Tyres for tarmac and trail

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Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby adaml » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:22 pm

Hi all,

I sometimes go on rides that involve either riding to the trail-head on tarmac, or which are a mix of tarmac, gravel path and trail. I currently have Schwalbe Nobby Nics fitted but, while excellent, they're a fairly soft compound and I'm worried that riding on the tarmac will wear them out prematurely.

I'm thinking of getting a second set of tyres for these type of ride, but I'm not sure what to get. My ideal tyre would be competent on the trail, durable on the tarmac, and preferably not cost much more than $60/tyre. Otherwise I'd settle for a competent trail tyre that's cheap enough not to worry about premature wear (I guess that would again mean $60/tyre or less).

The trails are those around Melbourne and are typically soil, clay and rock.

Cheers,
Adam
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by BNA » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:03 pm

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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby trailgumby » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:03 pm

The NN's aren't bad for wear - I do what you do and ride the road to and from the trailhead, about 12km each way.

So far they're not showing all that much wear down the centre on the front, it's the side lugs that are showing some feathering and undercutting at the base and this would be from wear on the trails as the road work is pretty much dead straight and upright. On the rear I use Racing Ralphs. The tread height on those is low for rolling speed. I'd estimate I get 2:1 in mileage from the front compared to the rear, which is consistent with most mtbers experience of most tyres.

If you're riding loose stuff off-road and need the relatively high knobs of the NN, you're going to run into the same issues pretty much whatever you choose, especially on the rear. Wear on the rear is less concerning since the front is your control tyre. If it washes out you're on the deck, hard. The rear will mostly find its own path.

Other options to look at are Rocket Ron (F) / Racing Ralph (R), Maxxis Ignitor 2.35 (F) / Maxxis larsen TT (2.0) rear. I'll be trying some of the new Rubena tyres and will have a report on the front page of the site in a month or two. First impressions of what I've been sent by way of samples are that they look like they'll work.

Personally, I'm prepared to wear a higher wear rate on the tarmac to ensure I get best adhesion levels on the dirt. I commute on a 26er hardtail and have a separate 700c disc wheelset with roadie slick tyres for commuting and road training purposes. It's a worthwhile investment.
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby Mulger bill » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:01 pm

Gumbys last paragraph pretty much sums it up, go with what works on your dirt and deal with the wear.
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby Mugglechops » Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:43 pm

I recently changed to Conti X kings in a 2.4 on the front and a maxxis crossmark 2.1 on the rear.

Last week on this combo I rode 200kms all on the road and have noticed very little wear. Tomorrow will be there first chance of hitting dirt and I will see how they go. My hopes are not high for the crossmark :lol:
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby trailgumby » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:02 pm

The Crossmarks aren't so bad actually. The do roll very, very well. Probably not the best for loose steep climbs or aggressive braking, but a few of guys I know swear by them, including a couple who don't trust Nobby Nics for cornering.

I'm not such a fan of them on the front for cornering, since they need ot be cranked over pretty hard to engage the side knobs but can be a bit vague otherwise. Maybe if I cornered using Fabien Barel's technique of leaning the bike over into the corner while keeping the body upright and the outside elbow bent it would be less of an issue

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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby Mugglechops » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:10 pm

I wish I could like that too.

Not much of a dirt ride as the tracks are still a bit wet so we cut it short. Front does feel better than the standard Bonty tyre though.
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby petie » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:22 am

trailgumby wrote:


Excellent video thanks. He is preaching a much more dirtbike oriented style of bike handling. Thats pretty much how you ride MX or trails fast on a dirtbike!

Interesting other comments. I have just upped my MTB saddle time and am a bit disheartened with my frequent and lame crashes. I am pretty average as-is but was starting to get a bit confused. BUT I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT! Its a new to me bike with cross marks on it. I too ride a few kms to the trail and hadn't noticed until now the ease-of-roll on-road. Now i'm linking this with poor grip in the loose areas of the trail. Maybe I should try a different tyre!! :roll:
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby Sharkey » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:51 am

I also do a mix of tarmac and trail on my mountain bike. I live in the lower Blue Mountains and one of my regular rides is to ride 20km uphill on tarmac to Woodford to do the Woodford to Glenbrook trail and then ride home at the end. It is about a 52km loop split half and half between dirt and tar.

I have not really worried about wear but I have tried to find the best combination of rolling resistence on the road and grip on the dirt. The best combo I have come up with is a Maxxis Crossmark on the back and a Kenda Small Block 8 on the front. The Crossmark pretty much has a continuous ridge around the centre of the tread, so it rolls really well, but has adequate grip once you are a bit off centre for cornering on dirt.

The treads on the small block 8 are fine enough that they roll well and give very good grip in the dirt. I have not kept track of wear on the Crossmarks but I made a note of the date I put the Small Block 8 on and can see it has done nearly 4,000km and it still has plenty of life left in it.
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby MTBer Max » Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:28 am

I also ride tarmac and offroad. I use Maxxis Ikons (pictured below) which are very similar to Small Block 8. They roll quite fast on and off road and they have pretty good cornering grip offroad to. The only problem is they don't come with much grip in the first place.

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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby AUbicycles » Thu Nov 29, 2012 9:58 am

Trailgumbys review of the Rubena Kratos and Scylla review (Tubless Supra) is now up on BNA. You can see how it compares with Maxxis Crossmark and Schwalbe Racing Ralph - though in terms of the topic, are certainly not suitable (or efficient) for tarmac.
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby drubie » Sat Dec 01, 2012 7:35 pm

It's very hard to go past the crossmarks for a compromise tyre. They're lovely on the tarmac. Not so great in the super serious stuff but tolerable as long as you're climbing technique is good (weight distribution) and you don't mind spinning in the mud.

The Kenda small block 8 is not a bad tyre overall - although I think they're inferior in both rolling on the road and off-road stuff (grain of salt - done very little off road on the small block 8s I have on my single speed).

Wear...well, I've had pretty good wear out of crossmarks over the last couple of years and I'd definitely buy them again for a compromise. Having said that, I usually run something more aggressive on the rear because while I can cope with a slightly slippy front, when that back wheel slips it really upsets me. That's a personal thing though, the general consensus seems to be run something more aggressive on the front and a crossmark on the rear but I didn't like it much for a bike that gets ridden on the road to a trail.

edit: the back tyre on my main mountain bike is a Maxxis Ignitor - has far more bite in the slippery and sandy stuff than the crossmark but it noisy on the road.
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby mitzikatzi » Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:06 am

Torpedo7 has Maxxis wire bead tyres on sale ATM for $19.95 (I have seen these as low as $15 Cell and CE also has specials on these quite often)

TBSM has a pair of folding Maxxis Crossmarks for $60 at the moment. here
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Re: Tyres for tarmac and trail

Postby Mugglechops » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:41 am

My rear crossmark lasted longer than my backwheel :D
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