Surly Dirt Wizard Tire - Review

Mar 1, 2018
by Paul Aston  
Surly Dirt Wizard


Surly were one of the original players in the plus-sized world and are still pushing all kinds of fat wheels and tires in their range. The Dirt Wizard is currently the chunkiest, heaviest, and most aggressive 27.5+ tire I have used to date.

The Dirt Wizard is only available in a 3.0" width for 27.5" and 29", and there's also a 26" version in 2.75" and 3.0". The tubeless compatible, folding bead tire uses a single 48a durometer rubber compound, with a 60tpi casing that has added nylon sidewall protection. All that rubber comes at a price, and for $90 USD / €94.95 EUR the Dirt Wizard better have some tricks up its sleeve.



Dirt Wizard Details

• Casing: Folding
• TPI: 60 w/Nylon sidewall protection
• Compound: Single 48a
• Size: 27.5'' x 3.0''
• Bead: kevlar
• Bead Seat Diameter: 584mm
• Weight: 1210 grams and 1252g (actual)
• Price: $90 USD / €94.95 EUR
surlybikes.com

Surly Dirt Wizard
The Dirt Wizard is currently the most aggressive plus tire on the market.


Design and Performance

I had given up on plus-bikes for the kind of riding I do; they had some notable advantages, but were always too flimsy, prone to punctures, and I could never find anything that I preferred over swapping to 29" wheels with an aggressive/heavy set of tires. At the beginning of plus, most brands wanted to offset the added weight and rolling resistance of the bigger volume tires by using very low profile tread and lightweight casings to make tires around 800g.

The theory was this: more volume = lower pressures, lower pressures and more surface area = more grip. But, to counter that, many plus tires had a shallow tread, which equaled less grip, a light carcass that gave more chance of puncturing and less stability, which meant increasing pressures to get the right stability and puncture resistance. This leaves you back at square one, where I always wanted to try the added benefits of the plus size but combined with the existing benefits of the thicker casing and aggressive tread.

The downside of that combination is added weight, but there are riders who want plus-size grip and value stability and puncture resistance over weight savings, and there's also a whole new breed of plus-sized eMTB's that deserve tougher rubber.


Surly Dirt Wizard
Surly Dirt Wizard
The Dirt Wizard's carcass measures up at 2.65" and nearly 3.0" at the outside of the tread blocks on a 40mm rim.


The Dirt Wizard has a huge amount of spacing between the blocks which allows mud to shed easily. The 48a single compound rubber strikes a good balance between super soft and tacky, but maintains some durability and rolling speed.

Set on 40mm wide rims, the Dirt Wizard still maintains a rounded profile with the center blocks protruding much higher than the edge blocks. I found the ideal pressure was 20/22psi, meaning that on asphalt or harder terrain I was riding upon the center ridge of blocks and had surprisingly fast rolling speed. Running lower pressures, around 15psi (which is normally the starting point for plus tire recommendations) allowed the tire to compress too much, allowing the edge blocks to contact the ground too, this made a noticeable difference to the rolling speed. Over-inflated skinny plus tires means a very springy and un-damped ride, but the Dirt Wizards still had enough damping to calm them down as the pressure rose to 20/22psi.


Surly Dirt Wizard after 400kms
The Dirt Wizard survived around 400 kilometers on the back of the eMTB with only slight signs of wear.


The casing proved to be the toughest plus-size tire to date, although Maxxis Double Down casings in plus-sizing are just reaching the shelves. I never managed to cut the sidewalls or pinch them against the rim, which is the most common way to puncture a thin plus-tire, often close to the rim bead which can be difficult to repair or plug. I did manage to cut the tire between two side blocks above the line of nylon sidewall reinforcement, which required a tubeless repair patch on the inside.

The Dirt Wizard offers tons of braking traction, climbing traction, and a very smooth and predictable transition on the the edge, with a predictable breakaway point due to the rounded shape and huge blocks.

So who is the Dirt Wizard for? It's best suited for the rear wheel of an eMTB for massive climbing traction, good rolling speed and a tough casing. It could also be a good choice for plus bike riders who need a reliable tire for aggressive riding in soft and loose conditions and don't mind the weight penalty.



