Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Tire Selection

I've been bitching about my tires lately and have been trying to find "that perfect pair". All this searching has been driving my up the wall...

So here's what I thought my criteria was -
lots of air volume (2.3 or larger)
Wide Knobs, Widely Spaced
Weight at or under 700 grams
NON-Tubeless (my friends give me crap, but I don't think that they feel the same)
Low rolling resistance
Solid Cornering

I figured that I out to try some different tires of mine to find out what I liked and what I didn't like about my current stock. So last night I rode a lap at Heil Ranch on my Michelin All Mountain Extreme's and a lap on my Bontrager Revolt's.
Trail conditions - wet enough to be slippery, but no deep mud. LOTS of loose rock, moderately steep pitch in parts, sandy over hardpack and hardpack dirt mix
Michelins - 880 grams per tire, aggressive "All Mountain" tread, 2.2
Bontrager - Small knobs, slightly larger on edge, low and small down middle, almost a semislick (some call it a semislick) 2.1
Here's what I found out -
I love my Michelin's, but they are HEAVY and roll like velcro. The time to love them is on tech stuff, the rockier the better. They are predictable and stick - they hold a line better than anything short of a dh tire.
Ride up - smooth and lots of not thinking. Just roll everything. Had to little ring it up, but big ring it down.
Ride down - Jump everything, even when wet - or power through it, you'll never loose your line.

I hadn't ridden my Revolt's in quite some time and I now regret not using them. These things hooked up in the dirt really well, no sliding at all. They roll SUPER fast - I middle ringed almost the whole climb (that's pretty good for me). They did slide on most flat rock surfaces (was wet), where my michelin's didn't. It's wasn't enough to slow my climb at all, it was like 2 different people climbing.
Ride down - was quite different. I wasn't jumping much (unless it was all dirt) and had to be more careful about my lines. It was kind of nice to have to think about where I was riding, I haven't been able to do that in a while (it all been brainless with the big tires). I wasn't hugely slower on the way down, but there was a pretty big different in fatigue.

What to do? I'm not as obsessed as I was before about the large tire size or the big knobs - but I might just need to have 2 sets of tires, some big knobs with large volume (at or under 700 grams), and a pair of smaller knob lightweights (high roller 2.1's).

I think that I only made it worse.

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