We often get questions from readers on everything from best tire pressure to run at Valmont Park to if it’s true that sunglasses have to go over helmet straps. Readers want to know what our sport’s stars, both past and present, have been up to and they want to know what the future holds for cyclocross technology. In short, you have questions!
In response to the growing list of reader questions here at our offices, we’re starting a new feature called Wednesday Wonderings. Readers can submit their inquiries using the form below and we’ll answer those questions either here on-line, or in a future print edition of Cyclocross Magazine. (If you’re not a subscriber, you can become one for less than a single race entry fee.)
For our first Wednesday Wondering we’re talking about one of our favorite topics, tire and wheel selection, and answering a couple of related questions we’ve seen recently.
We just recently heard from Andy W. who lives in the UK. Andy is a cyclocross racer who has ridden the Three Peaks Cyclocross Race and happened upon a deal on a set of American Classic Hurricane Tubeless wheels after reading our review and is wondering what tire to run. Specifically, Andy is asking:
What tubeless tyres would you recommend [for use with the American Classic Hurricane wheelset]? I normally race on Challenge Limus tubulars and have found them excellent for British courses, particularly towards the end of the season. I’m not sure whether to go for an intermediate tread to give a bit of choice depending on course conditions.
While Andy gave us a good bit of information, there’s still more that generally we’d like to know. Andy’s weight, the specific conditions he’ll most likely encounter when riding his new wheels, his riding style, his bike’s clearance to determine possibly wider tire options and his willingness to experiment with tire options.
But we’ll answer it based on the provided information:
Andy, the good news is that in our experience, American Classic tubeless rims’ Bead Barb and diameter make them relatively forgiving in terms of tubeless tire choice for low pressure riding, unlike Road Tubeless rims, for example.
What that means is you don’t have to be as careful in choosing the brand and bead type of your tire. American Classic’s Bill Shook has told us that his rims make great candidates for converting conventional tires too, even open tubulars, but we don’t have much experience with that and therefore can’t endorse it.
What we can tell you is that we tend to prefer high volume tires, since like most tubeless racers, we’re not worried about UCI rules, and because they offer an ability to ride at lower pressure and protect your rim better. Also, all other variables being equal, bigger volume tires resist burps better than narrower tires. Higher volume “universal” tread tire options are the WTB Cross Boss TCS (listed at 35c) and the bigger tubeless Ritchey Shield (also listed at 35c). Neither of those are great mud tires however, and we’re guessing you’ll encounter some mud in your riding.
You mention the Challenge Limus tread as one you appreciate for muddy cyclocross racing. While there are plenty of tubeless cyclocross tires labeled for mud, such as the Specialized Terra,Maxis Mud Wrestler, and WTB Cross Wolf, we wouldn’t describe any of them as excellent tires for muddy races, but all are fine for mixed conditions with some mud thrown in. The best tubeless mud tires might be the Vittoria XL TNT with its tight bead and large knobs and the upcoming Clement BOS tire, which we’ve just started to test, but have not tried it on an American Classic rim yet. Run the Vittoria XL backwards on the rear for maximum driving grip. Kenda also has an upcoming Cholla tubeless mud tire in the works.
Lastly, because we’re not in a rush this time of year, and tend to venture into gravel or singletrack on our drop-bar rides, we actually prefer to be riding on 40+mm tires this time of year, and the Soma Cazadero, reviewed in Issue 29, is one of our go-anywhere favorites that converts quite well. But not that many cyclocross bikes have clearance for that big of a tire.
We also recently came across a similar question from Matthias B. not too long ago on a message board we’re part of. Matthias is looking not just at tires, but also wheels that will best accommodate a tubeless setup. Matthias is building up some new wheels and he:
….would be stoked to have a burp free experience. Like most guys, I am not concerned about UCI regulations. I would ride 35mm tires for Cross, 38 to 40mm for gravel events. Disc brakes. Is there an agreement on the perfect rim width? My current considerations are HED Belgium Plus and Pacenti SL25 Discs. Both are 20mm internal width. Then the tire. I assume tubeless ready would be preferable. (I already had a softer beaded tire blowing [sic] off a rim). [You] seem to like the WTB Cross Boss TCS and the Specialized 2Bliss tires. Are those tires and the rims I mentioned the winning combination? Or is there anything even better?
Again, rider weight, riding style and typical conditions could help inform the best choice for Matthias. But for what we know about the strong singlespeed racer, WTB TCS tires like the Nano and Cross Boss have beads that are so tight, they’ll be a good bet for burp-resistant riding on most rims, but pretty much impossible to mount on the slightly larger diameter rims like those from NoTubes and Alchemist, or rims without a wide, deep center channel (which he probably doesn’t really want anyway). And if a rider got a tire mounted on those bigger rims, he or she might be cursing should they need to insert an inner tube out on the trail.We’ve had good luck with the Pacenti rims and Cross Boss.
Because the Specialized 2bliss tires’ bead have been a little looser, they’ve been a bit pickier on rim choice. While we have not tried the Pacenti/Specialized combo, the Trigger Pro 38c 2bliss didn’t work well on Road Tubeless rims but is a nice hardpack tire. Wider tires are almost always more burp resistant for a given pressure or rim.
As for rim width and 40c tires it might actually depend on your frame’s clearance. That could be the limiting factor. Our best setups to avoid burps have always had the tire a good amount wider than the rim. But 20mm internal works well for 33/35c tires if it has a nice wide shelf for the bead to sit on. We haven’t tried the HED rim with either tire. Whatever set-up Matthias goes with, our general rule always applies: If you can finger burp it at riding pressure, it’s a no go in our book.
Be it on the history of cyclocross or a tech questions, submit your own Wednesday Wonderings using the form below. Be sure to include an email address so we can follow-up with you if needed!