by Helen Wyman

Former professional CX rider - 10 x British CX Champion, 2 x European Champion

CONDITION: Hard packed ground (#)

First Option Dry: Provided it was dry (Potentially dusty), I would start my pre-ride on the Dune. These tires are very fast and have more grip in the corner than you’d imagine. If you find you slide beyond what you feel comfortable with in the corners, try to lower the pressure, in very small increments.

First Option Wet: Hard Packed Ground when wet will usually only give you a problem in the corners and transition areas. I would first try the Chicane as these give you all of the confidence in the corners. You might even be able to run these at a slightly higher pressure, as you’ll naturally have the grip in the corner.

Other Options and Scenarios: If the course has muddy sections due to the wet (Maybe you are in a late race and the course is already cut up), then go with the Grifo. This is a great option providing you with the best of both worlds above. You can be confident with a Grifo and it gives you amazing variability when you alter the pressure.

REMEMBER: You don’t need to run the same tire tread front a back. Also don’t assume the same pressure front and back is the right option for you. Always ride what’s best for you. Don’t be influenced by those around you. Riding with confidence in your equipment makes you fast. Approaching a corner slowly because you’ve risked a more aggressive tire choice could slow your lap time down.

CONDITION: Loose over Hard packed ground (#)

First Option: When the ground is loose, you need to feel at one with your bike. You need to put your focus in pre-ride to find the best lines. The Grifo gives you the ability to move around on your bike and give you the right balance between grip and speed on the straights.

Second Option: If the course is loose, but you fancy riding in a “foot out flat out” way, try the Chicane. Maybe you’ll slide a few more inches but you can be sure the side wall grip is going to kick in and you’ll be fast on the exit as soon as you hit the straight again.

Other Options and Scenarios: Loose ground can be cover to many things. If the loose sections are on up hills, you need to consider a Baby Limus rear so you can really get the power down and keep traction.

REMEMBER: Always consider the type of loose ground you on. You might want to run slightly higher pressure to avoid a flat if there are large stones on the course. Ride with finesse and you’ll be fine. My tip would be to have a slightly higher pressure on your pit bike to avoid a 2nd issue.

CONDITION: Dry course with short sand sections (#)

First Option: Whatever you would have used for the course should the sand not be there. Don’t change your race for one short section of sand. Consider the remainder of the course first and put your energy into being first in the sand pit.

Second Option: If there are multiple sand sections, try the Dune on low pressure. This can be a good choice for loose sand, but if it’s going to neutralize the way you ride the remainder of the course then it’s potentially not worth it.

REMEMBER: You can ride sand on any of the Challenge tire options. Dry sand is loose, and often best ridden on a round tread with low side knobs to avoid grabbing the sand, like the Grifo or Dune. Ride the ruts, and look forward to the exit of the sand pit.

CONDITION: Sandy Course (#)

First Option: Koksijde was created for the pure sand World Cup course in the Belgian coastal town by the same name. You are looking to float over the sand and keep as little sand flicking all over your drive train from the tire treads as possible. Run the pressure very low.

Thijs Aerts and Thibau Nys both won the Belgian Championships on this course, one week after receiving the very first Koksijde tire to try.

Second Option: Dune can be another good choice for these conditions. Run them low.

Third Option: The Grifo might allow you to run a slightly more balanced race. If there is a little moisture in the ground, a fraction of the skill of sand riding has been taken away, and the sand will lean more towards speed than balance. Having the ability to corner fast in the wetter corners could mean faster entrance to sand sections.

Other Options and Scenarios: If you have sand on one side of course and not on the other, you could consider 2 set ups if there are going to be a large number of pit changes. If you can change fast you won’t loose time and could have the best options for both sides of the course.

REMEMBER: When riding sand, steer with your eyes by being focused on the exits to the sand zones. You can ride sand on any of the tire options available from Challenge. Start aggressive and move up the grip options as you feel necessary.

CONDITION: Dry Grass (#)

First Option: Grifo - I tend to run slightly lower pressure in the front for my first lap of pre-ride and see how that rolls. Dry grass and fast transitions make for quick races.

Second Option: The choice of many for grass is the Chicane. Fast in a straight line and great on camber, the chicane can give a great second option for grass races. Even with higher pressure, these are option well worth trying.

Other Options and Scenarios: The Baby Limus might give you that little more security in the corner, particularly where the grass is a little longer and you get some great hook up in the large side wall tread. Or the Dune will be ideal for those confident in a course, perhaps varying their line accordingly as a race progresses.

REMEMBER: If you are pushing things with your first option, put a more grippy option onto your 2nd bike. A fast dry course should mean no changes. Any change in these course conditions means potential disaster recovery, so plan for it in advance.

CONDITION: Wet Grass (#)

First Option: Wet grass means you need to be very aware of changes of condition during a race and try to predict what you might need. Things can change a lot from your warm-up. Moisture comes out of the grass as it’s ridden over, so the conditions can change slightly. Often you see this with slippery corners. I’d start with a Chicane, But be prepared to switch.

Second Option: I’d have a Grifo on my 2nd bike. I’d run them nice and low to try to cover a lot of options.

Other Options and Scenarios: If you think the course could really cut up, then consider the Baby Limus. You’ll have lots of grip and it will clear very quickly on any little asphalt sections that you may have.

REMEMBER: Find the limits of the tyres. Don’t change for more grip before you have experimented with your pressures.

CONDITION: Wet Dirt (#)

First Option: Limus gives you a consistent performance all around the course on wet as on very soggy dirt. They are faster than you think and mean you might be able to get away with no pit changes.

Second Option: Baby Limus is one step down from the Limus in terms of grip, but for a more aggressive option on not so soggy courses, this could be the one. If you’re lacking grip, lower the pressure.

Other Options: Grifo is a very happy tire in the dirt, wet or dry.

CONDITION: Sticky Mud (#)

First Option: Limus is your best friend in these conditions. All you need to be focused on is finding the right pressure for you, if you can be confident you can ride where others can’t.

Second Option: If you don’t have a Limus in your armory, then consider the Baby Limus nice and low. Get that tread flat across the mud and you will be amazed at the grip.

Other Options and Scenarios: You might be able to get away with a Grifo on the front and Limus on the rear. If the course has multiple long straights, you might be fine with this as it allows you to get the power down and maybe keep the speed up on the asphalt.

REMEMBER: Ride the ruts. They are faster and you can see what’s in them rather than hit hidden obstacles.

CONDITION: Snowy Mud (#)

First Option: Dune will come into its own in these conditions showing its versatility. Snow means cold so the grip will be needed in the corners. You might have hidden frozen ruts so plan for slightly higher pressures when first checking out a course.

Second Option: Chicane could be your best option especially if the day is warm enough for the course to defrost mid race. It also has a little more bite in the corners if the snow is loose.

Other Options and Scenarios: You might find a Limus or Baby Limus on the rear and a Chicane on the front could be the fastest option.

REMEMBER: Frozen courses have a lot of hidden problems. It's worth an extra warm up lap to try to get the course very dialed in.