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Surly Extraterrestrial 26 x 2.5 review -Avoid - 1 star

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Surly Extraterrestrial 26 x 2.5 review -Avoid - 1 star

Old 09-07-18, 05:05 AM
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Surly Extraterrestrial 26 x 2.5 review -Avoid - 1 star

When I first got the ETs I was pretty impressed, ticked all the boxes, smooth ride, worked well on and off road etc etc But....
Turns out the quality control in the factory is pretty average, a small percentage of tires aren't molded correctly. The tread rubber compound isn't laid into the mold thick enough, and ends up just coating the outside of the tread blocks. As soon as it wears through, the tread and tire wears out really quickly, as the casing compound that is now filling the knobs is really soft.

You can see the rim of normal tread rubber around the rim of the block...
I got 1500 miles out of one of mine but I have heard of as little as 600 miles.
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Old 09-07-18, 09:24 AM
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What’s the one star for? Couldn’t give it zero?
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Old 09-07-18, 10:13 AM
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I enjoy my ETs, too. They aren't my main tire, so it'll probably take a while to wear them out. They've been down the GAP, though, and hopefully they'll take me down the Katy. Seems like they must have seen at least 600 miles in the year and a half that I've had them, though maybe not as much as 1500. Still, I've enjoyed using them, and when they wear out, the only way I see not replacing them is if I decided to go wider and max out the clearance of my frame. I guess if I were trying to ride cross country and my tires only took me halfway there, that'd annoy me, but as my trips are much shorter, I will get several short trips out of these tires, even if they only take me a 1500 miles. But I haven't noticed any wear issues, so hopefully I will have them a lot longer. If they were my regular commuting tire, and I found that I had to replace them twice a year, that'd be a bummer, but since I'm not seeing that quick of wear, and since they're not my regular commuting tire, I'm pretty happy with mine.
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Old 09-07-18, 12:09 PM
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If it is a quality-control issue, I suspect Surly will step up and take care of you. Have you contacted them yet? There are a lot of people praising these tires on this and other forums, so maybe you were just unlucky and got tires from a bad batch?

FWIW, I bought a set for my ECR about a year and a half ago - I have put on at least three or four thousand km on them on pavement (commuting), gravel and rough singletrack (touring/bikepacking), and they show no wear, and I still haven't had a flat. I absolutely love these tires for their unbelievable versatility and durability.
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Old 09-07-18, 05:05 PM
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I've contacted Surly, and the seller, but silence so far. Other people who have actually got a reply about the same problem from Surly have effectively got a "suck it up princess" response, just wear from gravel etc etc. I wouldn't have noticed what actually caused the problem except I happened to walk outside when the sun was just at the right angle to highlight the ridge around the tread blocks. So this post is also about what to look for if your tire does fail prematurely, to give people a scientific reason to hammer Surly and fix the issue. Given the ETs are way more expensive than most off road touring tires (yes, you get ripped off for Schwalbe in the US, just like we get ripped off for Surly in Australia), I would have thought Surly would be onto any complaints straight away, especially since they are probably buying them cheap from Innova anyway, so could afford to send out new ones as needed.
In terms of knowing if you got a dud, there doesn't seem to be any kind of visual way of knowing, how long before they fail depends on how thick the hard skin is. In my case they were fine for around 1800km, Hardly worn, then within a week or so they were nearly worn out, you could see them visibly wearing out each day. Had my tour not finished then I would have been looking for a new tire. So yeah, if you were going remote it could be a real issue and leave you scratching around. I read about a dude who's tire wore out after 1000km in central america, not good.
The other 3 on our two bikes look fine, hardly worn...
Point is, be wary using them as a remote touring tire, they may let you down. Which is a real pity, because when they aren't failing they are excellent.
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Old 09-08-18, 06:42 AM
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I had written a response earlier but it didnt get put up properly, so here's take 2

just to be clear, is this your photo of your tire after 1500miles, 2400kms?

to be frank, I don't see a problem, or I dont understand your description . The center block seems normal to me, and is not worn down excessively.

