After slicing a 6-month old WTB Nano wide open on a sharp rock during a ride last week, I swapped my tires back over to the Bruce Gordon Rock N Roads. Once I got them set up tubeless, I was immediately reminded how much I love these damn beautiful tires but as we all know, looks aren’t everything.
A 43mm tire with a decent amount of tread can’t fit in most frames, but I had my Firefly designed to specifically accommodate the Rock N Roads. After a few inner-city dirt rides, with a few photos, I felt compelled to share some thoughts…
38t ring, a little too spinny for a 40mm tire, yet just right on the 43mm Rock n Road
First up: gearing. With the advent of the 10-42t rear cluster with XX1 and CX1, you can pack a lot of gear inches with the right front ring. When I first got this bike, it came with a 40t, which was fine for just about everything, but when you add a 20lb camera bag to the mix, it really made my legs scream on some dirt climbs.
When AARN and I began talking about a 1x chainring, I advocated heavily for a 38t ring and once you add a few more millimeters to the diameter of your wheels, losing a few teeth up front makes a huge difference.
Second: tubeless. Some of the Rock N Roads set up easily, others don’t. I’ve found removing the valve core is a must and unfolding the tires from their packaging, then laying them out flat overnight helps with the bead seating properly. Another trick I had to utilize for this setup was putting in a tube and blowing it up, allowing one side to seat before removing the tube and adding sealant.
Third: pressure. Since the Rock N Roads aren’t a tubeless-spec’d tire and I am on the bigger side in terms of rider weight, making sure I had enough air in them when riding dirt was a bit of trial and error. I have to keep no less than 35psi in the front, or I’ll burp going around sharp corners. To play it safe, I usually run 40psi. For what it’s worth, I’m 185lbs and I found I could run the tubeless 40mm WTB Nano tires around 30psi with no issues.
Fourth: off-road and on-road. There’s something magical about this tire in terms of ride quality. With such an aggressive tread pattern, you’d think they’d be sluggish on sealed roads, yet they seem to move along just fine. In fact, I find them to be one of the smoother 40mm+ tires on the market. Then, add in the trails in SoCal which are essentially granite with lots of sand on top, making for a “marbles on glass” ride, especially down steep singletrack. The Rock N Roads grip where and when they need to…
The Rock N Roads are a great tire and I’m sure many of you have your own experiences with them. If so, share them in the comments!