Cyclocross Tyre Guide
Cyclo-cross Clincher Tyre Ratings
By Tim Granshaw
A cyclocross tyre guide and table showing every CycleTechReview cyclocross tyre review in one place.
We’ve been testing a lot of cyclocross tyres, so many that we decided to build a table to categorise and compare them all. Tyre selection is one of the most important elements of cyclocross and with so many new rubbers to choose from, there’s a lot of choice for the rider or racer to consider.
If you are new to cyclocross you are most likely to start out on clinchers, so that’s where we have started as well. The ratings are not designed to produce a ‘winner’ but are meant to be used as a guide so you can decide which tyre to run based on the conditions you are about to ride in. Although tyre pressure is important in cross, during testing we have simply adapted the pressure to match the conditions as most riders would, with softer conditions being suited to lower pressures and vice versa.
We’ve gauged each tyre in a variety of conditions using a 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) scoring system. Unless otherwise noted, we tested each tyre in the following conditions:
Pavement: Smooth and broken tarmac. A tyre scoring a “5” might as well be a road slick while a tyre scoring a “1” could be an extreme, large knobbly mud tyre.
Dry grass and hard pack: Dry or slightly damp dirt or grass covering dry dirt. Races on this surface might start with grass that becomes ripped and torn to show a dry hard packed soil underneath. This surface is seen most frequently in summer series or early cyclocross racing months of September and October. A tyre scoring a “5” is a grass criterium monster while a “1” will feed you turf sandwiches.
Wet grass: Damp earth covered with wet grass. Although the grass may be damp, the earth underneath stays solid with little sponginess under wheel. Races on this surface may start on grass, but a slightly tacky dirt line may develop during a race. A tyre scoring a “5” runs with the sureness of a studded football boot, but a “1” means a jersey covered in muddy grass stains.
Sodden grass and light mud: Very wet grass with mud underneath will feel spongy under the wheel. Races on this surface may start with a full grass cover, but will quickly expose a slippery but shallow mud line underneath. A tyre scoring a “5” is loved by Belgian riders, whilst a tyre scoring a “1” is popular only with hecklers on slippery corners.
Mud: This is real cyclocross! Mud will range from 1 to 6 inches deep, requiring dismounts and running on steep or tight sections. Races on this surface start hard and get more difficult as the mud becomes churned, grooved and more liquid, where men and boys are separated. If the rubber gets a “5” you’ll skip across the mud, while a “1” assures more of a mud bath than a bike race.
Snow: If you haven’t raced in tights, a thermal jersey and ear warmers, your best cyclocross races are still ahead. There are many types of snow depending on temperature at race start, but we’ve generalised here, as this is a less frequent condition. A “5” turns the bike into a snowmobile and a “1” has the stability of a pair of high heels on frozen tundra.
Below is our quick reference guide table to allow you to match tyres to conditions. It shows all the cross tyres that we currently have in for review. Though it is incomplete, we will continue to update this table; as you can see, we still have a stack of tyres to fully test. We will also update as we get a chance to ride the tyres in more varied conditions, as for example, we have yet to ride many of these tyres in snow.
|Pavement||Dry Grass & Hardpack||Wet Grass||Sodden Grass & Light Mud||Heavy Mud||Snow||Preview Article||Review Article|
|Challenge Grifo XS||In Test||In Test||In Test||In Test||In Test||In Test||Link||Link|
|Kenda Happy Medium||5||5||3||2||1||N/A||Link||Link|
|Kenda Small Block Eight||4||5||3||2||1||N/A||Link||Link|
|Continental Cyclocross Speed||5||4||2||1||1||N/A||None||Link|
|Schwalbe Racing Ralph||In Test||In Test||In Test||In Test||In Test||In Test||Link|
|Kenda Slant Six||3||4||3||2||2||N/A||Link||Link|
|Continental CycloX King||4||4||4||3||1||N/A||Link||Link|
|Continental Mountain King||2||4||5||3||4||N/A||Link||Link|
|Schwalbe Rocket Ron||2||2||4||5||5||N/A||Link||Link|
|Schwalbe CX Pro||2||3||3||4||4||N/A||N/A||Link|
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