Review: Clement Xplor MSO 700 x 40 gravel grinder tire

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Clement Xplor MSO gravel grinder tire 700 x 40 review

I recently purchased a Clement Xplor MSO 700c x 40mm tire to test and see if that’s what I want to run for the Dirty Kanza 200 race this year. I rode it last weekend in a 100k semi-wet gravel grinder on my Orbea Terra TLT cyclocross bike, so I wanted to write a review of my experience so far with the tire.

The first thing you’ll notice about this tire is that it is seriously wide, at 40 mm. Previously, I have been riding a Stan’s Raven 700 x 38 cyclocross tire, which sounds almost as wide but doesn’t feel or look it. The Clement is much beefier.

I am new to gravel grinding, so I was drawn to this tire because of the extra wide 40 mm side. I put it on the front so that I could drift through deeper sections of gravel without that scary feeling where it seems like you have completely lost traction and you’re just kind of floating on the outside edge of control.

I ride my Stan’s Raven tires tubeless, as they are designed to be ridden. But the Clement is not described anywhere as a tubeless tire. So I have been running it with a tube for now. I saw a blog post where someone had set this tire up tubeless successfully, so I hope to try that out so that I can ride it with sealant, at slightly lower pressure, and without the extra weight and pinch flat potential of a tube. Not that I’ve never actually pinch flatted a front tire….

When I rode the tire the first time on a pavement ride, it felt like riding on a wonderful, cushiony cloud. The extra volume of the tire gives you a really nice and plush feeling. The tire ran a little bit noisier than my Stan’s Raven, but it still rolled fast enough that I wasn’t struggling to push it over pavement. I even did a short group ride where I rode this bike and everyone else was on a road bike, and was able to hang okay. So although it is a relatively heavy tire with a lot of tread, it still rolls very fast, considering.

The XPlor MSO comes in a 60 tpi and a 120 tpi version, and I bought the more expensive 120 tpi version. It is a folding bead tire. I read somewhere that it also has a Kevlar layer for flat protection, but I can’t find any information on the manufacturer’s site to verify this is the case. The tire has a claimed weight of 485 grams. (Compare to 360 grams for my Stan’s Raven tubeless 700 x 35 cyclocross tire, a narrower tire.)

Clement Xplor MSO tread view tire review

So how did the tire do on the Red River Riot gravel grinder? In short, it was completely awesome. I ran the tire at 40 pounds, and probably could have gone lower than that. But traction was outstanding at 40. It even did well going through some of the muddier spots, clearing itself pretty quickly on the other side. I never felt any scary moments on it. Maybe that means I wasn’t riding fast enough, but I’m new to gravel, so that’s my excuse. It rolled very fast and comfortably on dirt and gravel. No flats.

I am very happy with this tire, and plan to use it as my front tire for the Dirty Kanza 200. (I’m still trying to decide what I am going to use for my rear tire.)

Here is what the manufacturer says about this tire:

The X’Plor MSO is a 700 x 40mm adventure tire designed for mixed conditions. The combination of smooth-rolling center knobs and aggressive shoulder lugs provide great traction and durability for dirt roads, trails, cyclocross, urban assault and even pavement. The MSO will fit on your cyclocross bike, commuter, and touring bike.

The MSO tire is named for the airport code of Missoula, Montana, home of the Adventure Cycling Association and the inspiration for countless cycling journeys.

Clement’s X’Plor adventure tire series is designed to bridge the gap between pavement and blazing your own trail. Each tire within this series is designed for multiple conditions from off-road touring to gravel racing to just getting outta’ Dodge.

Product Features:

Size: 700 x 40 mm
Tread: Smooth-rolling center knobs and aggressive shoulder lugs. Soft rubber compound for extra grip and shock absorption.
Casing: 60tpi or 120tpi versions available.
Details: Clincher, folding bead, color black

UPDATE:

I used this tire in the 2013 Dirty Kanza 200, and it performed flawlessly. I set it up tubeless, and ran it at 37 pounds of pressure, as a front tire. I used Caffelatex sealant, and successfully finished with zero flats in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Great control in the gravel. Good comfort with the wide 40mm tire size. This tire is not listed as a tubeless tire, so I would guess that it completely voids your warranty and you are on your own if you run tubeless like I did.

