Tires for Downhill, a Technical Article

Feb 17, 2009
by Tim Coleman  
I personally think there are three important factors for tires:

- 1. Tire Condition
- 2. Tire Selection
- 3. Tire Pressure

1. Tire Condition

Make sure you have tires that are in good condition when you go racing. The tire is the only thing in contact with the ground. Good new tires have sharp edges, taller knobs, and will give more grip than worn out tires. More grip means you can corner harder, brake later, and carry more speed through difficult technical sections.

Look at the comparison of the two tires below:

A new and worn out 2.5" Kenda Nevegal


The problem with the tire on the right is that even though it still has a significant amount of meat left in the knob the sharp edges have been rounded off due to braking and cornering. The sharp edges generate a ton of grip, and with out these edges the tire will never perform as well as it did when it was new. Having new tires on your bike will improve your times at the races.

But I can't afford a new set of tires for every race you say. I've heard that comment a thousand times. This is my trick. Decide to buy one or two sets of race tires. If you're going to buy one set get a tire that is going to perform well in all conditions. Buying 2 sets of tires is better. A set for the dry and a set for the wet. See the tire selection section below for my opinions on what tires to use in a variety of conditions. Put these good tires on your bike on Saturday morning, practice and race on these tires, then pull them off Sunday night and save them for the next race. When your race tires wear out, and are no longer good enough for racing, use them for practice tires. Do all your riding and training on old worn out tires. Yes it's a pain to constantly switch the tires on your bike, but this way you'll always have good tires come race day, and without having to spend a ton of money on new tires all the time.

Another tip. You love those 3C Maxxis Minion tires, but they're $90 each in the store, and you can never find them on a good deal. Try out some slightly cheaper tires. Kenda Tires offer all the performance of the Maxxis or Michelin tires, at a fraction of the price at $65 a tire, and last longer. You can get 3 Kenda tires for the price of 2 Maxxis or Michelin tires, which means more race tires. If you're dead set that the Maxxis or Michelin tire makes you faster on the race course, keep them as a race tire, and do your practice and training on the less expensive Kenda Tires. The money you save by buying the cheaper tires for the off season may mean you have some extra cash for another set of race tires you love for next season.

2. Tire Selection

No single tire is ideal for all conditions, this is obvious. What isn't so obvious, is which tire is best suited to the current conditions. For this reason I'm going to split this section into a couple sections based on course conditions:

- A. Hardpack Courses
- B. Loose over Hardpack Courses
- C. Wet Courses
- D. Muddy Courses

2A. Hardpack Courses

For a hard packed course you're going to want a tire that rolls well since rolling speed is likely going to help. You want the tire to have a large ramped center knob that will create a large contact area with the ground, with a ramp to reduce rolling resistance. Tall skinny knobs down the center and on the sides are going to squirm because they can't penetrate the surface, will create significant rolling resistance, and won't offer much grip. In short you want a tire with lots of contact area and with short, stable center and side knobs. This combination will give the least rolling resistance, good grip, and the most predictable handling on hardpack conditions. My personal favorite tire for these conditions is the Stick-E Kenda Nevegal, 2.5" for the front and 2.35" for the rear. I like this 2.5" / 2.35" combination because the larger front tire offers better braking and cornering grip, but the rear tire has less rolling resistance. I like the Nevegal because it has great short, ramped knobs down the center that are large and blocky, with the side knobs being similar in design. The tire is predictable, stable and rolls fast. A good choice from the Maxxis line would be the 3C Minion DHF, and a good Michelin tire is the Comp 24.


Kenda Nevegal


Maxxis Minion DHF


Michelin Comp 24

2B. Loose over Hardpack Courses

Loose over hardpack is generally any type of loose material on top of a hard packed in surface. This generally takes the form of sand, loam or gravel. These surfaces are tricky because the sections of the course that are soft and loose material is found are the sections where you need the most grip (because that's where everyone is cornering and braking). Where you don't need the grip, the course is generally hard packed. You could use one of the hard pack tires I recommended in 2A, but since they all have short large blocky knobs, they don't penetrate into that soft loose material very well, and don't provide a great amount of traction. The ideal tire is something that has a deep but large and blocky knob that is stable, yet tall enough to generate grip in that loose stuff. There is really only one tire I like for these conditions and it's the Kenda Excavator. Both the 2.5" and the 2.35" Stick-E versions are excellent. Both have the same size knobs, with the only difference being a slightly smaller casing for the 2.35" and the center knobs on the 2.35" are significantly shorter than those on the 2.5". I've run the 2.5" Excavator on the front and the 2.35" Excavator on the rear on courses where having low rolling resistance is important but need both braking and cornering grip into and through some loose corners. Dual 2.35" Excavators would likely be a good choice for even lower rolling resistance if there isn't much heavy braking, and could also be a good setup for mostly hard pack conditions. The difference between the 2.5" and 2.35" Excavator can be seen below:


Kenda Excavator 2.5"


Kenda Excavator 2.35". Notice how the knobs are the same size in terms of area, but the knobs on the 2.35" are much shorter

