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Old 05-31-11, 12:05 PM   #1
scozim 
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Tire sizes

Being new to mountain biking I still have a lot to learn. Take tire sizes for instance - it there an optimal. I'm currently running 26" X 2.1 on my Klein but have some 2.35 Klein Death Grips I could use also. Is there that much of a difference? Better grip on which ones? What are the benefits to wider vs. narrow from an mtb perspective? Some of the guys on our 24 hr race team this last weekend were running 2.0's which to me didn't look that much different from a width perspective. I even heard of someone this past weekend running a narrower rear tire in the race than in the front.
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Old 05-31-11, 01:32 PM   #2
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Take tire sizes for instance - it there an optimal.
Yes. But it's contingent upon terrain, bike, rider style, psi, etc.

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I'm currently running 26" X 2.1 on my Klein but have some 2.35 Klein Death Grips I could use also. Is there that much of a difference?
The difference is 0.25. You may be able to ascertain other differences but it will involve actually putting the other tires on your bike.

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Better grip on which ones?
Generally wider tires grip better, but there's grip that you may want (side knobs for cornering) and grip that you may not want (rolling resistance). Also all contingent upon terrain, bike, rider style, etc.


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What are the benefits to wider vs. narrow from an mtb perspective?
Benefits of wider tires generally include better cornering, better braking, better traction under load, and ride comfort.


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Some of the guys on our 24 hr race team this last weekend were running 2.0's which to me didn't look that much different from a width perspective.
The difference is 5%. You should be aware, however, that published widths can vary by manufacturer and definitely will vary based on rim width.


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I even heard of someone this past weekend running a narrower rear tire in the race than in the front.
That's perfectly acceptable.
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Old 05-31-11, 02:20 PM   #3
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Generally wider tires grip better, but there's grip that you may want (side knobs for cornering) and grip that you may not want (rolling resistance). Also all contingent upon terrain, bike, rider style, etc.
I agree with this - except when conditions are sloppy (mud, slush) - a narrower tire will have less flotation and make it's way to the grippy stuff underneath.


Also - a wide light tire can lead to flexy side walls - that can lead to really poor handling.
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Old 05-31-11, 02:52 PM   #4
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Narrow is for speed

Wide is for grip or cushion

I never go over 1.95" and usually ride at 1.75"
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Old 05-31-11, 02:55 PM   #5
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I guess I'm trying to figure out a good balance as my confidence and handling improves. It might also deal more with tread design. I ran two bikes this weekend - one had Ritchey Climb Max tires which I found are horrible in soft, loose gravel. The Klein ran Bontrager Jones ACX on the rear and a Kenda Nevegal on the front but I didn't feel I could get as much grip on flatter corners - it wanted to wash out to the outside of the bend on the fire roads. For single track the Klein did real well. I may just pop on the 2.35's and see if I like how they ride. 2.1's might end up being a compromise.
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Old 05-31-11, 04:03 PM   #6
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^^ This plays into one of your questions ("I even heard of someone this past weekend running a narrower rear tire in the race than in the front.") The reason for running the wider front is generally to take advantage of the wider tire's cornering footprint for better bite, while leaving the rear narrower to cut down some rolling resistance, maintain the narrower tire's quicker acceleration, etc. As you found at the Riverside venue, cornering traction is everything on those loose-over-packed surfaces.

If you try 2.35s, I'd say give the 2.35 front/narrower rear combo a try first before going fat at both ends and see if that works for you.

