Tioga Psycho Genius 2.3" Tires Review

Apr 7, 2011
by Cory Hemminger  
Tioga's new PsychoGenius tires take a unique approach to keeping you glued to the dirt, with a distinctive "grip-first" tread pattern and a different approach to the dual-compound concept.The Psycho Genius (2.30") is Tioga USA's entry into the crowded 'trail' segment of the large-volume mountain bike tire market. Its designers have distinguished the tire from its competition by employing a different approach to tread design and to the rubber compound that is used for the tire's construction. Over the past few months I put the Psycho Genius through the wringer on the trails in southwest British Columbia in order to judge Tioga’s claims about the capabilities of this novel tire design

The Psycho Genius inherited its edging blocks, but the center tread is a new development.
The Psycho Genius inherited its edging blocks, but the center tread is a new development.

Tioga Tire Science
Tioga's tire designers started working on the initial concept for the Psycho Genius in spring of 2009 and the tire reportedly went through eight rounds of computer modeling and subsequent prototype testing before it hit production in August 2010. The evolution of the Psycho Genius was methodical as designers made minor changes to knob spacing, shape, orientation, and height, followed by a number of rubber-compound tests. The result of Tioga's scientific approach utilized the classic side lug design from Tioga's original Psycho tire and combined it with an original (or 'futuristic', if you will) center tread and high-volume casing to produce a tire with an emphasis is on traction and grip instead of best-in-class weight. The central AI knobs (AI' is short for Artificial Intelligence) make extensive use of cutouts, which are meant to allow the tread to flex and change shape as the tire rolls along the trail. The Psycho Genius is built around Tioga's MAG60 casing technology - a 60- thread-per inch (TPI) casing that features textured rubber on the tire's sidewalls. The criss-crossed sidewall is meant to improve cut and tear resistance, while retaining a degree of suppleness for absorbing bumps and trail chatter.

MAG60 sidewalls and Synergy Dual Compound rubber. The Psycho Genius uses a 60TPI casing that employs textured rubber, designed to reduce cuts and tears on the sidewalls.
MAG60 sidewalls and Synergy Dual Compound rubber. The Psycho Genius uses a 60TPI casing that employs textured rubber, designed to reduce cuts and tears on the sidewalls.

A New Approach to Dual-Compound tread
Tioga's designers employed a dual compound rubber -Synergy Dual Compound rubber - for the Psycho Genius, although they did it in a way that runs against the grain that most other tire manufacturers follow. Instead of running a harder compound rubber at the center of the tire and a softer compound for the outside knobs, the Psycho Genius is composed of a softer compound rubber (Motion360) for the AI knobs that line the center of the tire and a harder compound rubber on the knobs that run on the outside of the tire (High Energy, 70a). The softer, Motion360 compound allows the AI knobs on the Psycho Genius to conform to the ground and offer great traction in a host of conditions. The harder, High Energy compound is meant to provide support and rigidity for the Psycho-inspired side lugs in order to encourage aggressive cornering.

Riding Psycho Genius Tires


Tioga fulfills its promise of maximum grip when the trail is relatively dry.
Tioga fulfills its promise of maximum grip when the trail is relatively dry.

I mounted the Psycho Genius tires to a pair of Stan’s ZTRs (19mm internal width) and each of the tires snapped into the rim bead without problem once the floor pump passed 40psi. After dropping the pressure to my normal riding preference, the outer tread width for the Psycho Genius measured in at 2.5”, while the casing width was measured at 2.35”. The wheels were installed on a Giant Trance for the first half of the four-month review period, and on a Banshee Spitfire for the duration.

Rolling resistance: The first thing I noticed riding the Psycho Genius was that it is not the fastest-rolling 2.30” tire I’ve ever used. While the Psycho Genius’ 750-gram weight is reasonable for a tire of this size and intended use, when compared to some of the lighter-weight offerings from companies like Schwalbe, the extra heft was noticeable on long grinding climbs where a rider can really benefit from a lighter tire. That being said, the big Tiogas are not the slowest-rolling 2.30” tires on the market either.

Climbing: Tioga intended the Psycho Genius to deliver gobs of traction, and it climbed like a champ throughout the test. The softer-compound AI center-knobs provided excellent straight-line grip on sections of root- and rock-infested trail. Occasionally, the tires did slide out, it usually while rolling over rogue, off-camber roots where first contact with the tires was with the harder-compound knobs on the outside tread.