2C. Wet Courses

I personally love riding and racing in the wet. I like it because I love how the tire reacts differently to roots, rocks, dirt and mud ... it's much more interesting than when things are dry. For wet conditions a tire needs to be able to penetrate the wet ground and generate grip. A large blocky knob like those found on the Nevegal and Minion won't penetrate the ground well, and are going to slip around on the roots. A good wet tire needs a fairly open tread to allow mud to clear, but enough small knobs to form around objects, penetrate the ground, and provide lots of edges for braking and cornering grip. However for most BC courses a spike tire isn't the ticket because of the large amount of rock or root require a knob that has good support. My default wet weather tire is the 2.4" Stick-E Kenda Telonix tire on the front and rear. The Telonix has a series of ramped, thin, but wide and sharp bars down the center for excellent braking grip, but with reasonable rolling resistance. These sharp bars are separated by a pair of side by side spikes that offer good lateral stability. The side knobs are a series of H-shaped knobs separated by a single spike. These side knobs offer good penetration but also have lots of edges that generate good cornering grip. My pick from Maxxis for wet conditions would be the 2.5" Super Tacky High Roller, and my pick from Michelin would be the 2.5" Comp 16. You can see obvious similarities between these three tires, which is why they all excel in wet conditions.


Kenda 2.4" Telonix


Maxxis High Roller


Michelin Comp 16

2D. Muddy Courses

I have personally never used a mud spike tire before, so I can't offer up any opinions on which of the spike tires out there is the best. Click here to check out an article that Si Paton wrote for Pinkbike on Mud tires though. For severe mud conditions the wet weather tires I recommended in section 2C are likely going to clog up with mud, and won't have tall enough knobs to generate good levels of grip in deep mud. There are 4 really good mud tires on the market. The Kenda King of Traction, the Maxxis Wet Scream, the Maxxis Swamp Thing and the Michelin Mud 3. There has been a recent trend of cutting down Wet Screams and using them on wet or drying courses instead of using a Telonix or High Roller as well as on muddy courses. I can't say I've ever tried this, but it seems to be working for the World Cup guys, cutting tires is a science, and one I'll hopefully write more about in a later tech article. The Swamp Thing is not as aggressive as the other three tires and fits between the High Roller and the Wet Scream, this is evident when you look at the pictures below. Unfortunately I couldn't find a good picture of the King of Traction as it was only just release in the fall of 2008. As a result I don't have a set yet, nor could I find any pictures online.


Maxxis Wet Scream


Maxxis Swamp Thing


Michelin Mud 3

3. Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is very important, and something you should play around with. Every good rider and racer should have a repeatable tire pressure gauge. This is important for being able to achieve repeatable tire pressures. For the record I'm 195 lb, so all tire pressures are for a rider of my weight. If you weigh less you'll likely run lower tire pressures, and if you weight more you'll likely run higher tire pressures.

As a quick diversion I almost always use a regular 0.8 mm wall thickness cross country tube in the front, and a good medium weight 1.2 mm wall thickness free ride tube in the rear. I find this gives a good compromise between flat resistance and weight. For a smooth course I might use cross country tubes front and rear, and for a very aggressive course where I'm running low tire pressures for grip I might use a free ride tube in the front and rear.

For wet conditions you're generally going to want to run lower tire pressures to help the tire conform over everything on the trail, in order to help generate some much needed grip. In wet conditions rolling resistance likely isn't your first concern, so go ahead and lower those tire pressures. Don't change your tire pressures just before the race. Make sure you've worked out the ideal tire pressure long before practice is up in order to ensure you won't flat during the race. I personally use around 25 psig in the front and about 27 psig in the rear for wet courses. If I'm struggling for grip and can get away with the lower pressures I may lower than even further.

For dry conditions I generally use an intermediate tire pressure of 28 psig in the front and 32 psig in the rear. This offers a good compromise between rolling resistance, grip, and stability. In the dry you can corner harder, and you don't want the tire to be rolling around on top of the rim.

For hard pack conditions run high tire pressures. I generally use 32 psig in the front and 35 psig in the rear, sometimes even more at places like The Ranch in Kamloops. There is no need for low tire pressures in hard pack conditions. Running low tire pressures isn't going to give any more grip and you'll only gain stability in the corners and lower the rolling resistance with higher tire pressures. Since edges aren't a help in hard pack conditions anyway having more edges in contact with the ground isn't going to increase the amount of grip, so keep those tires nice and hard.

4. The End

That wraps up my first tech article on tires and tire pressures. I'll be posting up another tech article soon. Let me know if there is something in particular you'd like me to write about. If you have any questions, comments, if I've missed something, or you feel I'm just plain wrong, please leave a comment below.

http://timmigrant.pinkbike.com


Editor's Note:

Do you like articles like this or do you have something to say that would help others out in a technical manner? Well then contact me at brule.pinkbike.com and we'll get it out there for everyone to read
!