also, could you please bring up some important details, if this is the tire in question, and important anyway when reviewing a tire
-your weight
-your load weight, front back
-how much riding on pavement, dirt, what kind of trails, loaded or not or combo
-what pressures do you run depending on load details
-pressures run depending on trail conditions

but to be honest, it still comes back to how your photo doesnt really show a problem to me. I have a pair of these tires and your photo looks fine

also, remember that these are tires made for travelling on loose surfaces generally, that is their intended design, I mean they are not 1.5in slick tires made only for pavement, is my drift, so the softness of the compound is designed for better traction in loose surfaces, and so will give a better dirt ride traction wise than a marathon mondial or other much harder rubber compound tire that will last 10,000 kms

I still come back to the fact that the photo in question appears to show a tire that has done 2400kms, and still has a healthy looking center block, so get back on some of the questions I put up to clarify things.

having ridden through central america myself, it can extremely hot and riding on pavement , especially on very rough, abrasive pavement, on 2.5 tires made for loose surfaces could easily have wear issues--but again, your story of reading of someone else is just that, "I read that...." and isnt specific.

horses for courses is another term that comes to mind.

my friend who used ETs for his Divide ride in 2017 found that they worked well for his bike with two large rear panniers and some stuff up front on his bike. The rear tire was worn a certain amount, but to me it comes back to softer compounds to improve loose surface traction.

there are all kinds of tires out there, and its clear that this tire is not the same as a Mondial or Marathon Plus Tour or a Marathon Plus MTB--but its not pretending to be one and will ride very differently than a much heavier, stiffer carcassed and harder compound tire like the three I brought up.

and re weight, as a 2.5in tire, there are considerations for weight that were thought of in the ET design, to keep the weight to a certain amount, as well as ride quality.
Also the fact that a 2.5in tire like this is realistically aimed at a crowd riding with less load on the bike, ie frame bags etc with bikepacking, not 4 panniers, a rack bag and handlebar bag crowd, so performance and ride feel is going to be put ahead of a tire that lasts 10000km but rides like a boat anchor.
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Old 09-08-18, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
but to be honest, it still comes back to how your photo doesnt really show a problem to me. I have a pair of these tires and your photo looks fine

also, remember that these are tires made for travelling on loose surfaces generally, that is their intended design, I mean they are not 1.5in slick tires made only for pavement, is my drift, so the softness of the compound is designed for better traction in loose surfaces, and so will give a better dirt ride traction wise than a marathon mondial or other much harder rubber compound tire that will last 10,000 kms

I still come back to the fact that the photo in question appears to show a tire that has done 2400kms, and still has a healthy looking center block, so get back on some of the questions I put up to clarify things.
I would tend to agree. From the photos, I saw minor wear on a tire I would expect to get twice as many miles on them before I'd have to replace them. But this thread made me examine my own tires. I've been very happy with them, but they don't get as much use as I'd like. In the past I've estimated my annual riding at between 3 and 4 thousand miles, most of that being on my Troll with it's Almotion tires. The rest being split between my ETs and riding my folding bike. I would estimate that my ETs have gotten maybe 1000 miles in the year and half I've had them. Harder to estimate surface. I make a point of using them for any longer, off-road trips when I can, usually rail-trail rides, but I also use them around town, where, even if I'm heading for some off-road areas, there's more pavement than not. I'm not usually loaded down because I'm usually commuting or doing day trips, but there have a been a few fully loaded touring days as well as a GAP ride with a well loaded rear rack -- really a credit card tour, but I had my gear and a riding partner's gear as well. Of course even unloaded, I bring about 240 pounds of myself on these trips. I had notice a pattern of discoloration on my rear tire a couple of weeks ago, but I wrote it off as something I had ridden through or just the way the light was hitting it. Yesterday I took a closer look. The tread on the rear tire is completely worn through, showing the lighter colored casing underneath at regular intervals.




For comparison, the front tire is still in pretty good shape.




