12 Best Cyclocross Tires 2021 (For All Conditions)

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Cyclocross racing is undoubtedly one of the most intense sports in the world. Professional racers have to be endurance athletes as well as expert cyclists. Riders need to ensure that they get the best possible performance out of their bikes. A big part of that lies in the selection of the right set of tires. In this article, we have tested and reviewed some of the finest cyclocross tires that you can buy.

With so many CX tires to choose from, each specialized for different kinds of terrain, it can be very difficult for many when shopping for new tires. For those of you who are beginners, skip to the buying guide below to first get a clear idea about CX tires in general. After that, you can go through our reviews and pick the best option for your needs.

An extensive buying guide for Cyclocross Tires

1. Tire Type

Similar to road tires, for cyclocross, there are also three types of tires available – Clincher, Tubeless, and Tubular. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and are better suited to specific needs.

Clinchers are the most common type and can be found in the majority of all bikes. They have a U-shaped cross-section and underneath lies an inner tube inflated with air. Their popularity stems from the fact that they are inexpensive and easy to fix when a flat occurs. All you have to do is replace the tube by prying off one side of the tire. The main disadvantage of clinchers is that the tube is prone to pinch flats, which limits how low of an air pressure you can run.

Tubeless tires do not have any inner tubes. Other than that, they have the same structure as a clincher. Many tubeless tires are called tubeless-ready since they can be used both with or without a tube. Nowadays, tubeless/tubeless-ready tires have become the standard choice for many. Since there is no tube, you won’t have to worry about pinch flats at all. Meanwhile, most small punctures can be dealt with by a liquid sealant that blocks the hole before you even notice. However, tubeless tires are more difficult to install.

Tubular tires make use of a tube, just like clinchers. But the casing is fully wrapped around the tube and sewn shut, giving it a ‘tubular’ shape. The tire is then attached to the rim using glue or double-sided tape. If all you care about is performance and cost is not an issue, then tubular tires are the way to go. They are also much less prone to pinch flats than clinchers. This is why they are used by many professional cyclocross racers. The reason why tubulars are not widely used is due to how notoriously complex the installation process is. Also, you will need multiple wheels for a quick change instead of just the tires.

Tire types

Image: Tire-types

Image Source: slowtwitch.com

2. Tread Pattern

Tread designs for CX tires can be loosely categorized into three types based on what kind of terrain they perform best in. The first kind is for muddy tracks that feature tall, widely spaced knobs. This allows the tire to dig into the ground and maintain an ample amount of traction on the slippery mud. The wide spacing prevents mud from packing in the tread which would cause the tire to lose most of its grip.

Mud tread

Image: Mud-tread

The next type is an all-purpose tread. As you can probably guess, this tread pattern does well in a wide range of terrain, from hardpack to slight mud. However, they are not the best for extreme conditions. The center tread has smaller tighter knobs to allow for decent rolling speed, while the shoulder knobs are larger for good cornering grip. This tread type is best for amateurs and those of you who want to use one pair of tires for the entire season.

All rounder tread

Image: All rounder tread

Finally, we have semi-slick tires with what are called ‘file treads’. These are best for dry conditions and prioritize rolling efficiency overgrip. The design usually features mico-knob clusters that handle well on tarmac, dry grass, and even ice. Some have large side lugs for cornering and off-camber sections. Obviously, this tread pattern is the worst for soft, damp conditions.

File tread

Image: File tread

3. Tire Width and Diameter

The width of the tire plays an important role in the performance of the tire. Most cyclocross tires have a width of above 30 mm. Regulations for UCI sanctioned competitions limit the tire width to 33 mm. Although, wider tires of up to 40 or even 50 mm are also used by many if the bike is compatible. Generally wider tires offer various benefits compared to narrow tires. They are more stable, have better traction, and are more resistant to punctures. Additionally, lower pressures can be run for improved comfort and shock absorption. In contrast, slimmer tires are more lightweight and roll faster on smooth surfaces.

In terms of diameter, almost all cyclocross bikes have 700c wheels. Although, there are some with slightly different sizes such as 26”, 27.5” (650b), and 29”. The diameter is not a major concern for most CX racers. Just be sure that the tire you want to buy matches your bike’s wheel size.

Common Bike Tire Sizes

Size (wheel diameter)ETRTO/ISO size (mm)
26”559
27”630
27.5”584
29”622
650b584
650c571
700c622

4. Puncture Protection

Resistance to punctures is incorporated by manufacturers in several ways. These include using a layer of special material under the tread, reinforcement of the casing, or simply using a thicker layer of rubber for the tread. Whatever the method, keep in mind that extra protection will cause the tire to be heavier and roll slower. Alternatively, you can run the tire at a higher pressure to reduce the risk of flats, but this will affect the grip. Many tires integrate some sort of safety for the sidewalls too.

The riding conditions will also determine the level of protection necessary. For rocky and gravel laden tracks, it is a good idea to have a lot of puncture protection. On the other hand, having too much protection on pavement or flat fire roads does not offer any benefit and will only slow you down.