139 Comments

  • 35 0
 thanks mate very helpful
  • 13 6
 The fact you've never ridden a spike lets the article down a little bit and I'm a little unsure about a high roller on a wet courses specifically - they're great in the dry and damp weather, wouldn't be my first choice for the wet though, unless it was on the back.
  • 5 4
 Good write up, but I personally find Michilen Comp 24's and Comp 16's have the nobs too close together for anything tecnical, especially when there is a massive amount of roots. I personally like to keep a 3C Minion DHF up front and test different cheaper tires in the back. (I also like the Intense FRO tires)
  • 1 3
 yep very good! but it has to be said michelin are defo the best, but they aint reproducing till 2010!!!
  • 1 3
 High rollers do decent on front and back in wet/small amounts of mud.
The Hutchinson on the front of my FR bike is way better(no clue what model it is), but the high roller does a pretty solid job in most conditions.
  • 11 3
 i dont think people the other side of the pond really appreciate how muddy it really gets over in the uk. our trails must be so much worse if they think high rollers are good in the wet....
  • 3 1
 i was thinking the same thing dabomb666 i would put highrollers clearly in the dry section personally and maybe damp at most they do clear well but dont grip much , me and my group tend to ride on wetscreams most of the year over here as we rarely get dry trails this year
  • 1 1
 Well I guess it's mostly location then. Over here on the stuff I ride, even in full on snowy slush and mud they do a decent job. I'll admit there are way better tires out there though. But they DO get the job done, for relatively cheap(well, free. I had them laying around haha).
  • 3 2
 the Kenda 2.4" Telonix looks like dirt bike tire, insane shit
  • 6 9
 "i dont think people the other side of the pond really appreciate how muddy it really gets over in the uk"

My town gets more than 25 cm a year over yours. I would stay away from blanket statements like that. Between my riding buddies and I we've tried just about every tire out there. The majority will take a Minion over a Nevegal which washes out at high speed. For muddy conditions the consensus is either Michelin front and rear or Michelin rear with King Of Traction front (my preference). The Michelin has much more bite in the rear and does fine over the slick roots. Even still, lots of our trails are composed of super slippery clay which will pack up in any tire. Anybody who thinks the high roller is good in the mud has never ridden in the mud.
  • 1 0
 Yeah us Oregonians have to deal with a lot of rain in the wintertime. I usually run WetScreams in the winter and minions in the summer and they work great for me.
  • 1 0
 Anyone trying to find tires for a bargain try EBAY
  • 0 0
 i got a pair of minions for like 50$
  • 4 0
 Yeah if you look around you can get a 3C minion at a good price... as for compare which place is wetter, sure jamieh might get more rain a year then our budies 'over the pond' but the land there is so saterated that it all just turns to mud.
  • 2 1
 Thanks for the article. I had no idea that tires had so much importance in racing. Thanks for enlightening me.
  • 2 1
 "jamieh", it does rain ALOT here, i dont know when it rains for you but here its pretty much just before people get out to ride on a regular weekday and all through the night and into morning, so it impacts us quite alot, and then that rain doesn't dry, more and more rain adds up, with hardly any of it drying and the ground being relatively loose here aswell theres pretty much a constant bog most of the year. not saying you dont have any trouble with rain where you are, but rainfall figures dont account for everything.
  • 22 1
 Good info. A few pointers though, use less opinion and provide more facts. "I believe" "I think" etc, weakens writing. Provide readers with facts and let them decide. From the get go, it became obvious you had a huge bias for Kendas. While this may be true, mentioning it isn't helpful in an article such as this. Also, it would be helpful to mix up the example tire brands (Schwalbe, Geax, Continental, etc). All in all, great job, it should help a lot of people.
  • 3 0
 Agreed, by providing more brands it will help those who dont have access to some of the brands you mentioned...
  • 1 0
 the review was heavily biased towards kenda, but that is likely what he is mainly experienced with. He was good about saying which tires he hadn't tried, i.e. mud spikes, but perhaps editing the editorial spin out of the article would help with credibility.
  • 3 0
 Why, when tire selection is so important would you suggest practicing on another tire from another brand, and than switching back for your raceruns?

It would be just as silly to practice on a V10, and then race on a Foes Mono DH. Similar in purpose, but different in operation.

Are you sponsored by Kenda?

