Tubeless Cyclocross Tyres - What Works?

Graeme Warren gives us his rundown on what tubeless cyclocross tyres have worked for him over the years : "The last couple of Scottish Cyclocross seasons have allowed me to run a variety of different tyres (I'm not a serial tyre swapper, but I have tried different tyres depending on what was on offer and what I had lying around).

Initially I ran a tubeless setup use Stans Crest rims - a wider rim designed for 29" mountain bike wheels, also perfectly capable of being used as a cyclocross wheel, albeit giving a slightly wider tyre profile than traditional skinny CX rims. The first tyres used were the Maxxis Raze - inflated after a bit of persusasion and stayed inflated well. The grip is low though - these are quite a quick, fast rolling tyres but struggle for grip or traction in the mud.

The following season I ran a Schwalbe Racing Ralph at each end - these inflated relatively easily and lasted relatively well - the rear eventually gave up after a year of regular use. Grip is much better than the Maxxis - a reasonable all round tyre.

For 2013 I moved to Stans Iron Cross Rims (1mm or so narrower than the Crest) and tried a Clements PDX at each end. These are slightly lighter and more supple than the Racing Ralphs, and that was reflected with the slight extra difficulty with which they inflated - I eventually succeeded with the compressor, but ran the front tyre for a year without incident once it was inflated. These have a slightly more aggressive tread than Racing Ralphs and were faultless in a relatively dry year of Scottish cross. The rear unfortunately didn't fare so well - a ripped lug in it's first race wouldn't seal, and whilst it would probably do a turn with an inner tube in or with a tyre patch, I haven't used it since.

This year, I am back on a Racing Ralph on the rear (a new design which seems perfectly grippy and inflated ridiculously easily with a track pump) and started off with a Rocket Ron upfront. Thin sidewalls on the latter led to a puncture on a rock at Strathclyde Park, which has given me the opportunity to finally try a Challenge tyre up front. Whilst Challenge are better known for their super supple tan sidewall tyres and tubulars, they now do the Grifo in a more regular tyre casing - in 60tpi or 120tpi flavours. The latter is supposedly more supple. These inflated as well as any other CX tyre I have tried, and stayed inflated without issue. I only have one race under my belt on them, but initial impressions are good - they seem to roll better on the road than the Clements PDX, but still have a good tread which kept me upright on Irvine's off camber grass. I might have a new favourite all round CX tyre here"... Graeme.

Oh heck oh no it's the Grifolo

Whilst we all love the Challenge Grifo Open Pro [the one with the skin wall] for it's grip and speed in all but the muddiest of conditions, there's one thing it cannot do, and that's run Tubeless!Although I have run them tubeless successfully for a 'while', they are not a viable Tubeless option and there are much better alternatives, including the 120tpi Grifo. The problem with the Open Pro design for Tubeless setups is that they are incredibly flexible and they can roll off the rim with some combinations of rim, tape and pressure. As such I no longer recommend the Open Pro Grifo for tubeless with any combination of rim, pressure etc. If you want to run Tubeless and want the Grifo tread then you should chose the 60tpi or 120tpi version produced by Challenge.

The 120Tpi version is now standard kit on Helen Wyman's signature bike from Kona and it's set up Tubeless from the off.

The RRP of the 120tpi is £35