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Thread: Road Bike Tires on Crushed Limestone Trails (Prairie Path, Great Western Trail)?

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    Forum All Star Glenly Ellynby's Avatar
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    Road Bike Tires on Crushed Limestone Trails (Prairie Path, Great Western Trail)?

    I know we have a lot of full lycra-clad experienced cyclists on this site. Or at least... two?

    Thinking of picking up my first true road bike since the late 1980's... What width of 700c tire becomes problematic on the crushed limestone trails around here? I think I can get 28 mm tires on the frame I'm looking at, but probably not much wider. It would be nice to not actually be confined to paved roads, so this will factor in to my decision to buy or not to buy.

    Does anyone ride these paths with true roadie slick summer tires? I've only tried on an MTB or hybrid "fitness" bike.

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    Forum All Star DTM's Avatar
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    Used to ride to Bellwood and back for work on my roadie slicks. Never was a problem. Perplexed can tell you what he rides with when showing off his spandex.


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    Forum All Star Perplexed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenly Ellynby View Post
    I know we have a lot of full lycra-clad experienced cyclists on this site. Or at least... two?

    Thinking of picking up my first true road bike since the late 1980's... What width of 700c tire becomes problematic on the crushed limestone trails around here? I think I can get 28 mm tires on the frame I'm looking at, but probably not much wider. It would be nice to not actually be confined to paved roads, so this will factor in to my decision to buy or not to buy.

    Does anyone ride these paths with true roadie slick summer tires? I've only tried on an MTB or hybrid "fitness" bike.
    DTM - While I have worked hard to be able to wear spandex on the outside... My family still demands I wear something over it.

    Glenly - The younger Perplexed rides 25mm slicks on the Praiire Path, but he's a bit crazy. He's also 20, so he's less likely to be hospitalized if he falls. I have 32mm treking tires on mine, but I ride in all conditions (look at my Instragram for some of the recent bad weather riding). I found the trecking tires a big step up from the 32mm cross tires I had on there before. I think if you get cross, trek, or commuter tires, you should be good. Go see Mark from the Bike Hub, he will take care of you, feel free to say I sent you.

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    Forum All Star jombl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenly Ellynby View Post

    Does anyone ride these paths with true roadie slick summer tires?

    I'd strongly suggest you get the largest version of a Compass Tire in the Extralight casing that fits your frame - it will give you the most comfort, control and speed you have ever likely experienced. Not a well known brand around here, but an absolutely off the charts comfort and performance. These are stunning tires that will change your view of what's possible. There has been a very real revolution in bike tires in the last decade, take advantage of the change.

    Here are some links to help show why I suggest Compass, Extralight in the largest that will fit your frame:




    The links are all to Bicycle Quarterly which is owned by Jan Heine as is Compass (and René Herse).


    Last edited by jombl; 04-13-2018 at 02:53 PM.

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    Forum All Star Glenly Ellynby's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the advice!

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    Forum Regular isaac's Avatar
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    You may also want to look at a cross or gravel bike. I have a few friends that ride cross bikes on the street. They picked up a set of road wheels to swap out depending on whether they ride road or path, so it's like having two bikes for the price of one.

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    Forum All Star Perplexed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by isaac View Post
    You may also want to look at a cross or gravel bike. I have a few friends that ride cross bikes on the street. They picked up a set of road wheels to swap out depending on whether they ride road or path, so it's like having two bikes for the price of one.
    I have a cross bike and love it, I don't switch out the tires since I'm more of a long haul guy vs. sprinter. My son is trying to get me to upgrade to a Cannondale Synapse Carbon and swap out the 25mm wheels for 30mm.

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    Forum All Star Glenly Ellynby's Avatar
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    I do actually own a cross bike, and agree it is quite ideal for the crushed limestone paths around here, or even rougher gravel trails. But I guess I’m wondering if I also owned a more traditional road bike, if I would be limited to using it on paved roadways. Maybe it’s a dumb question! Like duh, use your road bike on roads and your cross bike on gravel paths!

    Maybe I just need a couple of flats and a bent rim on a roadie to make the decision for me. But most of the path... seems pretty flat, almost like pavement.

    Thanks again!