BTW I do like Kenda tires, but have found the Minions work well for me personally.
  • 1 0
 I don't agree with your points. I suggest practicing over the winters and random riding between races using older worn out tires. For race week-ends use a set of "race" tires. Tires you only use on race week-ends. The purpose being that your favorite expensive tires are in great shape for the races. You will practice the course on these fresh tires, and they'll stay in good shape for longer. Never do your race run on a setup you haven't used in practice, unless of course the weather has changed drastically.
  • 3 0
 Hey guys, thanks for the comments, I really appreciate it. Especially comments like from AqueosBeef, great constructive criticism. Couple things worth clearing up though. I originally wrote the article for DH riding in British Columbia. We have very little mud on our trails and race courses. When our trails and courses on the local circuit get wet they're almost entirely slippery rock and root. For this reason spikes are rarely used, because there is little to no dirt for the spikes to penetrate into it. Some of the local racers have just started playing around with spikes on some fresh local trails, and even then I'm not convinced there will be a race course were they will excel ... maybe if it ever rains in Kamloops. The article is biased towards Kenda. I rode for Kenda in 2008 and gained an appreciation for their tires, especially the Excavator and the Telonix. The reason more tire brands aren't in the article is because they're just not seen here in Vancouver, BC. I'd love to try out some other tires from some other companies, and when that happens I'll add some more info to the article. The tires mentioned above are only there because I've ridden them, and the performance of each tire is purely based on my experiences. Of course whether you love or hate a tire is likely going to come down to your riding style, the conditions and your preference. Cheers, Tim.
  • 2 0
 Just a quick note to everyone, word here is that all Michelin DH Tyres have now been discontinued. Michelin make the rubber compound in France and originally made the tyres their. Now production has moved to the Far East the costs of shipping the compound over is the big stumbling block. Good news is Michelin will relaunch their DH Tyres range at EuroBike in September.
  • 2 0
 Good article but there are still some things missing. Would have been nice to see the tube versus tubeless debate, bead materials compared, tire width and its advantages, and the different compounds/durometers of tires compared. Overall, like I said, good article. tup
  • 2 0
 holy sh*t! i usualy run 60psi for wet an 80 for dry! at my last race of last years season this guy was runnin 30 cos it was muddy,
he snake bite punctred every practice run.....when i told him what i was runnin,first he could'nt believe it LOL then he pumped up to 40psi guess what...1 snake bite in 3 runs.
HERES A GOOD TIP
put some talcum powder in the tyre an roll it round to get good coverage before you put your tube in.this will help to stop the tube sticking to the tyre an reduce puntures,snake bites & sharp objects.sound cooky but try it!
  • 0 0
 i will
  • 0 0
 Better tIp, use Stans No Tubes and don't worry about flats any more. The stuff is awesome.
  • 0 0
 talcum powder is lighter! LOL
  • 0 0
 yea but it doesnt seal
  • 3 2
 good write up, and great advice, but i disagree w/ your selection of the maxxis high roller as a wet terrain tire, unless you get it in the advantage tread compound. honestly, it is a hardpack, and loose over hard pack tire, as it was designed originally for xc and slalom racing, before it was ever adapted for downhill. it performs alright in wet conditions, and have been great tires for me, but they are designed for hard pack, not wet, loose terrain.
  • 2 1
 I was going to say that too because I remember reading about it in MBA but decided not to because I've never ridden them personally.
  • 8 1
 tell that to greg minaar who uses high rollers in the wet all the time. maybe he would have won the world cup by a larger margin had he known he was using the wrong tires.
  • 3 1
 well greg minaar is not human so he can probly cope with the slipping sliding and drifting that comes with a higroller in the wet but for us mortals a spike is far more controlable in the muddy stuff
  • 4 1
 greg minaar probably runs the high rollers only @ some races.

the only reason i could think of that he would have for running them in muddy conditions is that they are a really soft, grippy tire compound, and due to the low profile center knobs, they offer lower rolling resistance, lighter weight, and good mud sheddding. as far as grip and performance in extremely muddy conditions, that's another story.

ride 'em for awhile in wet, muddy conditions on xc type trails, and you'll know.

as far as kenda goes, in some ways you are right, they are an excellent training tire. they grip well, and the soft rubber almost always hooks up.

however, in my experience (and those experiences my friends have had racing/ riding them as well, the kendas fall short in a few areas.

for one thing, they are incredibly heavy. for another, the softer rubber loves mud....but not in a good way. the nevegals cake up like no tire i've ever ridden. they also offer a high rolling resistance, which for racing is not the best.

all in all, decent tires from kenda as well, but try not to be totally biased towards them jjust because of price.

michelin and panaracer have some great tires as well, and the panaracer fires are great for AM/FR riding. oh, i forgot about the GEAX too...those are awesome for the $$$
  • 1 0
 They get the ramps trimmed. But stock high rollers in the wet, I didn't like mine at all.
  • 0 0
 I'm ok with Kenda Nevegal's in pretty much all conditions. They don't take to loose sand-type dirt as well as others but I think they're amazing in wet/damp conditions. They don't really cake up any more than any other tire from my own mud riding experience
  • 0 0
 High rollers run against rotational direction good in the wet predominantly rocky coarses with a little mud. Yes you will sacrifise grip in the muddy sections but not as much as if you run with the rotaional direction. If its 50/50 of mud and rocks id go with swampthings.
  • 1 0
 great write up, one thing i miss is more tire Brands.
i dont really know whats available in the states, but i heard a lot of good things about tires like the Big Betty (Schwalbe) and i would love to hear how the small brands compare...(and the price is the same, at crc anyway) cheers
  • 1 0
 A well put together article, but I'd agree with some of the other replies here in that it did seem to be biased towards one company. It's all well and good writing a tech article about tyres, but I think it should be written by someone who has actually tried a lot of tyres, not just a handful, so can give a good comparison between the tyres. I'm not saying I could write the article better, just that a topic like this needs a lot of research to be able to give good advice.
  • 1 0
 Loads of tires are missing from this "test".
Specialized offers great downhill tires, ie the Chunder Sworks, for harpack.
There are the new tires from Continental Der Caiser and Rain King.
They are suppersweet as well.
So are Schwalbe Muddy Mary and so on. Check them out.
Most of the people stick only to 2 or 3 brands most advertised, or used by pros how a loaded with them thankst to their sponsors.
  • 1 0
 Good article as far as a guideline only. To me there is no product on a DH bike that are so personel,you can think one tire is the best,and your friend will think just the opposite. To me the bottom line is that as long as you think that the tire you run is the best one for the condition you are riding, this will only boost your confidence,and the opposite is true as well.
  • 1 0
 I think you make some pretty good points. One thing I would definately add though is that you can really breath new life back into an old tire but a little bit of tire cutting. Sipe the knobs in the middle and you get extra edges for traction, you can cut some height off of the center knobs and not only get a bit faster rolling tire but you get back some of those edges that you refer to as having worn off... they arent as worn closer to the casing. Oh, and then there's the idiots guide to buying tires... Maxxis's Intended Use Chart. If you dont already know any better but have the cash, just follow it and you wont go wrong.
  • 1 0
 It would be interesting for a DH Tyre atricle to cover the differences of tubed and tubeless tyre designs, as it is commonly beleived, in my neck of the woods anyway, that Tubeless will eventually rule and tubes will be a thing of the past once more brands make the move toward tubeless as their racing tyres. The reason for this is weight, more direct feedback, and a direct contact with the ground beneath, which, as has been written in many MTB magazines, leads to better confidence on your tyres, and greater turning abilty. I'm interested as to why it is'nt more common to be going tubeless now, and what the current drawbacks are. Jay
  • 1 0
 great article mate, but i think its fairly pointless people putting up there own opions on what tyres work best, at the end of the day diffrent tire choices work for diffrent people on diffrent bikes and diffrent tracks with diffrent pressres. all you realy can do is experiment with some with tires untill you find somthing that works for you.
  • 0 0
 another thing about the maxxis high roller tires.....I run a set of 2.5 high rollers and was out yesterday in the rain through lots of mud and they clog up pretty bad...my wheels ended up feeling like they were made out of lead.
  • 0 0
 yup, but not as bad as the kendas do! haha. i run the 2.35's right now, which give the tires a narrower print, and mine do alright shedding wise, they just dont grip well on wet roots/ rcoks and techy terrain when its wet.
  • 3 1
 great article !! samo good as frame geo article. Hope more like this one not like all those bullshit syndicate etc news comercial shit
  • 0 0
 Great article - more please. Also good to see Kenda tyres get the recognition they deserve. I've been running the Nevegal 2.5/2.3 combo for a while. Would have been even better to have more tyres reviewed as well such as Bontrager Big Earl, Specialized Chunder & the new Clutch, and WTB Prowler MX etc.
  • 0 0
 Nothing like having a hard on for Kenda...