I don't like the looks of that rear tire, and will be removing it immediately. And in spite of what I said in my first comment, I probably won't get another ET. I hadn't realized the wear was quite so bad. It might be okay if I were sticking to off road, occassional, trail riding, but I don't drive to the trails, I bike there, and it's hardto plan an extended off-road trip that doesn't also involve a significant amount of pavement, so I need something that can handle pavement as well as off-road. I'll probably leave the front alone until is shows more serious signs of wear, but I'll try something else on the rear, to see if I can find something that rides as well but wears a little better.

In spite of that, I don't see this as a reason to make a claim against Surly. I'm beyond the year warranty in any case, but I've had some good riding on these tires as well. I'm not aware of any mileage claims made on these tires, and tires that wear out as you use them aren't necessarily defective just because I would have rather they wore out more slowly.
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Old 09-08-18, 06:21 PM
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It's pretty obvious from my picture that the tread blocks consist of two types of rubber. One of which isn't supposed to be there. The pictures you guys posted are exactly what I would expect normal wear to look like, even consistency tread blocks with no steps in the blocks. The only reason I noticed the rim around the blocks is I happened to see the tire in the right light, so there was a slight shadow.
The wear behaviour of this tire was extremely abnormal. It performed normally for the first 1800-2000km. Seemed to be wearing down OK, just like the other 3 tires we were using. I was thinking that they were performing better than I expected wear wise, since they are an "off road tire". Then, within a few days it started wearing out really quickly, like visibly loosing tread height every day.The only reason it even has tread is that the tour finished before it wore down to the casing. This makes sense, if the tread rubber was only a thin layer on the tire, it would wear normally to the point where it was breached and the soft rubber underneath was exposed. At this point the accelerated wear would occur. Interestingly not all the tread blocks are worn evenly, some areas are more worn down than others, and when you look at the thickness of the hard rim around them, it's thinner, i.e. the breach occurred earlier so the abnormal wear started earlier.
I'm very fussy about my tires, I carry a gauge and check them often, I even have an email from Surly with recommended pressures This tire was a dud, defective, not made properly and others out there have had the same issue. At least now we know why, had I needed to keep riding and just worn it right out it would just be a mystery. And, if you were touring and the same thing started to happen, you now know that it isn't going to end well, so start planning for the worst and get a new tire organised ASAP.
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Old 09-08-18, 08:55 PM
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Well, the both of you have ridden with these tires and I really haven't, so I'll keep the "more accelerated wearing after a certain point" in mind for the future, keeping in mind that Rob weighs more than a 100lbs more than me, and Trev , you don't seem to want to answer the detail questions I wondered about.

I think it's extremely unlikely that I will use these tires on a trip for a while, but while it seems that the tread toughness isn't anywhere near that of other tires, I guess I'll just have to see how they work over time.
I don't have enough mountain bike experience to have the knowledge of how MTB tires last compared to a tire like this, but I wonder if it's similar.
What I can say is how fun these were riding on dirt.
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Old 09-08-18, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
Well, the both of you have ridden with these tires and I really haven't, so I'll keep the "more accelerated wearing after a certain point" in mind for the future, keeping in mind that Rob weighs more than a 100lbs more than me, and Trev , you don't seem to want to answer the detail questions I wondered about.

I think it's extremely unlikely that I will use these tires on a trip for a while, but while it seems that the tread toughness isn't anywhere near that of other tires, I guess I'll just have to see how they work over time.
I don't have enough mountain bike experience to have the knowledge of how MTB tires last compared to a tire like this, but I wonder if it's similar.
What I can say is how fun these were riding on dirt.
The reason why I can't be bothered answering a heap of questions about load etc, is that they really aren't relevant, this tire wasn't used in any unusual manner, in fact, compared to other tires I've used on other tours, Marathons and Mondials, it probably had an easier life. Another ET, that has done exactly the same distance and conditions on my partners bike is fine, hardly worn, and as others have posted, their results show that non faulty tires get good distances.
The point I keep trying to make is that some of these tires are demonstrably faulty, you can't pick them until they hit the failure mode, and when they do fail, they wear very, very quickly. If you don't get faulty ones, you can expect really good results from them.
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Old 09-09-18, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
I think it's extremely unlikely that I will use these tires on a trip for a while, but while it seems that the tread toughness isn't anywhere near that of other tires, I guess I'll just have to see how they work over time.
Well, the "toughness" that one user experienced was much less than expected, one says it was fairly normal, and many have reported no problems at all. Mine have been wearing better than expected. Pretty hard to generalize from evidence like that.

