I'm a road cyclist at heart. About a year ago, after many years of road racing, I dipped my toes into the gravel scene. As I became more comfortable on unpaved roads, I began to wonder if something lighter and more nimble would work better for me. The answer seemed to be the 35 mm Bon Jon (light casing) manufactured by Panaracer for Compass. During the winter I tried this tire with Schwalbe ultralight butyl tubes on high speed group rides on Hilton Head Island SC. They worked as well as my 28mm Conti 4000 IIS's. So, as far as pavement is concerned, I was sold on the wider is better assertions of Compass. Now that I'm back on dirt and gravel in NH, I wanted to see how well the Bon Jon's would fare on my favorite dirt and gravel roads in "mud season". While Compass advertises these tires as "tubeless compatible" some other posters had noted problems with these puppies holding air while mounted tubeless - especially the light casing version that I'm running. Rather than take a chance, I decided to switch to Challenge 28-35 mm latex tubes. While these tubes are more expensive, and require more care in installation than the Schwalbe butyl they replaced, they allow me to run the Bob Jon's at 5-10 PSI less pressure. I'm currently running them at around 30-35 PSI. After a week of pretty rough riding in rural Hillsborough county NH, they are holding up very well. I do have to pump the tires every day, latex doesn't hold air as well as butyl, but the softer tire do a great job absorbing rough roads bumps and seem to be working out as as a very good substitute for tubeless. Great tire and tube combination for riding hard pack dirt and gravel as well as pavement. One other note: I'm a skinny roadie -- 5'11", 148 pounds, with many years on the road. I'm very easy on wheels and tires. Not sure how well this tire and tube combination would hold up to heavier riders and rougher surfaces. The Bon Jon sidewalls, while supple and light, would be susceptible to cuts and abrasion on rocky terrain. Also, pinch flats would be more of a risk at very low pressure.
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Bob, I have had very good luck with those tubes 35-40 psi, Challenge Gravel Race tires 38c. No sealant issues. 165 lb rider weight. I have ridden some nasty stuff, rail ballast, rocks, etc, with no issues. One pinch flat up in Baxter State Park last year, tall grass, didn't see a large hole.
Enlightenment begins where the pavement ends. [idea]
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