I own 2.5 Kinetics... they are not as good as you say they are...

The Maxxis Mobsters out due the kinetics 4:1... better in the lil wetness and the dry...

Kinetics don't shed mud at all... (i know its not a mud tire but conditions arent the same the whole way down the course)
  • 0 0
 He doesn't even speak of Kinetics in his article
  • 0 0
 awl my bad... i meant to say nevegals... oops
  • 0 0
 I hope when you're talking about the Michelin DH24 you mean for the rear. It's absolutly a disaster at the front !

The best Michelin setting in 90% of the conditions is a 16 up front and a 24 rear. You're right for the rear, a 24 in 2.2 can be enough on some trails.
  • 0 0
 One thing that you can do to save $$$ and keep your tires performing longer is take an exacto knife and sharpen the edges back up. Also found that increasing the center notch depth on the Highroller does wonders for its over all handling.
  • 1 0
 Nice write up. Everyone has there own opinions about what they like. Everytime I take my Tioga 2.3s off I end up putting them back on! I want a go on the wet screams though. Britain is pure sludge and I love it
  • 0 0
 I guess I misread this?


"Another tip. You love those 3C Maxxis Minion tires, but they're $90 each in the store, and you can never find them on a good deal. Try out some slightly cheaper tires. Kenda Tires offer all the performance of the Maxxis or Michelin tires, at a fraction of the price at $65 a tire, and last longer. You can get 3 Kenda tires for the price of 2 Maxxis or Michelin tires, which means more race tires. If you're dead set that the Maxxis or Michelin tire makes you faster on the race course, keep them as a race tire, and do your practice and training on the less expensive Kenda Tires. The money you save by buying the cheaper tires for the off season may mean you have some extra cash for another set of race tires you love for next season."
  • 0 0
 Tim Buddy, remember me Eugene?

Great article, I do disagree on a few of your comments particularly the Comp 16 and the High Rollers on the wet, they're absolutely horrible in the wet roots and rock here in BC! At least that's my opinion. What I found to be great all condition tires are the Maxxis Minions DHF running both on front and rear.

Regarding the Kenda, I knew Kenda as your sponsor so I wasn't surprise you mentioning them as tire of choice. I personally have not tried the Nevagals but will probably do this year.

Planning on racing again the Vet-Ex category this year in most BC cups, so I'll see you around young man.

Eugene
  • 0 0
 Hey Eugene,

I'm stoked to hear you coming back to do some races. Vet-Ex is going to be a super fun this year. The only thing that could make it better is getting Dr Sanchez to come out and show us how its done.

Regarding the Comp 16. I think that was the definitive wet weather BC tire for many years. It has an aggressive tread with lots of edges and offers up good grip in the wet on rock and root (in my opinion). I think times have changed the the rubber compound Michelin uses hasn't kept up with advances from Maxxis and Kenda. That being said I really like the Super Tacky HighRoller / Stick-E Telonix in the wet at courses like Mt. Washington, Garbanzo etc. The reason I personally don't like the Minion DHF on wet courses is that with the large blocky knobs, and fewer edges the tire doesn't generate as much braking and cornering grip, but thats just in my experience.

If you're interested in trying some Kenda Tires the ones I'm most impressed with is the Excavators (I believe they just carried Mick Hannah to an Aussie Nationals title). They're a fantastic general dry weather tire that generate loads of grip on any loose over hard pack surface. Beyond that try out the 2.4" Stick-E Telonix as a wet weather tire. I barely used the Nevegal in 2008, while its a great all-round tire, I didn't feel it was better than the Excavator or the Telonix in the dry or wet respectively.

