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Road bike on the Katy?

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Slooow Jarome from El Reno, OK on 2/19/2005 1:13:22 PM:
My Dad and I are planning to ride the Katy from Clinton to Dutzow this

June. Is it feasible to use my road bike? The widest tires I can use

are probably 700 x 25. Thanks for any input!

Paul Knoblock from Florissant,MO on 2/25/2005 10:25:24 PM:
I have a road bike and would not consider riding it on the Katy. I do have friends that do though, but most use mountain or hybrid bikes. If the trail is wet your tires may sink into the trail a bit. There are wash outs that you may encounter and loose sections of gravel near the gates by cross roads. I definitely would not inflate your tires to their maximum capacity. I bought a cyclocross bike specifically for the Katy and commuting to work. It has 700x32 tires and is great. I am mostly a roadie but the Katy Trail is a great way to get away to nature. Happy riding!

Sloow Jarome from El Reno, Okla on 2/27/2005 5:41:17 PM:
Thanks Paul.
I was kinda leaning in the same direction.
Appreciate your input.

Sharon E from KC on 3/13/2005 9:19:26 PM:
I would not even attempt the trail on a road bike, unless you are just fond of lots and lots of flat tires. The trail near St. Louis has places where you can get by with a road bike, but the trail on the Clinton end is more like a gravel road. I ride a mountain bike that I have put 1" tires with a smoother tread and it is great for most of the trail, but there are places where it is a little dicey. I would opt for tires not smaller than 1", but you don't necessarily need full blown 2.5 inch knobbies.

waughtwin from tulsa on 3/22/2005 6:26:38 PM:
I tried that and I hated it. If I do it again I will use 32 tires.

Doug from Ft Lauderdale FL on 4/8/2005 12:58:58 PM:
Paul, could you tell me what type of tires you ride on in that 700-32 size??? Anyone else too, please! List not just the size but what make and model for us "foreigners"!!

My wife and I are planning to do the trail (Sedalia to St Charles) in June. We have touring bikes with 700x32s (28x1 5/8x1 1/4): my Volpe (sorta a cross bike) with "WTB Allterrainasuarus" and my wifes touring bike has "Kenda Eurotrek".. they both have somewhat aggressive tread for a road tire.

So our question is: is this not only do-able (obviously it can be done) but would it be too much walking, slogging and slipping to be fun?

ANY help will be greatly appreciated!

Nails on 4/23/2005 7:52:38 PM:
In September 2004, we rode the KATY from Sedalia to St. Charles on a tandem with 700x28 Continental tires. We had 3 punctures between Clifton City and Huntsdale. I certainly had to keep a close eye on the trail to watch for obstacles and dismounted several times for things I would have just gone over on a mountain bike.

Paul Knoblock from Florissant,MO on 4/24/2005 10:26:56 AM:
Sorry for the delay on my response. The tires that came on the bike are Bontrager (Jones CX) 700x32 tires. They are great for the Katy but too knobby for commuting on the road. I do ride to work on them though. Happy Riding!!!!

Jim Waits from Dallas on 4/26/2005 9:57:39 PM:
I purchased a hybrid in March, primarily for the Katy ride. The 700x40 Kenda tires may be more than I need, but I don't want to find out post-trip that I had tires that couldn't handle the trail conditions! When I make the trip this weekend to St. Louis to pick up my college student, I am strapping on the bike and planning a short ride on the Katy to check out the crushed limestone. Hopefully we will all have good both weather and riding conditions.

Slooow Jarome from El Reno, OK on 5/11/2005 8:33:54 AM:
I did break down and buy a mountain bike.Running semi-slick tires on it.
Now all I have to do is wait for the trip to begin! Thank you all for the input.

MLH from Overland Park on 7/15/2005 9:16:55 PM:
I have researched and experimented with tires extensively with respect to these crushed limestone rails-to-trails, which I love to ride being a railfan and all. Punctures can ruin a trip but so can rolling resistance and lots of weight. For my hardtail MTB I have found what I think may be the best choice for the KATY and similar trails: the Continental Travelcontact 26 x 1.75. It has the mandatory Kevlar belt, a Duraskin sidewall and as importantly, a perfect tread for this type of trail: relatively smooth center with knobbed edges and no fine grooves that collect small pebbles. It also comes in 700 x 37 for hybrids and some road bikes (if there is chainstay clearance). Note the Contis tend to run slightly narrow as the 26 x 1.75 measures about 44mm, not 47 as it should which is fine as it rolls great and I have yet to have a puncture. Use their 1.75-2.5 200gm tube. See at

A second choice, especially for 700 x 37mm would be the Hutchinson Acrobat Stop Puncture. This also comes in a MTB tire but it is wider at 1.95 and a fair amount heavier. See at

Note that neither tire is available in the lighter folding version in the USA. Happy riding!

John from West Palm Beach on 7/29/2006 12:57:04 AM:
Plans are in the works for an east to west transcontinental bicycling tour in 2007. The Katy Trail is part of the route. Because so much of this route in over bike paths and paved roadways, I will be using a touring bike with 27 by 1 1/4 inch tires. How would such tires deflated to 80 p.s.i. stand the trail surface?

