Roadbike -> offroad?

Sibreen

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Jul 23, 2010
565
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Hanno, Saitama
#1
My bike is a bog-standard steel tourer with Fulcrum Racing 5s and 26mm wide tires. I ride a lot of hills and mountains, and there are often gravel roads or unpaved paths that I want to go down and explore but don't because I'm worried about punctures.
I went down a gravelly road (paved, but almost completely covered with stones and gravel and branches and stuff) last week and, lo and behold, I got a puncture.

Is there anyway to set this bike up cheaply so that I can ride such paths - for example, is it simply a case of getting fatter, knobby tires?
Or, would I need new wheels, or brakes, or something else that I haven't even considered?

I can't afford a new bike.
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
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Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#2
Tougher tires perhaps. Panasonic RiBMo (Ride Bicycle More) are the tanks of commuter tires. I had no punctures with them for the two years I abused them... But they are low grip and had a buddy low side on them during a descent while trying to follow others with higher grip tires.
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#3
The problem you are going to face is tire clearance on the front fork, rear stays as well and brake calipers.

You might want to look at cyclocross tires but the majority of these are 700x32 or 700x34 which will probably rub, that is if you can even fit them in the frame.

The Schwalbe CX Pro Light is 700x30 and the smallest that I could find but again it's the height of the tire that is the issue. But really the main tire used for this kind of riding would be the Continental GP 4 Season 700x28. These are not a knobbly tire so you may have traction issues but as you run them at a lower psi and they have two layers of puncture protection they may be your only real option.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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tokyo
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#4
Agreed with FE. Check your clearances. I think the Sammy Slick by Scwalbe is a great tire and its under 1000yen. A little more is the Vittoria. And the Challenge tires are also good. The other small issue is that your Racing 5s are std . width rim. Mounting wider tire AND running lower pressure will make them more susceptible to pinch flats. You might consider a set of 24mm wide rims, like the ones we spec'd for the Rapha guys. Mounted with Continental Gatorskins they were /are practically indestructible and have been proven on some of the toughest roads from Java to Shangrila. The Gatorskin is available in a 28c .
 

FarEast

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May 25, 2009
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#5
You might consider a set of 24mm wide rims, like the ones we spec'd for the Rapha guys. Mounted with Continental Gatorskins they were /are practically indestructible and have been proven on some of the toughest roads from Java to Shangrila. The Gatorskin is available in a 28c .
I raced a few times on my Dura Ace 24's when I needed extra tread depth afforded with clinchers, never had an issue with pinch flats or tire roll. He's mainly going to be on gravel and hard pack so no real need to be running at ultra low 1.5 or 2.0 psi where a wider rim bed is needed like we do in sand, mud and snow races.

The deal breaker is going to be clearance.
 

Gunjira

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Oct 2, 2009
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#6
If you are on clinchers, you could use cafe latex and use stronger tires like Vittoria Randoneur or Gatorskin hardshells for more puncture protection. Both come in wider version, but are still fairly slick.

Wider is better for grip and can mean stronger casing as well. I've been riding offroad on 23s without a puncture many times out of necessity, but grip/traction was horrible. Likewise knobs can mean better traction on rough terrain or mud, but not necessarily less punctures.
I'm currently trying out a tubeless conversion of some serfas 27c road tires, that have a good balance of profile, weight and price.
 

Jayves

Speeding Up
Nov 20, 2009
115
3
38
Yokohama
jayves-rando.blogspot.jp
#7
I have been pondering on the same question for a while and tried few combinations, and as FarEast and GSAstuto mentioned, there are limits on what you can do on existing 700 rims.

Inspired by this website:

http://www.bikeman.com/bikeman-blogs/650blog/1771-650b-conversion-guidlines

I have started an experiment a month ago and converted one of my 700c fixie commuter with 650A or 26x1 3/8 wheel (cheap mamachari wheelsets that I can easily write off if not happy) and changed the brake calliper to a longer reach calliper. If you are a regular commuter of R246 to central Tokyo or the rough Tamagawa cycle path , you want a fat tyre to soften the rattling pavement/potholes without going to far the left or right side of the left lane (Some Rindo's are better pave than R246!). So far I'm happy with the result and my butt agrees so far. Also, I don't feel any changes in handling due geometry changes.