Cheers,
Tim
  • 0 0
 I like WTB Timberwolf tires for the conditions we have in Telluride and around the Western Slope, Colorado. They work good for loose over hardpack conditions, are good in the steep trees and good over the very rocky conditions we have around here. This article is informative, but what about all the other brands besides Kenda? How about Intense, WTB???
  • 0 0
 All your kenda tires your pumped on seem like slow rolling lil buggers. Midwest riding dhf in the front most commonly trailed by a highroller or another dhf. Does anyone a good opinion on tires from Intense or Michelin for this area.. say MSC courses, midwest style stuff?
  • 0 0
 I ride the Kenda Excavator 2.5" and MY GOD is that a tire to love. I use to ride on Kenda Nevegal but made the switch. The price of the Kenda Nevegal seems to never go down at my local bike shop. but the Kenda Excavator is always $10-12 cheaper. I vote on the Kenda Excavator.
  • 1 0
 If you have one tire that is more worn out than the other, would it be better to run the more knobby tire in the front or rear? Generally for dry, hard pack or loose on top of hard pack?
  • 1 1
 Woah you people run your tyres soft, I usually run like 45/50 PSI, it's damn sketchy in the wet but in the dry you fly! If I'm not racing I can't be arsed to let my tyres down in the wet so it's funny sliding around.
  • 0 0
 i thought that . even in the wet it would be sketchy as the tyre would ride over the mud instead of cutting through it. that would make breaking less predictable . the more pressure you have the more the tread will bite into the top surface and reach the harder under soil , that's what give the traction. Plus the manufacturers recommend the minimum Psi for a reason. It's the Psi they are designed for.
  • 1 0
 The High Roller is not a very good wet tire. Yea it will work, but not as good as others. .....and yes Tim is sponsored by Kenda. hehehe
  • 0 0
 And Nevegals are not in the same league as the other tires mentioned.
  • 3 0
 Agreed... on both counts. It cracks me up when I hear people calling the high roller or the minions good wet tires & I wouldnt even put Nevegals on my girlfriends bike, lol.
  • 0 0
 What wet weather do you use, and in what conditions?
  • 1 0
 Sorry Timmi, wasnt trying to bag on your sponsor. Local riding is basic So Cal sand and hard pack, not much wet around here. Up around Mammoth though, real early season or real late in the season is gets pretty mucky. A lot of slop, wet roots and lots of wet rocks... though not much ground cover that the tire needs to punch through to find soil. Right now I have a set of WetScreams but they're pretty well worn and I've had a hell of time finding another set so I've got a pair of Intense Spikes I'll be swapping to my next trip up the mountain. The Screams are sick but I'm really stoked to try these Spikes, they look super burly and should really hook up well.
  • 1 0
 For what its worth, you can make the high roller or minion a fairly decent wet weather tire for all but the most gnarly conditions with some sipes and knotches but I'd just assume buy a dedicated mud'er rather than getting MacGyver with some shop shears.
  • 1 0
 Here are the tires I use for DH
www.intensetires.com
I find it helpfull cause they tell you what the tire preformes best in what condition.
  • 0 0
 I think the Continental Diesel 2.5 up front paired with a Mountain King 2.2 in the rear is amazing for especially hardpacked conditions, and they come with a relatively low price tag.
  • 1 0
 check out these new Continental DH tyres! new for 2009!

www.conti-tyres.co.uk/conticycle/ti%20rainking.shtml
  • 1 0
 very helpful thanks
  • 0 0
 I like that
  • 0 0
 Nice article Wayne. I especially liked your comments regarding tire rotation direction and the mis-interpretation of the arrow on the Comp 16s.

On a side note have you even used the Ardents before? I thought those came out after your DH days. Or have you been out doing some secret practice? With some luck you'll be turning up for a BC Cup this year and put Old Man Enns in his place. But you best come out soon. The line up for taking on Old Man Enns is getting pretty lengthy.
  • 0 0
 I thought about it, but the hare scramble race series is looking mightly fine to me. I'm done with DH racing Timmy. Maybe I'll make a comeback at 40? If I can get on a mid travel bike, I might race the Ranch, but I wouldn't count on it.

I've ridden the Ardent. Don't forget, I still ride! lol Living in the 'Loops though, you can use many more tires than you can on the coast. Even shitty tires here work well.
  • 1 0
 ^^ yup.. i have the comp 24 on front and the Stick-E nevegal on the back and the rezult is TONS of grip!!
  • 2 1
 Bummer that alot of these 'news' articles have become blatant advertisements
  • 2 0
 Minions = Loose track
High Rollers = Hard pack
Wet Scream = Wet or Muddy
  • 0 0
 Good article, gave me some new tires to try this season, but as others say it would be interesting with some other brands too! Thanks for the article though!
  • 0 0
 What about tire thicknesses? I talked to a downhiller/shop owner the other day who was all about narrower tires for DH (ie 2.35 front and rear). What's your philosophy?
  • 1 0
 Read this:
www.pinkbike.com/forum/listcomments/?threadid=64441

2.35's or 2.2's can be better given the terrain. Mud and slop, almost always run a smaller tire with lots of psi, just the opposite of what many so-called experts would have you think. These guys will tell you to use a big fat tire with low psi - that's just ill informed.