Flat tire

Image: Flat tire

5. Compound

Manufacturers use varying recipes for their rubber compounds which are closely guarded. However, we can tell a lot about the performance of the compound by the hardness of the rubber. This is sometimes measured in terms of the durometer. The higher the number, the harder the rubber and vice versa.

Hard rubber has more durability which translates to better resistance to wear and punctures. They also have lower rolling resistance as opposed to soft rubber which deforms more but offers superior grip. To strike a compromise, many tires have dual or even triple compounds. The center and base of the tread feature harder rubber and the sides are made of a soft compound.

Tire compounds

Image: Tire compounds

Image Source: maxxis.com

Our Top Pick(s)

After trying out a bunch of different tires, we have come up with a list of 12 that offered outstanding performance. Each tire was tested for build quality, performance, versatility, and various other factors. Out of all of them, we have concluded that the Maxxis Raze is deserving of the title of ‘Overall Best Choice’.

Maxxis Raze

Versatile tread design for varied conditions | Overall Best Choice

The Maxxis Raze not only delivers the best performance in wet & muddy conditions, but it also handles well enough on dry trails to give many file tread tires a run for their money. To ensure success in cyclocross, it is better to err on the more aggressive pattern side. This is why Raze is our top pick. It has all the properties you would find in a championship-winning tire including low weight, durability, puncture protection, etc.

  • Recommended Use: Mud, snow, hardpack
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Size: 700 × 33c (ETRTO 33-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 430
  • Compound: Single
  • Protection: SilkWorm
  • Max PSI: 65
  • Color: Black

 

A quick view of our list of the best cyclocross tires that we have selected for your bikes:

TireWeight (grams)Our Ratings
Maxxis Raze43094
Maxxis Speed Terrane39592
Vittoria Terreno Zero46591
Panaracer GravelKing SK Plus53090
Maxxis Ravager48588
WTB Riddler 70048187
Vittoria Terreno Mix42085
Vittoria Terreno Dry41084
Continental Cross King CX30582
Schwalbe CX Comp HS 36962080
Schwalbe CX Pro HS 26940078
Schwalbe X-One Speed35077

12 best cyclocross tires you can buy today

TirePreviewUseTypeDiameterWidthWeightBeadCompound
Maxxis RazeMaxxis Raze CX Tire - Clincher M206PMud, snow, hardpackTubeless-ready700c33c430FoldingSingle
Maxxis Speed TerraneMaxxis Speed Terrane 120 Folding Dual Compound Exo/tr Tyre - Black, 700 x 33 cEarly-season CX, grass, hardpack, gravel, pavementTubeless-ready700c, 28”33c395Carbon fiberDual
Vittoria Terreno ZeroVittoria Terreno Zero Bike Tires for Gravel and Pavement - Cyclocross Terreno Zero G2.0 Tubeless TNT Tire (700x35c)Gravel, pavement, hardpack, mixedTubeless-ready650b, 700c32c, 35c, 38c, 47c465Folding3C Graphene 2.0
Panaracer GravelKing SK PlusPanaracer GravelKing SK+ 700 x 35 C Knobby Aramid Folding Tire, Black/BrownGravel, dirt, pavementTubeless-ready650b, 700c32c, 35c, 38c, 43c, 48c, 50c530FoldingZSG natural compound
Maxxis RavagerMaxxis Unisex_Adult Ravager Folding tyre, Black, 28' 700x40CSingletrack, gravel, hardpack, dirtTubeless-ready700c40c485FoldingDual
WTB Riddler 700WTB RiddlerPavement, hardpack, gravel, dirtTubeless-ready700c37c, 45c481FoldingDual DNA
Vittoria Terreno MixVittoria Terreno Mix Bike Tires for Gravel and Mixed Terrain Conditions - Cyclocross Terreno Mix G2.0 Tubeless TNT MTB TirePavement, hardpack, grass, loam, gravelTubeless-ready700c31c, 33c, 38c420Folding3C Graphene 2.0
Vittoria Terreno DryTerreno Dry G2.0Gravel, pavement, hardpack, dry/icyTubeless-ready650b, 700c31c, 33c, 35c, 38c, 47c410Folding3C Graphene 2.0
Continental Cross King CXContinental Cyclo X-King Fold Race Sport Bike Tire, Black, 700cm x 32Hardpack, grass, mudTubeless-ready700c32c305FoldingBlackChili
Schwalbe CX Comp HS 369SCHWALBE CX Comp HS 369 Cyclocross Bicycle Tire - Wire Bead - ReflexPavement, hardpack, gravelClincher20”, 24”, 26”, 700c1.75”, 2”, 30c, 35c, 38c620WireSBC
Schwalbe CX Pro HS 269SCHWALBE CX Pro 700x30C Performance Black Tyre 2016Grass, mud, gravelClincher24”, 26”, 700c1.35”, 30c400WireDual
Schwalbe X-One SpeedSCHWALBE X-One Speed RaceGuard Performance Bicycle Tire with Folding BeadHardpack, pavement, gravelClincher / tubeless-ready700c33c350FoldingDual / OneStar

