Ask Pinkbike - Desert Tires, Drivetrain Upgrades, BoXXer Dial Dilemma

Aug 5, 2014
by Pinkbike Staff  
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Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.

High Plains Drifter Needs Grip

Question: IH4LIFE wrote: in the All-Mountain, Enduro & Cross-Country forum: I'm riding in Prescott Arizona, where it is sand and rocks and super hard packed. I ride a Trek Fuel EX 7 with Bontager Rhythm rims. I tried the Bontrager X2 tires, which were super fast rolling, but had no side grip. I then switched to Continental Mountain Kings (2.2" rear, 2.4" front) and it made me wonder: "When the ground is completely dry does it even matter what tires you use?" Because it's concrete with a thin layer of sand on top so, no matter what you do, you have no grip. Cornering in Arizona is one of the sketchiest things ever. Also it's rocky. I started 28psi front and rear and I went up one psi 'till I stopped getting pinch flats. I'm at 35 frickin' psi now, and the ride is so rough. I only got 4.5 inches of travel, so there is not very much small bump compliance. Any recommendations?

bigquotesWe have similar conditions to yours in Prescott, near San Diego, California, and I have ridden extensively in Arizona. There are a number of tires that claim to be hardpack and dry-condition specialists, but there is only one that has proven itself to be capable in all forms of arid trail conditions - sand, slick-rock, marbles-over-hardpack, gravel, and loose shale. I also assume, by your pressures and pinch flat problems, that you are not riding tubeless - which is an absolute necessity in the Southwest. Buy some 2.3-inch Maxxis High Roller II tires and install them tubeless with a Stan's kit on both ends of the bike. Start at 30psi up front and 32 psi in the rear and I think you will recover your mojo and start enjoying one of the best states in the US to ride a mountain bike. - RC

Maxxis High Roller II tire 2014

How the West was won: many tire makers claim to have the magic tread pattern that can find grip on loose, rocky and hard-packed soil, but none can compare to the Maxxis High Roller II. They aren't the fastest, nor the smoothest tire, but in dry conditions, High Roller II's rule. A great many riders in the arid Southwestern US run them front and rear.

New Cassette or New Chainring?

Question: Pinkbike user selway89 asked this question in the Mechanic's Lounge forum: I run 1x9 at the moment which is great, but I do struggle on some climbs. I am planning on getting a narrow wide ring of some description to lose the chain guide I bodged on to my Trance. Current setup is 32t at the crank and 11-34t cassette. The plan is to change the chain ring, chain, jockey wheels, and cassette all in one. I can't decide if I should go 30t chain ring or, get the Shimano HG61 cassette in 12-36t. Anyone got any experience with either setup? As far as I can calculate there is not much difference between 32/12-36 or 30/11-34, but I'm stuck as what to go for.

bigquotesI'd recommend going with the 12-36 tooth cassette to start, since it sounds like you're due for a new one anyway. That way, if you are looking for even easier gearing in the future you'll still be able to drop down to a 30 tooth ring. I will warn you that even with a narrow wide ring you might still end up needing to run a chain retention device of some kind since you don't have a clutch type rear derailleur. The clutch mechanism helps prevent the chain from getting bounced around enough to pop off of the front, which can happen even with a narrow-wide ring.

You might also want to consider what it would cost to upgrade to a 10 speed set up. It will probably add another $100 or so on top of what you were already planning on spending, but that will give you a clutch rear derailleur and one more gear. Plus, once you move up to the 10 speed world you'll have the option of purchasing a conversion kit that will allow you to create an 11-42 tooth cassette, just in case the 32 x 36 ends up not being easy enough.
- Mike Kazimer

RaceFace Narrow Wide chain ring
selway89 might want to think about moving up to a 10 speed drivetrain to gain a clutch type derailleur that will make a narrow wide chainring work even better.

BoXXer Dial Dilemma

Question: Pinkbike user engelwood1 asked this question in the Mechanic's Lounge forum: I own a 2014 BoXXer World Cup fork with the new Charger damper in it and I've discovered that my bottom-out adjuster dial won't turn. I have only three rides on the fork so far. Anyone have any ideas about what could be going on?

bigquotesThe good news is that your fork is not broken, but the bad news is that the bottom-out dial atop your BoXXer's left leg is always going to be a bitch to turn when the fork is pressurized. The trick to getting the dial to turn easier is to let the air out of the fork, but be sure to use a shock pump to note exactly how much pressure you had it at before doing so in order to keep from having to start setup from scratch. It's a pain in the ass, no doubt about it, and RockShox knew that as well because it has been replaced with a much simpler and lighter system for 2015 in the shape of the Bottomless Tokens first employed in the Pike - simply add or subtract the volume-reducing spacers to tune the ramp-up that you're looking for. Yes, you still have to de-pressurize the fork, but at least it shaves both weight and complication. Your 2014 fork is already running the new Charger damper, and you can upgrade it to 2015-spec (minus the new fork lowers) by installing the new Solo Air Spring system that features a revised spring curve and the aforementioned Bottomless Tokens. The new Solo Air Spring assembly retails for $188 USD, and it looks simple enough to install that you might not even have to pay anyone to do it for you. - Mike Levy

n a
The 2015 BoXXer uses the same Bottomless Token system found in the Pike, and while it still requires you to de-pressurize the fork to make adjustments, it's both lighter and simpler than the old external dial.