Descending: Pointed downhill in prime riding conditions, the Psycho Genius tires were at their best on rugged singletrack and hard-packed, old school switchbacks with swooping, sculpted corners. During slower-speed technical sections and straight-line, bench-cut trail, the Psycho Genius’s AI knobs dug into the dirt and gripped the many rock slabs that populate my local trails and provided ample traction to control the bike during such rowdy bits. When pushing the bike into and out of built-up banked corners and berms, the round profile of the Psycho Genius helped the tire transition well from the top rows of AI knobs to the side lugs. The stiff side lugs really dug into the dirt and helped keep the bike hold its line on its way out of the corner. The Psycho Genius did lose traction, however, on a number of off-camber trail sections, where I could literally hear the side lugs ripping away from the trail surface. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but in similar situations, the side lugs developed lateral forces that rolled the tire off the rim a number of times during the review period.

bigquotesDuring descents, the tires excel on hard pack and moderately rocky terrain, and the side lugs help the tire hook up especially well through built-up corners and fast, bench-cut sections of trail. - Cory Hemminger


Cornering: The unpredictability of the weather in British Columbia means we often get dry, tacky trail conditions one week and tricky, wet trail conditions the next. As late fall becomes winter, however, the weather turns consistently foul, and under these conditions the Psycho Genius tires seemed to be a little out of their element. As mentioned above, the tires continued to provide very good grip while climbing; during descents, however, they frequently slid through flat and muddy corners that they had railed in drier conditions, and the tires were noticeably squirmy in sections with a modest amount of slop. On slick off-camber traverses and corners composed of wet slabs of rock, the Psycho Genius' harder compound rubber side lugs made for some white-knuckle moments that encouraged caution rather than aggressive riding.

Durability: I didn’t have any issues with the Psycho Genius. I didn’t experience any pinch flats, despite running tubes and smashing my wheels through plenty of rock gardens. Props to Tioga; the MAG 60 textured sidewall held up for the duration – no tears or cuts appeared during the test period. Tire wear has been good over four months worth of riding and, although there's a bit of noticeable wear on the outside lugs and on the outer rows of AI knobs, it was nothing out of the ordinary.

Pinkbike's impressions
The 2.30” Tioga Psycho Genius comes in at a reasonable weight and the ‘grip first’ concept behind the distinctive AI knobs translates well onto the trail. While climbing, the tires hold their own in most conditions and rarely slip free while climbing over roots or rocks. During descents, the tires excel on hard pack and moderately rocky terrain, and the side lugs help the tire hook up especially well through built-up corners and fast, bench-cut sections of trail. While the Psycho Genius isn't great in full-on wet winter conditions when the harder durometer side lugs show their weak spots, they are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for well-rounded and predictable three-season kicks for your 5" trail bike. That said, aggressive riders might find that they can push the Psycho Genius tire beyond its limit on technically challenging terrain. If your regular riding is more suited to a long-travel all-mountain or freeride bike, you might want to hold out for the 2.5" version of the Psycho Genius that will be available soon.

Psycho Genius tires showed little wear after four months of testing.
Psycho Genius tires showed little wear after four months of testing.

Tioga Psycho Genius Tire Details:

  • Synergy dual compound rubber
  • Tioga's Mag60 casing
  • Steel or folding bead options
  • UST version available
  • Sizes: 26 x 1.95", 2.1", 2.3" widths
  • Weight: 750 grams
  • MSRP $50 USD


Action photos by Dave Mackie
Check out the Tioga website to see their entire lineup


66 Comments

  • + 28
 Im gunna keep running maxxis Beer
Sick tire though
  • + 5
 Could they fit any more marketing bullshit into the descriptions, it's only a tire FFS! grip-first tread pattern...central Artificial Intelligence knobs...Synergy Dual Compound rubber...Motion360...High Energy...MAG 60... blah blah
  • + 1
 yep. what you said.
  • + 1
 Just replaced an ardent with these...basically cos the high end maxxis is utter shite. Slow, squirmy, no grip when cornering damp rock.

I don't know what happened since the stock tyres of ten years ago (I'm guessing advertising over testing), but I have no faith in that company anymore.

I'll see how these do as the old blue dragons were beasts for grip in the wet.
  • + 19
 Do not want.
  • - 1
 Then why comment...
  • + 18
 because he is voicing his opinion
  • + 7
 But nothing constructive... I think they look pretty tough and I'd like to try them out.
  • + 1
 Yeah same, going to see if I can get a set to rag in the summer, sounds perfect for the majority of the trails here and in south wales
  • + 3
 This is as constructive as I get: I don't like running tires with intermediate knobs at all. Sure, it might be cool to try them, but I think there are tires I already like enough that I don't need to experiment. That's what these tires look like. An experiment... Tioga has statistically made some pretty crummy tires for my personal taste, and these don't look like they're swaying me. End rant.
  • + 1
 Fair enough^^.
  • + 2
 Holy crap, really? Never heard of Tioga? One of the OLDEST names in MTB tire technology? LOL

I'm interested in them... They look a little better of a fit for ladder bridge riding than what I'm running, and maybe if they come in a tough rubber compound they can pass for a general use freeride tire!
  • + 2
 Yeah, that's a bit extreme. I'm not neg propping, but do find it odd peeps haven't heard the name. They've NEVER left the scene, either. Always been here. They have the Spyder saddles that I KNOW everyone's seen by now, they've always had DH race tires out, and their DH pedals are awesome as well.
  • + 1
 Too many bike magazines instead of riding. Maxxis spends how much on advertising...tioga ..never needed to.

