Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Occasionally when riding I have profound thoughts.  Usually I forget what they are because I'm having so much fun riding, but sometimes I remember something, but usually it wasn't the absolute most profound thought.  So, whilst out on my mountain bike today, I thought a lot about tires and how they work. 

There's a lot of fuss about mountain bike tires.  People swear by a certain brand, design, pattern...whatever.  The important thing is once your set, you're set.  Maybe.  During a race this past season, one of the guys I was riding with (who's been racing as a pro since forever) told me tires are tires, once you get good you can ride anything.  I think he's right for the most part.  Once you learn the way to handle your bike, be it a road bike, mountain bike, 'cross bike-whatever, you get a certain feel of the "edge of your tires.  That is, the very point at which they break their connection with the trail/grass/road. 

As I ride more aggressively and progress into more downhill and gravity based riding, tire adhesion becomes all the more important.  Now, I look for a tire that rolls well, but bites in the corners while also allowing for the  absorbing of rocks and roots.  Generally, I've found that a square-ish profiled, high volume tire fits my riding style best.  I'm having a lot of success and comfort in riding a 2.3 front tire and a 2.2 rear tire.  Both pretty aggressive and definitely not speedy, light cross country tires.

One more interesting thing I've found is just how much rear tires influence turning when you're really pushing the corners.  When I raced XC this past season, I stuck with matching front and rear tire patterns, and saw that the guys that didn't only opted for an aggressive front tire with a much less aggressive rear tire.  With speedier entrances and exits of corners though, the rear wheel bites down that much more.  More times than not, if it isn't an aggressive enough tire you'll find yourself "power sliding" around the corner instead of sticking it. 

I'm not sure entirely where I mean for this post to go, but this is what I was thinking at some point in my ride today.  As I experiment more with tires and tire combinations I'll post more.  My suggestion to anyone would be to try, try, and try some more.  If the budget allows, get on and feel the difference between all the different tires there are.  A fast bike can be made slow with the wrong tire combo just as a slow bike can be made fast with a solid tire combo.  It's all in the choice, and whether or not it's good for what you ride.  Have fun!

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