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Complete Guide to Downhill Rubber

zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
You guys asked for it; so I figured I would take the time to build it. Submit ideas and reviews here--we will try to keep it simple and sweet. We can also modify it to incorporate things you guys think should or should not be here. There are a ton of tire discussions on this board so I tried to glean everything but if I missed something, let me know and I will add it. If you want to add material as opposed to a review and/or comments, please PM it to me and I will put it in one of the top posts.

Since we are getting all geeky, I'll go into some detail and stick my neck out on some basic tire design theory.

My feeling is that the space in between the knobs can be just as critical as the knobs themselves.

Especially on hardpack, a stable cornering tire will allow you to push through the knobs and corner on the carcass. You don't want the tire to be fully supported on knobs, you want to be deforming the knobs so that they have high contact pressure and generate grip, but you want a lot of cornering load to be doing directly into the carcass rather than deforming through a big knob.

I think on the Minion, that channel allows you to corner on the carcass while the side knobs are giving you enough grip. And the center knobs will still be in contact most of the time too, so you have a very stable cornering tire with a wide footprint in a corner.

I didn't like the HR because it would skate out in medium corners when used as a rear tire (for me at least). I obviously wasn't engaging the side knobs enough, but not all corners require big lean angles. I think why many do like the HR though is because you do have a lot of contact with the carcass, making it quite stable assuming you are getting the knobs engaged. And it rolls pretty well with a super tacky compound.

My other favorite tire is the Muddy Mary. The knobs are a bit smaller on this tire, which allows great penetration into softer surfaces while still allowing the ground to contact the carcass for stability. But the Muddy Mary is no good for hardpack because it just skates around on the smaller knobs. Not great in rocks either...

In rocks, you have a different story. You really don't want rock to be engaging the carcass as much because there's not as much give. You want big, deformable knobs that can envelope rocky edges and get grip. I think the Minion is a good example of a good rock tire, despite the large channel.

So the Minion is a great dry/hard/rock tire, but doesn't quite generate the ultimate grip in softer intermediate conditions as something like a Muddy Mary.

In terms of tire profile, I've yet to find a round profile that I like better than a square profile. In fact, I really like running cut spikes in soft conditions, and they are as square as can be. I think square profiles work best in soft conditions, but you need some degree of roundness in the dry so that your cornering knobs are well supported and not too tall.

Does Maxxis have a tire for everything? Well, I don't think they have a tire that works as well as a Muddy Mary in terms of grip in softer conditions. This new tire should be a step in the right direction.

I'm also very curious about the Specialized Hillbilly, as this tire uses a lot of the principles I've put forward above and I think should be good in a lot of conditions apart from rock (at least from what I can tell from pictures). Need to try it.
Pslide: I agree with everything you've said with your geekery so far.

Since you mentioned it, let's look at the muddy mary.

This is one of the few tires schwalbe makes that isn't schizophrenic. There's nothing on this tire that contradicts itself. I'd like to see the sidknobs a little more stout and those rows of 3 center knobs tightened up to open the channel a little more but at least it's not fighting itself. All the side knobs angle the same way, and there's no ramping on the braking edge...etc. I don't know what direction schwalbe tells you to run this but it's obvious it should be rolling away from you in the pic. Side knobs, sipes and angles that form an arrow when looking at the top of the tire, work to push you in the direction you're steering when leaned over. That little bit of angle on these things points left when on the dirt and your bike is leaning left. Makes total sense. If you look at the sideknobs of a minion, they don't have the angle, but they do have a block on every other knob that forms the general idea...when on the dirt, an open area a the beginning that catches, and then a closed off finish that pushes you in the direction of your turn.

I'll add the Big Betty too...

Based on the angle of the side knobs, this thing should be rolling towards you. And smaller square shaped center knobs look like they'd be good at cupping dirt with the litte V shape. All of them have that V shape actually so it should be obvious which direction has better braking where dirt is grabbed and held. But then what's with that ramped braking edge then? Somebody planning on having good cornering AND winning the skid contest at the end of a run? But okay, say it's supposed to be run in the other direction so those ramps are on the right side. Now you have sideknobs that cup dirt for pedaling but not as well as braking....this a dh tire remember. And then the sidenknobs are now angled left when the tire is pointing right....specifically the direction you're trying to NOT slide. Shouldn't matter that much because it's not like you're going to get to those sideknobs anyway they're so close together with the centers, that there's no channel to let dirt into the sideknobs anyway.
Here's one some people (including me sort of) have been stoked on despite one glaringly stupid feature.

"Clutch"

It's obvious they tried to copy at least the LOOK of a minion but seriously.....what the hell is with those sipes? The side knobs have a little bit of angle that matches rolling it the same way that would give you the bigger braking edge on the center knobs (toward you in the pic)....but those sipes point the opposite direction your tire will be turning. The minion center sipes have a subtle angle but at least they point the right way. This spec tire does squirm a bit on hard pack turns where you're not leaned over all the way to the side knobs.....that's why. It's not a huge deal but it's just fvcking dumb. If you're going to bother siping, do it in a direction that works with you not against you. Even just a straight sipe would have been better.

I'm obviously not the only one who realized it though because then they came out with this. This one obviously should be rolling away from you and literally everything in this pattern works to fuction that way. Only complaint I'd have with the butcher is making the profile more squared off to engage that channel sooner. Still looks like a ripping tire though.

"Butcher"
MAXXIS -- The Old Standard
Maxxis tires usually have three different compounds: 3C, UST, or Supertacky. 3C is a triple compound with a harder long lasting base layer with two progressively softer top layer compounds to combine grip with stability. UST is their tubeless specific designation and supertacky is a super low rebound/high traction compound. A good baseline tire pressure for these tires is ~ 27 - 30 psi.

Minion DHF, MSRP $93.00
This tire up until just recently for most and still is for many the gold standard in traction and control.