1. Maxxis Raze: Versatile tread design for varied conditions | Overall Best Choice

Maxxis Raze
  • Recommended Use: Mud, snow, hardpack
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Size: 700 × 33c (ETRTO 33-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 430
  • Compound: Single
  • Protection: SilkWorm
  • Max PSI: 65
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • Versatile: This tire was designed to be used throughout the entire cyclocross season and on terrain ranging from mud to hardpack.
  • Superior Grip: The pronounced tread with sipes and the softer compound provides exceptional traction while pedaling, braking, and cornering.
  • SilkWorm Breaker: This layer is placed under the tread and it drastically improves the tire’s resistance to cuts and punctures.
  • Tubeless Compatible: You no longer have to worry about pinch flats since this tire can be used without any tube at all.
  • Lightweight: The low weight of the tire makes it ideal for use in CX racing where you have to occasionally carry the bike.
  • Low Tread Wear: The tread is highly durable and hard-wearing, meaning you will be able to use the tire for a long time.

Some Weaknesses
  • Available in one size only.
  • Not the best pick for tarmac.

The Maxxis Raze is a highly versatile tire. If you want a single tire that you can use throughout the entire cyclocross season, then you cannot go wrong with this one. The Raze features large siped knobs that are closely spaced at the center and more spread out on the sides. Combined with the soft compound used, this provides excellent traction on muddy, snowy, and even hardpack trails. The wide spacing of the corner knobs gives it the ability to shed mud. The rolling resistance is not exactly low, but it’s not bad either.

Other positive features of this tire include the low weight, durability, and resistance to flats. From what we can tell after testing it out, this tire is quite difficult to puncture and even abrasions on the tread surface are unlikely. Moreover, pinch flats are not an issue as it is a tubeless tire. It comes in only the 700 × 33c sizes. However, this should be fine for the majority of bikes. Overall, the Raze is an outstanding tire for winning CX races on various types of terrain.

Maxxis Raze Bike Tire

Maxxis Raze Bike Tire

2. Maxxis Speed Terrane: Semi-slick racing tire w/ aggressive cornering lugs

Maxxis Speed Terrane
  • Recommended Use: Early-season CX, grass, hardpack, gravel, pavement
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Diameters Available: 700c, 28”
  • Widths Available: 33c
  • Size Tested: 700 × 33c (ETRTO 33-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Carbon fiber
  • Weight (g): 395
  • Compound: Dual
  • Max PSI: 75
  • Protection: EXO layer
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • High-Speed Rolling: The center tread features a micro-diamond knob pattern as well as paddle knobs that reduces rolling resistance without lowering traction.
  • Excellent Cornering: The knobs on the outer edges are large and siped to dig into the ground and offer traction on aggressive corners.
  • Lightweight: The tire weighs less than 400 grams which helps in going faster and also makes the bike lighter for carrying on CX races.
  • Tubeless Compatible: This can be said to be a clincher tire, however, it is fully prepared to be used without an inner tube.
  • EXO Protection: This layer of highly cut-resistant material is added underneath the sidewalls to enhance durability and improve life.
  • Carbon Fiber Bead: This bead is flexible like a typical folding kevlar bead but can withstand greater forces.

Some Weaknesses
  • This is a pretty expensive tire.
  • Not ideal for wet and slippery conditions.

The Maxxis Speed Terrane is a premium quality tire with impeccable performance in relatively varied conditions. Whether you’re on the road, hardpack trails, or on grass, this tire offers both superb traction and high rolling efficiency. This is made possible by the well-designed tread pattern. While testing, we noticed the tire had more than enough traction for braking and even climbing, while still being fast-rolling. Also, the large corner lugs provide complete control on corners.

The durability of the Speed Terrane is also impressive. You don’t have to worry about pinch flats since the casing is tubeless-ready. We also have not experienced any punctures either. The sidewalls are especially strong and can easily handle rocky terrain, with no cuts or abrasions. A unique feature of this tire is the bead which is made of carbon fiber. This is much more flexible than a steel wire bead but stronger than a folding Kevlar bead. The one downside is that it is not the best option for wet conditions. Otherwise, this tire is definitely worth the price.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
28” × 33c33-622
700c × 33c33-622

Maxxis Speed Terrane Racing Tire

Maxxis Speed Terrane Racing Tire

3. Vittoria Terreno Zero: Smooth tread for fast rolling on hard surfaces

Vittoria Terreno Zero
  • Recommended Use: Gravel, pavement, hardpack, mixed
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Diameters Available: 650b, 700c
  • Widths Available: 32c, 35c, 38c, 47c
  • Size Tested: 700 × 35c (ETRTO 37-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 465
  • Compound: 3C Graphene 2.0
  • Max PSI: 90
  • Color: Black, anthracite, full-black

