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Cyclocross Bikes Tire Width – Rules, Tips, Facts

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I got into cyclocross a few years back, and in that time I’ve had all sorts of chats with others about tire manufacturers, tire patterns, and rubber conditions. But what are the rules about tire width in cyclocross?

Cyclocross tires are normally 1.1-1.4 inches (28-35 mm) wide, whereas road tires are 0.9-1.1 inches (23-28 mm) wide. The average size allowed for Union Cycliste Internationale sponsored events in cyclocross is 1.3inches (33 mm), although you can go broader than this at your neighborhood cycling race.

In this article, I’ll take a look at everything you need to know about:

  • Cyclocross bike tire width
  • How the tires matter in cyclocross
  • How the design of cyclocross bikes demands the tires the way they are
Cyclocross cyclist riding across muddy ground

Tire Width In Cyclocross

Cyclocross bike’s existing tire size is 700c, which is the same for the great majority of racing bikes.

Some bike manufacturers provide bicycles with the relatively small 650c tire size to assist smaller riders, although this practice is rapidly fading as most firms have indeed been able to reorganize their bike designs to let all bicyclists use 700c tires.

Bike tires must be no broader than 1.3 inches (33mm) in cyclocross events regulated by the Universal Cycliste Internationale, cycle racing international ruling body. 

It’s worth mentioning, however, that when it comes to events that are not monitored by the UCI, the regulations surrounding tire size restrictions will differ by nation or league.

In fact, most of your local races are unlikely to have the same regulations as UCI, thus it is strongly advised that you check with your racing league to learn about their rules.

Despite the various laws in place for different areas, most bike companies have adjusted their cyclocross bikes’ performance around the standard 1.3 inches.

As a result, most cyclocross bikes can only accommodate tires up to 1.3 inches in diameter.

Gravel cycling is all about exploring, having a good time, and chasing the sun across various terrains, thus most gravel cycles are built to be versatile.

The most prevalent tire size is 700c, which is also used on cyclocross bikes. However, some gravel cycles have dual-wheel flexibility, which means they can roll on either a 700c or a 650b tire.

Tire Width – Why Does It Matter?

Tire width has a big influence on bike endurance, and it should be weighed against other factors like flexibility and adequate pressure.

The degree of cushioning provided over hills, cracks, grooves, and other uneven terrain is the major and most noticeable variation among two similar tires (same pattern, flexibility, etc.) of various widths.

The width of the contact area where they meet with the cycling surface will also be a minor but noticeable change. Because a thinner tire (with the same inflation), has less deformation ability, it can provide less stability and protection against uneven surfaces.

It also has a somewhat smaller contact area for traction on the road, which could limit the bike’s stability when turning or stopping.

The only stipulation is that every tire you select must be adequately filled for the size of the bike. There is no cushioning from shocks if there is too much strain.

Flat tires, tire damage, or a collision could result from insufficient pressure and vibrations.

A cool, broad, high-standard tire is crucial for an uphill or downhill race.

Grips or varying tire patterns, as well as numerous designs and kinds of tires, alter factors slightly, but a nice, broad, decent quality tire is crucial for a high-end, fully-suspended downhill race mob. 

Cyclocross Bikes – What Are They?

A cyclocross bike is a type of drop-bar bike designed to compete in the popular cyclocross racing domain.

Cyclocross bikes have made a lot of progress since their humble beginnings as minimally modified racing bikes, and are now available as a separate type from most major bicycle companies.

The cycles differ from ordinary racing bikes, in that they are designed to race on tracks that frequently traverse watery fields, grass, or even gravel.

The shape of cyclocross bicycle frames will be adjusted for handling the advanced tasks that these bikes are built to handle.

It’s common to find a smaller frame range, a higher bottom bracket, and an overall higher posture than on a conventional bicycle.

Spindly tires and ample dirt clearance at the frame and fork are required for swampy routes. Disc braking system and tubeless tires, which were once only seen on mountain bikes, are quickly becoming standard on Cyclocross bikes. 

Most, not all, cyclocross bikes come with the bolts and fittings required to attach racks and rims.

When you combine this with a cyclocross bike that is able to manage a variety of terrain, it’s easy to see why so many people choose these bikes for travel.

What Distinguishes Cyclocross From Other Bikes?


The main distinction between a cyclocross bike and other gravel bikes is seen in their designs.

Cyclocross bicycles are intended to race on cyclocross tracks, which might be made up of dirt, cement, gravel, or even ice.

They also have run-up parts where competitors must disembark their bikes, as well as hurdles that must be leaped over either by dislodging or moving the bicycle forward by jumping while standing on the pedestals. 

As a result, on a cyclocross bike, the bearing system between the cranks is higher than that of other bikes.

A cyclocross bike can also feature lower chainstays and a shorter stack level than any other bike, resulting in a more intense riding position and nimble steering.