Maxxis said:
The Minion DHF is the standard by which all other downhill tires are measured. The DHF incorporates ramped knobs for low rolling resistance and channel-cut knobs to increase gripping edges, giving straight-line control and precise cornering. Directional, ramped knob design - front or rear
2-ply DH casings with butyl-protected sidewalls
Minion DHR


Maxxis said:
The DHR features ramped knobs, like the DHF, but the channels in the knobs are designed for braking and accelerating.
High Roller


High Roller II


Kidwoo Review

From bikerumor.com

Maxxis just unveiled their new High Roller II triple compound DH mountain bike tire. The design gets visually subtle changes to the tread block shaping via sipes, new edge shapes and earlier engagement for the side knobs. It’ll initially come in only a 26×2.4 size with either their 3C Triple Compound (70a/42a/40a) tread or a MaxxPro 60a single compound tread, both with 2-ply DH casings. These will be available in a couple weeks, and additional sizes and formats will follow.
Yes the new HR is better up front but functions well in the rear because of the flat braking edges down the middle. That's how I designed it. Its a dual duty, multi conditions tire with a slight leaning towards soft/intermediate. Already been on the podium on the WC! Super pumped about that!
Swampthing

U use it when its wet tacky, but not deep mud or super soft terrain, its best when its hard slick wet, I use it allot especailly up front because its like a moto tire, it blasts trough foliage and we have heaps here that a Minion would sit on top of e.g it won't dig to the hardpack, or when it gets wets slippery, but where the knobs of a Wetscream would squirm, these don't, its also critical ime to get the tire pressure right with this tire.
And it clears or sheds mud better than any other tire in the Maxxis range!
I love all 3 too so I'm not biased, but I probably use this tire more than any other especially up front,
Weve just gone into Autumn but the last few months of Summer in the dry Ive had the Swampy 42a ST 3up front and the DHF 3C on the rear, great combo, and fast too, Ive had guys crash in the corners behind me and Ive not looked like going down.
WetScream
 
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zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
SCHWALBE -- The Challenger to the Throne

Tip for all guys here wanting Schwalbes.
BUY THEM DIRECTLY FROM GERMANY.
www.bike-components.de
Shipping is rediculously inexpensive (10 Euros for 4 Wire tires) and prices are great.
A friend of mine and me bought 4 Muddy Marys wire (2 Vertstar and 2 Performance) with shipping included for $175
So for a basic guide:
Dirty Dan- MUD/intermediate or cut down for harder stuff
Muddy Mary- Intermediate from mud to loose over hard (love this tire)
Big Betty- semi loam to loose over hard and dry (love this as a rear tire)

Wicked Will- Some loose over hard to ROCK hard dry rocks and course
Vert star is soft sides and firmer center (like a 40d side 50d center as example) makes a killer front tire or rear when things get wild.
Trail star is a bit harder.compound (50d side and 60d center for example) and makes a great rear tire and if not racing a great front and rear set... its not as grabby as the Vert but shares the damping and absorption of it..
They both are a triple.compound soft sides harder middle and a more dense and firmer underlying layer.
Vert star is a race tire all the way and trail star is a fun/race tire
both solid tires and perform...
Vertstar is the softest compound, performance is very hard.
Schwalbe used to call the softest compound Gooey Gluey, then came Triple Compound and then Performance.
Now the softest is Vertstar, then comes Trailstar and then Pacestar.
For the Schwalbe MM's most guys run the 2.35. This size casing from Schwalbe is very close to a Maxxis 2.5.
FYI schwables tire sizes are a little off. When they say 2.5 they mean 2.7 in maxxis sizes. So if your wanting to get a schwable tire thats around the same size as a maxxis high roller 2.5 get the schwable 2.35. The schwable 2.4 is almost dead on with maxxis 2.5" the schwable 2.35 is slighty smaller. So unless you want big meats go with the 2.35 or 2.4 in schwables.
might be worth including some baseline tire pressures? -schwalbe muddy mary/big better/wicked will ~22-25psi
First off they are a bigger profile tire so a 2.35 is pretty on par with a maxxis 2.5 and a 2.5 is on par with a maxxis 2.7 but the weights are good for the size as well as the sidewalls are thick.
The triple layer compound has harder center, and softer sides as well as a base layer that allows better rolling resistance. All these tires work well with tubeless set up Im currently running 2.35 DH Muddy marys now with stans on 823s and like last year I have had ZERO problems thus far. (I did blow up 3 rims last season and tires failed to seal, tires couldnt roll LOL)

DH and FR versions share the snakeskin sidewalls and the slip resistant coating to keep them from slipping on the bead in a tubed setup.

DH is 2 ply sidewalls FR is single ply sidewalls

DH has GOLD logos and FR has SILVER logos

Heres some info from them regarding the technology on these tires


Muddy Mary, MSRP $88.00
All-Condition

MUDDY MARY REVIEW:
The terrain is DRY, dusty some is hard pack almost like sandstone that brakes away as you ride over it more like sand paper than anything and most of it is completely covered in kitty litter or course grain (granite) like material that likes to roll around. Rocks are slick and dusty as well as covered by the pebbley stuff making them loose ontop of dusty, the chutes are blown out 6-8" of dust/dirt and SUPER steep chutes where braking at best directs you but you gain speed still with both brakes locked up... Turns are on this steep stuff so as much as you dont want to straighten out the bike you have to to hop and pitch it a different direction to get into the next slide or trail angle/direction....
Tons of 10-18" rain ruts barely big enough to accomodate both pedals so alternating and hopping becomes a regular occurance....
Lots of hard braking to control the corners and outcome of the ruts and chutes as well as the speeds and diving in and out of ruts, g-outs and corners that are HARD with kittly litter look like a berm but are actually a horizontal tranch 6-8" into the berm so the tire has to stay put or it bites both top and bottom of the channel while leaned high speed and you go down hard...

So this covers alot of what the 4 days where with trails going from 4k descents to 16 mile single track with exposed edges and missing trail on cliffs... Several STEEP chutes, jumps, sandy doubles and more fun... Now I have ridden snow, Ice, ladders, stunts in 10 degree weather as well as MUD water crossings and everything in between and still aside of deep mud the tire of choice is my MUDDY MARYS.....

The Muddy Marys have taken care of me at every turn and junction/trail I have rode I opted for Guey Glueys both front and rear and had GREAT success on them. I did chunk the rears pretty good but considering we opted for some of the nastiest terrrain the US has to offer and did 4 days of SOLID beating on it (basically 40 grit sand paper) I have no complaints I did gash a rear tire on a bad rock that popped up on a line I chose which would have taken any tire out....