Smaller tires track better, grip better (depends), and roll faster. They're not alway a better choice but if you can get away with running a smaller one then do it.
  • 0 0
 I personally run 2.5" tires almost everywhere front and rear. The 2.5" size is a nice compromise. You can run lower tire pressures than a 2.35" due to the larger casing, there is ample grip from the tire, and the tire still rolls fairly well. I find the 2.7" tires are heavier, roll slower, and these downsides out weight the added grip. That being said I do sometimes use a 2.35" tire on the rear for courses that are flatter, and require lower rolling resistance. Where I can get away with this is where I will use high tire pressure anyways. If its a really high speed, flat course with little requirement for braking grip I'd run dual 2.35" tires.
  • 0 0
 Yep, a good compromise. But picking a tires best attributes and matching it to the conditions and terrain style could mean the difference in a placing in the standings. First off all, ditch the tubes. Tubeless allows you greater range of usable psi without the chance of flatting... well almost. You'll learn to ride higher psi while keeping the same grip as a tubed tire with lower pressure. It will roll lighter and faster and be far more reliable. Keep your unsprung weight lower too. Also, somewhat related to different terrain...... people need to look at their suspension settings too. Generally softer front and rear in slow muddy type races, which means you can raise the pressure in your tires a little. Steep courses - stiffer fork. Flat dry pack, stiff suspension fromt and rear and you'll easily shave a second or two off your run. Way too many mountain bike racers run suspension that's way too soft.
  • 1 1
 Also, running 2 different sized tires doesn't make any sense in mtb'ing. That came from mx years ago where yes it does make a difference (for multiple reasons), but in mtb'ing there's zero reason to do so. If you can get away with running a small tire in the back then why not the front? The back wheel is seeing far more abuse so then in theory you should be able to get away with an equally small tire in the front.
  • 2 0
 Often a larger tire will get more traction, but a smaller tire has less rolling resistance and weight. The front tire handles most of your steering and braking forces so it makes sense to go smaller in the rear. UNLESS it is really muddy. then skinny F + R
  • 1 0
 Often courses will have tough technical sections linked with long straights. I want a 2.5" front tire for added grip under braking and compliance over rough terrain to hold lines, but a 2.35" rear tire at higher pressure for low rolling resistance on the straights. I've had good success running two different tire sizes.

I decided to stay out of the tubed vs. tubeless debate. I personally like using tubes, and most of the WorldCup DH'ers use tubes too from my understanding. I am personally going to try tubeless in the coming months, and might have to include some information once I have a subjective comparison of the two methods.
  • 2 0
 Larger tires can be more grippy but it depends on the conditions. Dry and rocky, a large tire can be a good choice. Wet, greasy mud - the worst thing you could do is run a large tire. Big tires float more. You want a tire to bite in. Then you want a narrow tire with tall knobs. That's why you want a smaller tire up front so your steering is more precise and controlled. It allows you to follow a line better without washing out. What you say would be true if you're racing down a straight steep run where big surface blocks would allow more braking control.
  • 1 0
 Those WC guys are fast, but a lot of them don't know what the f**k they're talking about. Not all but a lot. The advantage to running tubes is that you can more easily switch tires back and forth. You can do it with tubeless but it takes more work and prep.
  • 0 0
 Might be a point to argue but you can also run lower tire pressures with tubes. You have no risk of burping or pulling the tire off the rim. I'm going to try tubeless this spring and do a subjective test of comparing the two setups. If tubeless isn't saving me time on the course, its not worth the added complication.
  • 1 0
 Doc Sanchez, a bit of Stan's on a pair of 823's and you can run any tire you want sans tubes with LESS work and prep than a comparable tubed setup. There's no tube so you can literally just throw the Stan's right in the tire, seat it on the rim, pump her up, give a good spin, go ride... Doesnt get any easier than that. The only downside is that the beads on UST rims & tires seat a bit tighter so make sure you've got a good tire iron.

Timmi, you got it backwards brother. I used to pinch flat all the time with tubes, I was notorious for carrying three or four spare tubes in my pack it was so bad. Pressure just had to be 50psi or higher... since I've gone UST I've run them down as low as 35psi without any issues. Had a bit of burping the very first time I ran a set but that was with no Stan's and me not really having any clue how to seat the tire correctly. My guess is, once you try 'em this Spring, you'll never look back. I wound up switching all my bikes over eventually.
  • 0 0
 I've been using Stan's kits since 2002 on every type of set up, so I'm familiar with UST rims and tubeless tires. I am by no means a pro-tubes guy at all. I'm even representing these guys for dirtbike racing: www.nuetech.com That's how nerdy I am! lol...

Tim, one of the main points about running tubeless is that you CAN run lots more air pressure, but you still keep great traction. Loosing the tube means your tire is losing structural support, so you need to increase psi. In principle, tubeless tires work better when you increase psi rather than decrease, but "BBLB" is only decreasing to 35psi, which is still pretty high pressure.

Its just the opposite with mx tires. Since those tires are so structurally supportive, you can decrease the pressure without worrying about pinch flatting your tire or rolling a tire off the rim.

