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Can I Use Gravel or Cyclocross Tyres on a Road Bike?

In some cases, it is possible to fit gravel tyres on a road bike. Nevertheless, there are limitations. In this article, we will explain what is possible so that you can enjoy your rides without risk.

Can you put gravel tyres on a road bike?

gravel road

Some precautions must be taken before you consider fitting gravel tyres on your road bike. Why? Because gravel tyres belong to a class of bicycle tyres that is designed for more demanding terrains than most road bikes are exposed to. In other words, they are not predominantly designed for road bikes but for other sorts of bicycles, such as hybrids and so on.

When should you perhaps consider fitting gravel tyres on your road bike?

If you own a road bike and want to take it onto a track, a towpath, or another off-road surface, then another sort of tyre might be preferable to conventional road tyres.

Indeed, road bike tyres are – as their name implies – designed for use on stretches of tarmac. In other words, they are optimised to produce the least amount of rolling resistance when they are being used on a hard and relatively uniform surface. But when using them on challenging surfaces such as twigs, gravel and stones, they can puncture more easily. In addition, road bike tyres will not always offer the same degree of bike handling control on such types of terrain.

How do you know if you can fit gravel tyres on a road bike?

The simplest way to know it is to check the shape of the frame for the rear wheel and how close the front forks are to your tyre. Why ? Because gravel tyres tend to have a more pronounced profile, sometimes with more width and/or height than conventional road bike tyres. Therefore they may touch the frame once they are fitted and become unusable. 

Indeed some road bikes have a little spare headroom and space to the side to accommodate slightly larger tyres, while others do not. The maximum tyre dimensions are defined by the bicycle manufacturer. You should therefore check your bike’s specs to find out the maximum width and height that it can accept.

But beware! Even when road bike wheels have been successfully fitted with a set of gravel tyres, they may still not fit the bike's frame.

Fortunately, MICHELIN POWER GRAVEL tyres come in different sizes and will fit many roads bike wheels. What's more, their knobbly design means it is easier to maintain grip, performance and handling on both roads and trails. That's because their tread pattern, which features small blocks for low rolling resistance, still offers excellent traction on a mix of terrains.

Can you use cyclocross tyres on road bikes?

As for gravel tyres it depends mainly on the bike and whether the rim of the rear wheel is close to the frame or not.

Cyclocross tyres might not be as good on the road as proper road bike tyres, but they are a good choice as all-rounders when a road bike is used in many different settings.

Even better, they work well in both wet and dry conditions. The only thing you should bear in mind is that, just like gravel tyres, cyclocross tyres are a bit heavier than typical road bike tyres and tend to wear out faster if you only ride on the road.

Should cyclocross tyres be used on road bikes?

Cyclocross tyres are more resistant to punctures

If you use your road bike to commute to work in city traffic, you can sometimes encounter obstacles that lead to punctures. With other road users around, it can be difficult to spot broken glass, sharp twigs and even potholes on the road ahead. Another advantage of fitting cyclocross tyres on a road bike is that they are more resistant to punctures than conventional tyres. This can be useful on the road as well as on tracks and pathways.

Is having a second set of wheels a better idea?

The downside of fitting cyclocross or gravel tyres to a road bike is that it takes time and effort. For example, you may need gravel tyres fitted to your road bicycle only a few times each year. So, in order to save time and effort, you might prefer a better alternative. Instead of swapping tyres, you could consider getting a second set of wheels.

The reason for this is that it is both quicker and much easier to swap one set of wheels over for another than to use the same wheels with different tyres. Modern bicycles of all kinds have quick-release mechanisms. Investing in another set of wheels with a rim size suited to modern cyclocross or gravel tyre sizes is therefore an easier option.

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