A basic difference to recall is that a cyclocross bike is best suited for traveling quickly over a cyclocross racetrack, whereas a simple bike like a gravel bike is best suited for all riding excursions across varied terrain.

But what really distinguishes these two types of bikes in terms of the biking experiences they provide is a complicated question? 

You may ask if it is possible to have just one of the two bicycle types for both road riding and cyclocross racing. Let’s talk about the top five significant distinctions between a simple bike (like a gravel bike) and a cyclocross bike before we answer these questions.

Storage Options

A cyclocross tournament usually lasts 30 to 90 mins and is done at an extremely high level of intensity.

As a result, the rider does not need to bring the goods that he or she would normally bring on a road or rocky ride. A flat tire repair kit, nutrition supplies, and a water bottle are examples of these.

In order to achieve a lighter structure and increased speed, a cyclocross bike will have to forego storage options that make room for these goods.

Because to be fair, it’s all about getting on the platform and performing rather than exerting! 

A gravel bike, on the other hand, will have lots of storage options to allow the rider to carry snacks, water, repairing tools, extra tubes, and anything else they might need during a long day in the saddle, especially if they get off the usual road.

Similarly, racks and fenders are frequently mounted on gravel bikes to increase their adaptability for traveling.


Round after grueling round, cyclocross races consist of a mixture of brief high-intensity exertions with constant severe braking into turns and quick acceleration and braking.

As a result, a cyclocross bike’s frame is usually stiffer in order to optimize the cyclist’s pedaling force and put every last ounce of energy into forward motion.

After all, every minute of this race is crucial. 

However, this can often result in a bike that is extremely stiff. Although some cyclists want a stiff chassis with a lot of street or gravel grip, some do not.

That’s why most gravel bikes have a design that is focused on comfort, with things like carbon layups and specialized tube geometries working together to reduce disturbances and hard blows from the rocky terrain, resulting in a more comfy racing experience over the span of a lengthy ride on either pavement, sand, or gravel.

Woman on a cyclocross bike in the mountains

Tips for Cyclocross Bikers

First Lap

The very first lap of the race is always hellish, and you have to be willing to push yourself to the edge in order to make it to the leading pack.

If you’re in lead after the first lap of a race, you’re likely to stay there until the end.

On a tiny track, practice going over your limit: one lap hard, one lap recovery works well, or find a bunch of friends to race with you and push each other, fighting for space.

Have some fun with it and see how well you might push yourself. This is also a terrific approach to boost your confidence on race day.


Crashing and falling off in a cyclocross race is perfectly common, whether you’re a professional or not. Try not to be discouraged by this because fortunately, in a cyclocross race, there is a softer landing.

Also, as a newbie, don’t make the mistake of assuming you need all of the tire possibilities.

A set of mud/gravel tires will provide you with all the traction you’ll need on any track.

Be Creative In Your Route

Understand that the brown ‘racing’ line isn’t necessarily the fastest and safest route around a track.

Train using various lines and tactics, observe other cyclists to see what they do correctly and incorrectly and adjust as circumstances change.

Some Tricks That Every Cyclocross Rider Should Have Up Their Sleeves

Pace Yourself

Don’t begin in a rut! Cyclocross is a lot of fun and serves for terrific fall training, but if you’ve just finished a season of racing or MTB racing, be cautious and regulate your exhaustion wisely.

Develop Your Aerobic Ability

Although cyclocross-specific practice seldom, if ever, requires more than three hours in a single session, it is beneficial to spend some time creating an aerobic foundation.


You’ll be able to do more activity at high severity and recover quicker from tougher workouts if you do aerobics.

If you’ve participated in a complete road or mountain bike campaign, you’ll probably only need 2 – 3 weeks to transition to higher-intensity training following a proper recovery.

8 weeks of cardio foundation work is recommended to prepare for the tournament if you haven’t been exercising at all.


Functional Reserve Capacity (FRC) is a model-based assessment of anaerobic workload which is described as “the entire amount of work that may be done during strenuous training exceeding FTP before exhaustion occurs.”

The greater this metabolic measure is, the more time we can stay over FTP in a systematic way. The key is to construct it right.

To enable repetition of peak performance, genuine max exertion requires at least 7-10 minutes of complete recovery. 

Facts about Cyclocross Racing

Cyclo-cross racing is the sport’s quickest segment, and for good reason: it’s also the most fun!

Cyclocross races normally last forty minutes or longer and are held on short circuits with each lap ranging from one to three kilometers in length. 

The riders start in a group and disperse out, with the faster riders doing more laps and keeping track of who is where. To the untrained eye, it is not always evident who is placing where until the very last moment.

Tracks are run on a variety of terrain, including mud, gravel, and sometimes some pavement, as well as a few barriers for participants to navigate, such as gravel pits and planks.

You can make cyclocross racing as tough as you would like it to be. You’ll all be riding in loops until the timer goes off, so even if you’re overtaken, you’ll only be a mile or two behind the victors.

There’s no need for anyone to know you’re a lap behind.