Options: Serac CX, Serac CX Mud
Weight: 376g actual
More info: irctireusa.com