They stayed glued to the ground I noticed no lug roll over in the hard pack and I was able to get it layed out for 2 wheel drifts feet on pedals for wide open cornering... They were controlled the whole time and when I had intresting line choices (as overthedge said) using ruts as berms and just railing into them full speed anywhere and everywhere they hooked up on the sides of the ruts allowing me to enter and exit them at will... This took some time to adjust to and allowed me the option to open up new lines by just trusting them and letting it all hang out to see where Id hit the wall of grip and go over it.

I did run 2.5 Single ply Muddy Marys guey gluey the whole time rocks and all... I do like the dampened feel of a guey gluey on the chatter it has better characteristics as far as chattering the bike. It stays more leveled and less walking, I will run a triple next time for extra wear and see what the rear grip is on it...
Big Betty, MSRP $90.00
All Condition -> Dry

BIG BETTY REAR REVIEW:

OK slapped a Big Betty (FR 2.4 triple compound) rear on the bike to see how it handles the dry dusty stuff up, down and freeride and speed and so far great. Took it and rode the reserve trail, I had 33psi in it from a rode ride the other day with the kids on the green belt so I left it where it was at.

First the trail isnt too long has 1/2 climb thats on sand, loose over hard and total high desert blown out crap. I did let the PSI out to 28 in the rear as the harder compound was breaking free climbing sttep stuff as I was leaning over it and it was 33 psi... After letting pressure out it handled perfect and climbed perfect.
There is a weird road noise when it the parking lot especially when cornering as the lugs are acting like saws and edge biting then full bite. Its kind of a funky bawrrrrrrr noise but it means they are hooking up and they do the same thing in the dirt minus the noise they hook up.

Descents they performed without a hitch there was less rolling resistance than the Muddy marys and they snapped corners a bit better in the rear on really hard stuff but the loose sandy and blah stuff the Marys felt a little better. They brake really well as well as have a good solid feel on the ground. They have less spike bounce than a mary so they are a bit smoother, the triple compound sacrafices a little grip but gains ALOT of life over the guey glueys.
I can see these as a good whistler tire, or NW they would make a smokin hot race tire in the GG compound for say fontanna or other rocky dry chutes with lots of odd hard obstacles and where pedalling is a neccesity...

In hard berms or a bit of loose over hard they seem to really bite and pin in solid and concise and give a good planted feel.
Dirty Dan
Mud

Hey Bullcrew, the Dirty Dan is my favorite tire right now. It works very well on super steep stuff even if it's dry. I was blown away by how well it works on the Champery track in the dry. It is very predictable and doesn't let go like a wet scream does if the knobs start to fold.
A cut down or not Dirty Dan up front and a 2.35 Muddy Mary in the back is my favorite setup on the Champery track in the wet or dry.
bullcrew said:
6” of snow wet and muddy underneath. They performed flawless, complete grip all the way down with no loss of traction, there were a few spots I felt the back end get out (deeper skinny ruts) but only for a split second and the side lugs grabbed immediately getting it back in check.

They tires have a lot less rolling resistance than expected especially for being a Guey Gluey compound (soft), they do like any spike tire dig and have a little but they brake in control as well as you can easily pedal up snow hills with very little spinning. Like all spike tires they have some lug vibration on pavement but its minimal with the softer compound.

The GUEY GLUEY compound worked out best with the terrain and conditions we had, these grabbed slick rocks and held a line.
 
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zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
Specialized

Butcher, MSRP $75.00


Compound: Base 70a / Top 42a, Wire Bead, 60 TPI, ~1250g
Applications: All you need to know is this is Sam Hill's tire. :-) Seriously though, best for intermediate to loose conditions.

Am I the only one that likes the butcher better than the DHF? I'll run either but to me the butcher rides almost identical in the corners but with better braking, especially in soft stuff. It seems like a go-to tire for just about any conditions, might not be ideal but it will work anywhere.

Specialized butcher, clutch, and hillbilly have all been working great for me.
It sounded like specialized tires were hard to come by...the few people that do have them seem to really like them, with the general consensus that they have an improvement in cornering/lean angles over the reference dhf. You'll probably see more people on the bandwagon as time goes by.
Clutch, MSRP $75.00


Compound: Base 70a / Top 42a / Shoulder 40a, Wire Bead, 60 TPI, ~1250g
Applications: Intermediate to loamy conditions, less support in a hard lean than a Butcher.

I've got about 30 hours of ride time on them at this point, so I thought I'd share a little thoughts on them.

This is coming from the perspective that they are pretty much the same as the Minion DHF 3c.

Heres my short review:

My experience with the 2.3 left alot to be desired. It brakes very poorly, and I find myself dragging my brake far more frequently then any tire I've ever owned. (I've run 2.3 tires in the back before too). Side knobs were haggered in a matter of days, as were all braking knobs. Not very happy with how they held up; but the while it held up, cornered better then any other 2.3 I've ridden. I got 3 runs at downieville, and 3 days of northstar. As far as the feel of them, they lack a little bit of that cornering bite that maxxis has, but they transition from the middle knobs to the side knobs smoother - not huge differences in either direction (bite is pretty similar and transition is pretty similar). And the difference in bite is very very minimal to say the least. I actually think the dual ply casing clutch broke loose more predictably then the DHF, which I hold in very high regard for breaking lose predictably.

Casing was pretty damn good, no complaints there, was pretty similar to maxxis casing, but if anything I give the advantage to the clutch's. Bead hook was very good, the tires should work pretty acceptably for tubeless (obviously depending on rims etc etc).

The 2.5 is holding up way better then the 2.3. As a front tire, its the sh1t. If somebody was giving me free tires of my choice, I'd still probably take a minion. I'd be taking the clutch over the minion if the minion cost more then 2-3 dollars more. They're a very, very similar tire, and I'm very happy with the casing on the clutch. Knobs on the 2.5 are holding up just fine, I think there just wasn't enough rubber on the knobs of the 2.3 to hold up well. If you can get your hands on a set (again, the dual ply, NOT the SX, I haven't had as much experience on the SX and I really didn't like the casing from the experience I have) then you should snag them.

