New Tire Fail!

5 11 2012

Heading out to test some new rubber…

Got out on the new rubber I installed recently and the results were shocking!

First what was good?:

  • traction was excellent as expected
  • tubeless worked without any issues
  • smaller outer diameter meant slightly lower gearing
  • lighter tires + wheels accelerated a bit better
  • lighter wheels were more responsive to steering

Conditions were moist…

So what was the problem?

  • smaller wheels got hung up on roots/rocks/etc…
  • lower BB got loads of pedal and bashguard strikes
  • smaller tires gave much harsher ride even on a full suspension bike
  • steering less stable [more twitch]
  • overall slower  and less fun to ride bike

I like fat tires. That’s not a surprise, but I just didn’t appreciate how good I had it with the Trail Kings in 2.4″. I could measure the difference up front as ~20mm in overall diameter. The rear wasn’t as easy, but it looked to be the same if not a tad more. That’s ~10mm in BB height difference. Doesn’t sound like much, but it was.

2.25″ Ardents = 20mm clearance…

I rode trails I’m very familiar with on the TKs and at almost every point I was thinking this is not nearly as much fun as the old tires even with less grippy worn tread. The passive suspension action of big supple tires is amazing even on my 6″+ travel FS bike. It lets me tune the suspension for the medium to big hits and the tires deal with the low amplitude high frequency stuff.

2.4″ Trail Kings = 10mm clearance…

Owning a 29er the idea that wheels that are 3″ bigger give a different ride is not news to me, but really big wheels have downsides to go with the benefits. What shocked me is how much different 20mm in wheel diameter rides on my Nomad. That benefit comes with limited downsides since the wheels aren’t radically different in size/weight.

It’s all gone green…

What’s really funny is my riding has improved a lot over the last 2 years on my Nomad. Of course I attributed that to my general awesomeness! 😉 But, now looking back I can see I kept going bigger on my tires until I was at the TKs on the P35s which is the largest tire that will fit the back of my Nomad. The big tires certainly played their part in the progression.

2.35″ Excavators…

So what’s the plan?

  • ride the 2.4″ Trail Kings
  • buy new 2.4″ TKs in 2013
  • get Sharon onto 2.4″ TK’s
  • sell these skinny tires – I’m never going back!

2.4″ Trail King…

Funny thing is as I was telling Sharon about my ride she was nodding her head to all my complaints about the skinny tires. Finally she said – “You mean you can fix all that with bigger rubber? When do I get some?”

Time wash the rig…

Not that there was a lot of doubt about waiting for a 650B 6″ travel all mountain FS rig, but now there is no doubt in my mind.



8 responses

5 11 2012
Doug M.

hopefully the 27.5×2.4 trail kings will be available by the time you upgrade. short listed for my own 650b FS trail bike of the future… great incentive to get a job after grad school 😉

5 11 2012

Looks like there is good support for 650B in the tire industry so I’m not worried that there won’t be a wide 650B tire I like. I’ll definitely stick with TKs in 2.4″ if they are available, but I’m not stuck on the brand.

5 11 2012

Funny, I had the opposite experience going the other way. Recently switched from 2.15 to 2.35 Maxxis Ignitors. For about 2 weeks they felt awful. It was like trying to walk around with big, and heavy, clown shoes on, I couldn’t find a line to save my life. But after a few rides I now feel right at home on them. Don’t be too quick to write off the skinnies, they’re just different and you’ll adjust.

5 11 2012

@Eric – I can see getting used to the handling differences. That’s normal even when swapping bikes. The pedal/bashguard strikes and the way the smaller wheels get hung up won’t change. The swap reminded me what that bike rode like on stock tires. I had just forgotten it’s been quite a while since I was on similar rubber. So the conclusions I came to weren’t based on one ride.

5 11 2012
Brian E

I’m surprised that you don’t need fenders, but you and your bike are clean and that’s a real difference from what I’m used to seeing. My local trails require fenders and mud clearance on the tires.

Both tire examples you show 2.35 and 2.4 would never work here with the mud we have. They would get all jammed up and quit turning.

5 11 2012

@Brian – there is no way to attach fenders to my MTB. We don’t get any sticky mud here. It’s mostly a runny sort of consistency that doesn’t require much frame clearance. The clearance in the rear of my Nomad with 2.4″ TKs is pretty much the limit of what I can ride.

I hose the bike down after particularly wet rides to keep the mud in check.

From May through September this year we had no rain and the trails were bone dry. I do 2/3rds of my MTBing during the dry part of the year.

7 11 2012
Sean (aka Bigger Dummy)

Vik – my experience has been similar. I put a 2.35″ Hans Dampfs on my Intense Tracer 2 and I run it tubeless. I use Stan’s valves with removeable cores (easy sealant top ups). Great tires and combined with moving from 5.5″ to 6.25″ of rear travel has really helped with my progression this season too.

If you are considering a move to 27.5″ (650b) you might want to look at Intense as well, given they use VPP linkage. Intense also make a dropout kit for the Tracer 2 and Carbine that allows you to switch to the bigger wheels without changing frames and depending on the fork you run you might already have clearance for a bigger wheel up front.

Hey – the Ottawa boys are planning a road trip to Sedona next September. Let me know if you want to be kept in the loop.


11 02 2013
Velocity P35 Rims & Continental Trail King Tires Redux… « The Lazy Rando Blog…

[…] tire blah blah blah bike blah blah blah traction…” However, just before I left for Baja I was so amped about how well my P35/Trail Kings were working vs. the “normal” rims/rubb… she decided to try my wheels out on her Nomad while I was […]

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