Mountain Bike Magazine SANI - Autumn 2018 - Page 85

GEAR | TALKING TYRES have very informative websites where you can research what type of tyre you’re looking for, but there are still a few pitfalls that you need to look out for and avoid. What you see is not always what you get. It was not too long ago when your choice consisted of a few 26ers, with widths ranging from 1.9 to 2.1, and that was essentially it for everything, bar downhill. The range of tyres available today makes it impossible for a single shop to come close to covering the full spectrum of what is available (do yourself a favour and look at the Schwalbe websites and see what’s available in a single tread pattern, it is utterly mind-blowing with 28 variations of the Schwalbe Racing Ralph tyre), but we hope that in reading this you will be able to stand in front of a shop’s display of tyres and make a more informed decision from the selection available in front of you. When it comes to choosing an appropriate tyre, tread pattern, compound and casing are the three most important traits to consider. Picking the tyre that best suits the terrain you most often ride is key; for instance, a more open tread pattern with taller blocks may work well on muddy, slippery trails, but probably won’t be the best choice for those whose trails are rock solid with a thin layer of gravel or sand over the top. In the same vein, a tyre with a super soft and sticky rubber compound is nice to have in wet weather or on steep trails where traction is of the utmost importance, but there are tradeoffs, namely in the form of a reduced lifespan. For that reason, we try to run a softer compound up front, and use a harder compound on the back wheel to increase its lifespan. But let’s cut to the chase and get to the testing. We decided to test more than a few tyres on typical trail conditions. Everything from 2.0s all the way up to the 3.0s. I am lucky enough to ride a bike that can take both 29er and 27.5+ wheels and tyres. But these two sets of wheels were not going to be enough, so I roped in a few testers to help garner differing opinions and just get through the sheer volume of measuring, seating and inflating tyres etc. I opted for Fatboy (whose claim to fame is that he has one downhill KOM ahead of Gary Barnard) and a duo of A Teamers who easily hold their own in the top 70 at Epic. In other words, the perfect candidates for testing tyres! My fourth tester unfortunately came off very early on in the testing and the resulting visit to the ER only permitted him to assist in the measuring and spread sheeting. Our aim from the outset was two-fold: 1. To provide some insight into some tyre jargon that will help you assess and select a tyre that will best work for what you want it to do. 2. Specific testing involving feedback on how the tyres we tested stack up against what it says on the packaging, what it is like to live with from a mechanical point of view and also how it felt on the trail. So we got to work with seven different bikes and 10 sets of wheels (the one aspect we could not test was the longevity of these tyres due to the sheer number of kilometres we would need to ride). There is a ton of new tyre tech going on out there, with new entrants to the market on a continual basis. Two of the iconic car tyre manufacturers, Pirelli and Goodyear, have recently launched full ranges of mountain bike tyres. THE JARGON Probably the most complex of the acronyms is UST, It’s all about tread pattern. The Specialized Butcher (left) features massive knobs in four straight lines for ripping up rocky trails, while the Slaughter has big outer knobs and smaller middle tread for a fast, grippy ride. which stands for Universal Standard Tubeless. It refers to a very specific two-part system consisting of the rim and the tyre. There is a very specific shape and dimension to a UST rim’s bead hook, and a UST rim must be airtight, which means that any spoke holes must be fully se