They definitely, even when haggered, roll faster then a minion DHF 3c does. The 3c DHF seems to roll quickly for a day or two, then the middle knobs get a little chewed up, and it rolls slower then an anchor. The clutch tires roll much faster from the start, and hold their rolling speed alot longer. I run the same PSI in each.

edit: I suppose I should add, I'm running dry hardpack/loose over hardpack trails, haven't ridden in the wet with them yet, (although I'm about to now that I'm in NY and my bike is coming in today). I weigh 170 lbs geared up, and I run the front at 31psi and the rear at 33. I'll update in a couple weeks after I've had some time in the wet.

The 2.3 is off my bike, and I'm back to a 2.5 3c highroller in the back, due to being more clapped out then a 12 dollar hooker. I'll only be able to talk about how the 2.5 dual ply clutch holds up in the wet, not the 2.3.
Chunder, MSRP $70.00


Compound: Base 70a / Top 42a / Shoulder 40a, Wire Bead, 60 TPI, ~1250g
Applications: Excellent rear tire, very versatile; corners very well; also excellent in intermediate to loose conditions

SX holds up quite well for a lighter rider or milder terrain, but certainly can't absorb the same sort of abuse as a true 2 ply DH tire. Your success will depend largely on your ridding style and local terrain...

The Clutch generally has better cornering traction while the Chunder has a little better straight line traction (compared to each other).
I have The exact tires you have but in the 2.5... the Clutch up front the chunder in the rear.... Works great, and yes they old up just fine

at 265 I run 30 PSI front and rear, been running it like this for many years withno worries at all

I have run a chunder in teh front before, traction was fine, but like running a hi roller in teh front, you have a dead spot so to speak in the traction.... like you have to push past a gap of traction to get the side knobs to dig when in the front

EDIT.... Sorry I lied, I do have the 2.3's on right now......
Hillbilly, MSRP $75.00


Compound: Base 70a / Top 42a, Wire Bead, 60 TPI, ~1250g
Applications: Dry/hardpack, cut spike; this tire needs to be ridden hard/fast to get benefits but at speed it just grabs off-camber stuff.

The HillBilly is designed as a "dry spike." It has bite to dig into loam, damp soil, anything short of deep/extended mud, but it's still fast on drier and harder surfaces. Compared to a mud spike, the knobs are shorter and stouter. They won't squirm as much on rock, but they'll dig in deeper than any flatter knobs on a butcher/minion style tire. They can hold their own in pretty much anything short of deep mud or deep sand/dust.
My buddy jvnixon rode the Hillbillies at the GES Finals and his impression of them was similar to that of most spikes: They hook up tremendously in loam/soft mud/wet grass/loose dirt with some gravel, (not bad on hard pack for a spike) BUT over the rocks wet or dry they tend to get a bit sketchy. By this he meant that braking and traction become greatly reduced.

The Spesh 2.3" casing size that is used for the HB and the Storm are definitely smaller than a Maxxis 2.5". I did a side by side comparison between his HillBilly and my Minion DHF 2.5 and the HB was definitely narrower. As far as section height is concerned (sidewall width) I have no idea, but jvnixon was pretty stoked on them over the soft stuff.
Storm, MSRP $75.00


Compound: Base 70a / Top 42a, Wire Bead, 60 TPI, ~1150g
Applications: The tire to replace the WetScream. Super soft knobs that shed great and love wet roots and rocks. This tire is purpose built for the nasty of the nasty.

Decline Magazine Guide to Cutting Specialized Tires Part 1
Decline Magazine Guide to Cutting Specialized Tires Part 2
 
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zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
Michelin

OK I think I have the new dual ply Michelins figured out, thanks to chainreactioncycles.

Wild Grip'R Descent 2.5 - looks the same as Comp16
Wild Rock'R Descent 2.25 & 2.5 - New tire, not a Comp24
Wild Grip'R Heavy Duty Descent 2.6 - looks the same as Comp32
Wild Dig'R Descent 2.2 - new Mud tire (different than Mud 3)
I have good and bad news.

The bad: from what I've heard, is despite the pictures online showing the "wildgripper descent 2.5" to look like a 2.5" version of the old comp 32 tire, it is indeed just a comp 16 relabeled....

More bad, the comp 24 is discontinued completely...good news is that the wildrocker replaces it and should be an improvement....

More info that probably doesn't come as news to many: the wildgripper descent 2.6" is identical to the old 2.8 comp 32

Also, tires should finally be available. My buddy at Michelin said a palette finally shipped...I should have some new tires to play with in a week or two.
WildRock'R


As far as their new DH tires, anybody looking to get the new 2.5 wildrock'r
tires need to know it is a really BIG tire. Much bigger than a 2.5 comp 16.
I want a set for Windrock for sure.
But I will probaly end up running the New comp 16 most of the time. It looks like the improvements they did on that tire should make it perfect for me here.
WildGrip'R


The only new Michelin tires that I have are the trail tires. The new 2.1 wildgrip'r tires that Brian posted a pic of the 2.4 version. I really like these tires. Fast rolling, and a good compound for trail riding. Its a little more of finesse tire on the front. It didn't like getting up on the front tire and pushing aggressively, but it carves sweeping turns really well on those side knobs.
Also, size wise, my 2.1 tires are the same size as a 2.25 Maxxis advantage tire or a 2.2 Specialized Purgatory tire for reference. They run big and have good volume for their size.
My opinion of these tires changed quickly. I would not recommend the wildgrip'r tire to any aggressive riders. They work ok for some light steering xc riding, but they tread pattern gets sketchy quick in cerrtain conditions.
That said, the wildrock'r trail tires are my favorite trail tires of all time. I have the 2.25 version which is huge, and the 2.1 version which is grippy enough to make a great slalom tire. Right now, I have the 2.25 rock'r on the front and the 2.15 wildrace'r on the rear. Great traction on the front, and the rear rolls really fast and breaks loose gradually. Its a fun setup to slide around with the rear brake.
I really want to try the wildrock'r tire in the DH casing.
They run a little large, I guess we'll have to wait to see if the actual production tires do as well. I am pretty impressed with the Rock'Rs', these tries rock! They are predictable as far as they're slip angle, and they have a high slip point, they hold firm on the rocks and clean the mud pretty damn good.