  • 50 0
 I used to care about my tyres. But it was before, I saw Aaron Gwin going down in Leogang...
  • 13 1
 it's cool that you guys break out some questions and give them legit, qualified answers.. It's difficult to tell what's good advice from bad advice in open forums sometimes when it's something you're not familiar with. HR2's are awesome in Norcal too.. I run the 2.4 EXO tubless. EXO case gives good support without a tube.. Single ply is too thin for tubeless. DHF EXO 2.4 on the front. great combo!
  • 4 0
 You should try to run your MK2 tubeless first before you fork out 150+ $, since you already have them. I had the 2.4 protection casing version and they were the worst piece of shit I ever tried when it came to pich flat. I would get a flat on literally every single ride. Like you, I ended up running them at 35+ psi with DH tubes, which is way out of the sweet spot for traction so I hated them with passion. They would not seat well on my rims for tubeless, so I swiched for Spec Butcher control and on the same trails with the same bike, I only had a handfull of pinch flats since then.

That said, maxxis HR2 are really good tires if you want to swich, might just be a bit overkill for a XC bike...
  • 1 0
 Im not sure about riding in Arizona or and other full blown desert environments, but i find that for an xc bike heaps of people are riding tires wider than i would see necessary. If you have purchased an xc bike and choose to ride it, usually you pick it for efficiency and the ability to ride long distances with little effort. Putting on a 2.4" tyre isn't exactly the greatest thing to aid this. In my opinion (and its just mine so dw if you don't see what I'm trying to say) a 2.3" Maxxis Ardent Race (or something a bouts) is as aggressive as i would get without compromising on efficiency. Ill just stick to my 2.2 Rubena XC or Maxxis Ikon tyres and enjoy sliding around a little more than the grippy 2.4" High rollers on my enduro....
  • 1 0
 Give the new Michelin WildGrip'r a go, 2.35 Reinforced. Brilliant tire.
  • 13 1
 May be off topic......What ever happened to Steve Romaniac??? Big time ripper I never hear or see anymore....
  • 6 2
 Not off topic at all, this is a mountain bike website and that is a question about a mountain biker. I've wondered the same thing.
  • 1 0
 And Chris Duncan?
  • 1 0
 Its Steve Romaniuk and you can ask him ...
  • 1 0
 His Mongoose contract expired and he was pretty burnt out on the industry it seemed. Hasnt been on a bike in a couple years now and couldnt care less. he now DJs at a few local (kelowna) resaurants and events.
  • 4 0
 About the Solo air bottom out adjuster, just stick a 2.5mm allen key in one of the holes on the side of the knob (the one without the small allen screw inside, there's 2 with 1mm allen, and 2 empty just for this purpose apparently) and use it as a lever to turn the dial.
Works flawlessly even with air in the fork. I didn't make that up either, as Shawn Cruikshanks told me to do that and I believe he knows what he's doing! (just in case you'd worry about your fork)
  • 1 0
 My Solo air bottom out adjuster started leaking air after doing that! (I may have forced it too far open on accident) Causing air to leak out of the adjuster knob. Its a pretty scary feeling when your fork starts loosing air half way down the hill. After taking it apart i found the retainer spring clip washer thingy popped out of its groove. I ended up having to order the entire solo air top cap assembly.
From now on i drop the pressure by half and adjust the knob.