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe Dirt Wizard could be the choice for anybody needing more aggressive plus bike rubber, especially in soft conditions. Paul Aston







106 Comments

  • + 77
 Measures rim in mms. Measures tire in inches.
  • + 136
 Welcome to the bike industry.
  • + 30
 Surly this review should have been titled "E-bike tyre review"?
  • + 1
 Because 2.65" (2.6435) carcass and 3.0" (2.9065) width is easier than 67.1449mm carcass / 73.8251 width, even if we said 67mm/74mm. Welcome to the craziness called life. Now, if anyone could explain the nuances of the English language... bike measurements would seem simple in comparison. Razz
  • + 17
 Plus-sized rubber should named Magnum. Standards, standards.
  • + 9
 @headshot: ...except more than a few of us ride DH tires on our pedal bikes Smile I don't go out there to waste time fixing shitty, floppy ass tires trailside. Durability and sidewall support are king.(disclaimer: your terrain and riding style may vary)
  • + 3
 @headshot: nope. in the north east of the USA right now the plus tires are the most useable tires. My good buddy has a kona honzo that is king in this weather.

My aunt does have an ebike, but since she uses it for logging roads and dirt roads (what most will be used for) she just runs high enough pressure to avoid flats on her schwalbe nobby nics.

Moral of the story: plus bikes have their place. It may not be on your bike, but that doesn't mean it is a waste of everyone else's time to learn about it.
  • + 2
 @mtbikeaddict: I don't know man, it works on road bikes. The worst thing about bike tires is that we have four or five ways to list their measurements and the one that actually means anything, ETRTO, is the least commonly used.
  • + 3
 @loopie: Don't forget rider weight. I can ride like a idiot all day on hostile rock and not destroy my relatively lightweight tyres (EXO Minion, Purgatory Grid) at fairly normal pressures. Many would probably kill them though.
  • + 1
 @BenPea: Indeed...and I'm the same too, can ride anything thru anything without breaking anything Smile ...I suppose my main gripe is flimsiness...we have very fast trails and hard cornering around here...weak tires suck
  • + 20
 Wait... You rode 400km on an eMTB without any mass demonstrations, cities being razed to the ground, or the apocalypse itself arriving in a hail of fire and brimstone?

This review is Fake News.
  • + 2
 I was thinking the same thing... "Wait... he reviewed this on an E-bike?" Interesting lol.
  • + 4
 This is a fairly subdued comment section as yet.

Where's my pitchfork?
  • - 3
 @alexhyland:

Sod off ya old git!
  • + 8
 Ride that Emtb straight to hell.
  • + 5
 No, but it is fake mountain biking. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
  • + 4
 @endlessblockades: Haha get off my lawn
  • + 11
 So what you're saying is, you rode the tire on an e-bike so you have absolutely no idea how it climbs.... For a tire review you'd think you could slap it on a regular plus bike just to find out.
  • + 1
 That's not exactly fair, it's not like ebikes can just spin tires uphill all day. In fact, he should have a pretty good idea of the traction since the ebike put down high torque.
  • - 3
 @JaredHarzan Absolutely no idea how it climbs. None. Not even close. Two totally different scenarios. No similarities. Nothing in common.
  • + 1
 @trialsracer: but the bike/ ebike weight difference will affect the traction available?
  • + 1
 So I really don't see why you would think this. From the chainring back it is a normal bike. The motor may makes light work of hills but motorcycles need traction too.
What you should have said was "So you don't really have a sense of rolling resistance because the motor overcame that all." Which do would have been wrong since he can coast, but it would have made more sense than the idea that motor powered vehicles don't need traction to climb.
  • + 9
 I love this tire as a front. Great write up, I am that guy who needs big lugs and tires that can survive pinned speeds down Porcupine Rim. I have over a year on the 27+ version, surviving many a rim strike with only 1 puncture. They say the tire should last years in the owners manual! After the center knobs have worn down, run it as a rear semislick with great cornering bite. I'm on to the 29+ version now, mounted to Rabbit Hole rims. BEEFCAKE!
  • + 1
 I used to have a 29" set and they were amazing, at 1300g they were just too heavy for XC riding.
  • + 3
 Right. I was totally thinking, looks like a front tire. Especially with 48a rubber. Pair this with something faster rolling in the back, and it could be pretty bomber. Can't believe he ended the review recommending it as a rear tire for e-bikes...
  • + 9
 If anyone ever see me dropping 95€ on a tire,please slap me until I come to my senses.
  • + 4
 Car tire... right? Wink
  • - 2
 if you can afford it whats the problem?
  • + 3
 @Asmodai: He can't afford it. That is the problem.

