While I may still not quite know how to pronounce the GEAX name, one thing I do know is how their Barro tire performs. If you are looking for some new rubber for your pedal bike you'll want to keep reading. Read on.....
What the hell is a GEAX you ask? Well, it's actually a bicycle tire company that has a tire for pretty much any off-road purpose you could think of. With everything from 380 gram XC race tires to meaty full on DH rubber, the range is impressive. Right in the middle of the spectrum sits the Barro. Available in two widths, 2.1" and 2.3", it is pedal friendly and designed as an all round choice that should be good in many different conditions.
I mounted up a pair of Barro's in the larger 2.3" size and used their nifty Pit Stop combination inflater and sealant. The higher end GEAX tires, including my Barro's, incorporate their TNT technology. Although I think I would have chosen a less explosive acronym when describing the tires airtight abilities, it is a cool system nonetheless. TNT stands for "Tube No Tube" and it means just that, but with a twist. A TNT equipped tire is claimed to weigh in less than the equivalent off the shelf tubeless tire from other manufacturers. The next step in the TNT system is using GEAX's Pit Stop sealant. The Pit Stop applicator is a CO2 charged bottle that injects 50 ml of latex into into your tire in about 30 seconds, inflating it at the same time. The ingenious head will work with both presta and schrader valves without having to muck about with adapters. With the TNT setup you need less sealant to seal the deal (35 grams, as opposed to about 60 grams) and a TNT tire is slightly lighter than the competition. After adding it all up you can save about 100 grams per tire over going with UST. There are even two sizes of Pit Stop inflaters, one for tires up to 2.7" in width and a smaller size for pinner XC tires.
The Barro's fit tighter than the average mountain bike tire. Ok, a lot tighter actually. It was important to follow the proper steps when putting them on, mainly forcing the bead into the rims center well in order to get enough slack when you finish up. I put them on a set of Stan's ZTR Flow rims, the fit may change from rim to rim. When installed on the 28 mm wide Flow rim the Barro measured 2.25" wide, with the outer knobs sitting just wide of the casing. Tire weight was 690 grams each.
GEAX Pit Stop
The Pit Stop inflater is impressive and I'm pretty sure that I'm spoiled from here on in. After you have the tire mounted simply push the head onto the valve stem and it all happens automatically, and quickly! Within about 30 seconds not only is your tire inflated, but it also has its sealant inside. The larger sized Pit Stop brought me up to 50 psi and both tires seated straight the first time. The whole operation was very easy and smooth. It's not like scooping sealant or injecting it through the valve stem as on other systems is difficult, but the Pit Stop kit was even less of a hassle. One note
: Be sure to wrap a rag around the bottle or wear a glove when you use it, the bottle gets quite cold!
On The Trail
I rode the Barro's on my home mountain, on trails I am very familiar with. The terrain includes fresh loamy singletrack, hard packed and fast older trails, as well as some rocky and loose sections. Conditions went from bone dry and dusty to soaking wet and muddy, with everything in between. In other words the Barro's got put through their paces.
There are some "mtb" tires out there that couldn't handle anything more than groomed trails when pushed hard, the Barro isn't one of them. It's a proper sized mountain bike tire and performs like one. The tires round profile and high volume gave it a consistent feel in most conditions, as well as smoothed out the smaller bumps and holes that a smaller tire would bounce over. Climbing traction was good, I never found myself needing more, but braking traction was really impressive. There was an immediate slow down as soon as I grabbed the binders, even as good as some much more aggressive tires. On my 6" Trek Remedy I ended up with 28 psi up front, and 33 psi out back. This seemed to be about the minimum I could run, any lower and the supple casing would roll too much. If you are a less aggressive rider you may be able to get away with less pressure. I never punctured during the entire time they have been mounted, two months and counting.
Rolling speed was on par with the rubber it replaced, a bigger but much smoother tire, which is a good sign. A fast running tire really adds to the fun factor of any bike. When conditions got nasty they still performed as good as one could hope, even clearing mud well. The only drawback to the Barro seemed to be knob stability on hard pack. There was a good amount of knob squirm which resulted in a bit of a vague feeling if at full tilt on cement-like trails.
Who Is The Barro For?
This a great tire for a rider who rides XC with an aggressive mindset and attacks the trail. If you currently run smaller XC tires you will be rewarded with a smoother ride due to the Barro's round profile and higher volume. This is especially true if you ride a short travel or hardtail bike. It carries speed well, excels in the majority of conditions, and is reliable. Overall the Barro is an excellent all round mountain bike tire. The Pit Stop inflater and sealant is very impressive. Not only does it work well when installing the tires, you can also keep it in your bag for when you or someone else gets a flat. Save it for when someone is stranded and you'll be a hero within 30 seconds! GEAX tire line may not be as common as other brands but your local shop should be able to get a hold of them without too much hassle.
Check out the GEAX site
to see their entire range of tires.
-Mike "kakah" Levy