Review: Clement Xplor MSO 700 x 40 gravel grinder tire

by Lars

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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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