Features & Considerations
  • Tubeless Compatible: The casing is designed to be used as a tubeless tire which eliminates the chances of pinch flats.
  • High Speed Rolling: The smooth center tread of the tire allows for low rolling resistance on tarmacs and hardpack surfaces.
  • Triple Compound: The tread is made of 3 compounds and incorporates graphene that provides a good balance between durability, rolling resistance, and grip.
  • Puncture Resistance: The nylon casing and the tread compound are quite strong and highly resistant to puncturing.
  • Multiple Sizes: You can get this tire in a relatively wide range of sizes, so nearly everyone will be able to mount this on their bike.
  • Low Tread Wear: This tire will most likely last you a very long time because the rubber is extremely durable and resistant to wear.

Some Weaknesses
  • Smooth-ish tread makes it unsuitable for muddy terrain.

The Vittoria Terreno Zero is visibly a lot smoother than most other cyclocross tires, and yet its performance is remarkably high. As you can probably guess by looking at the smooth center tread, this is a fast tire with very low rolling resistance. Meanwhile, the hexagonal side tread pattern ensures that there is ample traction while cornering. Admittedly, it is not built for muddy or slippery conditions. But on any sort of dry terrain, even loose trails, this tire does great. The weight and price of the tire are quite reasonable as well.

The primary reason for this tire being near the top of our list is the impressive build quality. The tread is made of a triple compound which also includes graphene material. This makes the rubber particularly strong and long-lasting. We noticed that it did not wear much at all after hundreds of miles. Additionally, punctures are very unlikely as this tire is tubeless-ready. Indeed we didn’t encounter any flats. Finally, there are several sizes to choose from according to your bike.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
650b × 4747-584
700c × 32c32-622
700c × 35c37-622
700c × 38c40-622

Vittoria Terreno Zero Fast Rolling Tire

Vittoria Terreno Zero Fast Rolling Tire

4. Panaracer GravelKing SK Plus: ProTite Shield Plus protection, low wear, fast rolling

Panaracer GravelKing SK Plus
  • Recommended Use: Gravel, dirt, pavement
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Diameters Available: 650b, 700c
  • Widths Available: 32c, 35c, 38c, 43c, 48c, 50c
  • Size Tested: 700 × 43c (ETRTO 43-622)
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 530
  • Compound: ZSG natural compound
  • Protection: ProTite Shield Plus
  • Max PSI: 60
  • Color: Black, black/brown

Features & Considerations
  • Superior Protection: With ProTite Shield Plus, Puncture Resistant Belt, and AX technology, this tire has an incredible level of protection from flats and cuts.
  • Low Tread Wear: The ZSG natural compound used for the tread is of premium quality and ensures a long tread life.
  • High Rolling Efficiency: The properties of the natural compound and the design of the tread pattern offers high speed rolling.
  • Reliable Traction: Even though the tread has low rolling resistance, it allows for a strong grip on the road or hardpack trails.
  • Tubeless Compatible: This tire is designed to be used with or without a tube, giving you the option to get rid of pinch flats.
  • Multiple Size Options: You can select from a wide range of sizes to best suit your requirements and/or preferences.

Some Weaknesses
  • Tightly-packed tread fills up easily and slips in muddy terrain.
  • It is somewhat on the heavier side.

The GravelKing SK Plus by Panaracer is one of their top products. This tire is made for use mainly on gravel and dirt paths, but we tested it on all kinds of terrain to see how it holds up. What we found was that it has a good balance of grip and rolling resistance, and is suitable for most types of dry off-road tracks. Even on asphalt it has great performance and makes very little noise. However, the close packing of the knobs and the side rails cannot clear mud, and the tire starts slipping in these conditions.

Much like the Terreno Zero, the GravelKing is also an incredibly robust tire. It features a layer of ultra-strong material wrapped around the whole casing and an additional belt under the tread. This imparts the tire with a high degree of puncture and abrasion protection. The casing itself is made of narrow but densely woven cords that keep the tire supple. Moreover, the ZSG compound of the tread is a natural variant that wears very slowly. Therefore, if long life on dry trails is what you want, then this is the right tire for you.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
650b × 4848-584
700c × 32c32-622
700c × 35c35-622
700c × 38c40-622
700c × 43c43-622
700c × 50c50-622

Panaracer GravelKing SK Plus Bike Tire

Panaracer GravelKing SK Plus Bike Tire

5. Maxxis Ravager: Perfect for gravel & singletrack trails

Maxxis Ravager
  • Recommended Use: Singletrack, gravel, hardpack, dirt
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Size: 700 × 40c (ETRTO 40-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 485
  • Compound: Dual
  • Protection: EXO layer
  • Max PSI: 60
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • Superb Traction: The siped center lugs on the tread have square edges and provide solid grip for braking and climbing.
  • Excellent Cornering: The knobs on the outer edges are oversized to dig into the ground and offer traction on aggressive corners.
  • EXO Protection: This layer of highly cut-resistant material is added underneath the sidewalls to enhance durability and improve life.
  • Tubeless Compatible: This tire can be said to be a clincher type, but it is also designed to be used without an inner tube.
  • Low Tread Wear: The tread is highly durable and hard-wearing, meaning you will be able to use the tire for a long time.

