Design & Construction
Vee Tire started making bike tires just seven years ago, and it’s been a steep learning curve from their original fat bike tire. The company itself has however existed for much longer than that, starting in 1977 manufacturing rubber compounds, then moto tires and finally bicycle tires. Vee's bike tires are manufactured in Thailand and at the Bike Connection Winter 2020 event, we learned everything about the company and its new Snap Trail tire from a real contender in the coolest name in cycling, Veerawat Sukanjanapong, or as he is better known, "Bike". He’s the son of the founder and started the Vee Tire Co in 2013, focussing on bicycles.
The Snap Trail is a new tire from Vee, available in 27.5” and 29” diameters and at the moment only in a 2.35” wide version.
Snap Trail DetailsWheel Sizes:
27.5" & 29"Width:
Enduro Core or Gravity CoreCompound:
Top40 (Shore 42A +/- 2)Bead:
FoldingRecommended Rim Widths:
25 - 30mm (inner width)Weight:
980g & 1100g for 27.5", 1040g & 1160g for 29" (claimed)More info: Vee Tire Co
There are two options for casing, Enduro Core and Gravity Core. Enduro Core is a single 72 TPI ply with an added sidewall reinforcement dubbed Apex that sits inside the tire structure and reaches about halfway up the sidewall. The Gravity Core having two plys with an added reinforcement Vee call "Synthesis" to bring the total numbers of layers up to three. The Synthesis reinforcement sits further to the outside of the tire structure and reaches up closer to the base of the side knobs. The step up from Enduro Core to Gravity Core adds a claimed 120g to the tire.
There’s only one compound available at the moment, Vee’s Top40. This is their softest compound available and is designed to deliver slow rebound properties in a bid to maintain grip over roots, rocks and in the wet.
The tread pattern uses a squarer outer bock design, with alternating big rectangles to slightly smaller L-shaped blocks, both having sipes vertically along them. Small chamfers are present on the outermost edges. The centre knobs follow the alternating theme but go from wider spaced, more angled rectangles to narrower spaced trapezoids. Again, there are sipes in the blocks but they now alter between vertical on the wider-spaced knobs and horizontal for the tighter positioned ones. There’s aggressive ramping on the wider-spaced knobs and a good amount of tapering on the shape of the tighter spaced knobs.
We tested a pair of 29 x 2.35 in Enduro Core and they came in a whole lot lighter than the claimed 1040g at 978g and 965g for each tire.
When pumped up to 25psi on a 30mm inner width rim, we measured a width of 60mm, which is bang on for what Vee say in their technical drawings. That also lines up very close with a 2.35” Schwalbe Magic Mary at 61mm. A 2.5” Maxxis Minnion DHF measures up a couple of millimetres wider at 63mm for comparison.
There’s a claimed outside diameter of 745mm for the 29” version, so you can use that to figure out your BB height on your own individual bikes. There was quite an interesting chat with Bike from Vee about the influence of tire construction on the final outside diameter. In many engineering projects, the diameters quoted by manufacturers would never be the same in real life. The thought that tire diameter should be quoted based on casing construction, rim width and pressure not just per model would help us all out. But I digress.
The seemingly light tire weight was a little alarming, as normally I ride much heavier tires with thicker and more reinforced construction. So, having a tire coming in around 190g lighter per tire had my eyebrows making funny shapes. But the Snap Trails turned out to pack a lot of punch for their deceptively low weight.
Fitting was a doddle and can be done by hand and only requires a few gentle pushes on a track pump to get them seated. I ran the same tire front and back.Performance
The trails around the Bike Connection Agency event in Massa Marittima, Tuscany were fast, narrow and a whole lot of fun. The top section of the hill was a little flatter, with much more embedded rock sticking out of the ground in sharp and tire killing shapes. The middle was a bit steeper, with a more man-made touch. The hardpack ground rose and fell with little buckets here and there to really push into, mostly at sharp angles to try and rip the tires off. There were plenty of fast flat corners too, where the bike was leaned over and you were death gripping to maintain speed. Down at the bottom the trails flattened out a bit as you traversed back to the camp and so keeping speed and a good dose of pedalling were needed.
For all but one ride, the trails were dry. Recent rains had got rid of any severe dust and had put the conditions into that perfect zone of dry enough not to need to wash your bike but not so dry that it was a dust bowl. Our final ride, however, was after a night-long downpour, so we managed to see how the tires performed on the slick rock and damped single trails.
With the elevation in Massa Marittima not being ginormous, the trail builders have really taken advantage of every meter of the hill. And having a tire that rolls fast is a benefit to having a high overall speed and leaving your energy to darting through the trees rather than overcoming a sluggish tire. The Snap Trails roll fantastically well for a tire of that width and compound softness with the ramped centre knobs helping out.
With that, pedalling wasn’t a chore on them either, although the ramped shape that aids the rolling speed did lose a bit of grip when you were climbing a steeper pitch with out of the saddle pedalling. When smoother seated climbing there were no issues with grip, even on wet slimy roots that would traverse the trail at awkward angles.
On the sharper rockier sections of trail, where not braking enabled you to carry more speed on the flatter portion of the hill, the tires gripped well and also offered no pinging tendencies. Pressures were 23psi front and 26psi rear and set up tubeless. And despite their light weight I suffered zero punctures while out riding in Tuscany.
On the faster sections of trail, hitting into pockets and support with force the tires further impressed. No burping occurred despite our best efforts and there was no feeling of flimsiness from the tire in these situations. Which then egged you on to push harder into the same spot on the next run.
Flat cornering was probably the most impressive trait of the tires. All tires will lose grip at some point, and it’s arguably in this limit situation where you find tires get divided into brilliant and terrible. Really leaned over and at speed the Snap Trails had a beautiful amount of feedback. Between that feeling of total grip and hitting the deck they have a wonderfully wide transition zone that enables and encourages you to play with lean angles and entry speeds all the while feeling if you’re not pushing enough or pushing your luck too far. There was never a sudden surprise lack of grip, where by you felt you’d be on your face in the blink of an eye.
In the wet they gave the same got-your-back feeling, even on the freshly wetted rocks and roots and you could lift your eyeline and just let off with a nice confidence that they weren’t going to do anything out of the blue.
After four days of riding the tires still look fresh, exhibiting no signs of wear in either the braking zones and edges or at the base of the side knobs from leaning the them over and pushing hard. This is all despite having the softest compound Vee offer at a hardness of 40. The compound coming from their experience in drag racing cars.
Giving a bit of a comparison to the more well-known Schwalbe Magic Mary, the Snap Trail definitely rolls a bit quicker for the same tire width and soft compound feel. But what the Snap Trails gain in rolling speed the Magic Marys gain in all around bite into the ground. Both work excellently and neither hold back your confidence, but the Snap Trail would help a bike maintain some trail zippiness without sacrificing much grip.
I’ve brought a pair back to Champéry and am looking forward to riding them on the different terrains in the Alps to see if our holiday romance from Tuscany continues.