The last time I bought tyres was when Planet X had a huge bunch of Geax tyres at like £8 - 15 each, so go figure.
  • + 2
 @alexhyland: I think On-one/Planet X fluctuate their prices to hambient temperature Smile
I bought 4 Chunky Monkey dual compound around Christmas for 16eur each, very underrated tyre , its basically a MaxxTerra: 42a sides and 50a center, hands down the better value I've ever found, shoulder knobs could be a little higher but apart that can't fault them. Should last until next Christmas
  • + 1
 @miguelcurto: I have one of those floating around too. Those Geax tyres were nuts tho, they had tyres going for as low as £3 each!
  • + 5
 This seemed more of a review on the current status of plus tires and less on the Dirt Wizard. I had tried a few early plus tires and felt the exact same way about the uselessness of fat tires with small treads and weak sidewalls. After reading an actual review of these tires a couple of years ago I decided to get some burly/heavy plus tires (minions) and it was the first time I actually enjoyed fatter rubber. That said, I still think overall you're better off with aggreessive 29er tires. You may not have insane grip, but you roll so much faster.

These tires have always looked interesting to me for going down stuff, but pedalling up sounds like hell.
  • - 1
 I am on 3.0's since 2015 and the only flat I had was on a Schwalbe tire. Lots of guys in the PNW / INW have moved to plus tires, albeit 2.8's, but they really do work better in virtually all situations.
  • + 2
 @Thustlewhumber: ya all but rolling resistance which is a huge disadvantage. That alone outweighs the "advantages" ill stick to my 2.35 minnions thanks.
  • + 4
 as always with tires, trail conditions make a big difference. it seems PNW riders, on average don't "get" plus tires

but in looser, dryer places like California, they only seem to be getting more popular. more and more of the people in the group i ride with are falling in love with them, and I finally had a chance to try a bike with 2.8 Rekons. they give so much more traction in slightly loose conditions, even more than the DHF's I run, I'm considering building up a set up wheels to switch to plus as well.

would I use them on a shuttle DH day? probably not, but for fun social rides, it's nice to cut out some of the sketchiness of trails that haven't seen a full inch of rain in over a year
  • + 1
 @xeren:

Funny, if I was to mainly ride down stuff I'd be happy with a 2.8 minions. Roll ok down and lots of grip & stability on wider rims. Pedalling up they take the steam out of you quick and sprinting or steep quick climbs they're really slow.
  • + 4
 I really don't understand why people want this crap. I remember putting 2.8 tires on my dh bike back in 2009 and they got switched out after two rides because the rolling resistance was beyond horrible. That was on a bike that you point downhill and go I don't get how people can enjoy being held back by bigger tires. 2.35 is easily the best size all in all in my opinion.
  • + 2
 Slick roots, wet rock, and slush. There is no best for every condition.
  • + 1
 3.0" Gazzaloddis were the bomb. I rode them in Morzine / Les Getz and they were mental fun.
  • + 3
 This is the best front tire I've ever used by a wide margin. Nothing funny intended there! The E13 Trsr was great but this is in a different category, Butchers and DHF's are fine but the 27.5 DW lets me push the front harder with more confidence at the limit in loose terrain. I also tried a 2.8 DHF and DHR II. Neither was close to as good. However if somehow you only ride on hardpack the DW doesn't have an advantage over a good 2.4 on hero dirt or hardpack. I run it on a 45mm internal rim at 13psi in front and don't feel the side knobs making contact in a straight line or slowing me down. If anything I'd like it to be even more square and think it would be even better on a 50mm internal rim. I've flatted only once in over 1000 miles and broke a rim at the same time so it was understandable. It's also the longest lasting tire I've ever run. Maxxis Aggressor DD rears are gone in a heartbeat compared to these in front. For negatives it's also the heaviest tire I've ever run on my mtb. It had either almost no clearance with a standard 29 Pike. I have no idea why you'd need this on the rear unless you had a throttle but I've never tried it as a rear, it's too big to fit.
  • + 2
 I just tried a WTB convict 2.7 upfront (mostly cause no mater what maxxis writes on the sidewall their tires measure 2.3). I have been a minion fanboi for a long time. last year I tried running a magic marry for a while and went back to minion. I have about 5 days riding on my convicts and they are heavy but I am pretty sure I will stick with them. They measure a true 2.7
  • + 3
 The Convict 2.5 is pretty badass too, but yeah-it’s a hog, especially in the tough casing. It’s like a pre-Addix Magic Mary that lasts.
  • + 0
 does anyone else make a mid-fat 26" tire? something like a 2.7 or so that one could possibly squeeze into a frame with some room?
  • + 1
 @powderturns: Schwalbe does have the Magic Mary in a 26 x 2.6, but only in the DH casing. I stumbled on that as I was shopping for my 27.5s.
  • + 1
 @powderturns: There is Dirt Wizard and WTB Ranger 2.8 or 3.0 . DW up front, tough casing Ranger for a rear. The 26 DW is available in 120tpi. The Ranger Is sketchy but gets me home.
  • + 2
 I have a 26 x 2.75 Dirt Wizards (DWs) on a Cotic BFe 26, and have been running them for around 6 months.

First impressions:
I first tried the Dirt Wizards on a friend's BTR Belter at Fujiten MTB park in Japan. Fujiten has fantastic loamy dirt that, when compacted. creates some of the best trails for 'flowy DH' (for POV of the very trails, see BCPOV youtube channel here: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdlTmSDG9WI), and the dirt/trails there really seemed to be a good match for the DWs.

The grip was really good, and very predictable. Cornering was good too, (my friend was not running crazily low pressures, but in the low to mid 20s). I was surprised by the relatively low rolling resistance too. I was riding with people on FS bikes and the DWs on a LTHT had absolutely no trouble keeping up with everyone and keeping me where I wanted the bike to be.

I was so impressed, I bought a set, and have ended up running it as a front tyre on the Bfe (with a Rock Razor on the back) and I have been seriously impressed. I am running it on a Stans Flow Ex (29mm) at mid 20s PSI. No, I do not use it for climbing, but for lift assisted DH.

The only downside? It's never going to be a cheap purchase. However, the price has been worth it in my opinion, and I'd recommend it as a front for anyone riding lift assisted DH on flow trails.
  • + 2
 E bike??? Since when is Pinkbike about ebikes? Bikerumor I can see, but Pinkbike?? Was the reviewer sessioning his strawberry moca e vape pen (to be reviewed in May) while typing up this review?? Or is that hard to do while playing Pokeman Go?
  • + 2
 I'm over the whole Plus thing, but I have spent considerable time on dirt wizards so I'll share my experiences. grip is fantastic, rolling resistance is far better than expected. I would run 18f/21r psi on 45mm internal rims. I have flatted them a couple times but the were always repairable with a plug and the casing is pretty burly so flats are rare. What really surprised me is the durability of the tread given how much grip they have. I got close to 500 miles on a rear before I felt it could use replacement. I get nowhere near that amount of mileage out of my normal tires.
FWIW i've had about 4 dirt wizards and about 1500miles of hard riding on them
  • + 2
 I have this tire on the front of my Chromag surface in 27.5x3.0. I scoffed at my friend when he suggested it, I mean what does Surly know about mtbs. But after the 2.8 minions were pretty underwhelming, I paired it with a 3.0 HighRoller2 in the back and am super impressed with the traction.
  • + 0
 how was the 48a durometer? That sounds a little stiff and plasticy for my local trails - curious what your experience was with it - how it compared to other tires you've used.
  • + 0
 @powderturns: So I overlooked that detail in the article. I purchased this tire ~18 months ago under the impression it was a 42a. I know the durometer ratings are different for the 29+ and 27.5+, so it was my understanding that the 48a was the 29+ version.