Some Weaknesses
  • The price is a bit high for many.
  • Only one size is available.

The Maxxis Ravager is another excellent tire for cyclocross. After testing it out on various types of terrain, we found it to perform best on rough singletrack and gravel paths. Although, it does hold up decently well in the mud as well. The center knobs of the tread offer good traction during pedaling and braking, while the oversized outer lugs let turn corners with precise control. Spacing between the knobs is good enough to disperse mud and they are also siped for added traction.

The tread is made of a dual compound with a harder rubber as the base to decrease rolling resistance. However, if you want a tire for regular use on pavement, then there are better options. The Ravager will last you a long time as the sidewalls are protected by an EXO layer which enhances abrasion resistance. Also, the tread did not wear out as much as expected after a few hundred miles of testing. This costs more than many other similar tires, but the benefits and durability make it worth it.

Maxxis Ravager Tire

Maxxis Ravager Bike Tire

6. WTB Riddler 700: Efficiency and speed on a wide range of conditions

WTB Riddler 700
  • Recommended Use: Pavement, hardpack, gravel, dirt
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Diameters Available: 700c
  • Widths Available: 37c, 45c
  • Size Tested: 700 × 37c (ETRTO 37-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 481
  • Compound: Dual DNA
  • Protection: SG2
  • Max PSI: 55
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • Superior Protection: The SG2 layer is placed under the tread and it drastically improves the tire’s resistance to cuts and punctures.
  • Low Tread Wear: The dual DNA compound used for the tread is of premium quality and ensures a long tread life.
  • High Rolling Efficiency: The properties of the natural compound and the design of the tread pattern offers high speed rolling.
  • Reliable Traction: Even though the tread has low rolling resistance, it allows for a strong grip on the road or hardpack trails.
  • Tubeless Compatible: This tire is designed to be used with or without a tube, giving you the option to get rid of pinch flats.

Some Weaknesses
  • The tight packing of the tread fills up and slips in the mud.
  • It is somewhat on the heavier side.

The WTB Riddler 700 is quite a versatile tire. If you want a single tire that you can use throughout the entire cyclocross season, then you cannot go wrong with this one. The Riddler features siped knobs that are spread out on the sides and smaller closely spaced knobs at the center. Combined with the soft compound used, this provides excellent traction on pavement, gravel, and even hardpack trails. The larger corner knobs give it the ability to corner on dirt. The rolling resistance is not exactly low, but it’s not too bad either.

Other than that, this tire is lightweight, durable, and resistant to flats. After testing it out, we’ve noticed that this tire is quite difficult to puncture and even abrasions on the tread surface are unlikely. Moreover, pinch flats are not an issue as it is a tubeless-compatible tire. It comes in only two sizes – 700c with either 37c or 45c width. However, this should be fine for the majority of bikes. Overall, the Riddler is an outstanding tire for winning CX races on dry, hard terrain.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
700c × 37c37-622
700c × 45c44-622

WTB Riddler 700 Bike Tire

WTB Riddler 700 Tire

7. Vittoria Terreno Mix: Best all-rounder, excels in off-camber sections

Vittoria Terreno Mix
  • Recommended Use: Pavement, hardpack, grass, loam, gravel
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Diameters Available: 700c
  • Widths Available: 31c, 33c, 38c
  • Size Tested: 700 × 33c (ETRTO 33-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 420
  • Compound: 3C Graphene 2.0
  • Color: Black, anthracite, full-black

Features & Considerations
  • Highly Versatile: You can ride with this tire across pretty much all types of terrain that you would encounter for cyclocross.
  • Excellent Grip: The well-designed tread pattern provides outstanding traction, especially on corners and off-camber sections.
  • Good Rolling Speed: Despite having such a good grip, the center ridge is optimally designed to offer low rolling resistance for hard surfaces.
  • Triple Compound: The 3C compound with Graphene 2.0 is highly durable and also helps to provide a good balance of traction and rolling resistance.
  • Lightweight: The lightweight construction of this tire means that it keeps your bike’s weight low enough for easy carry.
  • Tubeless Compatible: There is no need to worry about pinch flats since this tire can be used without having an inner tube.

Some Weaknesses
  • Being good at everything means it’s not the best on any specific terrain.
  • Braking traction is not bad but comparatively low.

The Vittoria Terreno Mix is possibly the most versatile cyclocross tire that we have ever tested. On hard surfaces, the tire rolls quite efficiently providing good speed while still having ample traction even on wet pavement. The knobs stick out enough to bite into gravel, loam, or other loose terrains. Moreover, it handles superbly on muddy trails as well. The knobs are widely spaced enough for clearing the muck and maintaining grip. Pretty much any surface, on or off the road, is an option with this tire.

