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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?”
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.