When I'm not on B+, I run 29x2.4 WT 3C front and rear on my bikes. I mostly ride in North Vancouver, Squamish and Bellingham and I don't think it would be a stretch to call the dirt wizard 'super tacky'. 42a seems right to me when comparing if it is more closely related to the sideknobs of my minions (42a) vs center tread (50a).
Anyways, enough talking about feelings, I know a guy with a durometer and I'll try and measure.

Until them, this was a while ago... I'm trying to find some sources for this claim and here are two...

singletrackworld.com/2016/06/would-you-ride-a-plus-sized-dirty-wizard
www.bikeradar.com/mtb/news/article/surly-karate-monkey-275-first-look-47733


Maybe things have changed? Maybe @paulaston can confirm the 48a? Maybe not?
  • + 2
 @velocitajano: if you're riding those places and satisfied with the grip, that's good enough for me. normally I would say 48a is too hard, but if it's working... maybe the lower pressure allows more grip (as well as larger volume)
  • + 2
 Cool bike setup man. I know a few guys that ride chroma hardtail 29ers but I haven't ridden with anyone with the 27.5+ setup. I'd be really curious what its like in winter on the north shore.
  • + 1
 @velocitajano: You realize durometer isn't the only thing that affects tire grip right? It's a measure of hardness, not rebound speed or friction.
  • + 1
 @GTscoob: You realize my discussion about relative shore hardness was squarely aimed at powderturns question about the tire compound, and how it compared to other tires I've used... But thank you for your insightful contribution to the thread. /s
  • + 1
 these tires are awesome, I bought a norco torrent which is an aggressive 27.5+ hardtail and tore a few tires until i tried these. yeah they are heavy but I didnt mind it and the grip and feel are awesome. so many people scoffed at them cuz they are surly but if you have a 275+ bike it is the ONLY tires worth riding on real trails.

and PS i bought these for 60 at universal a few times.
  • + 3
 Am I the only one thinking that the 26” 2.75 would be interesting as a front dh tyre? Or am I the only one reading this that roles on 26? #26forlife ????????
  • + 4
 No, you wouldn't. I use one as just that. And it is FANTASTIC!
  • + 1
 Love this tire! Been running this as a front tire on my 27.5 non-plus trail bike for a couple years. Just barely fits in a Pike on a 35mm rim and chews up the dirt! Pair well with a 2.6 rear. Best handling upgrade I've done.
  • + 1
 The Terrene Chunk is a far beefier tire. It measures a full 3" and definitely climbs/brakes better by comparison. It also has a really round profile for such a big tire so you'll need to learn it over to engage the side knobs.
  • + 1
 I have run both the light casing chunk and the dirt wizard on my big honzo as fronts. Loved the chunk in packed snow but once it was wet roots and slippery rocks it was a very scary tire. The light casing was unable to support the knobs in less wet conditions. Perhaps the heavy casing would have worked but I love that dirt wizard up front.
  • + 1
 @Chris97a: interesting. I've used them on wet/slimy rocks and didn't feel like I had a problem but I don't ride where you do either.

I run a light casing Chunk up front on an i45 and enjoy it. I don't think it has an edge in ultimate grip necessarily, due to the side knobs being in line with the other knobs but it is progressive and I never felt like it was going to wash out on me.