  9. #9
    Forum Regular - Vociferous Class Yossarian's Avatar
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    I have a Cross Sport with tires that have a prominent tread. I ride almost exclusively on the trails. I avoid road riding as I just don’t trust drivers and their “toys”. I think 90% of the time you could have road tires on the paths and have no issues. But when hit the occasional wet/muddy spots you could have issues. I’m not a speed rider, I do it to relax, enjoy the scenery and keep in shape.

    Here is a shot of my tireEC5B812E-7A3F-4862-9744-0B309B6D301A.jpg

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    Forum All Star jombl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenly Ellynby View Post
    Maybe I just need a couple of flats and a bent rim on a roadie
    I've never been a true roadie, but none of the roadies I know will use their road bikes on the Prairie Path. The number one reason being the limestone grit and the sanding away of the chain, gears and braking surfaces on their fine-tuned ride. That's a legitimate concern where bikes can cost $500 a pound. Personally, I also believe that the riding position of a drop bar and twitchy geometry bike is wholly inappropriate for enjoying a semi-crowded undisciplined environment with low rolling-average speeds.

    This, of course, offers a fine basis and sound reasoning to invest in a quiver of bikes. I don't ride as much as I'd like, at all and haven't for a while, although I did take a nice loop around the lake summer before last up to Canada and back down 'round the right bank. I'm also long past biweekly commuting by bike to the loop and committed bimonthly weekends riding out of state. Perplexed is my hero right now, I wish him luck on today's ride.

    As to a quiver of bikes - there really are such fundamental tradeoffs between terrain and design that it really does make sense to get what works. I know so many people that get one crappy bike and then find themselves never using it because they simply don't enjoy the crappy ride. (They mistakenly believe they don't like riding, yet they have never really ridden.) Your riding style is yours and we likely differ on the details - but I will bet that you find the compromises of using a true road bike on the PP, or a rail-to-trail bike on the road, to be too great and in the end cut back to near nil one or the other.

    I believe the PP bike should lean to a longer wheelbase and have a more upright riding position than a true road bike. The handlebars should have rise and sweep (snark opinion: stock flatbars are there so the dealer has an easy upsell to a real handlebar ). But on any given bike, the first dollar should go to tires, it can make a chore ride into a joy. With a blank slate I'd suggest looking to randonneur style bikes and not cross or touring. For working with what you brought, tires then saddle then bars and pedals. Here's the rub: the more you tune it, the more you'll enjoy it and ride it - but the more you ride it the more you will be sensitive to the need and benefit of changing out and tuning to your needs. A vicious circle.
    Last edited by jombl; 04-14-2018 at 11:30 AM.

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    Forum All Star Perplexed's Avatar
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    My tires and and the grit from this week's rides on the Prairie Path. Also, I like my cross bike in the PP and have no issues with drop bars.




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  12. #12
    Administrator Clamato's Avatar
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    Why don't you bypass the road bike and get a gravel bike? Similar geometry . . . and you swap out road tires on that rare occasion that you are on a true road ride.

    http://www.ninerbikes.com/RLT-9-STEEL-Frameset-Blue

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    Forum All Star middlein87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clamato View Post
    Why don't you bypass the road bike and get a gravel bike? Similar geometry . . . and you swap out road tires on that rare occasion that you are on a true road ride.

    http://www.ninerbikes.com/RLT-9-STEEL-Frameset-Blue




    $1,500 for the frame? Seriously, if you guys don't need your money, send it on over to my house.

    I often wonder what its like inside some of the houses of Glen Ellyn.


  14. #14
    Administrator Clamato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by middlein87 View Post




    $1,500 for the frame? Seriously, if you guys don't need your money, send it on over to my house.

    I often wonder what its like inside some of the houses of Glen Ellyn.

    Twas just an example of the type, not a rec to spend that kind of coin.

    I think Fish used to refer to my home as a "hovel."

  15. #15
    Forum All Star Perplexed's Avatar
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    I have a cross bike, so my next bike is one of these two (assuming I survive the wrath of Mrs Perplexed).

    https://www.cannondale.com/en/USA/Bi...8-2e6d02f0dbf6

    http://m.feltbicycles.com/productcat...uct/1/10171463


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