I suspect the first run of these tires might have had some quality control issues, but the more recent ones have improved the issue. Surely if there were widespread problems, one could google people's opinions and find many more complaints.
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Old 09-09-18, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie
It's pretty obvious from my picture that the tread blocks consist of two types of rubber. One of which isn't supposed to be there. The pictures you guys posted are exactly what I would expect normal wear to look like, even consistency tread blocks with no steps in the blocks.
So it sounds like you got about 30% more miles on your defective tire before noticing the wear than I got on my normal tire. I need to find some of these defective tires.
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Old 09-09-18, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E
So it sounds like you got about 30% more miles on your defective tire before noticing the wear than I got on my normal tire. I need to find some of these defective tires.
If you only got 1800km out of an ET, then it was defective.
Why is it that everybody seems to be ignoring the photograph and running with their own preconceptions of what mileage these tires should get?. You can SEE there's something weird going on with the tread blocks.
Any way, I'm over banging my head against a wall, at least I've put it out there why these tires can fail prematurely, so if somebody else goes searching for why their ET suddenly crapped itself, they know what to look for.
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Old 09-09-18, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by dh024
Well, the "toughness" that one user experienced was much less than expected, one says it was fairly normal, and many have reported no problems at all. Mine have been wearing better than expected. Pretty hard to generalize from evidence like that.

I suspect the first run of these tires might have had some quality control issues, but the more recent ones have improved the issue. Surely if there were widespread problems, one could google people's opinions and find many more complaints.
I agree that the ones that are good are really good...Surly are on to a winner with this style of tire. They should probably use a better factory than Innova to make them though, if they want to charge $55 each.
But I do think part of the problem with this fault is that nobody really knows what distance the ET should go, I went hunting and found some complaints about very short life spans, but then you've got the various posters on here, "you got 2500km out of a touring tire, that suddenly started wearing out visibly each day, what are you complaining about" So if it happened to them, they would be fine with it and not complain... I probably would have sucked it up too, had I not been able to see exactly why it wore out so quickly.
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Old 09-09-18, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by dh024
Well, the "toughness" that one user experienced was much less than expected, one says it was fairly normal, and many have reported no problems at all. Mine have been wearing better than expected. Pretty hard to generalize from evidence like that.
I know, and ultimately thats what I take from this.

I realize that its handy for other people to be able to find opinions on ETs and how they have fared, its great to have some real people using them in a given use perhaps similar to what someone is planning to do---but its exactly that why I feel that for a review of something, especially a negative review, its important to give details of use, tire pressures, how much load etc, rider weight--because we all know these have a big impact on the longevity and wear of a bike tire.

Heck, I once put photos of my experience with Schwalbe Supremes, 26x2in that I put on my Troll. I specifically showed a photo of the two tires after my first trip beside my spare brand new tire, to try to show tread wear and general condition. I also gave the various weight details, and pressures, and types of surfaces I was riding on.
In the end, I had a surprisingly positive review to give of them, I used them on a 3000km trip through Central America (they already had a bit of mileage on them, small amount) , and was sufficiently happy with their condition that the following winter I kept them on for a 1500kms trip through southern and mid Mexico. The Mexico only trip had similar and even worse paved road conditions, very abrasive sometimes, and more dirt.
I then continued to keep them on for a ride across France, about 1000km, all trips with similar load weight.

Rob, your photos clearly show the center block depth, and its also clear on how the side areas wore out and how that area is obviously thinner than the center area. The shots of the front tire also clearly show how little wear there is, and the angle of the last shot, the one with the pedal in the background, is very good to easily see the tread depths.