Trail tire version 2.25


These have Windrock written all over them!




Haven't ran these yet



A few rides with these, but really haven't "pushed" them yet



Hopefully the production tires are somewhere in the Pacific right now head to the Port of L.A.
 
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zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
Continental

Their "Black Chili" compound is known as bubblegum by all who try it. Super sticky but wears pretty fast. The Conti tires are recommended to run higher pressures than other brands and are also about ~100g heavier.

Continental Tire Review

conti der kaiser/rain king/der baron 2.5 really need 32-34 psi
Der Kaiser, MSRP ~$90.00


Grabbed a couple of the Der Kaisers about a month ago, have since run them into the ground (rear one is literally bald, as in it's hard to see where the knobs used to be). Up until now I've almost exclusively run Maxxis, mostly Minions DHFs in their various compounds (have owned countless 40a/42a and a few 60a), though recently I've also tried a few Schwalbes (Dirty Dan and Muddy Mary). Was pretty keen to check out the Der Kaisers since the "Black Chili" compound they use is supposed to be pretty cool, they claim extremely good grip as well as slow wear characteristics. RRP in Canada is $95cad, vs Maxxis 42a at $90cad - more or less the same.

First impression - the bead seats properly and easily (rims are Mavic 823s) when you install it, definitely easier than the Schwalbe beads to get to seat properly and probably equivalent or slightly easier than Maxxis. The compound feels super soft, but has a weird kind of texture, almost feels a tiny bit greasy to the touch. The tread pattern didn't seem particularly inspired one way or another except insofar as having similarities to a Highroller but with longer (lengthways around the tyre) centre knobs that turned out to be a lot more resistant to tearing off than Highrollers typically are. Don't recommend riding without goggles on if you have one of these as a front tyre, as the compound is so soft it picks up a LOT of gravel and whatnot and flicks it up in your face. The 2.5 Der Kaiser is bigger than a 2.5 Maxxis (mostly due to the fact that Maxxis tyres are undersized for their nominal size compared to all the other brands), maybe closer to a 2.7 Minion. I don't know what the weight is, nor do I really care, seems about the same as most other DH tyres as far as I can tell.

I put these tyres on (front and rear) a month ago, have probably logged about 20 days on them since then. The front one is pretty much done, the rear one is completely toast and has been for a few days now - I'm that guy who skids and puts braking bumps in trails, sorry! Grip-wise, they seem fairly equivalent to a Minion 40a in most situations, the notable exception being dusty rock faces where they scared me a couple of times, but in fairness dusty rocks are always fairly slippery. In the wet I thought they were reasonably good but when they did slide out, they seemed to do it a bit more suddenly and with a bit less feedback than Schwalbe/Maxxis stuff.

I did find them a little bit less predictable than a Minion on the rear in pretty well all situations; up until the point where the wear was quite significant, they tended to either grip or slide with relatively little slow/controllable slippage in between. However, this was just my impression and not a characteristic that I thought was extreme or even particularly significant. Some people might find the opposite on their own trails, it certainly wasn't a dealbreaker to me anyway. Actual outright grip was up there with pretty much anything else in most conditions. One guy I know who ran them for a while said he thought they were pretty slippery in the wet, but I didn't find em much if any worse than anything else.

Longevity of the tyres was good I thought, I am fortunate enough to be able to ride a lot and I go through tyres very quickly, but these have lasted me longer than anything else I've owned except 60a Minions. Given how soft the compound is, that's fairly impressive. They stayed looking brand new for a surprisingly long time but when they did begin to show their age they did it fairly suddenly - knobs went from still having well defined square edges to having big tears in them very quickly.

What was not so impressive was the flat resistance - despite having snakeskin sidewalls or whatever they call it, they definitely are not as bombproof as Maxxis sidewalls. I've had 3 or 4 rear flats in the past month (vs that many in 5 years with Maxxis), even though I always keep tyre pressures pretty high, and even had a front flat at high speed that caused a crash mid race-run (vs one front flat with Maxxis ever, that was caused BY a crash!). I get the impression from the feel of the tyre casing that the anti-pinch inserts or whatever don't go high enough up the sidewall of the tyre, but I'm not a tyre designer and I could be wrong on that.

The long and the short of it - outright grip is good in most situations, wear rate is very good given the grip/softness of the rubber, if the price is comparable to Maxxis then lifespan vs cost does makes them better value, but to me the one thing that's put me off buying them again is the fact that the flat protection seems pretty weak compared to Maxxis. It's a very good tyre, but not the perfect tyre. If you're looking for something to run ghetto tubeless or something then the Der Kaiser might be a good option to check out, but since I can't be arsed with that stuff anymore, I'm going to save myself some money on tubes and go back to Minions.
In the experience of myself and some pro-level riders, the conti der kaisers are not only sticker than the maxxis 3C equivalents, but also wear slower and last longer, significantly. Their main drawback is quality control and rolling resistance.
Der Baron a.k.a Rain King, MSRP ~$90.00


Given that there doesn't seem to be too much info out there on the newer Conti DH tires, I thought I'd throw up a brief review of the Rain Kings that I got recently.

I went from Minion DHF 3Cs to a Specialized Chunder SX out back and a Clutch SX up front. After moving up to Seattle from the SF Bay area for school, I found that the Specialized tires were packing up a bit easily. Once they were worn enough to justify replacing, I used an Amazon giftcard I had sitting around to buy a set of Rain Kings.

The tires were a breeze to mount up on 721s and initial impressions of the quality are very good. They just seems really well made and solid.The tire is light for the size and apparent thickness of the casing, which I'm assuming is due to a high thread count. They're a high volume tire with a pretty open tread design, but I don't know that I'd use them as a mud tire for sloppy conditions. The tire simply wouldn't measure up to a Wet Scream or something similar for the really nasty stuff.