Sometimes, though, you don't need to go that drastic; sometimes all it takes is a pattern/compound change front-to-back to accomplish a similar effect without giving up the inherent speed in the narrower tire. I love my 2.35 Nevegals at Riverside - - but I’m a goofy fatter-tire nut and run a way-overkill 6.5/7” trailbike there all the time. When I ride my XC hardtail there on the 24-Hour course, I’m running a Maxxis Ignitor 2.1 front and a Larsen TT 2.0 rear. When I finally switch the to Kendas (shhhhh!), I’ll may go Excavator 2.1 front / Small Block 8 2.1 rear. I’m not crazy about the SB8 as a front as (for me anyway) it felt a bit washy in the corners - - even in 2.35.
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Old 05-31-11, 04:39 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info dminor. I'll be back over in a couple of weeks so maybe I'll put the 2.0 tire I have on the rear of the Klein and run it on the course and see how they do. I didn't have a lot of trouble on the cornering with the Nevegal - but, then I'm not running as fast as a lot of those guys (1:03 was the best) so I probably didn't get to the limit. The Bontrager wanted to wash out a little on the gravel roads at higher speeds but did ok on the single track - even across the fields below Devil's Down. However, over here the roads are a combination of light gravel to heavier 1.5 to 2" rock and it tears the Bontrager to pieces.

After being a roadie for so long I have to get used to mixing up tires and tread front to rear off road.
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Old 06-01-11, 11:52 AM   #8
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2.35's:

I have run a few combo's that I like and a few that suck. I was a Nevegal fanboi until Kenda released the excavator. I still run a Nevegal on the rear b/c I won't go less than 2.35" and the Nevegal is slightly narrower than Excavator with the same casing label. The 2.35" Excavator rubs just a tad in hard leans and crooked tranny's. So now, I roll on a 2.35" Nev Rear / Excavator front. The Excavator is an amazing tire...predictable, grippy. The Nev will roll a bit faster, but breaks loose sooner. I don't care about rolling resistance (to a point)...IMO the added traction benefit trumps it by far. I did try a 2.5r / 2.8f setup for XC for a bit, but that was a bit over the top and killed me.


2.1's: I have a 1998 Komodo that I'm running rigid. If I could fit a 2.35 in the frame, I totally would...but since I can't, I run a 2.1" Kenda Smallblock 8 rear with a 2.35" Nevegal front. I had 2.1" SB8's on F & R to begin with, and it was super fast...but just blasting a 30-40mph gravel path "felt" a bit sketchy. As soon as I threw the 2.35" Nev up front...I grew some serious confidence in the bike. I pushed so much harder. Added volume lets me run lower pressure for added traction, smoother ride on a rigid which equated to increased confidence allowing me to push harder / more aggressive.

Tread pattern, durometer, casing thickness all have equal bearing on a tire purchase. I don't do straight up DH or FR, so I run a Kevlar bead. If I did the prior, I'd go wire with DH casing.

I tried Conti Mtn Kings when I tried to XC'out my Komodo...I hated them. They actually caused me to hit a tree due to their crappy grip. I've done the uber light Python's, most of the older IRC line, some WTB's...including Raptors. (decent for mud) A couple different Tioga's. I'm still sold on the Excavator for over all traction though. I've never rolled with Maxxis, so I can't comment. I've heard great things though.



I'd like to give the Slant Six and High Roller a shot. Looking at the tread pattern though...I'd most likely only be happy with them as a rear tire with a more aggressive tread up front.
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Old 06-01-11, 12:20 PM   #9
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I don't know much about racing, but when I changed out my front 2.1 stock tire (granted it was a Felt tire labeled as some sort of trail hybrid thing) to a 2.35 Kenda excavator (good tip from chelboed) I noticed a huge increase in grip and handling, and very little, if any, loss in speed. For me the excavator was also one of the more inexpensive options. It has given me confidence to descend noticeably faster than previously, and has improved my ascent as well. I don't know if it is simply the tread/rubber that make it so much better, or the increased width.

The stock tire (2.1) is still on the back, and for now in what have been until yesterday dry conditions I am really liking the combo. I may have to switch it out in muddy conditions.. I think I'll be able to tell after tomorrow.
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Old 06-01-11, 12:33 PM   #10
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Speaking of mud - - I have not been in any wet conditions yet that have been so sloppy that my stock Excavators have not handled it; BUT . . .

