Get the rubber side down – Bike Magazine Australia

While some cyclocross racers geek out hard on tyre selection, it can be overwhelming for the rest of us. But it doesn’t have to be. Most riders can get away with owning just three basic treads. Whether you pin on a number, or mostly knock around with friends, here’s your indispensable guide.


Cyclocross racers can get very granular about mud: wet mud, slippery mud, clay, soup, peanut butter – the list goes on. A good mud tread will have tall blocks to cut through the soft stuff and reach down to any hard earth underneath. Spacing should be wide enough to keep the tyre from packing up (holding mud and clogging the tread), and balance traction and stiffness so as not to be squirmy under load. The side knobs will be taller and aggressive for good grip in corners.

Recommended: Clement PDX Blurs the line between mud and all-rounder with fast-rolling, closely spaced center treads and aggressive knobs. If you can buy only one set of tyres that works in every condition, this is it.

Also good: Challenge Limus Starshaped, tall knobs clear well and grip hard. Maxxis Mud Wrestler, a durable, tubeless-ready casing with good, straight-line traction and excellent aggressive side knobs for cornering.


All-rounders are, as the name suggests, adept in a wide range of riding. They roll fast, are grippy in smooth terrain, and hold their own in the wet, up to a point. Most use some version of the original Clement company’s Grifo Neve design (now licensed by Challenge). This type of tread is comprised of chevrons and arrows in the center bordered by lines of half moons and dots along the edges. It’s fast, with good grip in corners – but the blocks are too short and closely spaced for deep mud.

Recommended: Challenge Grifo: The original and still the best all-rounder.

Also good: Clement MXP, The slightly more aggressive MXP rolls fast, but due to taller, closer-spaced knobs, gets clogged quicker with dirt when things get wet. Dugast Typhoon, Tubular only and one of the most supple casings available. Buy it if you want what the pros are on.


Most riders will be set with an all-rounder and a mud tyre. But if you want to be prepared for every possible condition, add a file tread to your quiver. The most specialised of the three, file treads consist of short (usually a millimetre or so) clusters of pyramids similar to those on rasp files used in woodworking. They have low rolling resistance, but that comes at the cost of traction in wet terrain. Recently file treads have undergone a resurgence, with manufacturers adding side knobs to bridge the gap between dry surfaces and wet. These are best for when cornering traction is at a premium but you still need to roll fast – like dry, damp, or deteriorating courses with off-camber sections. The file section also grabs ice well thanks to an even and wide contact patch.

Recommended: Challenge Chicane Multiple, Casing options, and maintains decent traction if conditions deteriorate midrace.

Also good: Clement LAS, Fast rolling, great for smoother grass courses and sand. Smaller side knobs give less cornering traction than other options. Kenda Happy Medium, Aggressive side knobs and large file tread centre. Tubeless options and multiple sizes available.

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