Trev, I see that you think we dont see it, but while your photo shows a faint line around the edges of the center block, we have no idea of the depth of the center block, so the shot looks like a tire that is worn a certain amount (2400kms) but in no way looks like a really worn tire, like Robs is, where we can see the underneath bits.

oh, and here in Canada, they are about $100 each, a bit more in fact when you add in the two taxes which are 15%. Pretty darn pricey, and another reason to try to get some reliable, detailed reviews of them.
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Old 09-10-18, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie
It's pretty obvious from my picture that the tread blocks consist of two types of rubber. One of which isn't supposed to be there. The pictures you guys posted are exactly what I would expect normal wear to look like, even consistency tread blocks with no steps in the blocks.
Originally Posted by Trevtassie
If you only got 1800km out of an ET, then it was defective.
Seems like first you said my photo showed normal wear, then my mileage indicates that it's defective.

Originally Posted by Trevtassie
Why is it that everybody seems to be ignoring the photograph and running with their own preconceptions of what mileage these tires should get?. You can SEE there's something weird going on with the tread blocks.
Any way, I'm over banging my head against a wall, at least I've put it out there why these tires can fail prematurely, so if somebody else goes searching for why their ET suddenly crapped itself, they know what to look for.
And now it's the photographic evidence we should look at, and not the mileage. Confusing, but no doubt a symptom of the head banging. ;-)

Your tire may be defective. I don't know the expectation, and I don't enough about tire production and wear patterns and all the things you seem to be taking as a given. I consider a tire defective when fails due to something other than normal wear or extreme abuse. How do I measure that if not by how many miles I can safely ride it? You have other methods or at least other ideas at your disposal, but I just go by how far I was able ride without a problem. 1,000 miles is not great, from my point of view. I've had tires last a lot longer, including the Almotions that have been in use over the same amount of time and for at least double the miles. But I don't know what makes the ETs "fast wearing" vs. what makes them "defective." My thought is: I've had the tires over a year, and I wish they had lasted longer, so I need to adjust my expectations or switch tires. If I could say for certain that I had a defective tire, that would actually improve my opinion of the tire, because then I could assume that a replacement tire might last considerably longer than my current tire.

As it is, my problem is this: Looking at tires for a combination of pavement, gravel, and hardpack an the size range of 26" x 2.5" to 2.8", what are my options? ET may not be a super long-lasting tire, but I'm feeling like it might be only tire that fits the bill.
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Old 09-10-18, 04:56 PM
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I would ask my friend who used them on the divide ride to take a photo of his rear tire, and how many kms on them, but he is away and will be away for quite a while, so if I remember, I'll ask him in a few months.
It would at least be another reference.

Rob, when you look at your tire, would you consider changing your pressures looking back at how they rode. The clear wear pattern on either side "looks" like slightly higher pressures would have taken away some contact patch from the two sides, but this is just a thought I have seeing the photo, and you know more than I of how your bike rode at given pressures.
Again, it would be great to see a photo of my friends rear tire, but even if he still has it, he's away for quite a while. I know he told me that on the paved sections, he pumped his tires up a lot more, and that they rolled along fairly well given the size.

and as you say Rob, what other tire options are there? I havent paid attention or even done more research, as the tires I have came off a bike I bought used (but new essentially) and so while one day I may setup my Troll with the Jones bars and the ETs and make it a diff bike, for now I really like it in its dropbar, Gevenalle shifters, fenders and front/rear racks setup, so won't do a change until a specific trip idea comes up and becomes a reality.
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Old 09-11-18, 02:41 AM
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Good News Everybody... Anyway, Surly have finally decided to respond to my emails.. got lost in the system or something, refunding the defective tire (already happened) and supplying a new one through my LBS apparently. So they obviously agree there is something going on. I've offered to send them a section of the faulty tire so they can go back to Innova and tell them to pull their socks up.

In terms of alternatives to the ET, the only thing I've found in approximately the same size are the various pavement type BMX tires. Schwalbe Crazy Bob (2.35), Maxxis Holy Roller (2.4), Kenda K-Rad K905 (2.5), that kind of thing, but none of them have any puncture protection. Probably not a huge issue running them tubeless though. I've ordered a set of Holy Rollers to trial anyway, mostly because I couldn't easily get any cheap K-Rads in a 2.5".
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Old 09-11-18, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
Rob, when you look at your tire, would you consider changing your pressures looking back at how they rode. The clear wear pattern on either side "looks" like slightly higher pressures would have taken away some contact patch from the two sides, but this is just a thought I have seeing the photo, and you know more than I of how your bike rode at given pressures.
Again, it would be great to see a photo of my friends rear tire, but even if he still has it, he's away for quite a while. I know he told me that on the paved sections, he pumped his tires up a lot more, and that they rolled along fairly well given the size.
I don't tend to adjust pressure on the fly unless it seems too high, which means, yes, I likely spend some pavement time riding lower than optimal pressure.