Ramaniac from St. Peters on 4/23/2007 10:41:45 PM:
I just purchased a 27x1-3/8 wheel and knobby tire for my Schwinn Worldsport(road bike). The man at Momentum Cylcles in St. Peters suggested that we Slime the tube. He also suggested doing it to the front tube. My front wheel will be a 27x1-1/4 that came on the bike. I may replace the tire and tube if he suggests it.

Adam from Kansas City, MO on 4/24/2007 9:22:11 PM:
Is there any section of the trail which is generally better for road bikes?

Jeff from Ottumwa, Iowa on 5/1/2007 8:28:37 PM:
My dad and I rode from Jefferson City to St. Charles this past weekend. My dad had a mt. bike with slick tires and I had a road bike with 23cm tires and panniers. Even with three or four days of rain prior to our ride, the trail was dry and very few ruts or other surface issues. I was concerned that it would be a muddy mess and that my road tires would be a disaster. Quite the opposite--there was never a point in the entire 110 miles that I felt uncomfortable ridng ont he narrow tires, even with two full rear panniers. I guess it gets back to riding what you are comfortable with....

Eric Stechmann from MO on 5/1/2007 8:49:42 PM:
I love riding my 2005 Giant OCR Limited Composite road bike (700cm X 25cm tires) on the Katy Trail. In fact, I rode about 1000 miles on that bike on the Katy in 2006 and didn't have one flat. I ran into a rut just south of Rocheport that wasn't fun, but no damage. In some of the cliff sections you will find small to fist sized rocks on the trail, so keep your eyes peeled. Road or Mountain, enjoy.

Ben from Columbia, MO on 7/15/2008 6:19:11 PM:
I have logged many miles on the Katy with both mountain and road bikes. If you are treking long distances and am comfortable on a road bike I would not ride anything else. Roadies know that road bikes offer a much more comfortable riding position for lengthy rides. I have kevlar lined 700x25 tires on my road bike and have not had a flat yet on the Katy (knock on wood). The only down side of using the road bike is some of the trails that connect the Katy to other sites. The trail in Rocheport that goes up to the winery is more of a singletrack mountain trail but it is not a big deal to just walk yor road bike up or lock at the bottom. Road bikes are also nicer for venturing off the trail and into the different towns that like the trail.

Matt from St. Charles on 8/16/2008 1:01:25 AM:
Road bikes are faster and easier to ride than mountain bikes, but ever since my friend had to ride back to his car on a flat tire for 40 miles, I have kept the road bikes off the gravel. I will add that he had used his road bike multiple times on the Katy before the tire finally went flat so I guess the moral of the story is to make sure to inspect your tires before you ride, no matter what bike or what trail. I know that if you ask a bike salesperson about buying a bike for the Katy, they will not recommend that you buy a road bike.

Doug from Bluffton on 8/16/2008 9:09:54 PM:
Of course, spare tubes, a patch kit and a pump are good ideas no matter what tires you use.

Speedy on 9/9/2008 10:20:37 AM:
Get yourself some knobby tires + tire liners and you'll be fine.

Bruce from O'Fallon IL on 6/5/2009 3:58:59 PM:
I've ridden the entire trail twice. A street tire is doable, but I'd find myself focusing too much on the tire and not seeing the sites, which I why a person rides the trail. With a MTB tire or at least a 1.5" high pressure tire w/ Kevlar or goop, you won't have to pay attention to the periodic ruts, bridges or occasional thorns. Both trips, I used 2.5" MTB low pressure tires w/ goop. Had no problems. My riding partner, however, didn't have goop and got a bunch of flats (around the Boonville area). When he ran out of patches, I gave him my spare pre-gooped tube and he finished the trail w/o flats. I hate changing flats, so I'll live with whatever hypothetical (and in my view fictional) added weight and speed reduction comes from adding goop to tires for off-road rides. The peace of mind is well worth it.

cunninghamair from O'Fallon, MO on 6/6/2009 8:34:38 PM:
This question was posted in '05!

Bob from Lexington SC on 6/12/2009 8:27:13 PM:
I plan on riding the trail in the Jeff City area this July. I am coming from SC to ride with relatives and will be using a new caron road bike. Is the trail in and around the Jeff City area congenial to my bike using 700x23 tires?

AF on 6/14/2009 9:30:45 PM:
I have a road bike, Specialized Allez with 700x28 tires. I'm pretty sure any road bike will take 28 mm tires and they work just fine.

Jerry from Yellowstone County, MT on 3/18/2013 10:54:19 AM:
I'm planning on a cross country tour this summer and hope to incorporate the KATY Trail into it (Sorry I can't make the organized ride. Sounds like fun). I'm curious about the surface of the trail. I know is not asphalt but some kind of crushed stone for the most part. I'll be riding a fullly loaded touring bike with Schwalbe Marathon tires (700x32). I hope to be riding the KATY in mid-September. Should I anticipate any problems? I especially loathe flats. Any other pertinent information you would like to offer on the trail is more than welcome.