I can almost garrantee that you'll shave time off your race runs when you switch over to tubeless Tim. But you have to do it correctly. Stiffen up your suspension so its not weighted for a 140lb kid and you're set. Wink
  • 1 0
 Also, other brands would be useful. Like Bontrager, Specialized Intense etc... thanks for the article!
  • 0 0
 what about a really dry dusty course where the course has no hard bottom dirt that is like super fine baby powder 2 feet deep?
  • 0 0
 I use'd to use the Michelin DH16's but with the weather in the UK i'm riding Intense Intruder 2ply 2.5's.. I found that Kenda's didn't work well for me.
  • 0 0
 any other loose over harpack tires, thats what im looking for here in cali.......
  • 0 0
 Try intense 909's they love gravel/sand over hard pack in my experince
  • 0 0
 intense 909's are great, as are the edge fro and and the maxxis high rollers in a 26x 2.1
  • 0 0
 I second the vote on both the 909's and the High Rollers. Especially the 42a High Rollers, and the dual compound 909's (with the softer grey rubber down the middle), both handle great and are super predictable when they start to break loose on the trails.
  • 0 0
 yeah you should check out the WTB Prowler MX 2.5. those tires stick like glue!
  • 1 0
 Thnx! Great Article very ehh well
I go, check my Tires so....
;-)
  • 0 0
 I should mention that the HR can be a decent mud tire, but ya gotta go narrow to acheive this. Too wide and they just float.
  • 0 0
 i dunno abotu that man...i've run every size. 2.1, 2.35, and 2.5 over three years, and i am currently runnign the 2.35's on the trail bike and one on the dh rig. the narrower tires do OK in muddy conditions.

(PORT ANGELES/ Dry Hill in the rain last week is a perfect example) but they still dont have exceptional traction in the mud. I imagine greg minaar probably had his siped, which i have never tried.

that WOULD definitely improve the 2.35 version a TON in the mud, so no doubt they may be a capable tire there, but i'll stick w/ the wet screams or the swamp thing for true mud.
  • 1 0
 The trick is to fully sipe the single knob down to the casing, so you wind up with two smaller knobs and a clear spot in between. Then on the dual knob rows running down the middle, you want to knotch off a bit on the outside of each knob. This leaves a nice row down the middle that tracks well in the mud. If you're gonna be up against a lot of rocks and roots, you can also choose to further knotch a portion of the 'ramp' off of what was the single knob in the middle. This will give you a few more edges to penetrate and find bite while also opening up the tread a little to clear mud a bit better.... but be warned, your tires will wear out faster than you can believe once you've done all this. Two runs and they're done but they'll be fast as long as the weather isnt too bad. Like you said though, for true mud you need a real mud tire.
  • 0 0
 thanks dude, might try that with my minions.
  • 0 0
 Like I said, they're by no means great, but they do have two things going for them: lack of rolling resistance, and good side knobs. I guess another good thing would be that the knobs are smallish and widely spaced. You've gotta be off the brakes for HR's to work ok in the mud. As an intermediate tire they're one of the best, especially the dual ply kevlar bead super tacky.
  • 0 0
 yup, those are the ones ive been runnign for awhile now.
  • 1 0
 very nice article! Helped me a lot! thanks
  • 1 0
 Really good article, thanks for taking the time to write it. Cheers!
  • 0 0
 i love my maxxis, i think some of the tire catigories are misleading. VERY helpfull though
  • 0 0
 sorry forgot to add, sidewalls on the kendas seemed to be a bummer on the nevegals i ran
  • 0 0
 i have Michelin dh24 2.5 its my all around tire and an intese 2.35 tire perfect!
  • 0 0
 high rollers in Ireland nt a gd choice considerin that there is 75% chance of rain each day!!
  • 1 0
 It sucks that Michelin stopped distributing Michelin DH Tires.
  • 1 0
 great article!! it was very helpfull for me!
  • 1 0
 Maxxis shorties all day baby
  • 1 0
 MICHALIN RULES
  • 0 0
 thanks that was helpful. could u make one for djing too?
  • 0 1
 i run holy rollers at 80psi,higher pressures will help you pump through rythem sections
  • 0 0
 yea well im lookin for something light
  • 0 0
 I'd love to, but I have no experience with dirt jumping or dirt jumping tires!
  • 0 0
 oh do u do mostly dh?
  • 0 0
 Yeah mostly DH. When I'm not on my race bike I'm on my Nomad and riding all mountain type stuff.
  • 0 0
 do u dh on the brodie brute?
  • 0 0
 cool pic, nice scenary, have to visit Hafjell and Oppdal this summer!
  • 0 0
 Maxxis wet scream is a crazy tire
  • 0 0
 What About Tubeless tyres?
  • 0 0
 Comp 24 is a great rear tire for everything except mud pretty much.
  • 0 0
 what about kenda smallblox!!!!
  • 1 1
 Life is always sweet on new High-Rollers!!!
  • 1 1
 yeah MAXXIS takes all in every catagory F*^@K yeah!!
  • 0 0
 Where is the Arrow Racing LOVE? (in the article OR any comments above?)
  • 0 0
 this was helpfull
  • 0 0
 great post. thanks.
  • 0 0
 Great article!!
  • 0 1
 i have the same tires on the first picture
  • 0 3
 if you didnt know all that already then you shouldnt be riding bikes downhill!!!
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