My next winter experiment is to convert my other 700c steel road bike to use 650B wheel (either the old french randonneurs rim or the latest/modern MTB rims). There are more tyre selection than 650A and most of the road tyre are also good gravel grinders.

Cheap investment and easy to rollback to 700c while giving me more comfort and reach.
 

Sibreen

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Jul 23, 2010
565
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Hanno, Saitama
#9
Thanks for all the responses. So, tougher, wider tires seems to be the way forwards if I want to work with the bike I currently have.

JackTheCommuter: I checked out the Ribmos and they seem to have uniformly good reviews - only, they are pretty pricy. How much did you pay for them? Do you still run them or did you change?

FarEast, GSAstuto, Gunjira: you all recommend Contis of one sort or another.
2x Gatorskins + 2x tubes are on Wiggle for 6500yen, so may give them a try in x28mm. I'm looking for some wider tires for winter commuting anyway, so these would hopefully serve both purposes.

Jayves: interesting site. I guess if you didn't want to fork out for 650 wheels, an alternative would be to buy a frame for 27inch wheels and use 700c wheels with long-reach calipers? I don't have the space or money for another bike, but good to know for the future.

kiwisimon: I've heard of these sealants before but they seem a little finicky. And website says they last for 2-3 months in inner tubes, which is quite short. Would love a CX bike.

BTW, how can I find out the largest size tire that will fit my frame?
Where do I measure from and to..?
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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#10
@Sibreen - look where your current tires seem closest - like at the calipers and also near the bottom bracket. Also check how much clearance you have in diameter at the top of the fork and close to the seat tube. The max width of a 34C tie is likely to be something like 33-35mm , but the profile of the tire will affect it alot! (knobby, slick, etc). So - I'm looking at a set of carbon CX in front of me right now. Mounted with Michelin Mud CX (700x30) clinchers. The measure out at 34mm wide and 692mm diameter (inflated to 2.5bar).

I'm also experimenting more with 650b wheels - since more tire selction is available , the slightly smaller diameter gives a little more clearance to provide larger profile rubber on 700 bikes. Adjusting for the caliper reach is a bit of a hassle - but for disk applications, it's moot.
 
May 22, 2007
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Kawasaki
halffastcycling.com
#11
On my steel bike I have a Tiagra 4400 groupset. This is my rainy-day bike. I have 25 mm Panasonic 'Pasela' tyres.

They're much more stable in the wet than the usual Gatorskins I use. Rated for 115 psi and at that pressure the rolling is good. But they're fine down around 40 psi too, for squidgy stuff.

However I have to loosen the brake cable to get the wheel on or off. That's only 25 mm !
 

Jayves

Speeding Up
Nov 20, 2009
115
3
38
Yokohama
jayves-rando.blogspot.jp
#12
I have also tried that, tough steel 27" frame using 35x700 (Pasela tyre) for long distance offroad touring. However, I was using V-brake not calliper. Difficult to say if it works for you unless you measure it. I love Pasela tyre and tried different sizes *but* even 28x700 isn't good enough/tough for offroad on a road bike (At least for me.. too much fighting on the handlebar and compromised traction/snake bites).

Jayves: interesting site. I guess if you didn't want to fork out for 650 wheels, an alternative would be to buy a frame for 27inch wheels and use 700c wheels with long-reach calipers? I don't have the space or money for another bike, but good to know for the future.
 

Doug3

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Jun 24, 2010
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Setagaya
www.tokyocyclingcoach.com
#13
On my steel bike I have a Tiagra 4400 groupset. This is my rainy-day bike. I have 25 mm Panasonic 'Pasela' tyres.

They're much more stable in the wet than the usual Gatorskins I use. Rated for 115 psi and at that pressure the rolling is good. But they're fine down around 40 psi too, for squidgy stuff.

However I have to loosen the brake cable to get the wheel on or off. That's only 25 mm !
I second Pasela for general riding around and commuting. Have them on my commuter. Great puncture resistance and a comfortable ride over a range of pressures.
 
