The Wyman Method For Selecting 'Cross Tires

The Wyman Method For Selecting 'Cross Tires

Oct 30, 2013 by Kevin McRee
The Wyman Method For Selecting 'Cross Tires
Photo: Corey Keizer

The British cyclocross star, Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team), has raced all over the world in a varity of conditions; sand, wet grass, mud, ice, muddy ice.  The European Champion has a wide selection of tires in her quiver and has even had her hand in helping develop tires for Challenge.

With the help of her husand/mechanic, Stefan Wyman, has developed a technique for selecting the best tire for almost every scenario.  The Challenge Tires athlete has put her method on paper and made it available to the public.   The "Wyman Method" shows in detail how she goes about choosing a tread for each type of condition.

From Challenge Tires:

The “Wyman Method” for selecting 'cross tires
Complete guide to Helen Wyman's cyclocross tire selection


CONDITION: Predominantly hard-packed ground

Dry first option: Grifo XS - Provided it was dry, I would start my pre-ride on the Grifo XS.  These tires are fast and you can be confident in the corners. If you find you slide beyond what you feel comfortable with in the corners, try to lower the pressure, in very small amounts.

Wet first option: Chicane - 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: Grifo - 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 they give you amazing variability when you alter the pressure.

REMEMBER:  You don't need to run the same tread front and back.  Also don't assume the same pressure front and back is the right option for you.

CONDITION: Dusty hard-packed ground

First option: Grifo - There is lots of time to be made in the approach and exit of a corner.  Having the confidence to carry race pace through a corner can be the difference between winning and loosing.  The Grifo provides excellent corner grip and gives you a great feeling of security when the bike isn't totally leaned over. 

Second option: Fango - These are a commonly-chosen option for people that like a fast-rolling tire with a little extra corner grip.  Varying your pressure between the front and back can transform the way these treads perform.

Other options and scenarios:

The Grifo XS could be great.  If the dusty areas of the course are straight, or if there are slow corners that take the skill element way, you might find you can excel with the Grifo XS.  These are fast tires and are more versatile than you might first expect.

REMEMBER: Always ride whats 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: Grifo - 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: Chicane - If the course is loose, but you fancy riding in a “foot out, flat out” style, try the Chicane. Maybe you'll slide a few more inches but you can be sure the side-knob grip is going to kick in and you'll be fast on the exit as soon as you hit the straight.

Other options and scenarios: Loose ground can cover many things. If the loose sections are on uphills, you need to consider a Limus rear so you can really get the power down and keep traction.

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

CONDITION: Dry course with short sand sections

First option: Whatever you would use 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 into the sand pit.

Second option: Grifo XS - If there are multiple sand sections, try the Grifo XS on a low pressure.  This is the natural choice for loose sand, but if its going to neutralize the way you ride the remainder of the course then its potentially not worth it.

REMEMBER: You can ride sand on any of the Challenge tire options. Dry sand is loose, and best ridden on a very low-pressure Grifo XS.  Ride the ruts, and look forward to the exit of the sand pit. 

CONDITION: Sandy course

Dry first Option: Grifo XS - This is the natural tire choice for these conditions. Think of the Koksijde World Cup course as a pure-sand course. You are aiming to float over the sand and keep as little sand flicking all over your drivetrain from the tire treads as possible.  Run them low.

Wet second option: Grifo - 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 towards speed more 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 lose 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 XS - There is more side grip on these than you might think at first. 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: Fango - The choice of many for grass is the Fango.  Fast in a straight line and great on off-camber, the Fango can give a great second option for grass races.  Even with higher pressure, these are option well worth trying.

Other options and scenarios: Chicane - The Chicane might give you that little more security in the corner, particularly where the grass is a little longer and you get some great bite in the large side knobs.

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. A change in these conditions means potential disaster recovery, so plan for it in advance.

CONDITION: Wet grass

First option: The Grifo is going to be a great option to try first off.  With wet conditions, be prepared to slip and slide and maybe keep the pressures towards your personal lower limits.  This will give you maximum contact in the corners and allow you to power away in the straights. 

Second Option: Limus - If you think the course could really get cut up, then consider the Limus. You'll have lots of grip and it will clear very quickly on any asphalt sections.

Other options and scenarios: If you feel the course will dry up very quickly, you could try the Chicane.  You'll still have all the corner grip and it could save you a bike change.

REMEMBER: Find the limits of the tires.  Don't change for a tread with more grip before you have experimented with your pressures.


First option: Limus - It will give you a consistent performance all the way around the course. They are faster than you think and shed well enough you might be able to get away with no pit changes.

Second option: Chicane - The Chicane could come into its own if you are still able to get the power down on the straights.  Lower pressure will help with somewhat slippy conditions and you have grip close to a Limus in the corners.

Other options and scenarios: Grifo - The Grifo is a very happy tire in the dirt, wet or dry.  Try it if you don't quite feel you are getting what you need out of the Limus or Chicane.

REMEMBER: Try to read the conditions. If you think it's going to dry up quickly, plan in advance.

CONDITION: Sticky mud

First option: Limus - The Limus is your best friend in these conditions.  All you need to focus on is finding the right pressure for you, then 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 Grifo, 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: Chicane will come into its own in these conditions showing its versatility if the mud is light. 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: Limus could be your best option especially if the day is warm enough for the course to defrost mid-race. 

Other options and scenarios: You might find a Limus on the rear and a Chicane on the front could be the fastest option. 

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

CONDITION: Snow and ice

First option: Grifo XS - This would be the first option for me in pre-ride. I want as much rubber on the floor when I hit ice.  Snow itself can give lots of grip in a corner so give the Grifo XS a try before scaling up your grip.

Second option: Chicane - This will give you a little more grip in the corner, helping you flow in the technical sections.  These are really good when the course has more protected areas like in woods where less snow has reached the ground.

Other options and scenarios: Fango - Fangos are good in the ice.  How much of the course has exposed ice is something you need to consider.  You might find the Fango is a great option for you.

REMEMBER: Riding in ice is a confidence thing. The more you can ride a course like you would in the dry, the better you are going to be.  Try to adjust your tread choice, not your riding style.


First option: Grifo XS - With all icy conditions I try to ride the Grifo XS. They grip by giving me a lot of surface area on the floor, plus they keep me quick in the straights.

Second option: Fango - This is a good option on the ice. Running low pressures they give exceptional grip and seem to be very at home in the ice.

Other options and scenarios: If you suspect the course will warm up and might get more slick in the corners, start with the Chicane and certainly consider this on the front.

REMEMBER: As with other conditions, set your second bike up to try to predict for course changes and certainly give yourself a more secure option for a last-minute change before you can get your pit crew to change your option for you.