When I bought gravel bikes for my wife and I, both Specialized Diverges, they came with Specialized Espoir Sport 28 mm tires. The tires were fantastic for hard packed dirt roads because they didn’t have much tread to them. They were fast. Right up till you got into the mush. God forbid, the road was just graded which made the road impassable. Loose gravel required Peter Sagan-like handling skills to keep the rubber right-side-down.
I tolerated gravel riding back then. It was a nice break from the tarmac at the end of the season, but it was just as easy to choose the trainer rather than deal with loose dirt or gravel.
This year I decided to fix that problem for both my wife and I. I scoured the interwebz for a decent dirt tire, but couldn’t come up with anything reasonable. I didn’t need a pro-quality tubeless tire for $75-$100 a pop – especially when I need four. Not for cruising…
Finally, I went to the shop after striking out online. The first salesman struck out as well. Then, I shared my conundrum with a more knowledgeable mechanic. He came up with the Michelin ProTek Cross tire in a matter of minutes. I picked up four 32 mm tires for less than $100, the widest I can fit on our Diverges (newer models can take wider tires).
In a word, the ProTek Cross is awesome. What was once harrowing is now stable and enjoyable. And they’re decently fast, while handling low tire pressure well (I like to ride them at 50-psi – and I’m no lightweight at 175 pounds).
The tread is great, for both pavement and dirt. It’s a fantastic tire for a bargain price. They won’t be light, supple, and super-fast, race tire, not for $25 each, but if you’re just out cruising the back roads, I love this tire. I highly recommend it.