The riding I've been doing since getting the tire hasn't been particularly crazy, but it has given me a decent idea of what the tire is capable of. The open tread doesn't roll fast despite the ramped front edge of the center knobs, but it clears incredibly well. The mold release that Conti uses is a little slick, and I was a little concerned as I was pedaling to the trailhead as the tire was slipping around a bit excessively on roots. Once I got moving, the benefits of the tire really started to show. The compound is insanely soft, and I've never ridden a tire that sticks to roots and slick rocks like this thing does. I took it easy at first, but I was hitting wet corners harder than I ever have after a few runs. The constant grip instills confidence in all situations, and no matter how gooey the mud got I couldn't get the tire to pack up. It doesn't dig in like a true mud tread would, but for Washington riding and wet rather than truly muddy conditions, it seems perfect so far. Hardpack is a little rough because of the slower rolling nature of the tread, but on everything from intermediate to wet I haven't been able to find fault in the tire yet. I've had a few sharp rocks and trail debris bounce off the sidewall with no noticeable damage, and the tread is wearing much better than my Minion 3Cs did.

If you can justify the price (which is really not that much more than Maxxis anymore), these tires are rad. I'm thinking I might try the Kaiser once things start drying out more.
Rubber Queen a.k.a Trail King, MSRP ~$90.00


Continental makes the Rubber Queen... The Athertons are sponsored by them and I saw Gee riding a set of Kaisers during practice at the Open 2 years ago. I spoke with him about them and he said he liked them but when I asked him how much psi he was running he said around 35. I know on average the WC guys run a stiffer suspension setup than the average rider due to the speed they carry so either the somewhat high psi he was running was reflective of his suspension setup or he was trying to avoid pinch flats due to thin sidewalls.

Continental's proprietary Black Chili compound seems to be extremely promising, but their version of a DH casing has been lacking. Not sure what they have lined up for 2011, but in the past their idea of DH sidewalls were the equivalent of a FR tire from most other manufacturers. In the construction of their "Apex" casings found on their DH tires, they seem to use a rubber insert much like the butyl insert found on Maxxis DH tires, but I'm not sure if this is new for 2011...
 
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zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
Kenda

I'm no pro, but the Kenda KOT is the fast rolling mud-specific tire I've ever ridden, and also seems to hold shape better in hard, dry corners without 70psi in the damn things. I'm still missing a chunk of elbow from the last time I ran a Scream... silly little knobs. And come to think of it...I had my Screams all trimmed down too.
KOTs in mud, Telonix of all things deep, loose and dry.

But again, I'm just a guy.
Excavator, MSRP $53.00

MinorThreat said:
Thank you for asking about the Excavator. I love telling people about it - - even if it is someone who already knows .

What I especially like about it is the fact that for me it's been an extremely versatile all-conditions tire. I started my season in semi-arid Eastern Washington/North Idaho, where the base is a lot of decomposed granite that soaks up water like a sponge in the early season but drains adequately to firm up into near-perfect traction. I started out with a fresh set of 2.5 Exs and 2.5 Nevs and put the Exs on first at the recommendation of a friend.

I still had them on when I went up to compete at Whistler in Crankworx. There the conditions were totally different. The forest floor is loamier and when it rains, it turns into a series of well-drained sections punctuated by mud chutes and wet roots. I naturally took the yet-unused Nevegals with me as a fall-back in case I didn't like how the Excavators were going to behave. I ended up running the Excavators for both the Garbanzo (Endurance) downhill and for the Air DH down A-Line. They seemed to stick everywhere. "The Garbanzo race day was wet and cold, with fog at the top and a steady sleet/drizzle; but I never once got that uneasy feeling of a front end trying to wash out on me. And on rock faces, it didn't seem to matter if it was dry or wet or even wet and lichen-covered - - I felt like I had braking control when I needed it. A few days later on the well-drained and -groomed surfaces of A-Line, the tires bit and held through berms and the chatter of the ubiquitous braking bumps.

Even playing around with some buddies on a wetter day, I found myself squaring off bermed turns motocross-style and diving under them in some of the turns - - a cool feeling when you know the tire will hold the line.

I felt a bit guilty about neglecting the Nevs, so I put one on the front of my 6.5'/7" trail bike when we went back to Whistler in October, figuring as late-season as it was, the trade-off between rolling resistance and front traction were going to be worth it. I was right - - but admittedly the 2.35s would be better suited for it.

BTW, in late summer around here all that granite soil turns to either pack with a fine rock-dust topping or ski-slope silt with rocks. I still finished out the season with Excavators and was happy with how they performed in those conditions as well. I hope this helps some. I worry sometimes that I'm not savvy enough at detecting the subtle nuances of a tire to be a real help in feedback; but, honestly, the Exs never gave me pause to worry whether or not they were going to hold in a particular situation, so I was pleased."
EC's Kenda Excavator Cutting Technique

Blue Groove, MSRP $53.00


Nevegal, MSRP $53.00


The tire everyone loves to hate and some hate to love. Very predictable. To the point that you are going to predict that it is going to dump you when you don't want it to, but still predictable. :-) Kenda's all-around everything tire. Comes in lots of sizes, compounds, and beads.

Telonix, MSRP $53.00


Large block, deep lugged tire. Good for moss/loam/mud/crappy conditions. From experience, once you get onto the side lugs, look out you are going down. Very squirmy.

BBG, MSRP $53.00


Low center knobs for a fast accelerating, climbing, and braking specific tire. Seems like a good rear tire in DH and a good all around trail-bike tire.

Been running a set of Kenda BBGs on the DH bike and will do a detailed tire review after I get some more time on them. I took measurements and everything. So far, great dry/hardpack tire, corners very aggressively, but not so good in wet/intermediate/soft conditions in terms of braking and control around center. What you'd guess basically.
El Moco, MSRP $53.00


Ramped an rounded knobs for faster rolling tire with easy transition into large side lugs for good cornering grip. Lopes signature tire. Comes in both Stick-E and UST versions as well as folding and wire-bead.
 
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zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
GEAX

GEAX Pro-Tip: pair a DHEA on the rear with a Neuron (dry) or Synapsis (wet) up front.

GEAX has a few tire options. Their TNT is a tubeless ready bead, and they have a single casing double compound (~800g), a 2-ply double compound (~1135g), and a 2-ply triple compound (~1060g)

Neuron, MSRP ~$45.00


Hardpack terrain tire with firm center knobs and sticky lateral knobs. Double compound is ~1300g whereas triple compound is 1090g.

i have been running geax neurons, wet and dry. i love them. i have also been riding the dhea's which roll super quick in the dry and hook up pretty good in the rocks and roots as well.
DHEA, MSRP ~$45.00


More aggressive all-condition tire optimized for higher lean angles.

