Defining the “best” of anything is a difficult, if not impossible task. This is particularly true with cyclocross equipment choices. One racer’s best wheel, favorite saddle, go-to embro or any other piece of gear is another’s least favorite and vice versa.
Still, given the important role tires play in cyclocross racing, we often get asked the question of what the best tire is for a given rider or set of conditions. It is perhaps the most common question we hear, aside from when we’re at races when the question becomes, what pressure are you running?
For this week’s Wednesday Wonderings we’re going to try to help Gary from Toronto, Canada, with his search for the perfect tire. Gary tells us that he is
looking to get a tubeless set of wheels and looking for the best all-round tire for racing and riding ‘cross-like events. I know it would be best to have multiple sets of wheels, [but if] I [have to have] just one set of tires to do everything, dry races and [muddy] races, what tire would you go with? I have heard the new Schwable One [sic] tubeless tire is a good one. I ride a Focus Mares CX with discs. Plan on getting Pacenti SL 25 rims. I weigh 170lbs…. [I’m an] average CX racer and do a lot of 3 to 4 hour road/off-road rides in the fall/winter.
If Gary is completely new to tubeless we’d first send him to take a look at our three part Going Tubeless article series from way back in 2010. While much has changed, and tubeless tire options are greater than ever, the basics haven’t necessarily changed, and there’s still good information there for those looking to give tubeless a try for the first time. That aside, let’s look at a couple of options for Gary.
Gary gave us some good variables that define the riding he’s looking to do and that we can make a recommendation on. We know he’s 170 pounds and running Pacenti SL25 rims, a good rim choice for going tubeless. In fact, we’ve been on a set of Pacenti SL25’s and found them to be paired well with Schwalbe’s X-One tubeless cyclocross tire. Our initial impressions were that the X-One tires both set up easily and were burp proof when run at reasonable pressures for just the sort of riding Gary is talking about. Of course, if Gary is more into adventure riding and not racing so much, he may try Schwalbe’s still fairly new G-One gravel tire, which offers a little less tread, but greater gains in rolling efficiency as a result.
Another in-house favorite for all-around/all-conditions riding is Clement’s MXP. Yes, this has been a tubular or clincher option only. But Clement has finally released the tubeless version of the MXP all-conditions tread, as we saw on Tobin Ortenblad’s bike at the 2016 Sea Otter Classic. Tobin himself installed the tires on his bike and promptly won his first race on them. But even more than that, our own experience with the MXP tread has been that it really does do well in various conditions, from dry and dusty to wet and messy. And, even when ridden on pavement, the MXP tread seems to last reasonably well. We’re looking forward to testing the new tubeless version in the near future.
Finally there’s the Cross Boss from WTB. The tire won our 2015 Editors’ Choice for best tubeless clincher. It’s a favorite because of easy installation on multiple rims, but also because it is a wider, 35c option that fits with our typical riding, including cyclocross races.
Switching between tubeless tires can be a bit of a hassle, but with readily available after-market valve cores, and pumps like Topeak’s Joe Blow Booster, seating new tires is easier than ever, even for the home mechanic without a compressor. And it’s hard to pick just one tire. So we won’t. We’d suggest that Gary invest in an all-around tire like Clement’s MXP for ‘cross racing and something like Schwalbe’s G-One for his longer mixed terrain rides. If we really did have to pick one, we’d go with the MXP since Gary is talking about doing some ‘cross racing too.
Have a Wednesday Wondering of your own? Fill out the form below and maybe we’ll answer your question here on the site or in a future print issue of Cyclocross Magazine.