A tip for those of you who may want to run Exs in consistently muddy/greasy conditions: take each center tri-knob and cut out the middle one. It essentially turns the Excavator into a dedicated mud tire. (A cutting tip straight from Eric Carter himself.)
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Old 06-01-11, 02:13 PM   #11
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Great info. You have me convinced to try the larger front/smaller rear combo. I think I'll go ahead and move the 2.1 Nevegal to the rear for now and put on one of the 2.35 Klein Death Grips on the front and see how it feels. The nice thing is I have a year to dial in the ride before I try to break the hour mark on that course. That would actually make my day after only a couple of years of riding off road regularly.
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Old 06-01-11, 02:38 PM   #12
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A tip for those of you who may want to run Exs in consistently muddy/greasy conditions: take each center tri-knob and cut out the middle one. It essentially turns the Excavator into a dedicated mud tire. (A cutting tip straight from Eric Carter himself.)
Interesting. I didn't know someone would intentionally modify a tire with a knife.

Fits though. The rear one of my Maxxis Ignitor 2.35 had that look (I bought it used). That someone had done something. Didn't look like normal wear and tear. Would there be an advantage to doing so? I changed it out for a new one when it flatted. But I have it. Gonna take a closer look.
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Old 06-01-11, 02:57 PM   #13
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^^ This plays into one of your questions ("I even heard of someone this past weekend running a narrower rear tire in the race than in the front.") The reason for running the wider front is generally to take advantage of the wider tire's cornering footprint for better bite, while leaving the rear narrower to cut down some rolling resistance, maintain the narrower tire's quicker acceleration, etc. As you found at the Riverside venue, cornering traction is everything on those loose-over-packed surfaces.
I am someone who prefers a smaller less knobby tire on the back vs the front. For those exact reasons. I used to chop knobs off of the rear to help remove some of the friction. Depends on the time of year and what I was trying to achieve.
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Old 06-01-11, 03:11 PM   #14
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Interesting. I didn't know someone would intentionally modify a tire with a knife.
I've cut some treads myself. I probably watched On Any Sunday one too many times.
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Old 06-01-11, 03:25 PM   #15
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I've cut some treads myself. I probably watched On Any Sunday one too many times.
Single-edged razor blade was the racer's helper. I was in a race at the old Seattle Coliseum (now Key Arena) where the order of the day was a spray-bottle of bleach and a toothy wood-rasp (waxed concrete):

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Old 06-01-11, 03:29 PM   #16
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Great info. You have me convinced to try the larger front/smaller rear combo. I think I'll go ahead and move the 2.1 Nevegal to the rear for now and put on one of the 2.35 Klein Death Grips on the front and see how it feels. The nice thing is I have a year to dial in the ride before I try to break the hour mark on that course. That would actually make my day after only a couple of years of riding off road regularly.

No offense man but the "Death Grip" appears to me like a tire that contradicts itself:


I wouldn't be surprised if you actually don't like that setup b/c I suspect the Nevegal will stick harder than the Klein. Before judging the 2.1r / 2.35f...I'd think long and hard about coming up with a better 2.35 front tire.


Just sayin.
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Old 06-01-11, 03:36 PM   #17
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Tell ya what, man...I've got a 1/2 used 2.35" Nevegal DTC that I can send ya if you PM me your shipping addy. I'd rather see someone have a good experience with a setup that I recommend than just let it sit on a shelf as a back up.


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Old 06-01-11, 05:43 PM   #18
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Tell ya what, man...I've got a 1/2 used 2.35" Nevegal DTC that I can send ya if you PM me your shipping addy. I'd rather see someone have a good experience with a setup that I recommend than just let it sit on a shelf as a back up.

Thanks a ton! PM sent. You guys may just move me to mtb riding the majority of the time. I have some great hill with little to no presence from other people 4 miles from my doorstep. I spend most of my time on the C&V forum but have to admit I've had so much fun on the mtb that I am constantly thinking how I can ride faster and increase my confidence - and tires is a main part of that.

The only reason I had contemplated using the Death Grips is they are hanging in my shop and readily available. My wife would cringe at me buying a tire after having already had a wheel true and new helmet today to make up for the crashed one. I have to bide my time on bike purchases and space them out a little.
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