Being the jack of all trades, the Terreno Mix is not really the master of anything. The one area where it can compete with the best of the best is on off-camber sections. The shoulder lugs can handle these sections surprisingly well. However, the braking traction is one minor weakness of this tire. It’s not bad by any means, just not as good as the other tires on this list. Just like many other Vittoria tires, this tire also uses the graphene-infused triple compound which makes the tire highly durable.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
700c × 31c31-622
700c × 33c33-622
700c × 38c40-622

Vittoria Terreno Mix Bike Tire

Vittoria Terreno Mix All Rounder Tire

8. Vittoria Terreno Dry: Fish-scale tread pattern for efficiency and grip on hard/icy surfaces

Vittoria Terreno Dry
  • Recommended Use: Gravel, pavement, hardpack, dry/icy
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Diameters Available: 650b, 700c
  • Widths Available: 31c, 33c, 35c, 38c, 47c
  • Size Tested: 700 × 33c (ETRTO 33-622)
  • TPI: 120
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 410
  • Compound: 3C Graphene 2.0
  • Color: Black, anthracite

Features & Considerations
  • High Speed Rolling: The unique ‘fish-scale’ center tread design makes this a very fast-rolling tire on hard, dry surfaces without compromising grip.
  • Low Tread Wear: The triple compound rubber is infused with graphene which makes the tread very sturdy and resistant to wear.
  • Tubeless Compatible: You will have to deal with very few flats over the tire’s life since it does not require an inner tube.
  • Lightweight: The version of this tire that we tested is pretty lightweight at just over 400 grams which makes it suitable for CX races.
  • Good Cornering Ability: In contrast to the center knobs, the shoulder knobs are quite pronounced for improved traction on corners.
  • Multiple Size Options: There are various sizes that you can get this tire in. Just about everyone can find a fitting size.

Some Weaknesses
  • Not very good in wet or muddy conditions.
  • This tire was kind of difficult to install.

The Vittoria Terreno Dry is another excellent tire choice for early-season cyclocross, just like the Maxxis Speed Terrane. Firstly, you should keep tire levers at the ready since this is quite a tight fit on the rims. As the name suggests, it performs best on dry terrain, especially pavement and hardpack. The closely-packed hexagonal design of the center knobs along with the hard rubber base of the tread gives the tire very low rolling resistance. The tire is also lightweight which makes it go even faster.

The outer lugs are larger and more widely-spaced, which allows the tire to bite into the ground for smooth cornering. The 3C rubber is softer on the sides for added grip. However, the center tread can get easily packed with mud and starts to slip. Hence, this is not the best option for muddy or even wet conditions. The Terreno Dry wears very slowly and will last a long time thanks to the Graphene 2.0 technology which also adds to the grip and speed. There are a few very heavy versions, but most of them are lightweight enough.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
650b × 4747-584
700c × 31c31-622
700c × 33c33-622
700c × 35c37-622
700c × 38c40-622

Vittoria Terreno Dry Bike Tire

Vittoria Terreno Dry Tire

9. Continental Cross King CX: Great all-rounder for competition and touring

Continental Cross King CX
  • Recommended Use: Hardpack, grass, mud
  • Tire Type: Tubeless-ready
  • Size: 700 × 32c (ETRTO 32-622)
  • TPI: 3/180
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 305
  • Compound: BlackChili
  • Protection: RaceSport
  • Max PSI: 85
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • Excellent Traction: The large, square knobs do a great job of gripping the ground and providing pedaling and braking traction, even on muddy trails.
  • Solid Protection: It features RaceSport technology in which the casing is 3-ply under the tread and 2-ply at the sidewalls. This enhances puncture protection.
  • Versatile: This tire performs well on all kinds of off-road terrain, ranging from hardpack surfaces to damp, grassy fields.
  • Lightweight: This is the ideal tire for weight weenies. In fact, this is the lightest cyclocross tire we have reviewed so far.
  • Affordable: Considering the quality and performance level, the price of the tire is surprisingly low.
  • Tubeless Compatible: Using this tire without a tube means that there is zero risk of pinch flats and overall fewer flats in general.

Some Weaknesses
  • Available in only one size.
  • It does not have enough traction on smooth pavement.

The Continental Cross King CX is an impressive all-rounder with more of an inclination towards the muddy side of things. The square lugs act like studs to bite into the ground and maintain traction at all times. The more widely-spaced and larger shoulder knobs have a good ability to clear mud and offer precise control on tight turns. Grass plains are no problem at all and it even rolls well on hardpack trails and fire roads. This good balance of grip and speed is made possible by the patented BlackChili compound.

At only 305 grams, this tire is light enough to give some road tires a run for their money. This further adds to the tire’s value as a CX racing tire. However, we wouldn’t recommend it for use on smooth asphalt. The knobby tread provides less than ideal contact area and hence, traction is not that great on the road. The Cross King CX also has good resistance to the picture due to the sturdy tread and multi-ply casing. To top it all off, the price is quite affordable for those on a budget.