Originally Posted by djb
and as you say Rob, what other tire options are there? I havent paid attention or even done more research, as the tires I have came off a bike I bought used (but new essentially) and so while one day I may setup my Troll with the Jones bars and the ETs and make it a diff bike, for now I really like it in its dropbar, Gevenalle shifters, fenders and front/rear racks setup, so won't do a change until a specific trip idea comes up and becomes a reality.
I've been looking. I thought I'd take advantage of my worn out rear tire to try to go wider. Not much, though, in the ET range of mild trails, but doesn't mind pavement. Thinking I'll just go with a pavement-focused tire on the rear. It'll likely be fine on most of the off-roading I do, but probably not great for the mountain bike park. In a 2.5" is the Maxxis Hookworm, and in 2.8" is the Vee Speedster. 2.8" is the max for my frame in the rear, so I may try that Speedster.
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Old 09-11-18, 05:32 PM
  #20  
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trev, glad to hear that Surly got back to you. If you hear other details from them, it would be interesting to hear what they say.

Good to have some other names of similar type tires, especially given the price. For example, the holy rollers are 50 bucks at an outdoor store here, pretty much half of ETs.
re puncture protection, since I started touring nearly 30 yrs ago, Ive been using and paying a bit more for tires with some sort of puncture protection, and while tire technology has improved a heck of a lot in those years, I still would prefer some layer of whatever to help stop glass bits to an extent.
And to go back to the rider weight aspect, Im a light guy and ride light, and over the years Ive noticed that I consistently get better tire life than heavier riders.

and to go back to what I mentioned earlier, unless I were to do the divide ride or something, I won't be going with wide tires like these for a while.
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Old 10-11-18, 02:49 PM
  #21  
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A little bit of half assed science. I got a $5 pocket microscope off of Ebay and took a somewhat dodgy picture of the raised edge of the tread block using my mobile phone.... What you can see is the soft material in the top right hand, much coarser grained and seems to have more large silica grains in it. The tread rubber is much smoother and runs on a diagonal from lower right to top left. I'm going to have a play with a scalpel through the edges of some tread blocks and see if the rubber change can be seen in a fresh cut. Might be a way of making sure you don't get a dud before you hit the road.
Incidentally, I got the Holy Rollers, they are visually much narrower than the ETs, even though they are nominally only 0.1 of an inch narrower. I think you'd either have to run them tubeless or with sealant filled tubes if touring, the casing is pretty light. The tread would be good though, add a protection belt and they'd do the job.
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Old 10-11-18, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Trevtassie
Good News Everybody... Anyway, Surly have finally decided to respond to my emails.. got lost in the system or something, refunding the defective tire (already happened) and supplying a new one through my LBS apparently. ....
Congratulations. Surly refused my warranty claim on my LHT frame which had such a bad shimmy that I threw the frame into the metal recycling bin.

I almost never hear of Surly honoring a warranty claim. They apparently were good about a bad batch of red LHT about a decade ago, but that was a decade ago.
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Old 10-11-18, 05:49 PM
  #23  
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I have to say it, I dont really see a diff between the two sides of the line.

and man, that looks like a photo of a small rock moon around Jupiter.
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Old 10-11-18, 07:21 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Congratulations. Surly refused my warranty claim on my LHT frame which had such a bad shimmy that I threw the frame into the metal recycling bin.

I almost never hear of Surly honoring a warranty claim. They apparently were good about a bad batch of red LHT about a decade ago, but that was a decade ago.

What size was your LHT?
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Old 10-11-18, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders
What size was your LHT?
58 cm, first year of production - 2004.
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