Tread? No Tread? I Have No Idea, Just Ride.
Riding off the beaten path is fun. I admit I don’t do it as much as I want, but when I do, I love it — maybe it’s because my love of cycling started on a mountain bike. But skinny road tires often dig into dirt, mud, and gravel and make riding difficult. So, it is smart to get a good tire for non-road use.
After some research, I purchased the Panaracer GravelKing SK tires and I couldn’t be happier with them. They have just enough center pattern to be smooth (and not noisy) on roads, with great traction on gravel, dirt, mud, and snow. The tires give me confidence and a solid foundation for riding wherever I want to ride.
Recently, I’ve been reading at lot of good reviews of Compass Tires and over the weekend they posted a very interesting blog: “Why We Don’t Make ‘Gravel’ Tires” which talks about their belief that tread on off-road tires doesn’t help. They believe (and it makes sense to me) that on gravel, knobs don’t make any difference because when you slide, it is actually rocks sliding on other rocks, not your tire sliding.
So tread or no tread, it seems that the best off-road tire is the widest and most supple tire you can find that will fit in your frame.