Apr 3, 2012
401
98
48
Tama Center <-> Otemachi
#14
JackTheCommuter: I checked out the Ribmos and they seem to have uniformly good reviews - only, they are pretty pricy. How much did you pay for them? Do you still run them or did you change?
I picked them up through http://amazon.co.jp . They are pricey but they were fine for the two years of abuse, about 9,000 km, with no punctures. They probably had another year in them but the bicycle fell apart first... So the cost spread out and no punctures made it worth wile. The bicycle those were used on had a internal gear hub, the Shimano Nexus 8, which made the tube swaps a bit of a hassle.

The RiBMo are heavy and slippery though. It's fine for commuting but frustrating when trying go a bit quicker. The perception of low grip didn't give me much confidence in turns.

I don't use them anymore, taking my chances with lighter tires with the understanding that they might only last a season or two. I'm also using a quick release and traditional derailleur, making tube changes quick.

So I would use RiBMo for bicycles where swapping out inner tubes is a big hassle.
 

macrophotofly

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Aug 27, 2012
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London, UK
www.macrophotofly.com
#15
2x Gatorskins + 2x tubes are on Wiggle for 6500yen, so may give them a try in x28mm
Just to throw in an alternative - I had the Grand Prix Four seasons recommended to me over the Gatorskins and I've tried both (but on different bikes - the 4 season in 28mm on my 700c hybrid). The four seasons have a softer compound (more grip especially in the wet, however faster wear), but same quality of anti-puncture core. You could spend a lifetime reading the forums on which one is "best" - its a personal choice on what you need
 

Sibreen

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Jul 23, 2010
565
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Hanno, Saitama
#16
@Sibreen - look where your current tires seem closest - like at the calipers and also near the bottom bracket. Also check how much clearance you have in diameter at the top of the fork and close to the seat tube. The max width of a 34C tie is likely to be something like 33-35mm , but the profile of the tire will affect it alot! (knobby, slick, etc). So - I'm looking at a set of carbon CX in front of me right now. Mounted with Michelin Mud CX (700x30) clinchers. The measure out at 34mm wide and 692mm diameter (inflated to 2.5bar).
Ok, so I got the measuring tape out, but I'm not sure what it is exactly that I'm supposed to be measuring.
When people talk about the "width" of the tire, they are talking about what might more normally be called its "height" - that is, the amount it rises above the rim?

I have 26mm Panaracer Stradius Elites, but when I measured them (they are fully pumped) they seemed to be a little less than 24mm above the rim.
The tire is closest on both front and rear to the brake calipers and, while it's difficult to measure accurately with a ruler (I will try again in the daytime), there seems only to be about 4-5mm space.

So, all-in-all, I have no idea what that means. Will I be able to fit 28mm tires on there? Will it depend on the maker? Will I have to bite the bullet and buy one to see?
 

rommelgc

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Sep 3, 2009
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Setagaya
#17
I've been taught that "width" is sidewall-to-sidewall. Tires are nearly circular when pumped up so one can **guesstimate** that the “height” of the tire is the same as the "width". IMHO a caliper would be a better tool.
 

GSAstuto

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Oct 11, 2009
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tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#18
How about a picture? Likely the most critical points will be the space above the tire at the top of the fork - where the bake caliper mounts. And the space between the seattube and the front of the rear tire. If you have 4-5mm clearance now - and using a 26mm (25c ??) tire - then <maybe> a 30c or 32c may fit... if you're in Tokyo, you're welcome to drop by and try a few. I have alot of larger tires for 700c kicking about. (25,28,30,32,34) in both knobby and semi-knobby format. I still think the Sammy Slick is a great all arounder for on and off roads - and they are affordable. So are the CX Comps, which come in a svelte 30c format and generally priced under 2500 yen.
 

Sibreen

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Jul 23, 2010
565
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Hanno, Saitama
#19
rommelgc - Thanks for that. The width of the tire measured with calipers was exactly 26mm (as advertised - its a 700x26 tire).

GSAstuto - The points where the tire had least clearance were where the brake calipers mount, both on the front and the back. The front had 6mm clearance, the back had 4mm. The gap between rear tire and seat tube was over 1cm.
Thank you for the invitation to try out the tires - I would love to. But, I live in Hanno City and never take my bike into Tokyo (I head west or sometimes north or south, but never east). Is your shop located near a train station?