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.