Clement’s 700×36 X’PLOR MSO is the company’s first tubeless-ready tire to hit the US. With its puncture belt and tightly spaced tread, the new MSO does double duty as an adventure and all-weather commuter tire. Designed from the ground up for multiple conditions, the X’PLOR MSO’s tread also features a soft rubber compound for extra grip.
In the first installment of GRAVELBIKE’s absoluteBLACK (aB) review, I covered aB’s 28T oval MTB chainring. Since then, the company began shipping their new oval CX chainrings. Available in conventional and direct-mount versions, absoluteBLACK’s CX rings feature the company’s Patent Pending narrow-wide tooth design. Because the conventional 5-bolt CX ring isn’t compatible with SRAM cranksets that have a hidden 5th bolt, I opted to test the direct-mount version. Over the past few weeks, I’ve logged 300-350 miles with the company’s 40T oval CX chainring on my Salsa Vaya gravel/commuter rig.
If you ride a production (read, mainstream) gravel or adventure bike there’s a good chance that it came equipped with 700C wheels and tires. While the debate over optimum tire width for gravel rages on, it’s generally acknowledged that 40 millimeters is the cutoff before one enters into monster cross territory. And just like gravel bikes themselves, tires designed for gravel and adventure riding are often open to interpretation.
I spent the past couple of months testing 700×40 versions of Kenda‘s Flintridge Pro, the Maxxis Rambler and Re-Fuse, and Panaracer‘s Gravelking SK. Each of the tires saw a mix of recreational and utility riding on terrain that included pavement, dirt, and of course, gravel. Thanks to Colorado’s ever changing weather, I also experienced first hand how the tires handled on snow and ice.
Tubeless road tires may be lagging behind their mountain counterparts, but these four models confirm that tubeless compatibility has become a must-have feature for gravel use. As with tubeless MTB tires, ride quality, comfort, and traction improved when the tires were ridden sans tubes. I tested each tire with various sealants–including Caffélatex and Orange Seal–and didn’t encounter any incompatibilities (such as blistering or delamination).
|Kenda Flintridge Pro
|Panaracer Gravelking SK
To insure consistent measurements, each tire was inflated to the maximum pressure and left for 72 hours. Tires were then inflated to 50 psi and the cross sections measured at the tire’s widest point. All measurements were taken using the same alloy rim with an internal width of 19.3 millimeters. Weights are the average of two sample tires using Feedback Sports‘ Summit digital scale.