When I had a Chunk on the back, I was sure I could climb upsidedown if I needed to and perhaps throw myself off the bike.
  • + 4
 I love that Surly makes a 26"+.
The 26x2.75 should work well on many 27.5 forks and frames without upsetting the geometry.
  • + 3
 Finally! a tyre with a decent width that isn't a weak as piss balloon that wants to rip itself from rims.
  • + 2
 Surly also has a DW in 26/ 2.75. It was designed to fit in any 27 fork. It has a light casing. I've been waiting forever for a casing update. Please Surly please.
  • + 0
 So when we said plus tires were for beginners, did we stop saying that because it offended beginners who thought they were better riders than they are? Just asking because website/mag reviewers generally NEVER prefer 27.5+ over a 29" tire and I'd like to think you can't be a reviewer if you're a "beginner" mountain biker. It's interesting...for something that is almost never preferred by a reviewer, boy do I see an absolute TON of plus bikes out there.....probably all beginners.
  • + 3
 plus tires are great for beginners, but there aren't ONLY great for beginners. one of the fastest guys I know rides a plus hardtail most of the time. that alone convinced me to give plus tires a try after pinkbike told me I wouldn't be cool if rode plus
  • + 5
 @xeren: To clarify further....I ride a plus bike most of the time and I am not a beginner :-)
  • + 2
 In the past all the 29ers reviewed were noted good for beginners because of "security feeling", easier over obstacles and more grip...when 26 was the reference.
  • + 2
 Your sarcasm is appreciated. I also own a plus bike with normal meats but do like plus tyres for certain types of riding.
  • + 1
 Personally I love plus, and I love being able to switch between plus and 29 on the same bike when I feel like it. As far as plus for beginners, I think that the message was that the lower priced aluminium hardtail, which are believed to be only riden by beginners, gained a significant improvement in comfort, fun factor and became more forgiving in plus- making it a good alternative for a beginner at the lower price point than an equivalent non plus bike. The downside of course is the wheel and tyre weight at the lower price point, hence the demand from bike brands for lighter plus tyres. Now that plus is established across the ability and experience spectrum, the demand from riders is for a more durable plus tyre, and this demand is now being met.
  • + 1
 @Braindrain: I don't agree with the idea that HTs are for beginners, for me it's the other way around. You need skills to ride a HT. Plus does make sense on HTs tho especially 26 or 275s
  • + 1
 Tire weight can't be any worse than my 2.7 inch nevegal. I think it's like 2.5 pounds alone. Let alone adding the weight of the accompanying tube
  • + 1
 Maxxis makes 27.5+ tires (Minion 2.8/HR 3") that are way more aggressive than the Surly.
Apparently this 'writer' isn't aware of that
  • + 1
 I'm currently using Maxxis 2.8 tires on my steel hardtail (Genesis Tarn 20) , Minion DHF and Highroller II, they are epic tires. The bike came with WTB which were disappointing and made the bike feel like a mistaken purchase, now it's the only bike I take out the grip is great. Maxxis are mint.
  • + 3
 Where’s a doubledown 2.8 minion? That may be useful. May be...
  • + 6
 It will be useful as the first true 2.5 from Maxxis.
  • + 3
 what ever happened to nokian
  • + 2
 I may still have a couple of 3.0 in 26 and 24 in my brothers shed. If he didn’t throw them out. The original Bighit ran a 24” rear wheel so we ran 3.0 Gazzolodis so it was the size of a 26” but I guess by today’s logic running the 3.0 f&r on a Bighit it was like a 27.5 front and 26 rear.
  • + 2
 There is a great song regarding this tire... www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJd7F8sAkJ0
  • + 3
 95€, that's where I stopped reading.
  • + 2
 They sure pulled this one out of their Wizard Sleeves...
  • + 1
 Sleeve of wizard?
  • + 3
 90$ for a tire?
Come on!
  • + 2
 W-Worse that can happen is can I spill some on my $3,000 plus tires. Come on! Oh, yeah, yeah. The guy riding the... the $4,000 plus tires is holding the elevator for a guy who doesn’t make that in three months. Come on! Oh. Why don’t I just take a whiz through these $5,000 plus tires?!
  • + 2
 @TerrapinBen: Peasant !
  • + 1
 They are basically the tire I want, but that cost!
  • + 1
 I guess the DHF's aren't aggressive ? The Specialized GRID casings aren't tough enough? Dilly Dilly.
  • + 1
 We tried them...for a ride. Didn't fair too well in Pisgah.
  • + 1
 Looks like a WTb trailboss
  • + 0
 PB surly whizzed this one-
  • + 0
 Surly they could have thought of a better name?
  • - 3
 Sooo... Overstuffed Minions?
  • + 13
 Sure, apart from the fact that these bear absolutely no resemblance to Minions
  • + 3
 more like magic marys, i'd say
  • + 4
 @mnorris122: well they are black and look like tires. Or do they look like tyres?
  • + 3
 Closer to a Shorty
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