Continental Cross King CX Bike Tire

Continental Cross King CX Tire

10. Schwalbe CX Comp HS 369: Entry-level CX tire w/ semi-slick profile and large corner knobs

Schwalbe CX Comp HS 369
  • Recommended Use: Pavement, hardpack, gravel
  • Tire Type: Clincher
  • Diameters Available: 20”, 24”, 26”, 700c
  • Widths Available: 1.75”, 2”, 30c, 35c, 38c
  • Size Tested: 26” × 2” (ETRTO 50-559)
  • TPI: 50
  • Bead: Wire
  • Weight (g): 620
  • Compound: SBC
  • Protection: K-Guard
  • Max PSI: 65
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • High Rolling Efficiency: The low profile center tread and the SBC compound provides very low rolling resistance on hard surfaces.
  • Excellent Cornering: The oversized shoulder knobs can really dig into the ground and offer precise control while cornering.
  • Puncture Protection: The K-Guard layer under the tread is made of natural rubber reinforced with Kevlar fibers to enhance puncture resistance.
  • Numerous Size Options: You can get this tire in 4 diameters which can fit all kinds of bikes. This includes a 20” size for BMX bikes.
  • Low Cost: Almost anyone can afford to purchase this high-quality tire since the price is quite low.

Some Weaknesses
  • Does not handle too well in mud.
  • This is quite a heavy tire due to the wire bead.

The Schwalbe CX Comp HS 369 is a great choice for gravel riding and hardpack surfaces at an affordable price. The tread has a semi-slick design that keeps rolling resistance to a minimum. Even on the tarmac, this is a speedy tire, making it perfectly suited to races in dry conditions. We’d like to point out that dry is the keyword here. While it performs decently on wet pavement, it’s a different story on damp grass or mud. The center tread gets packed with mud and loses a significant amount of traction.

As long as you’re on dry trails, this tire will not let you down. Cornering is one of its strong suits thanks to the larger outer lugs. The HS 369 is very robust as well. We put it through the wringer and still the amount of tread wear was not too bad. Additionally, the K-Guard layer underneath does a very good job of preventing punctures. We haven’t experienced any pinch flats either so far. This was a pleasant surprise since this tire requires a tube. This and the wire bead allows the tire to be quite inexpensive.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
20” × 1.75”47-406
24” × 1.75”47-507
26” × 2”50-559
700c × 30c30-622
700c × 35c35-622
700c × 38c40-622

Schwalbe CX Comp HS 369 Tire

Schwalbe CX Comp HS 369 Tire

11. Schwalbe CX Pro HS 269: Classic tread, low weight, excellent traction

Schwalbe CX Pro HS 269
  • Recommended Use: Grass, mud, gravel
  • Tire Type: Clincher
  • Diameters Available: 24”, 26”, 700c
  • Widths Available: 1.35”, 30c
  • Size Tested: 700 × 30c (ETRTO 30-622)
  • TPI: 67
  • Bead: Wire
  • Weight (g): 400
  • Compound: Dual
  • Max PSI: 95
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • Excellent Traction: The knobby tread design allows the tire to grip well on a wide range of terrain including grassy and muddy ones.
  • Highly Affordable: The price of this tire is very low considering the build quality and the level of performance delivered.
  • Lightweight: Despite having a steel wire bead, this tire is surprisingly lightweight. In fact, it is lighter than many foldable tires out there.
  • Great Durability: This tire will last you a really long time since the tread is highly resistant to wear, cuts and abrasions.
  • Multiple Sizes Available: There are three diameters available for this tire, namely 24”, 26” and 700c

Some Weaknesses
  • Being a clincher type, it is prone to pinch flats.
  • It could do with lower rolling resistance.

The Schwalbe CX Pro HS 269 is the ideal tire option if you’re looking for something that is low cost and can handle muddy conditions. The tire features a semi-aggressive tread pattern that can both bite well, and clear away mud. The central chevron-shaped knobs provide ample braking grip, while the outer knobs handle cornering quite easily. On waterlogged grass, the tire rolls pretty well, whereas most tires would slow down considerably. However, on surfaces like pavement, the rolling resistance could be lower.

The tire is remarkably robust as well. It does not puncture easily, even on gravel and rocky trails. Most notably, the rubber is very durable and we have observed little wear after a few hundred miles of use. We did get a pinch flat once, but this is a clincher and our tester rolled over a broken part of the road at full speed. So, nothing too unusual. All of these great aspects come at a very affordable price. This is because the tire is not foldable and is not tubeless compatible.