Welcome to the facebook generation ????
  • + 2
 Nice review. I've always looked at my tires and wondered why the dual compound tires use the softer compound on the outside knobs. When the outside knobs come into contact with the trail, it is during heavy load conditions (cornering, off-camber). Leading to faster wear.

This seems like a great tire for a semi-arid location, as the performance in the wet seems "noticeably squirmy... with a modest amount of slop." When the trails are wet here, they're not rideable.

Questions: Can you explain the issues with the off-camber sections and rolling the tire off the rim in more detail? Did the harder side lugs force the tire off the bead? Is that issue attributable to tire pressure?
  • + 4
 Higher pressures would naturally prevent the bead from folding off the rim. It also has a lot to do with the rims you're running - Some have a 'deeper' grip on the bead ie. they're actually slightly wider and hold more tyre in place, whilst others are wider and stop the tyre from being folded past its bite point on the bead.

Having a softer compound on the outer tread is beneficial to outright cornering grip as the soft tread comes into contact when the bike is at a greater angle and there are more lateral forces working to force your tyres to slide out sideways - Generally speaking: Softer compound = More hold on the trail as the tyre is able to conform to the ground much better. You will almost always find the centre of the tyre wearing faster under braking forces than the outer edges wearing due to cornering forces.
  • + 1
 kinda makes sense to have harder edges to me too , surely you will be able to push harder on off cambers or flat corners because the lugs won't fold ? But then again softer ones will grip better due to the stickyness ? Hmm can't help thinking one of the bigger players would of thought of this by now and even tested it.
  • + 1
 It's a pretty common design actually, man...any of the dual/triple compound tires are this way. Center tread designed for fast rolling and grip with strong, deep side lugs for cornering stability. Intense, Kenda, maybe Maxxis, but I f*ckin hate the company(can't like a company that loves themselves more than it's customers do) so I'm not sure, hell, I think they all do, to be honest. But could be wrong. Maybe DrSanchez will pipe in when he's done looking at the mirror.
  • + 1
 Nope, Kenda's for sure are exactly opposite, harder durometer in the center for wear, softer in the side lugs for grip.
  • + 1
 imaorobbie:

The issues i had with the PsychoGenius rolling from the rim were a function of rim width, tire pressure, and trail conditions / terrain. The rim width and tire pressure elements are addressed in bunkey's response as is the terrain issue. Basically, I felt that the 'Psycho' knobs didn't offer enough 'grab' on specific sections of trail -- and, specifically, on off camber roots and rocks while descending -- that relied on the tire's side lugs to keep the bike upright.
  • + 1
 'dirteveryday' did you even read the article or my comment? harder out side softer inside , not the other way around dude.
  • + 1
 Uh yeah, that's why I said I had it backwards, that Tioga is trying it differently than everyone else is. Everyone else runs hard center/soft shoulders. Did you even read MY comments? Smile
  • + 1
 Really thinking about getting one of these for a back tire. Need something with lots of contact and sticky rubber for the slippery east coast rock. But enough gaps to grab some edges of roots and rocks... And these to me look about right to me. Maybe when i wear out my Stick-e Nevigal. Btw would love to hear if anyone has tires these out on the east coast!
  • + 2
 nevegals are the worst for mud clearance.i have em too and honestly these tires look like a 100% improvement
  • + 3
 Because Nevegals aren't a mud tire! They're a hardpack/loose over hard tire.
  • + 2
 haha i know but its what came on my bike and my money does most definitley not grow on my tree. either way these are some cool lookin tires
  • + 1
 Skid: The PsychoGenius in its 2.30" guise would make a good rear tire on a bike where climbing traction is a priority. The closely spaced knobs might pose a problem for you if thick mud is part of your riding routine though.
  • + 1
 Awesome.