Questions about the tire? Have you had experience with this tire yourself? Leave a comment and let me know!

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  1. Thanks for the review. Just bought a set of these, which I run on my Salsa Vaya.

    Note that I have been running my front tire, *with* tube, at around 37 p.s.i. on local gravel here in New England (including some very pointy, flinty stuff and some very large, marbly stuff) with great success. FYI, I weigh around 160 lbs.

  2. Hi Lars, thanks for this review.
    I too bought a set of these tires for my gravel bike, and so far, I love ‘em!
    With tubes, I’ve run them as low as 20lbs(front)/28lbs(rear) on lots of gravel road, and 40km of moderately rough (sometimes rooty) doubletrack trail, with no pinch flats or other issues. I admit, it felt a bit risky running them this low with tubes, but the ride was great.
    I’m very interested to try running these tubeless. So I’m curious to know if you have any updates on your experiment with them. I see you used the Caffelatex sealant. Did you use a rim strip (Stans or otherwise)?
    Thanks

    • @Cmdr

      Thanks for the review!

      When I ran them tubeless for the Dirty Kanza 200, I did not use any rim strips. I was using the Dura Ace road tubeless wheels, which are airtight. I have done any gravel grinders since June when I did the Kanza and have pretty much only ridden my road bike, so I haven’t really put any more miles on them since then.

  3. I too recently bought a set of these in preparation for (hopefully) the Dirty Kanza 200 and some other long, crazy stuff coming up.

    Today I mounted one on my Stan’s Iron Cross rim – I’m really hoping to run these tubeless, and it almost seemed loose. Can’t fathom there being a tight enough seal to run em tubeless, which is what I wish to do.

    Did you or anyone else out there have a similar problem at first? Thanks for taking the time to review your experience with this tire!

    • @Ride On

      With mine, it was pretty much like mounting any other tubeless tire on a mountain bike rim. It went on there, and it blew some air and sealant out the side when I was pumping it up, and then you’d hear it slide into place and make that popping sound where the tire goes into the groove of the rim and settles into place. After that, it was good to go.

      Did you actually try to put it on tubeless, or are you just looking at it after sliding it on the rim with no air yet?

      • I am new to tubeless – these are only the second set I’ve tried mounting onto my Iron Cross rims. When I initially put the tire on it was loose and when I tried pumping in air it would hold none. I guess I need to get one side secure and fiddle around with it until it gets some volume into it. Once you hear the magic pop it appears all is good.

        I guess my initial concern is that I was having air escaping from the sides and it didn’t appear I’d be able to get any volume into the tire at all.

        I am doing a lot of riding this winter on pavement with maybe 10% off road so am saving the Clements for March or so so as not to thrash them on the pavement. I’ll give your advice a try when mounting, as I’d much rather run tubeless than mess with tubes.

        Really appreciate your help and insight.

        • @Ride On

          I typically only have success getting a tubeless tire onto the rim when I use a small compressor that I keep at home. I’m pretty bad and messy about setting something up tubeless.

          Although I just put a new tire on my 29er American Classic carbon wheels a week ago, and I used a bowl of warm, soapy water to get the bead wet while I was running the compressor pumping air in. It was the cleanest install I have ever done, with the least amount of sealant wasted.

          I didn’t even put the sealant in until AFTER I got it to seal. I blew the tire up until it popped on, and then let the air out and removed the core. Then I put my Caffelatex sealant in there, but the core back in and blew it back up with the compressor. It barely wasted any sealant that way.

          I typically have an easier time putting on larger 29er tires and a more difficult time the narrower and smaller the tires get. I often have to drive to the bike shop to get help with my Stan’s Raven CX tires, for example. But I was able to get those Clements on by myself.