I ran one of these as a rear tire for a season. it was pretty good. I liked it on dry trails. A softer rubber compound would have helped it in the wet so as is I'd rate it in the 7.5 / 10 range.
For reference I had the 2.3 TNT version running tubeless on a ZTR flow.

Synapsis, MSRP ~$45.00


The Synapsis is a half-n-half tire. Ideal for slop-on-top. Similar to a cut-spike or dry-spike, the tire only comes in a sticky soft 2-Ply (~1150g).
 
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zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
Sleepers, Unknowns & Knockoffs

Panaracer Cedric Gracia DH

No real-world feedback yet, but interesting none-the-less.

Duro Muckmeister

Cut down Duro Muckmeister Recoil Compound. Best grass mud tire ever if you can find them. Everyone that has tried them want more.
Intense 909 (ITS by Toby Henderson)

In loam and mulch - I found that these things hook up like no other! I could lean it pretty hard and still find traction. At the limit under these conditions break (when the tires would start to drift) was fairly predictable. On hardpack either dry or wet they hooked up pretty well and had about the same rolling resistance as a Minion DHF. Grip was good but not like in loam/loose/mulch where those moto-style knobs could dig in.
I ran 909 at the recent Reading ride day. My rear flatted on my last run, and I was running 40psi. But then again, I'm kinda a hack, so I guess YMMV.
I ran the same tire model but in 2 ply @ 38psi at Massunutten, no flats.
I like the SR compound and pattern for the 909. I'm not a fan of the Edge tire. When new, it grips and lets go fairly predictably. IMO, when it gets to just 40-50% wear, it becomes unpredictable, loosing traction when pushing it into corners. The square 90degree leading edges of the blocks wears and disintegrates prematurely. (when compared to the Maxxis Minion and Highroller tires I've ridden in the past)
Once my current Intense tires have worn out, I don't think I'll be getting them again.
the 909's are good in hard packed conditions, but when it comes to wet roots, they are death traps
Intense Edge (ITS by Toby Henderson)

I have the Invader, Edge, 909 and the Intruder all 2.35s in both the FR and DH compounds. I started running them at the very end of last season and I have to say that even with the little ride time I had on them I was impressed. After I get some additional time on all of them I'll be posting a thorough review on MTBGearTech.com. So far my favorite combo for most conditions has been the 909 in the front with the Edge out back. The Edge reminds me a little bit of the Minion DHr. I am running them with tubes and haven't tried them tubeless. I have tried the Invader as well. It's the old "DH" tire and seems to be better on hardpack than anything else.
It's not much but I hope it helps.
Intense Intruder (ITS by Toby Henderson)

The Intruder in the sticky compound (has to be the sticky for decent wet and rooty grip) in 2.5 is hands down one of my, if not my favorite tire (for the front anyway). Sometimes hard to find and they are a little heavy - but super aggressive tread, tears up corners and ski slope, sheds mud well, don't flat easy and I have had nothing but good experience in steep/rooty/rocky New England courses. I never really see anyone using them but I would highly recommend giving them a shot, you wont be disappointed.
So quick question...the "sticky rubber" that intense says their tires are made with...what are those equivalent to in the Maxxis tire compound? Closer to a 42A or a 60A?
I'd say it's right about smack dab in the middle of those two. It's not quite as durable as the 60A or as sticky as the 42A, but pretty close.
 
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Idahoo

Chimp
Apr 21, 2009
46
0
Thanks for putting the work in on this, it could turn out to be a great resource! If you could include each tire's use and MSRP that would be awesome! Hopefully this thread stays as a nice sticky for some great info in tire choices and not a pissing contest about who thinks what tire is better.

By the way, if you need this post for adding material at the top, let me know and i'll put in whatever you need.
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
16,673
1,391
01776
I would just like to put forth that A) this thread is awesome, great idea, and B) as it develops, I wonder if you should add a categorical criteria- IE dry tire, all conditions tires, mud tire, etc. Maybe another section for knock-offs or "catch-alls". As this thread develops, I expect to see a few people using creepy sh*t that flies under the radar, like arrow/duro or panaracer or IRC or something.

Finally, Geax makes the Datura as their DH mud tire.
 

zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
I would just like to put forth that A) this thread is awesome, great idea, and B) as it develops, I wonder if you should add a categorical criteria- IE dry tire, all conditions tires, mud tire, etc. Maybe another section for knock-offs or "catch-alls". As this thread develops, I expect to see a few people using creepy sh*t that flies under the radar, like arrow/duro or panaracer or IRC or something.

Finally, Geax makes the Datura as their DH mud tire.
Everyone has been talking about doing one. I had today off so figured I would put it together. Can you throw it in the FAQ's sandwich?

Categories are coming... good idea.

Does anyone know how to "insert" a post? Is there a way I can get a "knockoffs" section up top?
 

zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
Kenda Excavator.

P.S Good work

P.P.S Let's have tire reviews from people who aren't sponsored by that tire company.
Trying to only include tires that people actually use. Do you use the excavator? Do you have impressions? If so, PM your info to me and I will totally throw it into the Kenda section. Basically, I don't want to just paste the companies entire lineup in here; I want it to be more of a "this is what works for what conditions". If there is a tire out there that nobody uses, then there is really no point in it taking up space. Right? When I was putting this together, I tried to only post tires that I could find someone reporting having actually used extensively and liked for a certain purpose ya know...
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
16,673
1,391
01776
Hey, I finally got my Butchers in 2.5. They don't seem that much huger than the DHF 2.5 but I haven't compared them side by side. So far I think they're great, but I don't have quite the same confidence as I did with the DHF 3C/DHR3C combo. Hopefully that will change as I spend more time on them, but I know they're pretty new so I thought any advice will help.

I don't have any time on them, but the hillbilly's throw roost like a moto and the team rider's on those were pretty giddy.
 

Pslide

Turbo Monkey
Hey, I finally got my Butchers in 2.5. They don't seem that much huger than the DHF 2.5 but I haven't compared them side by side. So far I think they're great, but I don't have quite the same confidence as I did with the DHF 3C/DHR3C combo. Hopefully that will change as I spend more time on them, but I know they're pretty new so I thought any advice will help.