Available Sizes (diameter × width)ETRTO
24” × 1.35”35-507
26” × 1.35”35-559
700c × 30c30-622

Schwalbe CX Pro HS 269 Bike Tire

Schwalbe CX Pro HS 269 Tire

12. Schwalbe X-One Speed: High speed, affordable tire at a very low weight

Schwalbe X-One Speed
  • Recommended Use: Hardpack, pavement, gravel
  • Tire Type: Clincher/tubeless-ready
  • Size: 700 × 33c (ETRTO 33-622)
  • TPI: 67
  • Bead: Folding
  • Weight (g): 350
  • Compound: Dual/OneStar
  • Max PSI: 70
  • Color: Black

Features & Considerations
  • High Speed Rolling: The ‘multi-rip’ blocks and flat round knobs of the center tread makes this a fast-rolling tire on hard, dry surfaces without compromising grip.
  • Low Tread Wear: The triple compound rubber is infused with graphene which makes the tread very sturdy and resistant to wear.
  • Tubeless Compatible: You will have to deal with very few flats over the tire’s life since it does not require an inner tube.
  • Lightweight: The version of this tire that we tested is pretty lightweight at less than 400 grams which makes it suitable for CX races.
  • Good Cornering Ability: In contrast to the center knobs, the shoulder knobs are quite pronounced for improved traction on corners.

Some Weaknesses
  • Braking traction is not bad but comparatively low.
  • Does not handle too well in mud.

The Schwalbe X-One Speed is another excellent tire choice for early-season cyclocross when the trails are hard and dry. Firstly, this tire is quite a tight fit on the rims, so you should keep tire levers at the ready. As the name suggests, it is built for speed and performs best on dry terrain, especially pavement and hardpack. The closely-packed round center knobs along with the hard rubber base of the tread give the tire very low rolling resistance. The tire is also very lightweight which makes it go even faster.

The outer lugs are larger and more widely-spaced, which allows the tire to bite into the ground for smooth cornering. The triple compound is softer on the sides for added grip. However, the center tread can get easily packed with mud and starts to slip. Hence, this is not the best option for muddy or even wet conditions. The X-One Speed wears very slowly and will last a long time thanks to the OneStar compound which also adds to the grip and speed. The tire comes in only one size, but this is the right size for UCI events.

Schwalbe X-One Speed Bike Tire

Schwalbe X-One Speed Tire


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is cyclocross riding?

Ans.: Cyclocross, or CX, is a short and intense form of bike racing most popular in Europe and North America. It was invented so that road cyclists could keep in shape during autumn and winter. They usually involve laps around a circuit not more than 4 km in length and last around one hour in total. However, it’s not that simple. The circuit is made up of a mixture of different terrain. Pavement, dirt, gravel, sand, mud, and snow are all possibilities. Also, there may be some sections where you have to dismount and carry the bike on your shoulders. CX racers require multiple skills and a lot of endurance. Consequently, CX bikes are highly versatile.

Cyclocross racing

Image: Cyclocross racing

Q2. Are gravel bike tires perfect for cyclocross tires?

Ans.: Not always, but they can be. It largely depends on the conditions you are riding in. Cyclocross racing terrain can vary a lot from place to place, and as the season progresses. Gravel bike tires are very similar to file tread CX tires. They are also usually wider and able to run lower pressures for improved shock absorption. This makes them perfect for early-season CX races which have dry, rocky dirt and gravel tracks. If you already have mud tires and gravel tires, there’s no need to buy separate CX file tread tires. Also, the tread pattern does not matter when you are carrying your bike.

Q3. Cyclocross tire rolling resistance

Ans.: Rolling resistance depends on several factors. These include the tread pattern, compound, tire type, and most importantly, tire pressure. In general, large knobs, soft compounds, and low pressures cause the tire to roll slowly but improves other performance parameters. The opposite is true for smooth tread patterns, harder compounds, and high pressures. Rolling resistance should not be your primary concern unless you’re on pavement or hardpack surfaces.

Rolling resistance graph

Image: Rolling resistance graph

Image Source: bikerumor.com

Q4. Cyclocross tires vs road tires

Ans.: While cyclocross tires have properties that allow them to handle a wide variety of terrain, road tires are designed to be as fast as possible on smooth tarmac roads. CX tires have various types for different purposes, and some designs closely overlap with road bike tires. Also, road and CX tires have almost identical diameters. However, they are not the same. The following table illustrates the main differences between them.

Cyclocross tiresRoad tires
Offer moderate rolling resistanceVery low rolling resistance
Usually tubeless or tubeless compatibleUsually clincher type
Have various types of tread patternsHave little or no tread pattern
Typical widths range from 30 to 35 mmTypical widths range from 23 to 28 mm
Tire pressure ranges from 20 to 50 psiTire pressure ranges from 80 to 130 psi

Conclusion

Whether you are new to cyclocross or already have some knowledge, you should now be confident about selecting a suitable pair of tires. Never compromise on CX tires since they are vital for performance and safety. If you are a complete beginner, opt for an all-rounder tire. If you are an advanced rider, then you are free to choose any of the outstanding tires on our list.

My name is Dion Lewis. I’ve been cycling since my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions. In my college life, I took a part-time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally. Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or bike gear.

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