Mud isn't on my radar. I honestly thought the Super Tacky Larson TT was a great wet tire around here for the most part. ( Think Slick Rock in Moab but more broken up and blue granite). Squirm free sticky knobs, decently tough sidewall and enough openness to grab some roots and stuff (the TT's big down fall) is what I'm after.. and this tire is looking pretty darn good! Heck even the harder corner knobs sound perfect to me! Guess these go on my next order list.. uuhhggg hahaha..
  • + 4
 Can pinkbike do a mass testing, see which is the best tire for DH, AM, Summer, winter kinda deal.
  • + 1
 they were doing the "mother of all tire reviews" but after 2 reviews they stopped, dont ask me why though... but I feel ya brother more tire reviews are needed Wink
  • + 1
 PS and oh yeh...props to Rob from Dunbar Cycles: 'you told me so' and should of listened to you 2 years ago when i dropped Maxxis and swapped tires [ Kendas ] and 26 " wheels for 24" - yikes ! bruised and battered 'who's yer daddy' - you da man Rob.
  • + 2
 i'm still rolling a pair of tioga factory dh 2.1s on my hardtail - a bit portly, but they're predictable, strong, grip and brake well, work well in the wet and they're dirt cheap
  • + 1
 i have a pair of these on my AM bike, 2.3 factory DH tiogas. heavy but does the trick and they are dirt cheaaap!!!! MEC used to sell these tires. too bad i didn't buy an extra pair back then.
  • + 1
 factory dh is still one of the best dirt tyres you can buy,just wish there was more time to ride dusty dirt trails in the uk!
  • - 4
flag hampsteadbandit (Apr 7, 2011 at 12:28) (Below Threshold)
 Tioga Factory DH tires were f*cking terrible tires - the only riders that rated them were riders who had not tried more modern alternatives like the Maxxis High Roller! or did not push their riding very hard

I made the mistake of buying a cheap pair of Factory DH years back, and never experienced such a slippery, unpredictable ride Frown


there was a reason for many years that you could buy a pair of Factory DH tires for £20 in any UK bike shop or even cheaper at the yearly bike shows Wink
  • + 3
 yeh ok dude im a shit rider
  • + 4
 hampstead you're an idiot
  • - 1
 Another reason why most MTB tire manufacturers/designers have no clue about how tires work. All those odd angles and stepped ledges only take away from overall grip. Clearly made to look good - fashion over function. If you want a hand in designing tires Tioga, give me a shout.
  • + 0
 Wow...your real initials aren't DW by any chance are they? Stroke that ego, budday! Hard for anyone else to pat you on the back when your own hand is already doing it. Lost any respect I might have had. Pretty f*ckin lame.
  • + 2
 MTB needs a shake up.
  • + 1
 I don't think dissrespecting someone else's product then telling them you are superior is the way to "shake up MTB". What "MTB" needs is to get the f*ck off the internet and back out into the trees. Which is where I'm headed now because there's no headroom in here anymore.
  • + 2
 Well that's great and all, but seriously, mountain biking needs to drop the fashion show and focus on product that works. Way too many gimmicky products on the market. I agree, get back into the woods! Wink
  • + 1
 Actually, it all went fashion BECAUSE there are already PLENTY of products that work. Enough already. Now everyone is just looking for a gimmick to sell a product. You take a WC racer off one brand, stick him on the next, guess what, after he dials in its discrepancies, he'll be on the podium again. IT'S ALL BULLSHIT.
  • - 1
 i have run everthing from Schwalbe to Michellin to WTBs and Continentals and settled on Maxxis, but then, after dropping Maxxis Minion DHs [ wear too quick for cost ] i went to Kendas [ somewhat sticky and last for frickin ever ] i finally [ thank Gawd ! ] went back to Maxxis 3C front and same rear or even 60A and doubt i will ever worry about cost again as these tires have saved my butt where all the others likely would not have and i am even running Maxxis Minion 3C / 60A EXOs [ new pinch resistant single sidewalls ] and have thrown everything i could at them on couple of dozen rips DHing with so far not one flat or rolloff - since i am an old fart and a weight weenie, i love that i have taken another 1.5 lbs off my ride as well - i am not the best ripper but consider i am a reasonable intermediate / Black D rider and once i know a trail [ Mach Chicken on the Coast or Neds on the Shore ] i am a head on rider with the knocks to show [ am still sporting a hematoma on my chin even with a full face after an endo on the rocky chute into Neds and these Maxxis EXOs held up whlie my 721s got dented ! ] My point : MAXXIS RULES !
  • + 1
 Use to have some original psychos, preffered my Factory 2.3's though. Worked quite well on my old Team LTS. The new jobbies look ok...
  • + 1
 great to have tioga back in mtbing again,
  • + 1
 i ran tioga white tigers and they were gangstalishus
  • + 1
 i want them!
  • + 0
 Yoooo Tioga, go back to sleep you suck!!
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