We are rapidly heading towards the best time of year for tracklocross, at least in the northern hemisphere. Trails will get muddy, much sliding will happen, people will discuss pumpkin spice, and Danzig will come out of hibernation. Scarfs will be back, woolly hats will be on, and a lovely thick jumper will make sense. Let us then look at the tyres that will best help your tracklocross riding.
Before we begin, as usual, none of the links to tyres below are affiliate links; these are my opinion.
The Schwalbe CX Pro isn’t listed on Schwalbe’s website, but I have found a million listings for this tyre in shops; it is also the go tyre in the industry to fit on complete cyclocross bikes. There are a couple of reasons for this: it is cheap and works. It is a good budget solution for offroad antics.
A quick look at how knobby the CX Pro is, and you’ll realise it isn’t going to be the best on-road tyre, but in wet and muddy conditions, this tyre truly shines. At 700×30 (keeping it UCI legal for cyclocross), it should clear on many frames and was my go-to tyre on my All-City Big Block during winter unless it was super icy. Fixed gear riding around muddy corners in winter can be fun, but these tyres will help you find grip and keep yourself upright.
Some of you fine folks might not live somewhere that gets super wet and muddy, and I’ve found the Panaracer Gravel King SK tyres to work pretty well in dry and gravelly conditions. The internet tells me they are an easy tyre to puncture; I ran a set for a year and never had an issue; I may be the exception to the rule.
They are available in 26, 32, 35, and 40mm widths, so you should be able to find a width that suits your tracklocross steed. You can also pick up limited edition colours, so feel free to go wild with your colour scheme.
With the smoother central tread, you will find these tyres run pretty well on tarmac, giving you an excellent soothing sound as your ride and making them a good choice if your bike doubles up as a commuter.
If you have ever been to a cyclocross race, you will more than likely have seen a Challenge Grifo. At 700 x 33mm, these tyres are right on the UCI legal width, and as an all-conditions tyre, they could be the perfect tyre to see you through the winter if you don’t want to change tyres regularly.
Tyre pressure will be your friend with these tyres. To get the best out of the knobs in muddy conditions, you will need to drop the pressure, and then you should still be able to corner in most states. A bit more air and you are suitable for dry and gravelly conditions.
The Vittoria Terreno Mix has the word mix in its name, so you know it is excellent for mixed conditions. As I said with the Grifo, most of us don’t want to change tyres all the time, and we aren’t trying to break records; a mixed conditions tyre then makes sense.
You will find this tyre available from 31 to 50mm. Hopefully, you’ll find a width to squeeze into your frame. The pattern on this tyre is not a million miles off the classic Grifo, so if I were you, I would buy the one I found the best deal on.
What if you live in an area with sand? Then the Challenge Dune is the tyre for you. I guess that explains the name. The file tread will help you cut through the sand. The good news is that this tread also works on hard-packed snow and ice.
How does this magic work? The pyramid-style nubs allow more of the tyre to contact the ground. These nubs then grab on and keep you upright. These could be a shout for you if you live by the beach or somewhere with actual winter conditions.