Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's Your Tire of Choice for Northeast Riding?

There have been some discussions going on in the local forums lately on what's the best tire for local riding so here's my list of favorites for typical rocky, rooty and sometimes wet Northeast trail riding...

Bontrager Big Earl Wet, F and; R, 26 x 2.5
Bontrager Big Earl Dry, F and R,  26 x 2.5
Hands down and without question the Bonty's are still my favorite for local riding. They wear well, grip is awesome in any terrain, they are light for such a big volume tire, and rolling resistance isn't that bad. I love the GumBi compound too, the low rebound gives these tires unbelievable grip at the right tire pressure. Check out the pic below. The tires just conform to the terrain and I have yet to pinch flat. Pressures were 30psi in the pic.
Wow, check out that tire deformation!
The wet version is better than the dry version but only in wet conditions. I haven't noticed any other difference in dry or even moist conditions. They both shed mud well too, that's a huge plus. I've used 2.3's as well but the 2.5's are just more sure footed. Best of all you can find these relatively cheap on ebay or locally. I think I paid $30 for the Dry versions in the 2.5 and they were new. I think Bontrager is discontinuing these in favor of the new lines coming out like the XDX which I hear great things about. I hope they are at least as good as these because I dread the day I will no longer be able to purchase new ones.

Kenda Nevegals, F and R, 26 x 2.3 DTC
I have used the Kenda Nevegals too but my one beef with them is their mud/wet conditions is terrible. I have the DTC version, maybe the other compounds work better...I don't know. The rolling resistance on these are minimal thanks to the ramped center treads and the knobbies really allow you to get the bike leaned over in corners and still hold the line. Also light for such a big volume tire. Right now the set I have are slated to got onto my SS after mud season. They make riding with a rigid fork a bit more bearable. I also run these about 30-35 psi.

Kenda Kinetics, F and R, 26 x 2.6 Stick-E compound
I bought these on a whim. I like the tread design and the compound and the were on sale for $9 each. I had read reviews that some had issues with the sidewalls being too weak and failing. I figured even if they don't last long, no big deal they were cheap. Tire are surprisingly light for a 2.6 although they were slower rolling due to the compound and the big knobbies but that's also why they excel in cornering and grip. So far these have been the best. I didn't have them on the bike long but only because they rolled slower than the Bonty's. I had no trouble with these and they were actually the best big volume tire I have tried in snowy conditions to date. I will probably put these tires on again but maybe not till later in the year. I had these aired at around 35psi.
Riding at the Pine Bush these tires performed really well in the snow.