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
Tioga Tire Science
The Psycho Genius inherited its edging blocks, but the center tread is a new development.
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.
A New Approach to Dual-Compound tread
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.
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.
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.
|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. - Cory Hemminger|
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.
Tioga Psycho Genius Tire Details:
Action photos by Dave MackieCheck out the Tioga website to see their entire lineup
- 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