Old tourer to gravel - dangerous


I fancied a bit of a run out in the mud. Didn't want to splash out on a new bike straight away so put some Schwalbe Marathons ( 25s) on my old road/touring bike ( 20 years old Pearsons Cycles Audax). I don't have discs, massive frame clearance or masses of easy gears but in a route around the Surrey hills, off road, thick mud, rocky descents, wet and muddy climbs ( the only thing that stopped me was 8inch deep mud as my feet were hitting it) It coped with it all.

Question really is is this dangerous in terms of frame/ fork strength or damaging the wheels because of the tyre size?

I got some very strange looks from a couple of scramble bikers and a MTBer.


Probably fine. You might be pushing it if it has low-spoke-count wheels, but doubt an Audax bike would have those! Otherwise, what works, works.
I fitted some Gravel Tyres to my 20 year old Dawes Galaxy last year and successfully used it for 12 months as an off road Gravel Bike. The old steel tourers are tough old things and not that far different to modern Gravel Bikes in terms of geometry and wheel base. The big difference to you, is that I fitted 38mm tyres and certainly wouldn't entertain travelling the forests around here with anything less. Even the 38's struggle with mud and off road traction at times.
Anyone remember the days when we had one do it all bike(early fifties mid sixties).The bike i had then was used for weekend club runs touring commuting rough stuff.Took the mudguards off and road a club time trial .Did 1 Hour8 mins Bike was a Dawes Clansman Tubing unknown. Eventually bought a track bike.Fixed gear converted for road use.


Über Member
My road bike with 28 wide tyres is pretty happy on most rough surfaces, but mud plugging isn't my idea of fun so i steer clear of that. For comfort and control though, i much prefer being on a hybrid on anything rough.
But you can pretty much make any bike go anywhere if you accept its compromises.


Manchester. UK
I ride off road on 23's. Marketeers have invented Mountain, Gravel, Hybrid etc etc. Time was we did virtually everything on a "road" bike. I still do.
I regularly ride off road, muddy tracks, gravel, loose rock etc on a road bike with 25's. No problem. If I was constantly off road I'd probably go a lot wider, but for mixed use, mostly potholed road, current setup is fine. Frame material is irrelevant to me.

Gravity Aided

Legendary Member
Land of Lincoln
I like having disc brakes for the mud, but otherwise, around these parts (Midwest USA) the roads can go from asphalt or concrete to macadam to gravel to dirt in a few miles, so I ride with wide enough tires to take what the route hands me.
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