Thanks for any informatin.


MidSouth from Rogersville, MO on 3/18/2013 11:11:43 AM:
Jerry, the Marathons in 32mm should be about perfect for the KATY. I ride the KATY a lot loaded and unloaded with Continental Touring Plus 32mm. By September the trail will be packed down hard and you should be able to roll along just fine.

dave from lowry city, mo on 3/18/2013 3:27:13 PM:
i rode the rail last year end to end on 700x28 with no flats and no other problems

Steve from St. Louis on 3/30/2013 1:19:15 PM:
My wife and I are in Rocheport right now (Yates House) in the middle of a Katy Trail ride. Both of us are on road bikes (I am on a fixed gear with a 1973 Schwinn Paramount frame) with about 25 lbs of packs. I have 32 mm and she has 28 mm Gatorskins and we have had no problems. I have ridden on the Katy Trail many times with my setup without problems. However, I wouldn't ride it on a tire that doesn't have some sort of flat protection.

Jim from Warrensburg on 4/13/2013 12:44:03 PM:
As I look over the comments, I wonder how much trail conditions have changed since the question was first posed a few years ago, or how much tires have improved. I have a Schwinn 4130, on older road bike with 27 inch tires and 1-1/4 tires, equating to just under 32 mm. I have ridden the Katy from Clinton to Pilot Grove, various segments many times. Not only is the Katy possible on a road bike, I find it to be much more enjoyable then on my mountain bike. You can move faster with less effort, covering more ground and seeing more in a given period of time.

Last year, I had a number of flat tires, ALL of which occurred on actual roads. Not one on the Katy. This with the cheapest possible Kendas. This year, I am using Schwalbe Greenguards, which are supposed to much more puncture resistant, not because of trail conditions, but because of road conditions. I have found far more hazards along roads by far than along the Katy.

My advice? Yes, you can take a road bike on the Katy. As with anything, check current weather conditions, ensure you have good tires and regardless where you ride, plan for emergencies. Happy Riding, and I hope to see you on the trail!

ArkyKenny on 4/13/2013 1:48:01 PM:
It is for many of the same reasons you discussed that I have switched from 700 x 23 on the road to 700x 28 on the road. The shoulder of the road is full of debris, gravel, dead animals, etc, and for me, the bigger tires running 90 lb of pressure are less flat prone than skinny tires running 120 lb of air. That, plus of option of taking off Into the rough if a car gets too close, plus the fact that I'm an old dude and not racing anyone all contribute to that decision. Plus, my Surly Pacer road bike will accommodate the larger tires.

But I will agree to disagree with you on road tires on the Katy: I like semi slick 40's or 1 1/2 inch wide tires that keep me out of ruts and give a softer ride.

Merrill from Albuquerque, NM on 4/23/2013 2:03:24 PM:
My credentials: I rode KATY both directions 500 miles last Sept. without even needing to pump my tires, never mind getting a flat. I used Panaracer RiBMo 700c x 35c tires (32c would have been OK; 28c probably OK as well). I used thorn resistant tubes and Flat Attack sealer. I rode a loaded camping touring bike, so the extra weight wasn't really noticed, just a bit slower acceleration. The RiBMo tires have a siped tread (almost a slick), and they'll take 90 psi (!) so they roll very, very well on the crushed limestone trail as well as on pavement. I liked them so well, I kept them on my touring bike which doubles as my commuter bike. They haven't needed airing up all winter, and I live in New Mexico where we have worse thorns than in MO.

Andy Mayberry from St. Louis on 4/24/2013 3:11:29 PM:
We have rode the KATY from Clinton to St. Charles, & St. Charles to Clinton 14 times,
I ride a rode bike I have Gatorskin Tires 700 X 28
with tire liners, & carry 2 intertubes, never had a problem

Anonymous on 4/28/2013 10:16:50 PM:
I rode Clinton to Maachens last September on a road bike with 700 x 25 tires with not one flat. I was Very lucky , as several of my riding buddies with hybrids had flats along the way.

El Toro on 4/29/2013 4:43:04 PM:
Awww...the on-going tire debate.

I know my experience/preference isn't popular with many other trail riders but I ride the KATY all the time on tires that are 25-28 (depending on which bike I ride).

Never had a problem. MUCH more important to me than the width of the tire is the quality of FLAT PROTECTION the tire has.

I've had really good luck with Bontrager Hard Case tires. They aren't the most comfortable, compliant tire in the world, but I've changed VERY FEW flats. I DO NOT like changing flats along side the KATY!

That's my 2 cents. Whatever you ride...ENJOY!

Bryan from Saint Louis, MO on 9/17/2015 8:51:31 PM:
Just rode from the Page Extension to Bernheimer on some 25mm Gator Hardshell tires. Averaged 10mph or so with generally a smooth ride. There were a couple of rough spots that weren't too bad. However, any parts that have fresh gravel laid down do get pretty dicey; thankfully, they don't last too long. It's still very doable.