What tires for Grinduro?

Since the very first Grinduro in 2015, the number one question riders have pondered is what tire to run. Should you choose a traditional, fast-rolling gravel tire to give you the speed on those fast, open stage sections, or a more nobbly, MTB-esque profile to give you the edge in the singletrack stages?

Then there’s the option of tire size and width… 650b or 700c? Comfort for the long haul, or keep the weight down and the speed high?

With five unique rounds in 2024 and all with their own specific quirks and features, it’s a tough ask to recommend one ultimate go-to tire. The fast-rolling sandy trails of coastal Tuscany will help crank up the fun factor, but watch out for those loose corners. The green rolling hills of the Eifel may mean Grinduro Germany is devoid of rocks, but those tree roots are gonna rattle you! And the mountainous area of Minakami means Grinduro Japan will throw everything at you, all while assaulting your eyes with the dreamiest landscapes you’ll ever see.

Canyon Schwalbe Tires

As global tire sponsor for the Grinduro series, we thought Schwalbe would be a good place to start in our quest for tire nirvana. Grant Wildman shared his advice on what would make the perfect setup for Grinduro.

“Personally, I opt for a bigger-is-better stance when it comes to off-road tyres. More and more we are finding that bigger tyres mean faster riding. Bigger tyres mean you can run lower pressures and in turn, this improves power transfer over rough surfaces making you faster! All while lowering fatigue and of course increasing grip! What’s not to love!

But it’s all a balancing act. Go too big or too low-pressure and things get draggy. Go too narrow or pressures too high and your retinas might detach as you wash out in a corner!

Riders with a mountain bike background will be more familiar with this idea and often go for comfort and grip over flat-out speed. Road riders traditionally opt for narrower faster tread patterns wanting speed over comfort.

I think a 700c (622) with a 45mm tyre (50mm if you have room in your frame and fork) is the sweet spot for a gravel/drop bar bike. Bigger wheels roll faster when up to speed, so why not add some comfort and grip with a wider tyre!”

Schwalbe tire display

It’s important to understand that this is all subjective to the rider, the bike and the terrain. There is no ‘one set up for everything’. Just remember there is always friendly face at the Schwalbe stand, who will be on hand to discuss your setup, show you what tread pattern will be best suited to the local terrain, while helping you tune your tyre pressure and top up that tubeless sealant that you forgot to check before the weekend.

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about racing Grinduro, it’s Dain Zaffke from Leatt. With a whole closet full of Grinduro finishing medals from Quincy in 2015 to the present day, Dain has a good idea of what works.

“For me, it’s 700c all the way. I ride 700x40c tires on my Grinduro rig, but I’d go 700x50c if I could fit them… but feeling sketchy at times is part of the fun” quipped Dain.

Gravel biking
Riding on Schwalbe tires

Can You Feel The Pressure?

How much PSI you pump into your tires is about as personal a choice as saddle selection – what is the Goldilocks pressure for one rider, may well be the personal Hell for another. Olly Townsend from Gravel Union had this to say from his experience in Mt. Shasta – “I ran 38psi in the rear and 35psi in front. This is slightly higher than what I would have preferred to run but given the abundance of sharp rocks on the gravel singletrack stages, I opted to play it safe.”

For those out there less interested in racing Grinduro for the win and more inclined to ride for a good time, James Deane from the Grinduro Planning Squad suggests going for the biggest, toughest tubeless tires that will fit in your frame “– that fast tire will roll like **** if you can’t keep air in it. Remember, it’s not a real race and you’ll have a heck of a lot more fun riding than fixing flats.”

“I gotta flat!” Whenever you hear that phrase, it’ll send quivers down your spine. No one wants to be sat at the side of the trail, innertube in hand, watching everyone riding on by… so come prepared! Grant recommends using Schwalbe Doc Blue tubeless sealant, approx. 40-60 ml per tire is all you’ll need for a 40c and 60 ml for a 2.2”

Jil Tomaschko, Marketing Manager Road/Gravel at Schwalbe, has prior experience at Grinduro Germany. Her recommendation for a great all-rounder for the Eifel is the Schwlabe G-One R, preferably 700x45c if clearance allows, otherwise 40.

A well-prepared Grinduro rider will pack their tool bag with a good hand pump, a couple of spare tubes and some trusty tire levers. There are tech support zones out on course, but you won’t want to have to walk to them!

Our final word of advice is not to take it all too seriously. Grinduro is about having fun and making memories!