Bought some store branded 2.35 Maxxis tires and new mid range racing shoes....I'm shocked how different and better the bike feels and rides. The kenda small block 8 2.1 tires were good, and the nike atb shoes from 3 years ago lasted ok...but for less than $120 total my FS XC bike has never ridden better....Moral: the contact points are dang important
Hell yea they are. Tire width and tread pattern change up a bike immensely. I also have a huge appreciation of proper pedals, shoes, saddle, and grips (especially for more than a few hours in the saddle).