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  • 1 0
 Yeah that sounds like you may have turned it too far, otherwise I don't see a way it could cause the leak at all. I've had it taken apart just a while ago, and nothing should really go wrong doing that, not more than doing it deflated anyways.
  • 1 0
 that simply sucks. it's good that we have knobs if we need to waste time and carry a shock pump with us. Also, love RS marketing, make a not so user friendly fork and then next year sell an upgrade. The fork is great, but the marketing strategies aren't so great for us, end users...
  • 4 1
 or try dual ply dh high roller tyres at the lower pressures you wanted to run and ull be fine. yes they weigh more but the improved grip and rolling speed and the fact you arent stopping to fix punctures and slashed sidewalls all the time will more than make up for it. also the blatant stans plug irritates me. there are many other options out there that work equally well if not better and are cheaper. even stan himself reckons gorilla tape or cricket bat repair tape are perfectly suitable alternatives at a fraction of the cost.
  • 1 0
 I use self-amalgamating tape. As many laps as you need to get a tight fit. I've never lost a tire yet.
  • 1 0
 Yeah there's basically no reason at all to use a stan's strip when a roll of gorilla tape will cost less and convert a dozen wheels. If you're not DIY inclined you're probably not doing the conversion anyway...
  • 2 0
 I live in Arizona and heard that the High Rollers hook up out here, but the tread wears quickly. I ride mainly South Mountain and have found that durability is the biggest issue with rear tires. I have ripped a Maxxis Ardent, Continental Mountain King Protection, and a Specialized Purgatory UST grid all in about a year and a half. The Purgatory lasted about a year, which is normally unheard of out here. Traction wise, I did not care for the Ardent, but the Mountain King, Purgatory, and now Honey Badger tires have been good. I think one of the keys to cornering grip in AZ are sides knobs that are not too flexy and prone to undercutting wear.
  • 1 0
 If you're riding here you will tear through tires nonstop. If you want the grip you will pay for it by getting soft compounds which grip great but wear fast.
  • 1 0
 This is a great time of year to look at upgrades because shop discounts are getting bigger by the day as the 2015 product is about to or just came on the market. Most manufactures to change their entire line so most of what you'd want or need will be the same as next years items. Plus retailers are already thinking of dropping inventory levels so they are ready for the next season. BUY! BUY! BUY!
  • 2 0
 I live in San Diego, CA and the trails are very dusty and rocky. The High Roller II 2.3" is a fantastic tire IMO. I weigh 155lbs (70.3KG) and I run them tubeless @ 21-24psi (1.4-1.6 Bar).
  • 1 0
 I live in SoCal and use Schwalbe's Hans Dampf for tires, they're better in loamier dirt but they work really well on hardpack too. Not necessarily the fastest rolling tire some people say, but the difference was negligible for me.
  • 1 0
 You can run a clutch saint derailleur with 9 speed stuff and a sram 9 speed shifter if you space out the cable attachment point on the saint a bit to change the shifting ratio of the sram to match the 10 speed shimano rd at 9 speed cog spacings.
  • 1 0
 I live in Prescott and ride down in the lower desert around Phx and Conti TrailKing Black Chili has the goods. For the record TK 2.2 is a large volume tire and the 2.4 is a monster. TK has worked really well with your rocky, hard over loose, dirt, sand, you name it. Am running TK tubeless at 20 psi front and 25 psi rear. Just about to pop for my third set of these tires to feed the Heckler, get about 10 months per set before they start to lose grip a bit.
  • 1 0
 This is perfect timing! I'm moving to Bend Oregon soon for school which is all high desert and I was thinking about what tires to run, and now I know where I'm going to start! High roller 2's. Thanks pinkbike!!!!
  • 3 1
 RC is right on about the tires. Minions and High Rollers for life in the desert. Good starting pressures too! Love, Tucson Native
  • 2 0
 I lived in Albuquerqe and tried a set of Tioga Psycho tires. I was surprised how well they worked in the desert. They rolled faster than the Maxxis I had used in the past and gripped better in the sandy over hard pack that was on the trails. The tires didn't work when things were wet and slippery and quickly got changed once I moved to the PNW, but a great desert tire.
  • 2 0
 Just installed the new Solo Air and it was a pinch to do. You can download the manual on SRAMs site.
  • 2 3
 I could be wrong, but I have always been told that if you are doing "enduro" style lines with high speed burms and jumps that tubeless is not the way to go. Been told that the tubeless system burps around burms and is not good for doing features. I live in San Diego and the High Roller II has always been my favorite tire for our terrain.
  • 2 0
 I've always worried about that, but recently I've switched to tubeless using Spank Tweets and High Roller II (tube version) tires and I don't see myself going back anytime soon. I like to ride technical steep trails in BC, and I haven't had a burp or any problem whatsoever (knock on wood), while in this time I'd definitely gone through a whole bunch of tubes and repair kits as I'm not riding exactly clean lines nor style Smile
  • 1 0
 Hmm I may have to try this for myself then. I have the tubeless ready Flow ex's that came on my Transition Covert. I'll give it a whirl. Thanks.
  • 1 0
 Also depends on set up. I run a ust rim with ust tires and no sealant and I've never had a problem with burping. " Tubeless ready" set ups can be a little fussy depending on what your running.
  • 4 0
 this issue (and stopping power of brakes) always have a lot to do with rider weight. light guys have no problems and heavier guys say that they have issues. consider the source of the good or bad report
  • 1 0

In this case, it is not 'What would Jesus do?', but 'What would Jared do?' Run tubeless for Enduro, that's what.

But seriously, reallybigmantis has a really good point. I would say go forth and experiment and find the right rim/tire/tubeless system/pressure combination for you. As long as you are willing to sacrifice having to carry a spare tube for when your experiment goes wrong, you may end up with the ultimate system for you. It took me years to get mine dialled, and I will never run tubes again.
  • 1 1
 I just took High Roller IIs off my bike, but I live in Georgia where it can get pretty damp and muddy. They're too playful in these conditions.
  • 2 0
 In NorCal I couldn't get along with HR2's... Minion DHF all the way.
  • 1 0
 I've broken my wrist and I would like to know which wrist braces are the most comfortable. Thanks
  • 4 6
 The slowest feeling tire ever. The high roller 2. POS...
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