I don't have any time on them, but the hillbilly's throw roost like a moto and the team rider's on those were pretty giddy.
So what were the team riders on before? Did they prefer Hillbillys over the Butchers? (And on what surface...)

I'm thinking the Hillbilly is pretty comprable to the Muddy Mary in overall character, but I haven't ridden them yet. Since I have MMs, it's hard to justify the purchase! And I need a tire that can hang on occassional summer hardpack...
 

gemini2k

Turbo Monkey
Jul 31, 2005
3,526
115
San Francisco
In the experience of myself and some pro-level riders, the conti der kaisers are not only sticker than the maxxis 3C equivalents, but also wear slower and last longer, significantly. Their main drawback is quality control and rolling resistance.
 

zdubyadubya

Turbo Monkey
Apr 13, 2008
1,253
61
Ellicott City, MD
bump for added info and some refinement.

Can anyone think of anything I may have missed? Anything you would like to see thats not there? Still combing through for grammer and spelling fixes but looks good so far. Any suggestions are welcome!

:thumb:

p.s. if anybody knows how to "split" a post, that would be nice to know. I ran out of room for details on Maxxis tires because I didn't think ahead very well and put them with the intro.
 

BmxConvert

Monkey
Aug 6, 2007
715
0
Longview, Washington
Decline did an issue on cutting the Clutch and Chunder tires; is that something we can get added in here as well?

If I remember correctly there is a how to on cutting the Excavators/Nevegals as well that may be worth posting is someone knows where to find either.
 

Jeremy R

<b>x</b>
Nov 15, 2001
9,544
677
behind you with a snap pop
"Originally Posted by Jeremy R
The only new Michelin tires that I have are the trail tires. The new 2.1 wildgrip'r tires that Brian posted a pic of the 2.4 version. I really like these tires. Fast rolling, and a good compound for trail riding. Its a little more of finesse tire on the front. It didn't like getting up on the front tire and pushing aggressively, but it carves sweeping turns really well on those side knobs.
Also, size wise, my 2.1 tires are the same size as a 2.25 Maxxis advantage tire or a 2.2 Specialized Purgatory tire for reference. They run big and have good volume for their size. "


Um yeah, I must have wrote that right when I first got those tires, because my opinion of them changed quickly. I would not recommend the wildgrip'r tire to any aggressive riders. They work ok for some light steering xc riding, but they tread pattern gets sketchy quick in cerrtain conditions.
That said, the wildrock'r trail tires are my favorite trail tires of all time. I have the 2.25 version which is huge, and the 2.1 version which is grippy enough to make a great slalom tire. Right now, I have the 2.25 rock'r on the front and the 2.15 wildrace'r on the rear. Great traction on the front, and the rear rolls really fast and breaks loose gradually. Its a fun setup to slide around with the rear brake.
I really want to try the wildrock'r tire in the DH casing.
 

marshalolson

Turbo Monkey
May 25, 2006
1,509
193
might be worth including some baseline tire pressures?

-conti der kaiser/rain king/der baron 2.5 really need 32-34 psi
-maxxis dhf/high roller 2.5 ~27-30 psi
-schwalbe muddy mary/big better/wicked will ~22-25psi
 

rpet

goofy for life
Jun 9, 2003
3,174
408
El Lay
Pressure suggestions would be nice, but I think they need to be addressed subjectively and thoroughly include information like: tubeless or not, brand and thickness of tube, rim type, course, conditions, possibly even bike set-up (frame suspension design).

I mean someone running 20psi using one of those 2001 motorcycle tubes is not much help to me; neither is some kid trail-riding a DHF Exo with 45psi.
 

Acadian

Born Again Newbie
Sep 5, 2001
716
2
Blah Blah and Blah
When you compare Schwalbe and Maxxis compounds, what are the equivalents?

Schwalbe vs Maxxis
VertStar = ST/3C?
TrailStar = 60a?
PaceStar = Lust?

I'm thinking of trying some Muddy Mary's for my trail bike but cannot figure out what compound to get.
 

rpet

goofy for life
Jun 9, 2003
3,174
408
El Lay
I propose a real world tire width measurement standard for us to agree upon.

Something along the lines of:
Brand new tire, mounted on same rim (Mavic 721 or something similarly common), with same tube (Maxxis Welter or w/e), pumped up to 30psi, left to sit overnight to account for some stretch, and then measured with digital calipers.

Veering into weenie-ism here, but at the same time it would be nice to find out how far the newer or rarer tires vary from manufacturer's claimed sizing.

Or maybe this standard already exists somewhere... I don't read MTBR much.
 
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Udi

RM Chief Ornithologist: “I Brake for Birds”
Mar 14, 2005
4,837
1,028
When you compare Schwalbe and Maxxis compounds, what are the equivalents?
I'm not an expert, but went from Maxxis (40a / SR) to Schwalbe (VertStar), and the latter is similar or slightly softer (at the tips at least). I'd say it's definitely softer than 3C. They (muddy mary / dirty dan) work very well though, especially in muddier or loamier conditions.

Also, 2.35 in Schwalbe is *slightly* bigger than 2.5 in Maxxis (at very least a match).

buckoW would be the one to talk to for a better description.
 

Rhubarb

Monkey
Jan 11, 2009
246
53
What are you looking for from members for this thread? I expect its not about turning it into a bash thread. I think it would be great to have user feedback on tires prefered.

I have read many people bash Swampthings but they seem to work great for my style of riding and maybe its also due to my conditions. Would something like this work:

Swampthing 2.5 super tacky front on 721. 26Psi with regular tubes.
Swampthing 2.5 60A rear on 721. 28 Psi with regular tubes.
Rider weight 185lbs on Knolly Delerium. Tires used for moderate to fast trails when conditions are wet. Local trail conditions are hardpack with clay resulting in slippery conditions, Swampthings seem to find grip when intermediate tires dont and Wetscreams are too much spike. These tires can still handle dry conditions if you dont want to change tires between rain days. I also run these tires in loamy wet trails where intermediate tires choke up. At Psi listed the ties are excellent through moderate sized rocks. I have not tried dropping the Psi below listed figures. I run 60A on the rear for durability.