Can I put road tyres on a cyclocross bike?

Cyclocross bikes are increasingly popular as a rugged and robust alternative to a road bike. A cross bike, like a gravel bike, performs as well on the road as it does off it. Many riders who’ve never come across CX bikes before often wonder whether you can put road tyres on a cyclocross bike? The answer is yes - and here’s why you should.

Why should I fit road tyres to a cyclocross bike?

Cyclocross bikes are the perfect do-anything, go-anywhere bike. The knobby tyres fitted to cyclocross bikes look more like mountain bike tyres, and provide traction in the mud, enabling you to ride off-road. The wider tyres provide a greater contact area with the ground, giving extra grip.

Your current road bike is likely to be wearing 23c, 25c or 28c width tyres. Most cyclocross bikes will come fitted with much wider tyres. In comparison, the Boardman CXR 8.9 Cyclocross bike, for example, comes with wider 33c Donnelly Crusade PDX Tyres as standard.

If you are primarily using your cross bike for cycling on the roads while training or commuting, or want to turn it into a winter ride, then you should fit a set of road tyres.

A set of slick road tyres with a smaller contact surface will be much more efficient on the road than larger cyclocross tyres.

What type of wheels does my Cyclocross bike have?

Cyclocross bikes, like the majority of road bikes, run on 700c wheels. This means you can easily swap the knobbly tyres that come fitted with your CX bike to a set of road-specific tyres.

Can I fit road tyres to my cyclocross bike?

While the higher clearances on the frame allow you to use wider and fatter tyres on your cross bike, but they won’t stop you from fitting road tyres.

Before buying a set of road tyres, you need to know the rim size of your current wheels.

Rim size is a big issue in the bike world and is even covered by its own ISO Standard (ISO 5775). You should be able to find your rim size somewhere inside the wheel itself. You’ll see two numbers – 622 (the standard wheel size) and another number. The other figure is your rim width.

So, a marking of 622 x 19 would mean it’s a 700c wheel with a 19mm rim.

Most road bike wheel rims are 18-19mm, but cyclocross rims can sometimes be wider. The rule of thumb is not to fit a tyre that’s the same width or less than your rim. This can be dangerous and could leave you at risk of punctures as well as handling poorly.

Most cyclocross bike wheels have rims that can safely accommodate road tyres, but you should check before purchasing a set of new road tyres.

What road tyres should I buy?

The kind of road tyres you buy depends on a range of factors, such as your expectations, the performance you expect and your budget!

If you’re using your bike to commute, then we’d recommend investing in a puncture-resistant tyre like the Schwalbe Marathon. If you’re looking for a relabel training tyre for autumn and winter rides, the Vittoria Zaffiro bike tyre is a great option.

Ultimately the choice is yours. You can read more about how to select the right corners on our road tyres buying guide.

Fitting road tyres to a cyclocross bike is simple, but you should exercise care when removing and reinstalling the wheels if you have disc brakes. When fitting a new set of tyres, while you can reuse the old tubes, we recommend replacing them with new ones. And don’t forget to keep your old cyclocross tyres somewhere safe so you can refit them when the urge for adventure strikes again!